Step 1 – Recognize the Need and Importance
Business continuity and disaster recovery strategies tend to be on the to-do lists of many SMBs, but they are often delayed as more urgent business issues emerge. U.S. businesses lose roughly $1.7 billion in profit each year from network outages according to the same 2011 CDW business continuity survey referenced earlier. Obviously, it isn’t smart business for an SMB to let business continuity and disaster recovery planning become an afterthought.
To structure a solid business continuity plan, SMBs must be prepared for all possible disruptions. It is important to note that business continuity goes beyond being prepared for natural or man-made disasters. We are now so technologically dependent that BC/DR plans must be in place to counter any disruption – big or small – that threatens business and profitability. Internal technical or infrastructure failures or cyber-attacks are obvious examples. Small internal “single-points-of-failure” can bring down an entire operation.
Step 2 – Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment
Constant availability is critical to success. In order to minimize downtime, it’s important to determine what technology is behind each phase of your business operations. Knowing the technology infrastructure of your business allows for a comprehensive impact analysis and a better grasp of the impact on business operations when specific technology fails or becomes unavailable – even for a short period of time.
Determining what could unexpectedly bring down each piece of that infrastructure is risk assessment. Risks come in the form of either internal or outside threats. Internal threats can be anything from an application failure, disk crash, and server malfunction to human error or a bitter employee. External threats can vary depending on location – natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods, and fires, as well as man-made events like power outages, acts of terror, and accidents can knock out services. Additionally, our dependency on technology leaves firms susceptible to cyber-attacks like malware, computer viruses, phishing schemes, and the theft of personal mobile devices used for work purposes.
While major disasters do occur, and shouldn’t be overlooked, it is the smaller everyday disruptions like power outages, server crashes, email issues, equipment failure, and lost or corrupted data that pose the bigger risk to business.
Doomsday prepping may be the rage these days, but a sound BC/DR plan typically begins by focusing on addressing the day-in and day-out disruptions first. Documenting, reviewing, communicating, and testing the effectiveness of smaller response scenarios will better prepare businesses for potential disasters and longer-term disruptions.
Step 3 – Look to Recent Tech Trends That Simplify Planning
Recent technology developments like server and desktop virtualization, cloud computing, and mobile devices are beneficial to SMBs looking for BC/DR solutions.
Virtualization – BC/DR preparedness may be the most compelling reason to consider virtualization. Virtualization allows businesses to condense data and applications onto fewer servers – taking up less space and consuming less power. Virtualization allows small-to-medium sized businesses the benefit of high availability (HA) without the added expense of building a backup data center. Operations can be restored faster as the entire system can be brought back in a single virtual container.
Cloud Computing – More firms are moving to the cloud for backup services. The cloud has enabled small and medium sized businesses to backup operations away from their primary location and enhance their business continuity process at a reduced cost.
Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) packages often come with built in business continuity solutions that can automate data backup processes onsite or off-site – spreading out risks and minimizing the impact of a disaster. Data, servers, software, and tools can be stored in the cloud and remain safe if a business is hit by a computer virus or disaster. The cloud also allows remote workers to access an organization’s communication and collaboration tools, further allowing for “business as usual” in the event of a serious disruption.
Although it is understandable that ownership and upper management at small to medium sized businesses are hesitant to spend money, BC/DR planning is a lot like insurance. It is human nature to think that bad things won’t happen to you, but the investment pays off the when you’re hit by an extreme event or emergency.
New technology trends and the back-up-as- a-service, remote backup, and online backup services provided by MSPs have given SMBs the ability to safeguard their business operations at a reasonable cost. Money and resources can no longer be an excuse for a lack of solid BC/DR solutions. There is way too much at risk. Plan now and CLICK HERE for a free network assessment.