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Business Continuity: Top Tips For Dodging Disruptions

October 26, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Walter Slavnov is a Manager at Solid Networks

Are you prepared for a network outage? Many companies have invested heavily in disaster-recovery solutions designed to mitigate the effects of catastrophic storms, earthquakes or power outages. However, Information Age notes that the cause of disruptions isn’t always so obvious — software updates gone awry or day-to-day human errors can also precipitate continuity problems. Here are five tips to help your company dodge network disruptions.

Create a Plan

The most important step in prepping for business continuity? Design a plan. The Information Age piece notes that a “surprising” number of companies still don’t have a solid recovery and continuity plan, meaning they’re forced to improvise if disaster strikes. Not only does this waste valuable time, but it may lead to duplicated work as IT pros attempt to fix the same problems as quickly as possible.

Best bet? Design a plan that covers all aspects of a network outage. Start with scope: What key business areas and critical functions do you need to protect or get running again as soon as possible? Next, identify the maximum allowable downtime for these services and assign specific personnel to manage their operations in the case of an outage. Finally, create a call-out list to ensure the right people are on the case and necessary tasks aren’t duplicated.

Assess Your Risk Factors

Next up: Identify your risk factors. Where is your network infrastructure weaker than average? Are there third-party apps on your system that could cause service or software conflicts? Is your IT security up to the task of keeping out malicious actors? By assessing key areas that may need improvement, you can implement proactive plans to limit your risk.

Test, Test, Test

As noted by CIO, no business continuity plan is complete without rigorous testing. Why? Because plans always look good on paper but may not produce the intended result in the wild. It’s a good idea to test your continuity plan between two and four times a year if budget and staffing levels allow. If possible, use a mix of testing techniques, such as:

- Table-top exercises

- Structured walk-throughs to uncover any critical network changes that may impact your recovery time objectives

- “Simulations” that mimic systems failure and force your team to follow the plan as written

Bottom line? Better to test and fail multiple times than be unprepared when real disaster strikes.

Target Training

Another tip for dodging business disaster? Update your training. Many business continuity and IT managers got their start in the business 20 or 30 years ago; emerging technologies such as the cloud combined with the spread of always-connected mobile devices has changed the role of continuity professionals. According to TechTarget, expanded training is critical for IT professionals to remain on the leading edge of business continuity planning.

Consider the Cloud

The cloud in particular is worth mentioning for companies looking to shore up their business continuity process. As noted by IT Business Edge, disaster recovery and business continuity as-a-service are now viable options thanks to the spread of reliable cloud technology, and the rise of niche service providers that focus specifically on recovery and data protection products. By making the cloud a key part of your business continuity plan, it’s possible to increase corporate agility during times of disaster or hardware failure; as long as you retain solid Internet access and your data and applications aren’t out of reach. It’s worth noting, however, that both internal infrastructure and your ISP pipeline must be up to the task — if your “last mile” can’t handle the load, start your upgrades there and then consider the cloud.

You can’t predict continuity problems, but you can be prepared: Create a plan, identify your risk, test, train and consider integrating new cloud services.

About the Author

Walter Slavnov is a Manager at Solid Networks, an IT solutions company with over 10+ years of technology consulting experience, which offers a comprehensive range of IT services. Some of their solutions/services include: managed IT services, consulting services, data security, VoIP, and more.



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