In light of recent natural disasters, it seems like a good time to remind businesses to review their disaster preparedness and business continuity plans.
Disaster mitigation and recovery requires that businesses plan for various types of catastrophes such that when weighed against budgetary constraints, their responses maintain appropriate degrees of availability, integrity, and confidentiality of their data. A small local florist, for example, would have different requirements during a regional blackout than would a county police department within the affected area. Many a small business would be able to just shutter its doors and windows and wait out the night, whereas law enforcement would require near-100% data and infrastructure availability.
Each business must balance its needs for data & infrastructure availability against the costs, and must determine appropriate levels of fault tolerance.
In the event of a power failure, at a minimum, businesses will want uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) on their servers to permit graceful shutdowns. In areas prone to frequent brownouts, surges, or even brief blackouts, a UPS may also permit a business to ride out such waves in power without any effect on their servers. For businesses requiring more uptime even during an extended power failure, backup generators may be employed – plan for sufficient capacity to power any mission-critical network devices, too.
In the event of Internet connectivity failure, for many small to medium businesses, it suffices to simply host their email and Web servers offsite in a dedicated server farm. This is generally the safest way to ensure availability, as these hosting companies typically have redundancy and fault tolerance built in, and maintain spare parts and trained technicians on hand 24/7. For a business that insists on hosting its own, cellular service can backup cable or fiber optic broadband, and spare modems, routers, switches, and patch cables can be kept on hand.
In the event of server failure, RAID can be used to mitigate a bad hard drive. A second server can be used to mitigate primary server failure. Offsite backup, either online or by storing tapes offsite can mitigate data loss in the event of fire or flood. Although not our favorite solutions, nowadays, many IT techs would even suggest cloud computing or virtual servers with offsite backup, which would permit the latest saved copy of the server itself to be restored to another host in the event of a catastrophe.
The best thing an SMB can do is to schedule a consultation with a qualified disaster planner or business continuity specialist to discuss budgets & requirements and the options & costs to meet them. Maverick Solutions performs this type of planning as part of its routine work with all of its IT consulting clients, and would be happy to consult with you about it, too. Call or email us to discuss or to schedule an appointment.
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