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How Business Continuity Plans Fail: A flawed business continuity plan that has little chance of holding up in a true disaster is just so many words. Its only effect is to provide the business with a false sense of security. Many of the shortcomings of these plans stem from using false assumptions.

For example, many business continuity plans failed in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy because it was assumed that employees could work from home should a disaster occur, and that data stored in an alternate location would be accessible. However, widespread power outages and flooding prevented employees from accessing the Internet. In addition, many employees were dealing with more basic survival issues such as access to shelter and clean water. If there is one lesson to be learned from this is that business continuity plans require the input of business continuity experts.

Here are four common business continuity mistakes to avoid:

Working off of Business Continuity Templates Without Planning

Business continuity templates are freely available over the Internet. Working with these too quickly without thinking through how they apply to your unique situation will generate a plan without doing any actual planning on your part. More likely than not, it will have fatal flaws.

False Assumptions

Should a disaster occur in your area, will basic utilities such as electricity and water be available? Will the transportation infrastructure be usable? The answers to these and other questions will depend on your particular locality. Different regions contend with different types of natural disasters. For example, an area in the heartland of the U.S. need not plan for the effects of hurricanes.

Be careful about assumptions regarding which of your key employees will be available during a disaster.

Incomplete List of Threats

Failing to identify all likely threats to your organization results in a partial plan. Your plan should include likely natural disasters, online and offline security threats, and damage caused by disgruntled employees.

Plan Not Readily Available

A business continuity plan that resides in the cloud isn’t available if there’s no Internet access. If it resides in the heads of a few key people, then it isn’t available if these people are on vacation or trapped in their homes with no means of communicating with the outside world. Your plan should be well-documented and available to those who will implement it should the need arise.

The above mistakes are by no means a complete listing. To ensure that your plan will perform well when it’s needed, consult with business continuity experts. For more information, contact us today.

There’s more to server care than placing them in a convenient room. Because you and possibly your customers depend on the applications running on your servers, their operation and condition affect the welfare of your business. Too many businesses fail to understand this and suffer the consequences. Here are four ways to avoid common on-site server room hazards:

Uncontrolled Humidity

Too much or too little humidity can damage your servers. Too much may cause condensation on surfaces exposed to the air. Water condensate in the wrong places cause short circuits. Hard drives and motherboards can fail catastrophically or the equipment can suffer long-term damage from corrosion, which leads to premature failure. Cold pipes can also drip condensate directly on your servers.

Too little humidity creates the danger of static discharge. The spark of a static discharge is a high voltage event that can damage sensitive server components.

Water Exposure

Besides floods and beverage spillage, there are a number of unexpected ways that servers become exposed to water. This is mostly from plumbing within and without your building. In very cold weather, plumbing between walls may freeze and crack. Or an old rusty fitting can start leaking. These could occur in the server room wall or in the room above.

Restrooms are another source of water spillage. If one is above your server room, water seepage through your ceiling that endangers your servers is a possibilty. If your server room is below ground level, any outside flooding will likely flood the room. Fiber optic installers have been known to run their lines through storm drains to access basement server rooms. This means a plugged hole separates the storm drain from the servers. Water pressure inside a filled storm drain is enough to burst open the plug.

Poor Ventilation

Air conditioning is less effective if your server arrangement doesn’t allow sufficient air circulation. Insufficient space around your servers bottle up their heat and cause overheating. Stacking multiple servers on top of each other, excessive clutter, or placement in a tight corner of the room can cause this problem.

Dust

Dust commonly builds up in out-of-sight places, including the tight spaces next to the server or even within the server. Dust is an insulator and therefore interferes with cooling, which can lead to overheating. Dust also retains condensation moisture, which causes corrosion and increases the risk of a short.

Finally, multiple servers can heat up a room quickly, and the temperature must be tightly controlled with reliable air conditioning. If you’re deciding on whether to run your important applications on in-house servers, or to use application hosting services, remember that reliable long-term server upkeep requires that you effectively create your own data center. If this diverts too much money and resources away from your core business, contact us to learn more about our application hosting.

How well your software as a service (SaaS) business thrives will depend on many factors such as your ability to market effectively. However, one factor you mustn’t overlook is the physical infrastructure that makes your SaaS function online, like quality application hosting. This includes your servers and the facilities that support them. Get this wrong, and you could lose substantial business or possibly your entire business.

Unreliable application hosting, for example, may cause lost customers due to insufficient bandwidth or downtimes during critical usage periods. On the other hand, in-house servers are subject to many risks that can cause downtimes or even complete loss of important business and customer data. Keeping your servers running and physically safe from damage is a long-term effort. The longer your servers are exposed to risk (such as water damage), the more likely the unwanted outcome will eventually occur.

However, the infrastructure and services available at the data centers that provide quality application hosting, minimize these risks and give your business competitive advantages over those that lack similar data center resources. Here are two important advantages:

High Availability

All the business plans, marketing, and application design expertise in the world won’t help if your application is frequently offline. Quality application hosting services have the infrastructure needed to protect their servers from physical damage, power interruptions, and other disruptions that can take your SaaS applications offline.

Security

In addition to protecting their servers from physical damage, application hosting providers have cyber security measures in place to prevent cyber attacks against their servers. This helps protect your customer’s sensitive data from hackers, malware, viruses, and other cyber threats. This is important because security is a primary concern among customers who rely on your SaaS applications to run their businesses.

The above are two important ways how your software as a service business can benefit from quality application hosting. For additional information or answers to your questions, contact us today.

So you have been disaster recovery planning, good job! You’re already more prepared than many companies when it comes to protecting your business in case of a disaster. The following 3 things will help you continue to develop your recovery plans, or refine a plan you may already have in place:

1. Business Impact Analysis

A frequently overlooked aspect of a DR plan is a business impact analysis, or BIA. This will help you determine ahead of time how your business will be impacted in case of a disaster, and how to potentially prevent negative impacts to key areas. This will also allow you to create a projection of the effects a disaster-related disruption will have on things such as productivity, security, and potential income. A BIA will also allow you to develop priorities for your disaster recovery plan.

2. Updates

Once you have a DR plan in place, do not forget to update it as need. Reasons to update a recovery plan include changes in your employees or company needs as you grow or change methods of operation. Additionally, the software and mechanics in place to help companies protect their data continues to grow and change over time, and you want to be sure you are using the most effective options possible.

3. Personnel

It is important to have a list of personnel who will be called in to work during a crisis, and to have multiple forms of contact information on file and easily accessible via hard copies in case digital records are not accessible. It is also beneficial to know which law enforcement or government officials to call in case you need their help, and to establish a dialog with them ahead of time if possible.

For further information concerning disaster recovery or data security, please feel free to contact us here at WHOA.

 

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