Small and medium-sized businesses are generally aware of the importance of performing proper backups, be it archiving e-mails or making copies of their databases. In an earlier blog titled Backups: More than Just the Data, I drew attention to the importance of backing up client-side or server applications, which is an aspect missed out on in typical backup regimes.
However, all the work done to ensure that data and software are properly backed up and stored in a safe location really only guarantees the ability for an SMB to recover from the disaster. What disaster recovery is not necessarily concerned with is how swiftly an organization is able to recover and get back to business-as-usual mode.
Of course, more conscientious IT professionals or managers will probably attempt to clone hard disk images of server systems to guarantee the ability to get things up and running in the event of disaster. However, aged bare-metal clones from a few years ago are unlikely to run on a newer machine, among other problems. And in the absence of established procedures, business continuity is an area that is often neglected by SMBs.
Yet a company picking up the pieces from a fire or earthquake, for example, would want to get operational as fast as possible. Organizations that are ill-prepared for business continuity will quickly realize that orders for new servers typically take a few days to be delivered. Depending on the requirements, a few more days could be taken up by reinstallation and configuration of the requisite software, after which restoration of the backed-up data and testing will take place.
In the meantime, the SMB is bleeding money -- and probably also losing customers as well -- at a time when it can most ill-afford it.
So what are some aspects of business continuity that one should look into? Below is a short list of what I consider the most important items:
- Access to computer systems, e.g. CMS, ERP, Intranet etc
- Internet Access
- Access to e-mail
- Availability of web site
The actual priority of the above list to your organization will of course vary from company to company. Also, do feel free to write to me if you feel that the above list needs to be expanded.
Now that we have established the importance of business continuity, I shall cover some practical and simple ways on how to adequately address the above areas in my next few blogs.