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Disaster Recovery Planning for Small Business Owners

IT Disaster Recovery Houston

Disaster Recovery Planning for Small Business Owners

June 2013

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IT Disaster Recovery Houston

Disaster Recovery Planning for Small Business Owners

it disaster recovery houston 1

Flying home today from Chicago I was thinking about disaster recovery.  Not because I was watching the ground get farther away, but because of the two minute “what to do in a disaster” speech the flight attendants were demonstrating before the flight.

This is a speech that no one wants to hear and few really listen to.  It got me thinking about how companies truly prepare for the disasters that eventually do come.

Setting aside the fact that the speech is a mandatory requirement for the airlines, this two minute speech delivered across 3,300 flights a day and 550 aircraft cost this one airline $64,000 per delivery.  That two minutes adds up to roughly three weeks of time spent daily by the airline delivering this speech every flight, every day.  In general terms, that is $211,000,000 spent per day completing disaster preparedness training.

Because of these and other measures, all airlines combined have a failure rate of one crash per 1.2 million flights.

The comparison is a little silly, granted, but how does your track record for avoiding “major IT outages” compare to the airline industry that has 7,000 planes in the air at any given time with as many as 6,000,000 parts each?

Do you have a disaster recovery plan for your business? 

Of course you do.  It may be on a napkin or in your head, but you have one.  I know because I ask that question at almost every meeting and that is what you tell me.

The challenge is that most are not really sure that their plan will work.  To be fair, roughly a third of the businesses I have talked to know their plan will work because they test it.  That is not an official statistic that is just my experience. 

Planning for a disaster is really like buying insurance, and no one wants to buy insurance.  We only do it because the risk is too great without it.  The older you get, the more you buy presumably because you have more to lose.

66% of the businesses I talk to have the worst kind of disaster recovery “insurance,” the kind of insurance that will never pay off when needed.  “Premiums” are paid in the form of hardware, software, and time but deliver zero payback when there is a problem.

It doesn’t make sense that the businesses that pay our mortgages, car payments, and for the kids’ college is likely insured with a disaster recovery plan that we know will fail the one time it is needed. it disaster recovery houston 2

Businesses do it anyway, so there must be a reason, right?

The common answer I get from small and large businesses alike is disaster recovery is too expensive, too complex, or too small of a risk to spend real money on.  The issue, however, is not only the size of the risk, it is also the size of the impact a disaster could have on your business.

If you are not comfortable with your businesses prospects of survival or comfortable with the pain to your brand/reputation/actual revenue lost in the event of a disaster, honestly ask yourself these questions.

  1. What systems have to work in order for my business to function in a disaster?
  2. Where is my data?  Where is the information I need to run my business?
  3. If I lose my primary place of business, where will I work?
  4. Where will my employees work?  What if I have no employees? 
  5. Do I have the expertise to recover from an outage internally or will I need a partner?

With these answers, at least start small and create a plan to recover the key systems you must have in order to survive.  Then slowly add more functionality to less critical systems as time and budget permit in small consistent steps.

To survive long term, businesses must protect capital and manage risk.  Today there are more viable options to help you get a disaster recovery/business continuance plan in place than there were a few short years ago to help you keep these two factors in balance.  Partnering with an IT service provider that offers backup/disaster recovery and business continuance solutions as a service could be a good solution to help your company both avoid a large capital expenditure and effectively manage your risk.      

The only option that should not be an option is doing nothing.

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