Friday, March 29, 2019
Businesses increasingly store data and access cloud-based systems that drive the services they offer to clients. The thought of opening shop without that ready store of documents, figures and programs is no different than a sports team heading out without equipment — the human expertise is present, but not the tools necessary for performance.
Business continuity today means developing plans for system failures, network outages and data backups.
Less than a decade old, World Backup Day was established to recognize that individuals should protect their digital assets. It’s said that the average value of data on a smartphone is $14,000. Think of how much more value your business data holds.
On this World Backup Day, ask yourself — if faced with the prospect of losing it all, how much are your business systems and data worth to you and your employees?
Natural disasters are rising in this country and around the globe. Weather-related disasters may offer some lead time (hurricanes), but others are truly instant calamities (earthquakes).
Meanwhile, cyberattacks are unpredictable, sophisticated and almost exponentially more numerous in the United States than in any other country on the planet. Almost two-thirds of victims of a cyberattack are small- and medium-sized businesses, and the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small companies were unable to sustain their businesses just six months after an attack.
The 2018 Data Center Industry Survey found nearly one in three respondents — 31 percent — said they had experienced a downtime incident in the past year, or service degradation severe enough to qualify. That’s up from 25 percent in the previous year's survey. The reported causes included power failures, network failures, and software or systems errors — and nearly 80 percent reported the outage could have been prevented.
An IDC report found network downtime costs four in five small- and medium-sized businesses at least $20,000, and one in five businesses at least $100,000.
World Backup Day didn’t begin with five- and six-figure losses on the brain, but it does serve to highlight the importance of network redundancy and backup solutions for small businesses.
While system failures and data losses can be unpredictable, deploying solutions such as automatic cloud backups, automatic network failover, UPSs (uninterrupted power sources), cloud storage solutions and SaaS – just to mention a few – go a long way toward network redundancy and keeping business running as normally as possible during unforeseen disruptions.
In his book The Resilient Enterprise, MIT engineering systems professor Yossi Sheffi found that investments in resilience — network redundancy and flexibility — can actually help a business in a mature vertical gain a competitive advantage. His research into disruptions suggests that building resilience into operations can (and should) bolster, not compromise, a business sheet. Subsequently, the U.S. Council on Competitiveness embraced Sheffi’s resilience model.
Today, backup solutions are common to anyone with an email or a desktop computer. Terms such as “autosave” and “external hard drive” are understood even by folks with only one email address and a lone home desktop computer.
For businesses and individuals alike, primary data storage and systems software increasingly come over Internet-based services. In fact, more than three in four small businesses will rely on cloud backup by the end of next year, says market research firm Clutch
Virtualization is also delivering big benefits for network redundancy and failover. Solutions like SD-WAN are not only simplifying network management but are also nearly eliminating the most deleterious effects of network outages. Other solutions, such as 4G backup connections, also build redundant network architecture at a lesser cost and reduce the impacts of downtime.
The cloud has improved business continuity for many businesses by making us less reliant upon manual backup processes and maintenance of software. While your physical business location may be impacted by natural disasters, power outages or network service provider disruptions, your data and applications remain accessible in the cloud, a natural network redundancy.
The same goes for business communications. With UCaaS (unified communications as a service) platforms, employees need not be in an office to conduct business. The cloud is communications mobility, which serves as a business continuity plan as well.
Redundancy and backup solutions for small business apply to more than just network elements. Power outages are a leading cause of downtime. However, generators and battery cell systems today can maintain continuity through blackouts and can even keep critical circuits up without a significant voltage drop by way of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology and an auto-start generator. (In fact, some state governors have recently signed legislation requiring electrical power system redundancy for senior care facilities.)
Network, power, hardware, data and comms — these comprise or impact a large portion of your IT infrastructure. A resilient redundancy and backup plan is imperative for the future of your business. Your business is more than an entrepreneurial success story, a commercial address or a chamber membership. It’s the livelihoods of dedicated professionals and the lifeblood of families in many cases.
On this World Backup Day, consider your redundant network architecture and how cloud-based backup solutions can help. For more, check out Kinetic Business by Windstream’s business continuity solutions. An hour or a day lost to downtime may carry different loads depending on the size and specialty of business, but lost business often hurts all the same.