3 Levels of Redundancy for Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity
As we've seen many times in the past few years, disaster recovery plans are crucial to an accounting firm's ability to recover from any potential disaster – from extreme weather events to power grid failures.
Whether your firm maintains a local data center or has just a small IT equipment room, here are three areas you need to ensure are a part of your business continuity and disaster recovery plans. By addressing and planning for these areas, you can greatly reduce your risk of downtime.
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can be a worthwhile investment to keep key people, servers or hardware running when a power outage occurs.
For under $100, a basic UPS can provide enough power to keep the average broadband modem and Wi-Fi router running for up to an hour. These devices typically require no setup other than plugging them in and are relatively easy to store under a desk. People won't be able to continue working indefinitely using a UPS, but it can at least allow them to finish up or save what they're working on or wrap up a client conversation gracefully.
A UPS can provide temporary power in the event of a minor outage, but they won't be able to keep your entire firm running for days on end in the event of a massive power failure. For that, you may want to consider having a dedicated generator – at least for your main office.
Most firms won't want to incur the expense or ongoing maintenance responsibilities of providing generators for every team member's home office, but redundant power for key positions is something to explore as an option, as it can provide continued access to business functions during a major event.
Redundant internet connectivity
Losing internet is almost guaranteed to impact your team's productivity and bottom line negatively. One easy way to address this is with mobile hotspots. Every firm employee likely has a smartphone. Some may even have a company-issued smartphone. Adding the ability to create a hotspot avoids the need and associated cost for a dedicated wireless hotspot. Even if you have to upgrade your contract, it's probably still cheaper than providing a dedicated device with a service plan for every employee.
If you're not comfortable using the hotspot on people's phones, you can use a dedicated hotspot. However, you might want to consider choosing a different provider than the employee uses for their smartphone. This ensures if one network is impacted, you have another option.
If users access the firm's data through a VPN or you have other security controls in place, those requirements still apply to hotspots.
There's no simple way to provide a company-wide mobile hotspot unless you really want to invest in that scale. The downside is, it would need to be wired throughout the office and needs electricity. Since power and internet outages tend to stack, there's a good chance if you lose power, you've also lost internet.
In our latest Boomer Technology Circles survey, 25 out of 42 firms reported they have redundant internet for all locations, so if you haven't invested in that, it's something to consider.
Backups and disaster recovery plans are needed for you to get back up and running when redundant power and redundant internet fail. While you may not be able to execute business during an emergency, with the right backups and plan in place, you can return to full capabilities sooner.
Redundant data used to take up a lot of physical storage space. Now, most data is cloud-based. Still, it's important to ensure that all critical data – of the firm and its clients and employees – is stored safely and securely in backup and recovery systems, either in the cloud or on-premises.
There are hundreds of providers out there who can meet your backup and disaster recovery needs. You can either lean on your solution providers or use your own.
With these three elements in place, you should be able to return to operations quickly and with your clients' confidence. Just remember that communicating with clients should always be top of mind. If you have some advanced warning, reach out to clients proactively to let them know their data is secure, and you're doing everything you can to restore access and capabilities as quickly as possible. You won't always have enough advanced notice to get in front of the event. In that case, it's important to communicate what happened after the event and let them know how you plan to return to functionality.
Outages and unexpected events happen. But making sure you have comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place can ensure your firm maintains the trust and reliability that your people and your clients have come to expect.
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As a Technology and Business Analyst for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Chris Rochford leverages a diverse background in web development and technology consulting. His role involves managing Boomer Consulting, Inc.’s internal technology, as well as researching how new and emerging technologies can be leveraged internally and for our external clients.
Before joining Boomer Consulting, Inc., Chris spent 15 years in tech, doing web development for state and local government agencies and commercial clients.