When disaster strikes, take comfort in the cloud

Martin Flynn

Anticipating unknown events can be difficult for business owners who need to stay focused on growth, profits and customer satisfaction, and not on “what if” questions. Every business owner should ask themselves: What will happen if critical servers go down? How long it may take to restore them? Do we have the resources to do so? Can your business survive the revenue loss and reputation damage likely to occur when IT systems go down?

Even minimal downtime during an IT disaster event can result in lost revenue and customers, which is why businesses should consider partnering with a trusted technology provider to make careful preparations and build redundant infrastructure.

The cloud helps businesses weather the storm

Moving critical business data, software and infrastructure from your company location to the cloud keeps critical business information safe and accessible when disaster strikes. Choose a cloud provider with strong service level agreements and a solid track record.

Data backup

Look for a cloud provider with expertise to manage and automate data backup services that will safely house your critical information in a reliable, off-site data center.

Security and access

Ensure that employees can securely access data from remote locations using multiple devices. If appropriate, choose a cloud provider that upholds the most stringent data compliance standards regulating the healthcare, legal and financial industries. Consider a data center located in another region, especially if located in a region prone to catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes or tornados.

Enable a mobile workforce with hosted applications

The new workplace does not have walls, and employees want access to everything on any device. The cloud helps employees be productive and competitive no matter where they are, and a business has increased flexibility when email, collaboration programs and other business applications are hosted in the cloud.

Server recovery

Backing up files isn’t enough. Select a cloud provider with a proactive plan to replace and recover servers should they go down during a disaster.

Machines and hardware fail, humans make mistakes and Mother Nature is not always accommodating. It is clear that doing nothing to prepare for an IT disaster is one of the biggest mistakes a business can make. Many businesses procrastinate over disaster preparedness planning because it seems costly and daunting, but it is manageable with clear priorities and a strong team.

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning tips

Minimizing or eliminating downtime, operational failures and customer service disruptions while keeping employees and customers safe and informed are goals to keep in mind when establishing a comprehensive business continuity program. Here are tips for implementing an effective plan:

  • A good recovery plan should address four key elements: building(s), systems, equipment and personnel, plus contingencies for the loss of any or all of them.
  • Know the business’s critical functions, vendors and suppliers and what the business stands to lose if they were unavailable for a few hours, a day or weeks. Create continuity plans for those you cannot afford to be without. For example, during a power outage, will financial and payment systems go down? Will food spoil when refrigerators shut off?
  • Develop a communications plan so that employees can reach one another and learn where to go if a building is closed, etc. Use new forms of communication technology such as text messaging or social media to disseminate messages if needed.
  • Consider cloud-based services or other technologies that provide cost-effective redundancies to help maintain business operations.
  • Test your business continuity plan at least annually and when staff changes occur.

No business, large or small, is invulnerable to IT disasters, but having a well-crafted IT disaster recovery plan is paramount to getting a business back up and running as quickly as possible when disaster strikes. Many businesses are simply not adequately prepared for an IT disaster, despite the widespread availability of easy-to-implement technology solutions designed to mitigate IT vulnerabilities. If your business does not have a disaster recovery plan, there is no better time than now to protect your data, hardware and systems. Take the first step today by looking to the cloud for comprehensive data backup and recovery solutions.

Martin Flynn is a senior marketing manager at CenturyLink.

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