Maintaining Business Continuity in SMBs

Paul Mah
Slide Show

Five Business Continuity Myths

Avoid these five misconceptions to remain truly prepared.

I started the "Eight IT Projects for SMBs" series in February, and have positioned it to help SMBs in eight different facades of technology. This week, I want to write about maintaining business continuity, which remains a crucial business topic especially in the light of recent natural disasters and how evolving technology continues to shape the options available to SMBs.


As workable solutions vary widely depending on the nature of business, relative size and the financial health of a company, I will be steering away from actual deployment suggestions. Instead, I will present a trio of ideas for today that can better position small- and mid-sized businesses should disaster ever hit.


Implement a Backup Strategy with Widely Dispersed Data Nodes


The traditional paradigm of backup using redundant disks coupled with tape cartridges shipped to a nearby branch office or storage facility is probably practiced by many SMBs. The total reliance of modern businesses on digital records and data also makes such a strategy appear woefully inadequate, especially in the context of recent natural disasters such as the New Zealand earthquake that ravaged Christchurch and Japan's double whammy Richter 9 quake and tsunami.


The only logical solution to guarantee data survivability is really to spread data backups across widely dispersed data notes, relying on the Internet to perform real-time data replication for business continuity, or regular backups as an alternative. Of course, a downside to online replication can be evidenced by Google's recent Gmail snafus that saw the company scrambling for offline tape cartridges to recover corrupted data records.


Where Feasible, Deploy Laptops over Desktops


Folks no longer bother to talk about how the shipments of laptops have surpassed that of desktops. Instead of being confined to the office, laptop-equipped employees can conceivably perform their work without having to leave their homes. This gives businesses the flexibility to ask staffers to stay home in the face of a pandemic or in cases of inclement weather ranging from snowstorms to hurricanes. An alternative to that would be to consider the use of virtual desktop environments, though this scenario could mean a higher level of complexity for initial configuration and high-availability deployments.


Empower Employees with Remote Email Access


Implementation of business continuity plans might entail the communication of specific and detailed instructions to get things up and running. Timely voice calls or even text messages are not well-suited for the transmission of verbose information. As such, it makes sense to ensure that all employees have the ability to remotely access their emails where necessary, which can be via a Web mail interface from a home machine, a company laptop or using their smartphones. Obviously, the appropriate authentication and encryption technologies should be deployed for secure communication, as well as to defend against data leakages.

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