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Business Continuity

Business continuity is about more than dealing with disasters. It doesn’t come in a box, and it’s not a single service you can “set and forget”. It’s a drastically important component of any business, and the more reliant you are on computers and phones, the more critical it is to start planning now.

DEFINITIONS
Business Continuity: The collection of systems and plans that help your business carry on during and after a disaster.

 

Disaster: For purposes of business continuity, a “disaster” can be anything from a missing file to nuclear war. Part of defining your business continuity strategy involves figuring out what levels of disasters you need to plan for. Here are a few examples (roll over to see more details):
Data Disasters
Access Disasters
Personnel Disasters

 

COMPONENTS
A good business continuity plan is made up of three components: Backup, Systems, and Procedures.

 

Backup
Business continuity is much more than just backing up your files, but backup is a key component. A good backup must meet the following 6 criteria:
1: Survivable
Your data needs to exist somewhere that won’t be affected by a large-scale disaster, preferably off your property, in a secure facility.
2: Retrievable
A good backup system will have both on-site and an off-site storage to maximize accessability.
(Tape backups fail here because, if the tape drive is destroyed, you won’t be able to read your tapes.)
3: Current
If the thought of starting over with last week’s financials makes you cringe, you know what “current” means. Currency is more critical with some data than others.
4: Historical
Someimes, you need an older copy of a file. If the most recent version was bad to begin with, you’ll need to be able to restore data from days, weeks, or even months ago.
5: Secure
You need to know where all copies of your data reside, and who has access to it.
Backups should always be stored in an encrypted state to prevent unauthorized use.
6: Usable
This is where most backup schemes fail. Having all of your data available does no good if the programs and servers necessary to use it are unavailable.
Clocktower’s Business Continuance Server meets all of the above criteria, including the ability to quickly load an exact, virtual copy of a failed server, allowing your business to continue as though nothing ever happened.
To learn more about our Business Continuance Server, click here, or give us a call at 508-541-6143 today.
Systems
One of the easiest ways to address business continuity is to utilize systems that have many business continuity requirements built in. Hosted, or “cloud-based” applications have great advantages in this area. They’re constantly maintained, they’re backed up, they’re not dependent on your office connectivity, and they’re accessible from anywhere. As part of your business continuity planning, you should consider the following:

 

Find out if your main line-of-business software has a hosted (or cloud, or Web-based) version. If so, compare it’s features and functionality with your current version.
For e-mail, consider hosted Microsoft Exchange services. Unless you have a specific reason to host your own e-mail server, this is almost a no-brainer.
For your telephone communications, look into a hosted Voice-over-IP (VoIP) system. Even if your office is uninhabitable, your customers can still reach you, as though it were an ordinary day.
For server-based applications that don’t have a cloud version, consider alternatives that do. You may not be able to (and you may not want to) move everything to the cloud, but the potential benefits make investigation worthwhile.

To learn more about Clocktower’s cloud services, give us a call at 508-541-6143 today.
Procedures
A business continuity strategy needs a set of documented procedures. The best technology in the world won’t help if you don’t have procedures in place that can be followed by a few key employees. You’ll need procedures to address both small and large disasters, and you’ll need general operating procedures to keep your emergency procedures up to date. As far as possible, all emergency procedures should be tested regularly.
If you have someone in your company who can champion this initiative, and keep on top of it, year-in and year-out, you’re better-off than most. If not, Clocktower’s Global Technology Management program with CTO Services can help make sure your business continuity program is complete.
If you’re interested in learning more about developing a comprehensive business continuity plan for your company, give us a call at 508-541-6143.
© 2012 Clocktower Technology Services, Inc.
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