It doesn’t matter what industry you work in – the great importance of having a viable business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place cannot be overstated. The occasional and inevitable disasters which may befall any business entity come unannounced, and often at a high price. That is if you don’t have a smart IT disaster survival plan implemented, tested, and ready to go.
You can do some simple cost calculations in your head and figure what any amount of downtime will cost you and your company. And obviously, the bigger the company, the more financial loss you are bound to suffer when disaster strikes in the form of natural disaster, cyber breach, or technological failure, and the subsequent data loss.
Your next question will likely be, “So, how do I get a good business continuity plan in place?” It’s actually quite simple, but it will take some time out of your day to investigate which IT companies in your locality are best qualified to provide business continuity via the latest data backup and recovery technology.
If you are an executive not normally accustomed to dealing with information technology, then you will likely leave it to a CIO, CISO, or other envoys who can handle IT services contracting. But, if you can take the time as the company owner, it will greatly behoove you to invest some valuable time in meeting with an IT support team, like ours here at powersolution.com, who will act as your Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO). This will fine-tune the planning, design, and implementation of a long-term business continuity plan.
Statistics show how unprepared most SMBs really are.
Take the case of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which left more than $65 billion USD in damage in its wake, and only 30% of those respondents to an information management survey afterward declaring themselves to have been ready for such a catastrophe with business continuity and disaster recovery assurance in place.
Another telling statistic: 53% of organizations can only tolerate less than an hour of downtime before they experience a significant loss of revenue or other impactful business loss.
According to a Symantec State of the Data Center Report, “Security, backup, and recovery, and continuous data protection (CDP) are the most important initiatives, ahead of virtualization.” 79% said data backup and recovery was “somewhat or absolutely important,” while 76% rated continuous data protection as a top initiative. The survey also found that virtual machine (VM) data protection was a priority, with 82% considering investing in VM technology.
A disaster recovery survey done by IDC says that 53% of survey respondents reported that they were purchasing data backup tools for software or services to protect data stored on desktops.
Your Organization Must Get a Business Continuity Plan Now
If your data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then you need to read this report and act on the information shared. A disaster can happen at any time on any day and is likely to occur at the most inconvenient time. If you aren’t already prepared, you run the risk of having the disaster coming before you have in place a plan to handle it.
10 things you should have in place to make sure your business could be back up and running again in the event of a disaster.
- Have a written plan. As simple as it may sound, just thinking through in ADVANCE what needs to happen if your server has a meltdown or a natural disaster wipes out your office, will go a long way in getting it back fast. At a minimum, the plan should contain details on what disaster could happen and a step-by-step process of what to do, who should do it and how. Also, include contact information for various providers and username and password information for various key websites. Writing this plan will also allow you to think about what you need to budget for backup, maintenance, and disaster recovery. If you can’t afford to have your network down for more than a few hours, then you need a plan that can get you back up and running within that time frame. You may want the ability to virtualize your server, allowing the office to run off of the virtualized server while the real server is repaired. If you can afford to be down for a couple of days, there are cheaper solutions. Once written, print out a copy and store it in a fireproof safe, an offsite copy (at your home) and a copy with your IT consultant.
- Hire a trusted professional to help you. Trying to recover your data after a disaster without professional help is business suicide; one misstep during the recovery process can result in forever losing your data or result in weeks of downtime. Make sure you work with someone who has experience in both setting up business contingency plans (so you have a good framework from which you CAN restore your network) and experience in data recovery.
- Have a communications plan. If something should happen where employees couldn’t access your office, e-mail or use the phones, how should they communicate with you? Make sure your plan includes this information including MULTIPLE communications methods.
- Automate your backups. If backing up your data depends on a human being doing something, it’s flawed. The #1 cause of data loss is human error (people not swapping out tapes properly, someone not setting up the backup to run properly, etc.). ALWAYS automate your backups so they run like clockwork.
- Have an offsite backup of your data. Always, always, always maintain a recent copy of your data off-site, on a different server, or on a storage device. Onsite backups are good, but they won’t help you if they get stolen, flooded, burned or hacked along with your server.
- Have remote access and management of your network. Not only will this allow you and your staff to keep working if you can’t go into your office, but you’ll love the convenience it offers. Plus, your IT staff or an IT consultant should be able to access your network remotely in the event of an emergency or for routine maintenance. Make sure they can.
- Image your server. Having a copy of your data offsite is good, but keep in mind that all that information has to be RESTORED someplace to be of any use. If you don’t have all the software disks and licenses, it could take days to reinstate your applications (like Microsoft Office, your database, accounting software, etc.) even though your data may be readily available. Imaging your server is similar to making an exact replica; that replica can then be directly copied to another server saving an enormous amount of time and money in getting your network back. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about losing your preferences, configurations or favorites. To find out more about this type of backup, ask your IT professional.
- Network documentation. Network documentation is simply a blueprint of the software, data, systems, and hardware you have in your company’s network. Your IT manager or IT consultant should put this together for you. This will make the job of restoring your network faster, easier AND cheaper. It also speeds up the process of everyday repairs on your network since the technicians don’t have to spend time figuring out where things are located and how they are configured. And finally, should disaster strike, you have documentation for insurance claims of exactly what you lost. Again, have your IT professional document this and keep a printed copy of your disaster recovery plan.
- Maintain Your System. One of the most important ways to avoid disaster is by maintaining the security of your network. While fires, floods, theft and natural disasters are certainly a threat, you are much more likely to experience downtime and data loss due to a virus, worm or hacker attack. That’s why it’s critical to keep your network patched, secure and up-to-date. Additionally, monitor hardware for deterioration and software for corruption. This is another overlooked threat that can wipe you out. Make sure you replace or repair aging software or hardware to avoid this problem.
- Test. Then test again! A study conducted in October 2007 by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal found that 50 percent of companies test their disaster recovery plan just once a year, while 14 percent never test. If you are going to go through the trouble of setting up a plan, then at least hire an IT pro to run a test once a month to make sure your backups are working and your system is secure. After all, the worst time to test your parachute is AFTER you’ve jumped out of the plane.
Want Help In Implementing These 10 Essentials?
powersolution.com will consult with you, and provide an honest, no-obligation assessment regarding products and services that will help your business with Continuity and Disaster Recovery. For more information contact us by calling (201) 493-1414 x 311.
We are looking forward to hearing from you.