Is Your Business Ready For Hurricane Season?
2020 has been a wild year, and it’s only half-way over. With one storm already here in the form of COVID-19, local businesses are already learning difficult lessons about remote working and other such challenges, but another hurdle is still out there. Like a one-two knockout, hurricane season is here. The season starts June 1st and lasts until November 30th. This substantially large timeframe leaves a lot of room for ambiguous storm predictions. However, unless the eye of the hurricane is directly above your office, it’s never too late to begin prepping your disaster recovery plan for emergencies. Preparing your IT department’s infrastructure and protocols for a hurricane can be stressful, and some people don’t know where to start. The devastating power of a hurricane can cause major power outages that lead to extended periods of downtime. For most businesses, every day is as important as the next Research finds that 75% of businesses without a continuity plan will fail within three years of their first disaster. So, which actions should east coast businesses take to prepare themselves and their IT department?
Calculate Your Affordable Downtime
To build out a successful disaster recovery plan for the IT department is understanding one question:“How much is a day worth?” This question broadly covers some key distinctions your business has to define. This includes how much downtime your business can afford and how much that downtime is going to affect your bottom line.
By asking “How much is a day worth?” you begin to build a foundation for your disaster recovery strategy. Understanding the potential impact of a natural disaster is the first step to develop the necessary protocol for data management, infrastructure, and your IT department as a whole.
Determine Your Recovery Parameters
Two parameters contribute to an effective disaster recovery plan for your IT department: Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The RTO measurement is the set amount of time to recover business-critical information after an outage as well as the time it takes to fully recover. The RPO measurement defines the final time the systems/applications can be recovered as well as estimates the amount of data lost during an outage.
Assure that these two parameters are aligned with your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to maximize data recovery. This also helps to minimize the loss of revenue and mitigate decreased productivity.
Protect Your Electronic Files
Offsite backups are essential for disaster preparedness. Backing up files within your data center is a good precaution against computer failure, but it does nothing if the entire data center is damaged by a hurricane. Many offsite backup services are available that can securely store your business’s data, offering various levels of industry-specific regulatory compliance.If a backup plan is not within your business’s budget, you can employ a “make-do”’ solution. For instance, you could gather backup drives from your business each week and swap them with a second set, which you keep in a bank security box. Anything that keeps copies of your business’s data at a separate location increases the chances of salvaging your electronic files after a hurricane.
You also want to prepare hard copies of mission-critical business information such as personnel, commercial and legal documents, so they’re free during cleanup while your IT support might still be offline.
Have a Reliable Communication Plan
Don’t rely on a landline phone for communication following a hurricane, not even newer Voice over IP (VoIP) phones. VoIP lines are more inclined to be underground than older analog lines, but unlike analog sets, they require electrical power. Use a smartphone, walkie-talkie or a battery-powered UHF radio, but remember to charge them before the hurricane even makes landfall.
Whenever possible, limit cell phone calls during a hurricane to emergencies only. Cellular network traffic spikes during disaster situations, which can stop calls from going through. To more dependably communicate non-emergency issues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggests text messages, which are less taxing on cellular networks than voice traffic.
Test Your Emergency Preparedness
Developing a disaster recovery plan for your IT department is vitally important, but why have one if it hasn’t been tested? The worst time to find out that your plan has weaknesses is when you’re relying on it the most. It’s highly recommended to test disaster recovery plans at least once a year. However, if you’ve made any new upgrades to any hardware, brought on new employees, or made any significant changes make sure to update the plan in place and conduct a new test.As we approach the 2020 hurricane season, businesses along the East Coast should think about the likely impact on their IT department. Businesses can prepare for nature’s worst by calculating affordable downtime, setting recovery parameters, backing up business-critical data, reaching out to professional MSPs, and regularly testing their disaster recovery protocol. Don’t let Hurricane Season stop your progress.
Seek Out A Managed Service Provider
As mentioned above, preparing your IT department’s infrastructure and protocols for a hurricane can be extremely stressful. This is why it’s highly recommended that businesses seek out an outsourced Managed Service Provider (MSP). A trusted MSP can help maintain networks and manage data with 24/7 monitored support. By having an MSP monitor your network, you can expect a radically minimized disaster response time.
Feel like your IT department could benefit from an improved disaster recovery strategy? Reach out to Creative Network Innovations today, and we’ll work with you to develop a tailored, effective business continuity plan. As a business located in Melbourne, Florida we understand the severity of hurricane season. We’ve helped an array of businesses along the East Coast, and would welcome the opportunity of helping yours.