SMB Tips to Ensure Business Continuity

Paul Mah

I wrote about the The Importance of Business Continuity a few days ago. In that post, I promised to share practical and simple ways to adequately address some of the areas important to the business continuity of an SMB.


Now, I must caution that my blogs on business continuity can really only be considered a rough outline, and not exhaustive by any means. If you are in the midst of drawing up business continuity plans for your small and medium-sized business, I advise that you get a local consultant to look into your specific business needs. Of course, I do hope that the below information will be useful to help you get started.


Let's start off today by looking at two areas.


Internet Access


Most organizations would require Internet access as part of their operational needs. The unavailability of Internet access in many organizations will typically result in the inability to respond to e-mail or access information online, which can result in rather severe repercussions in today's blistering "always-on" business pace. In addition, other Internet-based technologies, such as VoIP telephony services, Internet faxing and even access to public instant messaging networks will cease to work.


One relatively cheap method of quick snap-in redundant Internet access is to have a 3G router on standby. This will obviously not support work for larger networks, or even support the use of data intensive applications such as Skype. In many cases, however, this will probably work well as a temporary stop-gap for e-mail and Internet fax access.


Of course, simply signing up for Internet services via another provider for redundancy will help. This can be expensive, unfortunately, and might not be available for your locality. A way to mitigate this would be to load balance between two lower-capacity - and cheaper - lines from different providers.


Availability of Web site


You will notice that my recommendation to achieve redundancy in Internet access will not keep your Web site up if your server is hosted onsite in a server room or closet. The fact of the matter is this: It is unlikely that the server closets of most SMBs have the reliability and redundant connectivity needed to keep a Web site up 24/7.


In this era of 24/7 business, having a Web site that is not kept online often translates directly into lost sales and bypassed opportunities. As such, I recommend that companies host their Web presence on a reliable host located in a good data center. Frankly, unless your office is located in a data center itself, there no practical advantage to keeping your Web server in your server closet.


I will round up the other two aspects, access to computer systems and redundancy of e-mail servers, in my next blog. Stay tuned.

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