Logistics is all about coordinating the flow of goods and information. That mission becomes even more critical during emergency situations when lives may depend on your shipments.
A hurricane or tropical storm is a high-stress situation for everyone. Experts flourish at times like these, when years of experience drive them to adapt to any situation Mother Nature can throw.
If you want to even the odds against costly downtime, take these steps to ensure your technology is protected from the ravages of the storm.
1. Analyze Your Flood Zone Risk
Take the time to analyze your company’s flood zone risk. FEMA provides resources to make this assessment on your own. Being in a flood zone can affect the amount of time it takes to get back up and running when disaster strikes.
If you know you’re in a flood zone, installing a server rack becomes a simple way to increase your odds of surviving. Install the rack as high up away from the floor as possible to keep it above any possible water lines. If you know a storm is approaching, remove your computers from the floor, place them up on a table and firmly secure each piece of equipment.
2. Check Your Power Set Up
Storms can cause power outages that result in systems shutting down improperly, which can lead to data corruption, unsaved work disappearing, and even direct hardware failure.
During bad weather of any kind, the flow and quality of electric current is affected. During storms, frequent lighting strikes will alter power lines and voltage. When voltage is altered, the power injected into your systems increases, which can significantly degrade its electrical circuits and/or completely kill your equipment.
Battery backups can keep your systems up for a period of time and protect the equipment from instabilities in the power line that result in voltage fluctuations. To avoid this, you must connect servers, network devices, and computers to an Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS).
All UPSs are not the same. Depending on the power consumption of the equipment, the UPS should be able to keep the system running for at least 15 minutes. Consider purchasing a smart UPS. Smart UPSs are capable of sensing when the battery of the UPS is about to die and send a shutdown command to turn the system off properly, thus avoiding system and/or data corruption.
3. Ensure Your Data is Protected
The biggest key to surviving a hurricane is proactive prevention.
Protecting your equipment is important, but protecting your data is vital to your business.
Keep in mind that backups are only as good as your ability to perform each backup successfully and restore the original data. Don’t assume the backup is good because the system said so. Remember, trust but verify.Engage in regular system backups to guarantee data availability, but don’t be shy about adding extra scheduled backups if you know a storm is coming. Hardware can be replaced if it’s lost or destroyed. Data can’t. Prior to the storm run a manual backup and verify that it has run successfully. The only way to be 100% sure that the data has been properly backed up is by doing a restoration of the most recent backup.
There are 2 ways of ensuring your backup software is always up and running:
1) Monitor your backup system regularly to ensure your backups are working properly and data is being backed up without a problem.
2) Perform random backup restores once or twice per month to ensure your backed up data can be successfully restored and that your backups aren’t corrupted.
For areas with frequent hurricanes and tropical storms (like Florida), we highly recommended replicating all of your data to a different location. To do this, businesses can use a cloud backup solution (from basic to advanced) to ensure your most critical data are replicated to another state or country. Your budget will vary with your need, but keeping your data at an off-site location is a solid choice for guaranteeing data recovery in case of a disaster.
4. Ensure Business Continuity with a Disaster Recovery Plan
While some businesses can afford to be down during a hurricane or tropical storm, others might not. This is especially true if your business has customers outside your geographical area who still expect your services while your company is facing extreme weather conditions.
If this is the case, businesses should conduct a Business Continuity Assessment to understand the impact of system downtimes as they relate to revenue generating activities, customer satisfaction, and company image. If, during this analysis, critical business systems are identified as liabilities, then a carefully orchestrated disaster recovery plan should be defined.
A comprehensive disaster recovery plan details your business-critical systems and outlines alternatives to keep the business up and running while severe weather affects your area. It also outlines how those systems will continue to run during the storm, prioritizes which systems must be brought online, and details how to keep them running in case of a complete failure.
A disaster recovery plan might even include a disaster recovery site at a remote, unaffected location where the most critical systems and data are replicated, so when the main systems fails, your business can continue operations from elsewhere.
Logistics runs on the clear flow of information. Even during a hurricane, those elements need to stay moving. Taking time to secure your systems with proactive protection means preparing for the worst with best practices.
Be aware of how at risk your location is of long-term flooding and take steps to prevent it. Ensure your vital systems are plugged into a UPS. Protect your data with system backups and ensure you have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place to minimize recovery time. For maximum protection, consider backing up your information to an off-site location.
Protect yourself and take these steps to protect your IT network. You’ll be able to weather the worst and bring out the best in your company!
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Need more specific information to get your business through the storm? Feel free to post comments, questions, or email us directly.