2017’s highly active hurricane season and the devastation in parts of the Caribbean should give companies pause. Whether it’s an extreme weather event, an earthquake, or an act of terrorism, everyone needs to be ready to deal with a situation in which they have to evacuate their facilities, or deal with an extended power outage. Even if your data is all hosted in the cloud, there is always the risk that a large enough storm or concurrent disasters (bear in mind Mexico was hit by two earthquakes in 2017, one of them simultaneous with Irma) can theoretically knock out both your office and the server on which your data is hosted.
What can you do about it?
You need to have a disaster recovery plan. Start by analyzing what your business needs to keep operating in the event of a disaster, or at least to quickly resume operations.
- Look at what is most critical to you and prioritize it, then identify specific threats. For example, should you change your cloud provider to one which is located further away?
- Put together an emergency response team.
- Look at how your business responded to incidents in the past. If there’s a four-hour power outage, does everyone sit on their hands waiting for the electricity to come back?
- If you have the budget, you should set up a disaster recovery site – a second cloud server which holds your most critical data and is located a good distance away from both your office and your primary cloud server.
What about the recovery plan itself?
The recovery plan itself should be designed to ensure that you meet recovery time objectives – which depend on what your business does. How long do you have before your customers start getting upset? How long can you continue to pay your employees if no money is coming in? Some things to consider:
- Set up alternate work locations. Can people work at home if, say, your office is damaged by a fire, or do you need to plan to get temporary office space? Would it be helpful to have critical stuff on a laptop which can be easily moved, or would that cause security issues?
- Make a complete inventory of hardware and software.
- Design a communication plan
- Make sure that service agreements cover emergencies.
- Make a plan to back up and protect vital information.
- Create a business continuity plan to help keep critical operations going no matter what – balanced, of course, with the safety of your employees. A plan that keeps as few people on site as possible is a good idea if your business is in a geographic area prone to hurricanes or earthquakes, so you can evacuate non-essential personnel and know they are safe.
What about once you have your plan?
Once you have your disaster recovery plan, you need to test it. Frequently. Think of how often people run fire drills – this is the same thing. You need to run drills at intervals, testing out different possibilities. Test your plan for simulated scenarios that range from a fire in your server room all the way to a storm that evacuates half the state. Only regular testing can identify holes in employee preparation and make sure that everyone knows what to do if a disaster happens.
Don’t think your data is necessarily safe just because it is in the cloud. You still need to have a plan for if your on-site servers and cloud servers somehow go down at the same time. If you do use a cloud provider, then you should go over your disaster recovery plan with them and ask about theirs. Unfortunately, many cloud providers only care about maintaining the servers. If you want a cloud service that involves itself more in your business and can help you keep your business going even through the next Irma, then contact PointClick Technologies today.