September 27, 2017

Safeguarding Your Business Before a Natural Disaster Strikes

We are in the midst of hurricane season in the United States, and the extreme flooding and devastating effects are taking a toll on people – and businesses – all over the country. The estimated economic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey alone ranges from $70 billion to $108 billion. The economic impact of Harvey gains even more perspective when you consider that Texas ranked #4 in the 2017 America's Top States for Business and it accounts for nearly 8 percent of U.S. economic output. To make matters worse, Florida, which is known for its tourism, ports and business services, was hit by Hurricane Irma just days later. Florida ranked #12 in the same poll.

Natural disasters pose a threat to businesses small and large. What happens if floods wash away your computers and servers? What are you to do if fire destroys your facilities and your IT infrastructure? Would it even be possible to recreate all the files and records that underpin daily operations? Could a disaster spell the end to not just your physical facilities but also your entire business? As a business owner, these questions need to be a continual thought. While you may not have control over the scenario, you do have the ability to plan ahead and prepare your company to the best of your ability.

Business Continuity Planning

Every company needs to implement an internal business continuity plan that allows it to keep operations running and remain connected to employees, files and resources after a disaster strikes. Not only does this plan need to be developed, but also thoroughly tested and reviewed frequently, as company goals and objectives may change. An ideal plan can be achieved by relying on the cloud or, better yet, investing in a cloud service provider.

Data accessibility is your livelihood. And, the cloud offers 24x7x365 access to all of the same applications and files available in the office regardless of location. So, your organization will be able to set up remote locations and stay open for business, even when facilities may be down. Your business continuity plan should take into consideration the requirement for your entire workforce to access your data at the same time, so provision must be made to accommodate that level of demand. Also, while data access via company-owned desktop computers or laptops is a given when going to the cloud, it is wise to plan for a solution that also allows BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) capabilities. This option enables employee-owned devices to be used for work purposes from remote locations, safeguarded by security layers and controls that separate personal information from protected company data. This type of access will give you the ability to communicate freely with your staff and clients to ensure their safety and well-being – a capability that can truly make a difference during such devastating times.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Once you have your business continuity plan in place, it is time to start thinking about actual disaster recovery. In the case of physical damage, you must know that your data will not be lost forever. Perform daily backups to ensure your data is safe, should servers be partially or fully destroyed. It also is wise to identify which of your systems is the most critical and devise a specific protection plan. Strategies can include installing sprinkler systems, water detectors and emergency generators. Be sure to consider your budget, constraints and obligations throughout this planning stage to best maximize overall recovery.

Ease of Mind

In the event of a disaster, it is only natural to feel overwhelmed. But, having the foresight to invest in a cloud service provider with multiple data centers offers the peace of mind that your corporate applications and data will be safe and secure no matter what happens in your geographic locale. Further, by implementing the proper plans and policies, your employees will have the ability to continue to work throughout any emergency situation, especially if your cloud service provider supports its network around-the-clock and guarantees zero downtime.

Keep in mind that disasters take many forms. A simple power outage that lasts for a day or more could have business ramifications just as serious as a natural disaster. Absent a quality business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan, valuable data could be lost. However, if cloud solutions underlie your business backup strategy, recovering data will only take a few minutes and you will be able to conduct business and generate revenue, regardless of what Mother Nature may send your way.

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