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Karen Cohen

By: Karen Cohen on August 12, 2022

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Disaster-Proof Your Business IT: 6 Common Scenarios & How To Prepare

Business Continuity | Managed Services

If you are like many business leaders, you may assume that as long as your data is backed up you can weather any “storm” that life throws your way. 

While it’s true that having your data backed up is a good first step, there are other things you can do to ensure that your business is prepared for any eventuality. 

At Kelser, we help businesses like yours not only with daily IT tasks, but also to prepare for the unexpected. While we are positioned to help guide customers through disaster recovery and business continuity planning, this article isn’t meant to sell our services.

Instead, we want to provide the information you need to keep your business ahead of the curve when it comes to disaster planning

Since we help customers with this kind of planning every day, we are uniquely positioned to bring to the forefront some scenarios that you might not have considered

After reading this article, you’ll have a better idea of the kinds of situations your IT should be ready for and will know the next steps to take to strengthen your IT readiness. 

6 Common Disasters & How To Prepare Your IT Infrastructure

Let me first say that this article is not designed to scare you. Instead, it is an educational article, providing the information you need to protect your IT infrastructure against different kinds of natural or manmade disasters. 

This article is meant as an introduction, so that you know the kinds of scenarios to take into account when developing your IT business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) plans. 

Think through which business processes would be affected if your IT goes down. Invoicing? Scheduling? Production? Service Centers?

If your IT infrastructure includes a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system, make sure to take that into consideration as well. Make backup plans to keep your essential services operational.

Keep in mind that this article covers only the IT implications of these disasters, which is just one of the elements of a comprehensive BCDR plan.  

1. Fire

Fires can both cause either minor inconvenience or major business disruption. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are approximately 100,000 commercial building fires in the U.S. each year, costing business owners more than $2.4 billion.

Fire may cause smoke, water or electrical damage to your facility, potentially affecting your IT equipment and data storage.

How To Protect Your IT

Business alarm systems can often provide enough time for on-site employees to shut down critical systems, but what if the incident occurs after hours? 

No matter the timing, we can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining off-site backups. This goes for data, applications, and server images. 

Remember to test the effectiveness of and ease of access to  your backups regularly. The last thing you need in the middle of a crisis is to discover that your backup procedures haven’t been effective or that nobody actually knows how to recover and restore your data.

2. Water

Water can have an immediate and long-lasting impact on data centers and devices. Whether the water comes from a broken pipe, sprinkler system, flood, hurricane or firefighting equipment, it doesn’t take much to put your technology infrastructure at risk. 

Even a small amount of water damage can quickly lead to short-circuits in electronic equipment. 

How To Protect Your IT

Again, one of the best ways to ensure continuity of your IT infrastructure is to have off-site backups of your data, applications, and servers.

Whether your data is backed up to an off-site data center or the cloud can make the difference between catastrophic business outages and efficient continuity. 

For businesses with data centers located in basements or on the ground-level, every effort should be made to raise equipment above floor level.

You may also want to make arrangements for an emergency IT operations center located off site that is prepared with whatever backup devices and equipment (cables, phones, etc.) could be helpful.  

3. Extreme Weather

Tornadoes and other extreme weather events can bring strong winds, hail, and lightning. And even extreme heat can cause power grid issues. Extreme weather of any kind can cause power outages or significant property damage. 

Businesses with remote sites need to take special considerations. Consider the situation in 2017 when Hurricane Maria roared into Puerto Rico, there were remote villages that didn’t have contact for weeks after the event and many areas were without electricity for months

How To Protect Your IT

When considering options for off-site data storage, there are benefits to choosing the cloud or an on-premise storage facility that is located in a different geographical region. This is especially true when you are in a region that is prone to extreme weather. 

Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to have evacuation plans in place to evacuate key members of your IT team before the storm, so they can work safely from a remote location to monitor and repair your infrastructure as needed. 

And backup power sources are often a wise investment, too.

4. Natural Disaster

While weather events are typically forecast in advance, earthquakes, landslides and avalanches can occur without warning. Some areas are more prone to such incidents, but they can potentially happen anywhere

Each of these conditions has the potential to cause structural damage to facilities and your IT infrastructure. They can also make travel to your facilities impossible, which directly impacts your ability to get to IT components stored on-site.

How To Protect Your IT

We understand that some things are impossible to plan for, but with a strong BCDR plan in place, you will be in a better position to respond to natural disasters.

Again, consider regular off-site or cloud backups. And, make sure you know where the backup information is stored and how to quickly access it

In the case of earthquakes, there is specialized equipment available that is designed to protect sensitive equipment from smaller tremors.

A backup power source can also be put in place to allow for IT equipment to be shut down in an orderly process if there is enough warning of a pending event. 

Do dry runs routinely to practice accessing remotely stored information, so that when something happens, the process will be seamless.  

5. Human Error & Hackers

Human error and hacking are two of the most common and most damaging IT events.

Whether someone plugs in the wrong piece of equipment in a place that causes a short, downloads malicious software, visits unsafe websites or deletes essential files: mistakes happen and there is usually no advanced warning.  

How To Protect Your IT

There are several ways you can protect your IT infrastructure from human error and hackers. 

6. Worldwide Health Emergencies

We know too well the effect that global health crises can have on business. Most businesses have been impacted by the coronavirus and with worldwide travel comes the risk of other health emergencies.

How To Prepare Your IT 

By now, most businesses have established concrete remote work options. If you haven’t, consider doing so before the next crisis occurs. 

The effect of the most recent global pandemic on the supply chain was severe and long-lasting. Make sure you have the IT equipment you need and essential spare parts on hand to keep your business operating effectively for several months.. 

What Else Do I Need To Do?

After reading this article, you understand 6 disasters that could affect your business: fire, water, extreme weather, natural disaster, human error and hackers and worldwide health emergencies. You understand the potential ramifications for your IT and some steps you can take to prepare. 

If you are ready to take the next step toward protecting your IT infrastructure from the disasters we’ve outlined here, read this article: A 10-Step Disaster Recovery Plan You Can Implement.

Not sure you have the resources you need in-house to implement an effective BCDR plan? There are numerous IT support organizations that can help on a project basis or as part of a managed IT support plan. Compare a few to make sure you get the right solution for your business. 

Or, if you aren’t sure what the financial impact of a disaster would be on your business, click on the BCDR Cost Calculator below to calculate the potential cost to your business. 

BCDR Calculator

About Karen Cohen

Karen brings unending curiosity to her role as Kelser's Content Manager. If you have a question, she wants to know the answer.

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