What you need to know about keeping your business running through both minor hiccups and major catastrophes.
Following up on our about planning for disaster recovery, today, we’re going to expand on that theme and talk about the “whole enchilada,” of which disaster recovery is but one ingredient. Business continuity is the practice of keeping your business running through both minor hiccups and major catastrophes, and it encompasses a wide range of topics.
We’re all humans in this Age of Information, which means we’ve got on-demand access to just about everything we can think of on lots of different devices – movie times, pizza delivery, and cat videos all come to mind. Mobility has become far more than a buzzword; it’s now how we live with technology every single day. Smartphones, tablets, laptops link us to both play and work everywhere we go. Remote workers can turn a spare room at home into a fully-functional corporate office space. Simply put, in this day and age, for many people, there is no such thing as “out of the office.”
By now, everyone has at least a passing knowledge of what virtualization is and why they need it. In a nutshell, virtualization technology breaks the traditional dependency of software on the underlying hardware on which it runs, and allows for much greater deployment flexibility and better strategies for ensuring server and application uptime.
Data and System Protection
Of course, because we are only human, we make mistakes every day. Most of these aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things, like forgetting your coffee in the car or getting immersed in your favorite website after your lunch hour ends. We’ve all accidentally deleted a file, or saved over changes that we realized later didn’t need to be made. Most firms have some form of backup in place (yours certainly does – right?), and it’s usually no problem to pop in a tape or log on to a cloud backup service and pull down last night’s copy of the file. A little extra work later, and you’re back where you need to be.
Sometimes it’s a little less trivial than an errant mouse-click. A hardware failure on a critical system can quickly endanger the smooth operation of your business. And with computers being what they are – complex machines with lots of moving parts – failures can happen in many ways: hard drives can give out, or power surges can overload the power supplies or take out network interfaces. Fortunately, the potentially disastrous effects of most conceivable failures can be mitigated easily with a little simple planning: configuring drives in a RAID array, utilizing redundant power supplies, and buying adequate surge protection and battery backup all eliminate single points of failure and significantly reduce the likelihood of a lone unwanted event taking out a system or the precious data on it.
The cost of high-speed Internet has plummeted dramatically in recent years, and the speeds only continue to increase. For less than the price of a PRI circuit (which is gradually transitioning to a place in the annals of Internet lore) businesses can now subscribe to fiber service providing up to 100 times the speed of a PRI, with some cash left over for a smaller backup line like DSL or a cellular LTE backup. With options of being tied together with a Sonicwall firewall appliance to provide near-instant failover if the primary Internet line goes down, as well as automatic failback for when it returns to service.
Disaster recovery is the “worst-case scenario” in the business-continuity spectrum, and consequently, it requires the most forethought and planning to execute properly. Disaster recovery goes well beyond just bits and bytes, though – it is a comprehensive discipline that involves the identification and delegation of personnel, responsibilities, and timeframes when the unthinkable happens. And if your plan isn’t sound, your recovery won’t be either.
Rolling Everything Together
Of course, this very likely seems like a daunting task juggling all these different items and making sure you’re addressing everything properly. But in reality, these all just involve lots of little “ingredients” in that “whole enchilada.” Some of them, like protecting your systems and data, are crucial ingredients (the beans, meat, and cheese); others, like mobility, simply make life a little better (the guacamole). Disaster recovery requires a bit more planning than the others, of course, but in the end, it too essentially breaks down into baby steps.
If you’ve never approached business continuity from a high level before, we urge you to take the time and do it as soon as possible. How do you go about it without overwhelming your mind? Identify your critical business needs first – the “what.” Ask yourself, “What happens if I: …can’t send email? …access my CRM application? …use my CAD software?” From there, you can drill down into the “how, when, where, and who.” And of course, we can help you wade through the unknowns – so you can focus on how to just keep swimming.
Other Related Topics:
BeReady: Preparing for the Worst- What is the plan if something bad does happen? Who will contact other teammates? Who will get in touch with your vendors, clients, creditors? What if you have to move temporarily?
UPS: It’s not just a brown truck!– Uninterruptible Power Supplies, a simple but effective method to help in the protection of your technology equipment.