Having a strong business continuity plan in place helps maintain your company’s productivity and protect its future in the event of a system failure, loss of access or natural disaster. Without such a plan, these disruptions could prove devastating.
The first vulnerability you’d encounter during an emergency would be that you don’t have a way to get in touch with your employees. Most organizations are so reliant on email that if your mail server goes down, it disrupts your business and hurts productivity.
The second problem would be your inability to respond to customer demands. Your customers have come to expect 24/7 responsiveness, even during an emergency. So when your system goes down, they may perceive that you’ve simply vanished.
The third problem, which may take a little longer to emerge, is that you’d be unable to maintain basic services, such as paying your bills, paying employees and generating revenues, all of which have dramatic implications.
With those issues in mind, here are three tips for maintaining productivity and business continuity in the event of a disaster or system failure:
- Develop procedures to ensure each of your critical business functions: The main goal with disaster recovery is to allow your organization to continue functioning in the event of a disaster or emergency. That means preparing contingency plans for restoring email, voicemail and any other system that is involved in revenue generation and operations.
- Test your disaster preparations: Many organizations plan for disasters, but then never test the safeguards they put in place, and that puts the entire organization at risk. If you never test your data backup system, for example, you risk finding out that it doesn’t work when you actually need it. And when businesses lose their critical data, many are unable to recover. Schedule regular testing for your backups and disaster simulations to make sure your plans are viable.
- Move your critical systems into the cloud: In an emergency, cloud computing provides tremendous advantages and cost savings, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses. In the past, continuity planning was only for businesses that could afford the expense of a second data center, but cloud computing makes it affordable for any business, and the cost is falling year over year. Another advantage the cloud offers is dispersed geographic computing. This minimizes the impact of regional service interruptions and system failures on your business and productivity. And since the cloud provides a highly scalable platform, with the ability to turn resources on and off as required, your system easily scales up in the event of an emergency to accommodate increased demand from employees and customers.
In terms of disaster recovery, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform is constantly evolving, with new features released almost quarterly. Recently, Microsoft introduced a geographic failover feature: If one of its cloud computing data centers is hit by an emergency, the data has been automatically replicated at another facility in a different region, providing a reliable infrastructure for disaster recovery.
Other Azure capabilities include automatic backup of SQL databases, the ability to move virtual machines automatically to the cloud and replication of your identity management (user names and passwords). In addition, Microsoft has added tools to allow IT managers and departments to manage the complexity of disaster recovery plans.
In today’s connected world, more content is generated than ever before and the digitization of our economy has led to significant productivity gains. Businesses of all kinds (and sizes) now rely on digital technology for communication and operations, and their customers expect 24/7 responsiveness. That makes it more important than ever to have a planning roadmap for maintaining that digital connection and infrastructure at all times, especially during an emergency.