What’s the worst that can happen if you aren’t prepared?You have a lot at stake, and mostly likely a lot to lose if you aren’t prepared for the next hurricane. And the next hurricane will happen.
The good news is there are steps you can take now reduce your risk that an event will impact your business continuity. Here are our suggestions.
Start planning for a hurricane
What you can do nowAccording to a Forrester survey, the top priority driving disaster recovery improvements is the requirement to stay online and competitive 24x7x365. You can make that happen by acting ahead.
Power redundancy. Lack of power will be the first thing to bring your operation to a halt, so you will want power redundancy if your office goes dark. Periodically check that it is working.
IT redundancy. Think in threes, keeping three copies of your backups: maintain two on different types of media (tape or disk), and send one backup to an offsite repository. This is particularly important if you are in a flood-prone area. Check your backups periodically, and address any issues. Learn more about Backup options.
IT records. Ensure your configuration and asset management databases are current and that you would still have access in the event of a hurricane. Prepare a document listing your software licenses, hardware inventory with serial numbers and other critical information that you may need for insurance purposes. Be sure to store that information offsite, away from your primary building, and not electronically on a server you may need to recover. Also, make sure more than one individual holds admin rights.
Critical applications. Can your business function without email and other mission critical applications? Have alternate plans in place in the event that your email is down in your data center. Make plans for a conference bridge that can be stood up and used to dial into from personal devices (particularly critical for IT admins and key business leaders) in case cell phones are not operable. Make note of the sequence that applications need to come up in. (Note: an IT utility server isn’t necessarily needed to get the business up and running again.) Learn more about Hosted Exchange and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Check your SLAs. Make sure that your disaster recovery plan aligns with your business criteria and contract requirements for data access, data storage and data recovery. Ensure that you understand in advance your required timetables and that you are comfortable with the RPO/RTOs that you are implementing. Read how we ensured SLA compliance in the event of an outage.
Check your batteries. Run a quarterly test to see if the Uninterrupted Power Supplies in the network closets would hold the load for at least one minute, then check to make sure that your backup generators kick in. ITsavvy partners with industry leaders like APC-Schneider Electric, Tripp Lite and CyberPower Systems. View our options.
Remote operations. If you have to abandon your offices, your workforce will need to operate remotely. ITsavvy can help you identify a disaster recovery facility that will be on standby to serve as a replicated workspace. Learn more.
Communications strategy. Now is the time to review your communications plan with your teams, your vendors and your customers/patients/students/users and other stakeholders when a disaster hits. For your employees, make sure you have cell phone numbers and personal emails addresses. Read how we ensured remote communications for one organization after Hurricane Sandy.
What you should do when a hurricane is imminent
There is still time to react when a major threat is headed your way. Here are our suggestions:
Communications strategy. Activate your communications strategy. Identify a way for your teams to notify you of their whereabouts and safety, particularly those who hold your admin rights.
Login checks. While you still have power, confirm that your workforce is able to login remotely.
Check your batteries. Confirm that your battery backup is ready to use. If you have been conducting quarterly battery checks, you should be in good shape.
Backup checks. Confirm that your onsite backups are complete and accurate. Address any errors that you may find. Check with your cloud provider that your remote backups are intact and can be accessed. Read how we spun up an offsite backup solution in a week.
Run a failover test. Ask your Cloud provider to run a disaster recovery test to make sure all systems are functioning correctly. Read how we tested a failover, and it worked perfectly.
What you can do post-hurricane
Be prepared to make decisions on a day-to-day basis. Address what you can to stay in operation in the short-term. When you are able, and if necessary, begin making plans for long-term business continuity.
Check your communications avenues. Can you reach your critical team members, and vice versa? Can you reach your vendors? Can your customers/students/faculty/patients and other stakeholders reach you? If your website is operable, include emergency contact information.
Check your remote work location. If you have workers in a remote facility, confirm how long they are able to stay there. Identify alternate sites if necessary.
Check your failover. If you had established a failover strategy that had been activated, it would be in your best interest to recover impacted systems to production status as quickly as possible.
Conduct a post mortem. Once your operation is back to normal, your IT team should review which aspects of the Disaster Recovery plan were successful and which aspects need to be improved for future events. Be sure to assess your people, processes and technologies, and gather feedback from your business stakeholders. Update your plans to execute for your team’s next test of recoverability of systems.
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