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January 31, 2014

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Making Sure Your SMB is Prepared for Anything

By Sue O'Keefe, Senior Editor, Content Boost

SMBs are often reluctant to think about things like disaster recovery and business continuity and when they do, often wonder if they can find the time and money to put plans into place. "The question I always ask when businesses are debating whether it's worth the trouble is, "How much is it going to cost you if you can't do business with your customers?' " Joel Maloff (News - Alert), vice president, Channel Development for Phone.com, told  TMCnet at ITEXPO East 2014. "If you are down for a day or a week or a month, could your business ever recover?"

For many businesses--whether online or brick and mortar--the answer is no, yet a recent study from Sage found that only 38 percent of those SMBs surveyed had a formal disaster recovery plan in place for accessing data after an event. The same survey found that 72 percent of SMB respondents say that they back up their data on-site only--a huge issue if an event such as a fire, flood, hurricane or even a break-in or vandalism occurs.

There is a difference between disaster recovery and business continuity planning, but both are imperative for businesses of all sizes, Maloff said. Disaster recovery is what happens if a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado, a terrorist attack or even a tenant above you with a broken pipe damages or destroys your business. "If a water leak or tornado or even an act of sabotage destroys all or part of your equipment, its how quickly can you get back up and running," Maloff said. "If customers call your establishment and get a fast busy signal because your PBX (News - Alert) has been destroyed, how do you stay in business? If customers can't access your website, they will think you have gone out of business and go somewhere else."

Business continuity, on the other hand, is actively ensuring that nothing that happens will take down a business' ability to do business with its customers. Businesses, including and especially SMBs, need to have an environment where there is no single point of failure, Maloff said. "One of the best ways to test this is to pull the plug on your PBX or server. What happens? Are your calls rerouted? If not, you have some planning to do."

The cloud simplifies a lot of things for SMBs, because they can get hosted websites, hosted storage, and even DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service) in the cloud without a lot of investment of time or money. "It's imperative to ensure that your critical data is backed up somehow offsite from main facility and that  you have logical and physical diversity of data," he said. "That's probably the most critical thing a business can do is to back things up consistently. If something does happen, and you can get employees and the business back up and running."

Bottom line: No business is too small for disaster recovery and business continuity planning. "Whether you're an online business or have a storefront, you need to plan for the worst," Maloff said. "It's an insurance policy--you hope you never have to use it, but when something goes wrong, you're so happy you had something in place."




Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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