SMBs need to work on business recovery

Business protection practitioners urge small and midsized companies to drop the "once bitten, twice shy" mentality, and start building their disaster recovery plans or risk shutting down.

The current business landscape is demanding small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to step up their business protection efforts, but many are still slow to insure themselves against disasters.

SMBs that conduct business with large companies are increasingly being asked about their ability to deliver during a disaster, according to Donna Childs, president and CEO of Childs Capital and co-author of the book, Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery: A Small Business Guide.

Childs added that many small businesses are less tech-savvy and "unable to diversify their risk", which makes them more vulnerable to threats. "They often fail to appreciate that the biggest threat is not the physical threat itself, but the disruption of their business," she said.

Childs recounted an incident where the owner of a neighboring company turned down her offer to help with data backup. When the financial brokerage lost its files after a disk crashed, the owner sheepishly turned to her for help after realizing he needed to recover vital client information. "Unfortunately, that's what it takes," Childs noted of SMBs' attitudes toward business protection.

Lisa Wolfe, Hewlett-Packard's worldwide SMB business protection solutions manager, agreed. Earlier this month, Wolfe said, HP introduced a "try and buy" scheme for its Smart Desktop Management Service to make it easier for SMBs to protect their businesses.

The scheme allows users to use the managed service as a trial for up to 90 days. In addition, the company is looking at bundling its backup and recovery software for SMBs with tape drivers and servers.

Childs noted that besides minimizing business disruption, there are other advantages in stepping up a company's business recovery plans. These could take the form of improved operational efficiencies, and the ability to negotiate more competitive insurance premiums, she said.

Childs had a piece of advice for SMBs looking into business disaster planning and recovery--companies should not attempt to cover all their disaster planning at one sitting.

A disaster recovery plan, she said, should be gradually built up by first focusing on the incidents that have a high frequency of occurrence, such as human errors and power outages. "Keep adding on the layers of protection so your business becomes increasingly resilient," she added.

To further boost its portfolio of business protection services, HP last week also unveiled a security vulnerability assessment service. The new service, available through HP's channel partners, made its debut in Australia and Taiwan and is expected to be available elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region by early next year. HP was unable to provide details or the names of partners involved in delivering this service, which it said would differ country to country.

Users can opt for either a basic service pack at US$1,000 for 15 users, or the enhanced at US$1,500 for 50 users.