Avoiding disaster

No one knows when a disaster might
strike. Whether it’s a natural disaster,
riots or a disgruntled employee erasing the computer’s hard drive, disasters can
have a huge impact on your business if you
are not prepared. The longer it takes to
recover and get back in business, the less
chance a company has of surviving.

“Disaster recovery can make or break a
company, depending on its preparedness,”
says Geoff Hanson, practice director-server of operations, storage and migration
services at Pomeroy IT Solutions Inc. “The
CEO or CFO must consider it if the business is going to be there tomorrow. If you
don’t plan for disaster recovery, it could be
gone. Besides yourself, you need to think
about your investors, employees, customers and community, and how important your business continuance is to all of
them. By positioning your company with
the right plan, right equipment and right
personnel, you can survive a disaster.”

Smart Business spoke with Hanson about
disaster recovery processes and what companies can do to implement them.

What is the first step in disaster recovery?

You should develop a comprehensive
disaster recovery plan and put it in
place. A company that plans and prepares can experience minimal or no loss.
Companies that are unprepared will
experience a very stressful time during
their recovery process.

What areas of a business should be taken
into consideration?

Disasters take a wide variety of forms.
Power outages, floods, fires, weather
phenomenons and riots can happen at
any time. Some emergencies might not
harm your property directly but may
make it impossible to access it for a
period of time. Take into consideration
power, people, facilities, air conditioning, communications and the surrounding area. Businesses depend on computers and people to run them.
Evacuation, data and paper backup,
processes and safety must be thought out. Every area of your business should
be taken into consideration.

Who in the organization should be involved
in the planning process?

All departments within the organization should have some involvement in
the planning process. A point person
should have responsibility for the overall
plan. That person needs to make sure
that all departments are involved in providing input and that each department
knows what it needs to do to implement
the plan. Then everyone can do their
parts when disaster strikes.

Is more and better technology the only
answer to disaster recovery?

More and better technology can aid in
the recovery process, yet it is not the
only answer. It takes a combination of
the business plan and the disaster recovery plan itself, designed and implemented by key personnel utilizing the right
equipment, to successfully recover from
any disaster. You have personnel, customers, equipment and productivity to
consider. Your plan has to spell out how you are going to recover and what equipment is needed. Remote facilities and
personnel must be an integral part to the
recovery time and to minimizing any disruption. Having the right-skilled
resources in place with the replicated
data for a company to press on with
business as usual is the key. It is also
very important to have space between
your business and the data recovery
facility. It does you no good to have your
backup data system so close to your
home office that a disaster can take out
both.

How do you differentiate between cost and
value when it comes to disaster recovery and
business continuity?

First of all, cost is a dollar amount. Value
is what you receive for that amount.
Companies have to ask themselves how
much time they can afford to be shut
down. The shorter the time, the more comprehensive the plan must be. Those who
plan and invest and have everything in
place can recover with a minimal effect on
the bottom line. How many companies
went out of business because of Sept. 11,
Hurricane Katrina or any other disaster
that comes to mind? How many of those
might still be in business if they had a disaster recovery plan? What is the value of
continuous operation compared to the
cost of being prepared for whatever
comes up?

How can you save the business money while
lowering the risks?

The first step is through proper disaster
recovery planning. The next is through
server and storage consolidation and virtualization initiative. These tend to reduce
and/or eliminate specific hardware
dependencies. Companies are thus better
positioned to ride out disasters with little
to no loss of data, equipment or their associated business revenue streams.

GEOFF HANSON is the practice director-server of operations, storage and migration services at Pomeroy IT Solutions Inc. Reach him
at (623) 551-5771 or [email protected].