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Disaster Recovery Remedies   1 comment

Are you ready? - Hurricane“Hindsight gives you 20/20 vision,” is a statement you should keep in mind as you read this blog article. Many businesses that were just recently affected in some way by Hurricane Sandy could have avoided the complete standstill to their services by preparing and planning out just what they would do if their facility suffered a catastrophic loss. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes,  snow storms, flooding, and fire are some of the most obvious causes of potentially disastrous losses that could halt the operations of a business. In fact, the property of a business does not even have to have any direct damage for a natural disaster to halt their business. For example, loss of electricity, telephone, or internet connectivity can cause problems with functionality, as those services are paramount.

The question any disaster recovery consultant will ask you is, “how would your business survive if it was affected short-term and/or long-term by some catastrophic event?” If you understand that any type of disaster could destroy your computing infrastructure – where all of your company records and data are stored, which could quite possibly destroy your business – then you should have a plan in place to alleviate that possibility.

At the very least, any business that uses computing to manage their operations should have an off-site back-up of their most important data and records. This is not a very expensive strategy, it is something that can be entirely automated, and it does not even need to be accessed until you actually need to use it. There are automated back-up systems available from most data-centers, which back-up your data as frequently as you desire. The incremental changes made in the time-frame chosen are then sent across the internet through an encrypted protocol, and stored in a managed backup system at the data center. Usually, the client is provided with a secure web interface to access those files as needed. These back-ups can also be used to restore individual data files that may have become deleted or damaged at any time, and downloaded back to the computers in your office.

The next step up from simply backing-up your data for protection from a disaster would be hosting some, to all, of your regular computing infrastructure in a data center (cloud computing). If you hosted your main office server in a data center and accessed your files over the Internet from the PCs in your office, you could survive a disaster from a computing standpoint. All of your important data could then be accessed from a temporary, remote location, or even by having your employees work from home until the office is re-established. Many companies are now hosting their entire computing infrastructure in a data center; everything from virtual PCs to their application servers. These can then be accessed through just about any device that is connected to the internet, such as a PC, Mac, tablet, and many types of smartphones.

Communicating with your customer base during and after any disaster is vital in many cases. When your email and telephone systems are cut off, and you and your customers can no longer communicate, this could be extremely damaging to your business. By hosting your email server at a data center, you have access to your email system through almost any device connected to the internet.

One of the data center services that is really gaining popularity lately is VOIP-based hosted phone systems. In a VOIP-based system, The PBX system normally nailed to the wall in an office is replaced by a PBX server in a data center. Management and administration of the system is then done though a web interface. All phone communication is channeled through voice over Internet protocol (VOIP).  The advantage of this in a disaster is that your phone system is always intact. You can access your administration portal over the Internet and change any settings that may be necessary, such as adding additional extensions for remote users. Staff members can work from remote locations or at home, by accessing the phone system with a softphone on their PC or by having their calls transferred from their extensions to their cell phones.

I have suggested that data center services, TurnKey Internet included, are great solutions to the issues surrounding disaster recovery. The key reason is that they have multiple redundancies in place to provide 100% up-time guarantees. At TurnKey Internet, we have multiple fiber providers supplying our Internet and bandwidth through diverse physical paths into our facility. We have complicated switch gear in place to maintain your connections, in case one or some of the fiber connections coming into the building are disrupted. Additionally, our power supply is backed-up with both a robust battery back-up supply to all servers and equipment, as well as an on-site diesel generator that can power our facility long-term if necessary.  For these reasons and more, anyone considering disaster recovery planning should consider the options available from reputable data centers like ours at TurnKey Internet, to insure that their business is not damaged long-term by a catastrophic event that had not been planned for.

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