According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses fail to reopen after a disaster (flood, fire, hurricane, blizzard or earthquake). Businesses that lose critical data are likely to file for bankruptcy within a year. Think FEMA is exaggerating? Take a look at the facts.
- When Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in October 2012, more than 23,000 New York City businesses were badly struck.
- The Huffington Post’s three separate data backup sites between New York City and Newark went down. However, and not surprisingly, an integrated care network in New Jersey, AtlantiCare, escaped without a scratch, despite having offices located in some of the hardest-hit areas. The network’s largest centers were able to remain operational throughout the storm, thanks to its well-crafted and tested data disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
- Hurricane Katrina proved its brutality in August 2005, when flooding hit several small and large enterprises. The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System lost all electronic medical records and patient data.
- A small, thriving, make-up business in Mississippi lost its entire client mailing list, website, catalog and product inventory to the raging Katrina.
For any business, the most important resource is data, and proactively protecting it, especially from natural as well as unforeseen man-made disasters, should be more of a requisite than an optional afterthought.
What about you? Are you prepared for a disaster?
Answer the following questions to know if your business is prepared to get back fully and as quickly as possible in the event of an unexpected disaster.
- How much work would you be able to do without any access to your system files?
- How much would it cost you if you lost critical information?
- How many of your clients would be happy to know your business is stuck for the next couple of weeks?
Feeling stressed already? Here are 7 critical components you need to review to make sure your business is ready protect itself against Mother Nature’s fury:
- Implement a sound Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plan. Well, it isn’t quite enough to just establish a plan. Businesses need to monitor the plan and ensure all components are implemented effectively and updated frequently.
- Communicate the plan to all employees. Make sure every employee is aware of your disaster recovery plan and know their specific roles in the event of a worst-case scenario.
- Test the plan more than once in a year (some advise weekly test runs!). Enterprises fall prey to massive technology failures simply because they forget to test an otherwise well-planned disaster recovery system. Test, prepare and practice under conditions that simulate actual emergency circumstances in order to identify potential threats and to overcome unexpected obstacles.
- Assess disaster drills meticulously. Reviewing the results of drills serves to bring in improvements in performance and improvisations to existing recovery procedures.
- Make backup site accessible. It’s a common mistake to have backup sites just a few miles away from the primary operation center. In the event of a natural disaster, both locations would crumble under the same threat. It makes better sense to have backup sites and redundant servers located miles apart, but at the same time, can be accessed easily through alternate paths.
- Opt for cloud based backup as well. Server virtualization is an effective way to achieve redundant systems. Cloud based backup alone can speed up the disaster recovery process, allowing businesses to bounce back with renewed vigor minutes after an unfortunate catastrophe.
- Leave it to the pros. Finally, entrust your disaster recovery plan to a trusted professional who is in a better position to understand the needs of your business and augment the capabilities of your IT department.
As IT environments grow in complexity with more and more businesses shifting to virtual environments, the risks associated with disaster increase without a well-crafted Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plan that includes offsite backup and regular testing of IT services.