Winter is Coming, is Your Network Ready?

Posted February 4, 2015 by admin

Winter is coming, and with it bad weather, power outages, snow storms, heavy rains, and other general mayhem. We all know the things that can happen from car sliding in to poles, knocking the power out to buildings to iced over wires causing internet outages, and anything in between. The question you may now be asking yourself is, “I know winter causes headaches, but what does that have to do with my technology?” The answer is everything.

 

Anything that can cause issue for a small business owner or staff can cause problems for the organization’s technology. A down internet connection can halt an organization in it’s tracks, a power outage that lasts a day or more, can have serious repercussions on the business, and a broken pipe in the office building can destroy all the technology in a building. Some of these things have a remote chance of happening, and some of them are much more frequent. However, a small business should be prepared for all of them.

 

How do you prepare for something that is so far out of your control? With a disaster recovery or “D.R.” plan. A disaster recovery plan is a documented set of processes and procedures to protect the business in the event of an outage or disaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaster_recovery_plan). A good D.R. plan has several components, and multiple scenarios are addressed.

 

To start a D.R. plan you must know what are the most important functions to the business? For example, if you are veterinary clinic, then the practice management software would be among the most critical. This will typically be longer than just one application or system, and varying degrees of importance can be given to each item. Once you know that, you can really start answering the question that will is the foundation of your plan: how long can we be down?

 

That is not as simple an answer as you would think because each scenario could be a little different. Sticking with the vet clinic as an example, that question may break down in to several more questions:

 

1. How long can we be without the practice management software?
2. How long can we be without internet access?
3. How long can we go if the main server fails?
4. How long can we go without phones?
5. What do we do if the power is going to be out for 1 or more days?

 

These are just a handful of the questions that can and should be in a good D.R. plan, but there can, and should, be several more. Every plan should, at a minimum address what is the acceptable level of downtime for:

 

1. Critical business applications
2. Internet access
3. Phones
4. Total server outage
5. Power outage
6. Catastrophe to the building or office (e.g. fire, tornado, water pipe bursting)

 

Once those are addressed, then it is time to move on to how to recover from those scenarios, and the answer to that can be as varied as can be imagined. However, there will be one constant, do you have a backup, and do you know it will work?

 

Disaster recovery plans are often over looked by small businesses because they take time, but when an outage happens, you will be glad to have prepared ahead of time. These plans do require experience and expertise and should not be created without some guidance from an IT professional. Often, the initial questions spawn further questions, so professional guidance is really a must, especially to ensure that any solution is realistic and fits in the budget. As Ben Franklin said “‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, so take some time to prevent the mayhem with a solid plan. Contact Us today to get started on your preparation.