Disasters happen. Floods, fires, power cuts, hardware malfunctions, extreme weather … These can all play havoc with business technology, and they’re largely beyond human control. What we can control is our response and contingency planning. That’s what we call business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR).
Without a strong BCDR strategy, you’re much more likely to face downtime. And there’s nothing good about downtime!
Common causes of downtime
Downtime can happen for all sorts of reasons. These are some common ones:
- Natural events
- Hardware issues
- Human error
- Power cuts
- Cybersecurity breaches
You may get some overlap here. For instance, a cybersecurity breach may happen because of a human error. But any one of these things on its own can cause a lot of disruption if you’re not ready.
Why do I need a disaster recovery strategy?
Quite simply, because you want as little downtime as possible. Downtime is all cost and no benefit. The more of it you face, the more money you waste.
We’ve looked at common causes of downtime. No organisation in the world can avoid all these things, all the time. With a robust BCDR plan, you can substantially reduce downtime when it hits.
What do I need to consider for a BCDR plan?
No two businesses are alike. The risks you face will depend on factors like your location, size, sector and business model. These in turn will influence your business continuity policy. Still, there are certain measures that apply to most businesses:
List your mission-critical technologies
Every business has certain technologies it can’t do anything without. Chances are that it will include a combination of servers, phone systems, devices and apps, but it really depends on your business.
You’ll want to list them, and consider any particular risks. For instance, are there single points of failure? Is there a way to back them up? Does certain hardware have a shelf life? These are the sorts of questions you’ll need to answer.
Identify other risks
We’ve covered potential problems with your technology. But there are other risks too. For instance, is your site in an area with high flood risk? Is your server room accessible to people who shouldn’t be there? You have to identify and assess these risks to prepare for them.
Back up regularly
Another risk of downtime is lost work – which is an annoyance at best, and a catastrophe at worst. Regular backups are a must. It’s also a risk to save everything locally, because it could all be lost. We’d strongly recommend cloud storage, because it’s unaffected by any problems local to your area.
Develop a remote working plan
What happens if people can’t work in the office? COVID-19 is the obvious recent example, but it could happen for all sorts of reasons. Your site might have flooded or caught fire. It might just be unsafe or impossible to travel.
Regardless, it’s a huge problem if no office means no work. Remote working can be great for morale and productivity anyway. But it’s also important for business continuity. If you’ve got the right tools to do it, you can reduce the costs of an inaccessible office.
You could have the greatest business continuity plan. It’s all for nothing if you don’t communicate it. This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in the business has to know every step. But anyone involved in implementing the plan should.
Then, when you need to put the plan into action, you need to communicate it clearly to the rest of your team.
Unfortunately, disaster recovery plans aren’t something you can do once and forget about. Your IT infrastructure changes. You might have drafted the perfect plan for 2014, but it probably won’t help you in 2023. Reviews and updates are necessary, even if it’s only once a year.
Prevention is better than the cure
We’ve talked about mitigating the effects of disasters. But of course, we’d all prefer to avoid them altogether! You can’t eliminate the risk of downtime, but you can substantially reduce it. Here are a few quick tips to help:
It doesn’t sound like much, but messy, unlabelled cabling is a massive problem. If you don’t know what connects to what, you can easily end up unplugging the wrong thing and making the problem worse! From your server room to endpoints, neat cabling with clear labels will make life so much easier.
Map your network
Your network connects so many parts of your business. In most cases, it will be everything from endpoints to your phone system to printers and more. Understanding how it all connects is critical to disaster recovery. It allows you to identify risks, flaws and inefficiencies.
Consider the cloud
We’ve already mentioned cloud backup. But that’s just the beginning of what you can do on the cloud. You can also use it to virtualise your desktop, or host your phone system. This allows you to access these tools from anywhere, which really helps with remote working. But it’s also highly resilient.
All the cloud solutions we offer are hosted in tier-one data centres, with geographic redundancy. What does this mean in plain English? The data centre servers are exceptionally robust, and located away from your site. So, if you have a local problem, your cloud-hosted services won’t be affected. And even if one data centre has an outage, it automatically fails over to another. This makes it much less prone to failure.
This one’s pretty simple, but extremely important. You simply have to make sure you’re regularly updating software. Otherwise, your devices will be slower, and at greater risk of security threats.
Another option we offer is 24/7 remote monitoring and management (RMM). This is through advanced software that allows us to flag potential issues before they start slowing you down. Essentially it means you’re less likely to be caught by surprise – and you can prevent downtime before it hits.
This ought to be a given for any business. Quite simply, it’s essential to have a robust cybersecurity plan specific to your business. This means end-point protection, firewalls and multi-factor authentication as a bare minimum!
How BDR can help
There’s a lot to consider with business continuity and disaster recovery. Our IT experts can make it easy. We can help draw up the plan, and we can make you less likely to need it! From cybersecurity to network management to IT support, we can offer an IT services package that’s tailored to your organisation.
To protect your business, get in touch today.