Disaster Recovery: Is Your Business Set Up to Survive an Outage?

Author: Julie.Foster/Monday, May 1, 2017/Categories: Data Services

Organizations of all sizes rely on technology to keep the business up and running. IT professionals are responsible for setting up, managing, and providing ongoing support for a wide array of hardware and software. Amid all that responsibility and planning, actively preparing for a business outage may be at the bottom of your list. Regardless of how disaster recovery is prioritized, IT professionals need to consider the following:

  • An outage is constantly possible
  • Businesses must be protected with a plan
  • Preparation is key to minimizing downtime

By understanding these considerations, you can implement disaster recovery services before an outage takes place. IT professionals can help protect any organization from an outage that could very likely impact operational costs and negatively interrupt the customer experience.

How Easily Disaster Can Strike

A disaster that causes an outage can happen anytime and anywhere. Several scenarios can cause an accidental power failure for your organization’s electronic network.

Weather/National Disaster

One of the primary causes of an outage is poor weather conditions. It is estimated that natural weather phenomena cause over 70% of power outages in the United States. Lightning, wind, snow, ice, and rain are a few examples of the varied weather conditions that can cause a power outage.

Lightning can strike power supply equipment causing blackouts and other electric interruptions.

Wind is also particularly dangerous because it can blow down power lines as well as force other objects, such as trees, to physically damage power supply equipment. If strong winds have weakened power lines in the past, a gust of wind or consistent winds can cause them to fall over.

Severe weather can also cause leaks or flooding in your office building. If you have power strips, battery backups, or cords on the floor, contact with water could fry your entire network. Also, water near your electronics is a serious concern for electric shock and even death.

Your workplace could be the victim of any natural disaster if it is in the path of a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake. Any of these natural disasters could partially or completely destroy your computer hardware and cause loss of data or other records that are not backup or stored offsite.

Utility Interference

Don’t be fooled into thinking that weather is the only root cause you should worry about. The sun could be shining when another scenario causes an outage. For example, an outage may occur because of a car accident that propels a vehicle to hit a utility pole. In addition, your local electric company may plan to do work in your area and request that you turn off your power temporarily. In the same token, they could be doing work and cause loss of power by mistake. Speaking of unexpected issues, some buildings could have rodents that occupy hidden areas. In some cases, rodents such as rats or mice can chew on wiring, causing it to fail.

Criminal Activity

Theft and vandalism are threats to the workplace. IT professionals should consider that these scenarios can occur from internal or external activity. Company-owned mobile devices may be at risk for internal theft. In addition, if your computer hardware or other electronic equipment was stolen or vandalized, would you lose data that is irreplaceable? More importantly, would confidential or company sensitive data be secure?

Electrical Infrastructure

Issues are not limited to events that occur outside of your workplace. Other issues could occur without any warning. Some buildings could have faulty or outdated wiring that needs to be replaced. In this case, your connection may flicker or go out completely without warning. If you work in an office with multiple workstations or several devices running, you may be at risk to overload your circuit breakers. An appliance that draws significant power, could trip a circuit breaker when it is used in conjunction with technology or other items that draw more power than your infrastructure can handle.

Fire

If a fire destroyed your office building, would you lose all your data? Some of the reasons that a fire would occur in your workplace may include faulty wiring, flammable/combustible materials, breakroom/kitchen accidents, or arson.

Hardware/Software Failure

Sometimes it is hard to imagine, but hardware such as computers and servers can fail at any time. In addition, operating systems can become corrupt or inoperable for many reasons. Hardware and software functionality is a critical component of a company’s daily operations, so IT professionals must be prepared for its potential loss.

Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail

Now that you understand some of the scenarios that can cause a power outage, it is important for your organization to have a plan in place. If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan, you and your company may face temporary setbacks, including:

  • Interruption of digital phone services
  • Loss of air conditioning/heat
  • Loss of billable hours
  • Inability to process transactions
  • Lost revenue
  • Costs for manpower to restore operations

Moreover, power outages can wreak long-term havoc on a business by:

  • Causing power surges that damage expensive technology hardware (such as computers)
  • Reducing the physical lifespan of traditional hard drives
  • Forcing solid-state drives (SSDs) into malfunction or data corruption
  • Leading to irrecoverable loss of business-critical data
  • Decreasing customer service and satisfaction
  • Weakening your organization’s reliable reputation

Preparation Ensures Survival

It is safe to say that many of the aforementioned scenarios would be an IT nightmare, and some are extremely detrimental to any organization. With this in mind, organizations need to avoid these setbacks by preparing for ways to survive an outage. IT professionals can make several preparations to protect the hardware and software owned and used by the organization, such as:

  • Protecting electrical equipment with surge protectors
  • Using an adequate uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
  • Creating automatic/regular off-site data back-ups
  • Performing regular tests for battery backup systems (at least 1 test every 6 months)
  • Installing standby or backup power sources for critical computer equipment
  • Informing employees about best practices to backup and frequently save their data
  • Setting up a standby generator
  • Setting up access levels for employees on your network
  • Creating data encryption
  • Password-protecting all devices and software
  • Keeping hard copies offsite

IT professionals that create and standardize strong disaster recovery protocols can avoid outage repercussions that increase operational costs and negatively impact the customer experience. Most importantly, a thorough disaster recovery plan keeps the entire team confident that they will be prepared to keep the business up and running when customers need their support.  The cloud is a viable option for backup since data doesn’t care where it resides and the cloud is always accessible. But for disaster recovery, the cloud may be a virtual necessity. On-site redundancy can work for backup, but disasters can take out an entire site, redundant hardware and all. Both are critical to business when disaster strikes.

To get the right recovery plan for your business, our experienced business team can help design one that fits your needs. Get a quote to protect your business today.

 

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