Weathering the Storm: How Business Continuity Prepares Your Organization for Mother Nature’s Worst

NetgainCloud Computing, Financial IT, Healthcare IT, Legal IT, Performance & Availability

As Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall in the Carolinas, promising to wreak havoc on tens of thousands of businesses and millions of residents, our thoughts are with our clients, partners and their families that are impacted; please stay safe.

The full economic impact of Hurricane Florence is expected to be monumental as the storm is projected to dump more than 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina, alone. Pair that with the expected evacuation of millions of residents, and businesses are looking at massive economic losses from lost revenue and property damage.

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Editor’s Note: There are many ways to help those affected by Hurricane Florence. Below are a few charities (along with many other reputable charities) that have coordinated aid and relief. Please consider donating.

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When natural disasters hit, we’re often reminded about the importance of business continuity so organizations can continue to service patients and clients in times of need and keep their operations up and running. But, business continuity and disaster recovery planning shouldn’t be relegated to only when natural disasters strike; it’s important to always have an up-to-date BC/DR plan in place so you and your organization can always be prepared.

There are several ways to protect your organization from Mother Nature’s worst:

Migrate your entire IT infrastructure to the cloud

For organizations that manage their entire IT infrastructure on-premises, there are few scenarios scarier than a natural disaster. If your organization loses power, as is often the case with natural disasters, your entire infrastructure is held hostage until power is restored.  Even onsite power backup systems that rely on stored fuel, or municipal gas supply, can fail during multi-week events. This cripples business operations and puts you at severe risk of data and business loss. Conversely, if your entire infrastructure is in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about the safety and availability of your data. Cloud migration can be tricky, so you’ll want to make sure you’re working with a partner who can help you safely migrate to the cloud.

Set up your team for remote working

Have a contingency plan in case you lose power at your location(s), especially if there is work that your teams can do from battery-powered laptops and mobile devices. If your infrastructure is cloud-based, your team will be able to access files and applications from wherever they can connect to the internet, whether that’s at home or a temporary pop-up office you establish 200 miles away. To effectively execute a secure, mobile-workforce strategy, you’ll need to rely on the security, performance and delivery knowledge that an experienced cloud-migration team brings you.

Frequently back up data and have a disaster recovery plan

With today’s weather forecasting technology, we might get advanced notice of a pending natural disaster, but it is often not enough time to completely batten down the hatches on your data systems. Make sure you have frequently scheduled data backups and a solid disaster recovery plan in place, so you’re always prepared, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.

Plan for redundancies

No one can predict what will happen when natural disasters strike, but you can at least plan for worst-case scenarios, especially with your telecommunications. By having redundancies and fail-over systems in place with multiple telecom providers, you can better protect yourself in case one of the telecom providers experiences an outage. We’ve seen this occur with several of our clients, and rather than being down during inclement weather, we were able to quickly switch their networks over to their fail-safe connections, so they stayed up and running.

Discuss. Plan. Document. Practice.

The steps discussed above will put the systems in place to help your business weather a storm when IT is critical to your operations – but your people need to execute. A seamless execution of a disaster-recovery plan is something you hope to never experience, but you should prepare for it nonetheless.  Careful discussion of the risk points should be followed by a documented plan that’s disseminated to all relevant levels of the organization. Too many organizations have a Disaster Recovery plan that’s limited to the IT team or the Facilities Team, which means that others in the organization may not know their roles in a challenging disaster. Once a plan is in place, and disseminated, one or two practice rounds is in order. If not a full disaster drill (it can be difficult), then consider some spot-testing of key systems.

Today, we rely so much on technology that it’s easy to forget to plan for those scenarios that try to take that technology away from us. But, with the right planning and infrastructure, you can help mitigate the impact of a natural disaster on your organization so you can stay up and running, even in the face of disaster.

Stay safe out there.