Instant gratification seems to be the new norm in our increasingly digitized business world. Everyone wants always-on connectivity and automatic data access. Anything less is seen as a major impediment to success, especially among millennials who have higher IT expectations than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.

After all, millennials grew up using Google Docs and Facebook and are accustomed to around-the-clock communication and collaboration. They realize that having data in the cloud means they can use it anywhere, anytime, on any device. And, there’s not a lot of room, if any, when it comes to tolerating downtime. If something happens, they want all their data and apps back immediately, like the flip of a light switch.

That’s easier said than done, but companies in the midst of upgrading their infrastructures to support fully digitized businesses need to try that much harder to keep their younger workers happy. Otherwise, they’ll lose the best and brightest to start-ups that formed as native digital businesses with on-demand access to all the cloud-based services employees demand.

A company’s ability to attract and retain the best customers also is impacted by the level of digital services delivered. As a result, IT is dealing with increased pressure from all sides—driving ongoing digital business transformations as well as keeping everyone up and running.

These changing IT expectations in the cloud era are redefining data backup and recovery. The conversation is no longer about Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). Instead, IT is starting to borrow vernacular from the networking industry to speak in terms of maximum tolerable period of disruption—which really translates to determining how much time will end-users give us before calling the help desk to complain. The short answer: not much, as they expect that with just a couple of clicks, the apps and data should be up and running so they can continue working without disruption.

With traditional POs and RTOs, while initial recovery typically could be measured in a few hours, the full resumption of service—including equipment rebuilds—could often take many hours or even days. In the cloud era, however, companies have less time than ever to fully restore service. That’s one of the reasons Dell has been so focused on finding ways to strengthen our data protection portfolio while giving customers everything they need to restore fully from the cloud.

Our recently launched and now available Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery solution does just that, allowing customers to migrate an entire image of an application, the server image and the data that it depends upon, directly to the cloud. In doing so, the recovery service becomes a utility that can be turned back on quickly and easily—borrowing from my earlier light-switch analogy.

The promise of data protection in the cloud era is that users should be able to resume services and access data wherever they are—and that’s the idea behind Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery. Digital businesses will be able to restart operations simply by pointing to a cloud portal, cloud gateway and IP address. This approach meets the needs of the digital workforce, which wants to know they can go to a web portal and access the data needed to complete projects, close deals and communicate with customers—no matter what.

And the beauty of this instant recovery process is that by automating regular image-based backups, you also can alleviate a big IT burden. Instead of requiring a massive fire-drill when something occurs, IT can rely on Rapid Recovery to deliver image-based recovery points and automatic replication to the cloud to quickly restore apps and resume service.

This enables IT to become a support function for the rapid change that’s taking place across businesses, instead of being just another bottleneck. In this support role, IT can trade firefighting for more strategic initiatives that better serve both the business and its millennial workforce.

And, if that doesn’t give IT instant gratification—I’m not sure what will. What do you think? Connect with me at Michael.Grant@software.dell.com to share your thoughts.