The ancient story of Noah’s ark tells how people and animals survived a great flood. Sumerian tablets preserve the epic of Gilgamesh, who met a man who survived global flooding. Stories of a great flood exist in modern culture too.
The stories include the essential elements of effective disaster recovery. First, the hero identifies a disaster—in the stories, a flood. Next, the hero devises a plan to survive (build a boat) and gathers a team. Finally, the hero seeks the resources needed to thrive after the crisis passes. In the stories, the resources gathered are food, supplies and animals—two of each kind—all necessary in an agrarian economy.
Tech planners might benefit from the last practice: gather two of everything to ensure continuity. Noah needed animals; managers need IT resources. With two of everything, when one item fails, another item allows operations to continue.
But buying two of everything can get expensive, so here are a few ways to improve business continuity on a budget.
Most professionals carry an alternate internet connection in their pocket: their smartphone. When power goes out, or your regular internet service provider is down, a smartphone with a shared data connection may supply a workable, temporary solution.
You might also purchase internet connectivity from multiple service providers. For example, a small business might pay for a DSL connection, a cable connection, and/or a 4G wireless data connection. Routers that support all three connections—and failover—keep your organization connected. You’ll need a power supply with a backup battery to keep devices working.
An application may be the most difficult to duplicate, since we tend to build processes around specific apps, but it can be done. Email, for example, can be delivered to two systems (see the section on “dual delivery” in an earlier Backupify post). Many Microsoft Office files may be opened by a variety of apps, including Microsoft Office Online or Google Drive in a browser.
Applications that rely on databases may be difficult to quickly replace. Accounting systems, inventory systems, and customer database systems all tend to store data in complex, structured formats. It can take a great deal of time to move data from one such system to another. As an alternative, you might export important data from these applications in spreadsheet-readable formats. In the event of a temporary outage, at least essential information would be available.
Most of the apps we use today reside in the cloud. If your company is storing critical information in cloud applications, a cloud to cloud backup solution will ensure that you always have a second, secure copy of your data within these apps should disaster strike.
Keep additional copies of your data. Ideally, you’ll back up all your data automatically. If you lose access to—or accidentally delete files—a backup provides a way to recover and restore your information. An on-site file backup system offers rapid file recovery, while an off-site backup preserves data even if a catastrophe destroys a location.
The good news here is that no matter where your data resides (on-prem, in the cloud, in a virtualized environment), there are solutions out there to ensure your company always has a second copy. (A total data protection platform might be your best bet.)
Cloud storage and applications make devices less critical than they used to be. When a device fails, is lost, or destroyed, just pick up another device, login and continue your work. You might maintain extra systems to ensure smooth operations in the event of a failure. This may be as simple as keeping an extra laptop on-site.
Access to multiple devices also may help keep your business operating. Without power, most desktop systems aren’t usable. However, a laptop or tablet might last several hours before needing power. Invest in additional batteries and keep them charged.
Two… of Everything?
Often, disasters are temporary and limited: your internet connection is cut, a device destroyed, or an online application goes offline. If you’re properly prepared, your team can continue to work. Your internet connection switches to your second ISP, you switch to a second device, and access your backed up files with an alternate app.
Hopefully, a flood won’t threaten your place of business. But if it does, a “Noah Plan”—to gather two of everything—can help keep your business afloat.