Commentary: Hurricane proofing your IT

July 20, 2011 

As we approach the peak of the Florida hurricane season, business owners and IT executives should make sure they have backup plans in place in case a hurricane disrupts their IT infrastructure. In today’s connected world, your customers expect to have access to you no matter what the weather conditions.

The most common backup performed is data, but many companies do not follow the three requirements to make them effective. Backups should be stored outside your office, taken multiple times throughout the day and be easy to restore. Cloud based data backups are a great way to keep them outside your office, but make sure you deal with reputable companies that will be around when you need the backup. The frequency of backups should be carefully considered.

Think about the financial loss to your business if you lose 24 hours of data, 12 hours of data, one hour of data and five minutes of data. If your financial loss is more than the increment cost for the increased backups and storage, then you should select the greatest frequency.

After you have your data properly secured, make sure you backup your Internet connection so you can maintain access to your data. Internet access is pretty inexpensive nowadays, so there really is no excuse for not having a backup. Dial up access can even be used if you want to keep it low cost. If you use IP phones, you can use a separate Internet connection for your phones and your Internet. If one goes down, you can switch both phone and Internet to the working connection. This is a great way to have a natural backup and maximize your bandwidth.

Something missed by many companies is having a hardware backup plan. For those with servers at your office, what will you do if you get hit by a hurricane or are flooded?

If you have another location, have plans in place to move any backed up data to the servers at the second location. You may even want to have an extra server that can be used for a short time period if necessary.

The extra server can even provide a backup in case of a non-hurricane hardware failure. Like cars, you can get an older model server at reduced prices.

A second option is to have a backup at a data center. When selecting your data center, ask questions about how secure it is against natural disasters and their history of uptime.

You want to make sure they have been up in the past and will be up in the future.

Like any process in your business, the best way to ensure success is to document your steps and test regularly. Many companies have great plans in place, but they never test them and the plans end up failing when the companies need them most. With a little planning, you can be one of the success stories.

Stephen Jaynes, vice president of sales at xByte Technologies, can be reached at www.xbyte.com or (941) 358-9770.

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