While some small businesses still regard business continuity and disaster recovery solutions as somewhat beyond their reach, the wallop dealt in October 2012 by Superstorm Sandy woke up many companies doing business across the Northeast.
New York-based IT services firm Sinu helped cement its value for customers by helping most of them get their contingency plans in order long before the storm. And in the almost 12 months since that date, it has cooked up a recipe of standard recommendations. In fact, its standard flat-rate services include backup as a matter of course.
Most of Sinu's clients across New York, New Jersey and other nearby states employ fewer than 500 people. The company provides basic backup as a standard part of its managed services, absorbing the cost sof the first few gigabytes of data. This makes it simpler for Sinu to restore applications and services when an interruption occurs.
"Getting started can sometimes involve a multi-thousand-dollar check, that has been part of the challenge," said Larry Velez, founder and chief technology officer, Sinu. "This risk doesn't go away, just because you decided not to invest."
Based on its experiences, both prior to and after Superstorm Sandy, Sinu advocates the following strategies for SMBs seeking to get a better grip on their business continuity strategy.
- If you have fewer than 1,000 employees, consider moving at least 80 percent of basic infrastructure into the cloud over the next three years -- especially services such as email, payroll and an extra backup profile. Even though some of Sinu's clients were without power in their physical locations for three weeks, they were able to keep operating because they had moved these servies into the cloud. Payroll, in particular, is an application that shouldn't be overlooked as it's difficult to get up and running again after a disruption if you're not able to compensate employees.
- If you have to phase in a backup plan, start with the CEO's notebook first, along with those of other traveling executives. Then, move on to other employees after proving the business case with these influencers.
- Turn to a services firm or migration service to help with migrating data to the cloud to get started. Sinu's partner in this regard is Mozy (a division of EMC), which has a service called Mozy Data Shuttle to help get companies set up.
- Don't rely on just a remote archive or just a local copy of your data. There are reasons to maintain copies of both. One example of a reason to use a local version is if your organization deals with large files that might bog down the network. So, this sort of depends on an organization's collaboration needs.
- Make backups automatic, and don't just perform them once per day. If they happen in the background, there's less of a chance that your company will be caught flat-footed. But, make sure to verify the reliability of the backup files on an ongoing basis, as well.