The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season started June 1st and forecasts predict around nine to 15 named storms this year, with one third of those becoming major hurricanes. Living along the Gulf Coast means that we are all accustomed to the normal preparations needed, getting flashlight batteries ready and pulling the plywood out of storage, but an alarmingly low number of businesses are prepared to restart their operations during an outage. An estimated 50% of SMB's have no backup and disaster recovery plan, and of those who do have a plan, only 28% have actually tested it (Source: Symantec 2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey). Most commonly, these businesses either do not view their computer systems as critical or a plan for recovery has simply never occurred to them. Others feel they may lack the skills, resources, or qualified staff to have a proper DR plan. The truth is that a good recovery plan is absolutely essential for any business that wants to stay operational after a disaster - according to a study from the Gartner Group, 43% of companies were immediately put out of business by a major loss of computer data and only 6% survived over the long-term. So what can you do to ensure your business isn't reduced to a statistic by the next hurricane?
There are several considerations a business owner needs to make when thinking about disasters and disaster recovery:
- Threats - What types of disasters might affect your data? With hurricanes, we are often concerned not only with the wind and flood damage, but "loss of use" due to evacuations, power outages, etc.
- Business Impact - What effect would these threats have on your systems? If you lost sales records, patient data, or access to your systems, how long could you business function effectively, if at all?
- Cost of Downtime - The total cost of being without your data is often much higher than companies estimate. It includes not just the cost for recovering data (assuming it can be recovered), but the cost of replacing hardware, paying unproductive employees who have no way to work or can only work in a limited capacity, and lost sales or business.
- Regulatory Requirements - Do HIPAA, GLBA, PCI, SOX, or other compliance requirements exist that mandate a recovery plan be in place or data be accessible at any time?
Once you've got an idea of the cost, impact, and risk of downtime for your business, you can formulate a plan:
- How will your business operate in the event of a temporary outage, such as a power failure?
- How will your business operate in the event of a complete disaster, such as the loss of facilities?
- What elements of your IT systems are most critical to continued operations? Examples include email, documents, customer data, and applications.
- What is the maximum allowable downtime for your business? How are you going to guarantee the ability to resume operations in that time frame?
- How and where should your data be stored? Does it need to be encrypted and secured? Should it be stored in the same building, next door, in a different city, or a different region of the country?
- How do you ensure your plan actually works?
In addition to those important questions, businesses also need to consider the size and type of data that they have, the rate of growth for that data, and the length of time the data needs to be kept. All of this can be very overwhelming for a small business, and despite the inherent risks we see businesses turning away from true business continuity solutions due to their complexity and cost, instead relying on commodity off-site storage, tape and external drive backups, or simply ignoring the issue altogether.
So here's the good news: A complete business continuity solution is available for any size business that protects 100% of your valuable data and recovers your business in record-setting time.
IT365 Business Continuity takes cutting-edge virtualization and disaster recovery technologies and combines them with our own technical expertise and DR consulting services. The result is a total end-to-end solution that can help even the smallest business recover all of their systems during any conceivable disaster scenario with absolutely zero technical expertise. InfoTECH provides IT365 Business Continuity as an affordable monthly service that includes on-and-off-site recovery, a written Disaster Recovery Plan for your network, and protection of your data in secured bi-coastal datacenters. Regular testing of your backups is performed and complete recoveries after a major disaster can occur in as little as 5 minutes.