With the future so uncertain, it’s no surprise that many organizations are turning their focus toward business continuity. There are a lot of components that go into making a successful continuity plan, and if you want to optimize your chances of survival in the face of a disaster, you need to ensure that all your bases are covered.
First, let’s take a look at what business continuity means, particularly in a post-pandemic world.
Defining Business Continuity
A lot of things can go wrong when you run a business. From natural disasters like electrical storms, fires, floods, and so on, to not-so-natural disasters like hacking attacks, ransomware, and user error, there are a lot of ways that your business’ operations could be disrupted for extended periods of time. At its core, the business continuity plan is a list of steps that must be taken following such a disaster to keep downtime and losses to an acceptable minimum. It should be noted that business continuity and disaster recovery, while two sides of the same coin, are not one and the same. Disaster recovery is simply one of the many components of a successful business continuity strategy.
The Primary Components of Your Strategy
Before identifying where you should invest your time and effort when planning for business continuity, it’s best practice to run what is called a business impact analysis, which helps to identify critical functions of your organization. Basically, you take a look at which operations would be most costly during a disaster scenario; this helps you shore them up with your business continuity strategy.
The various parts of your business continuity strategy will generally fall into one of these three categories, based on what the above critical functions are for your specific industry:
- Digital resources: Most businesses rely on data of some form or another, whether it is stored on-premises or in the cloud. Making sure that you retain access to that data in the worst of times will be crucial. Data backup systems can aid in this process and make certain that your digital assets are not lost forever.
- Human resources: Your business cannot function without its employees, so you need to account for them, too. Establishing a chain of command and guaranteeing that you stay in touch with any clients or vendors will be critical to ensuring business continuity.
- Physical resources: This includes things such as your office space, physical assets like your hardware solutions, and anything else of the sort that’s needed for your employees to do their jobs in an effective way. Especially if you rely on manufacturers or a supply chain, ensuring that this is not broken is critical to success in the face of a disaster.
At the end of the day, your business continuity strategy should be accessible to anyone who will need it, along with a list of necessary equipment, the locations of your data backups, and contact information for additional resources as needed.
Reinforcing Business Continuity
A business continuity strategy is only effective if it can be feasibly pulled off and it meets your expectations. Imagine going through a disaster scenario only to discover that your business continuity strategy simply does not return the expected results, or perhaps it doesn’t execute well at all. This is why it is important to routinely test and adjust your strategy; you don’t want to be caught unawares. Here are some details to look for when testing your business continuity plan:
- Expected downtime: Does your plan meet the expected minimum amount of downtime and the costs associated with it?
- Ease of implementation: Is your plan able to kick off without a hitch?
- Feedback from staff: Have you listened to key staff who might be able to identify opportunities for improvement?
Need a Hand Getting Started?
The world of business continuity can be a bit daunting, but in today’s business climate, you cannot afford to be passive with it. Point North networks, Inc., can equip you with the tools needed to ensure minimal downtime and disruption in the face of a disaster. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.
I hope I don’t have to tell you how important your business’ data is to its continued survival, just as I hope I don’t need to explain why this makes this data a priority to protect, regardless of your business’ size. What I do want to explain is the concept of the 3-2-1 Rule and how it pertains to your data backup, and why we would recommend that one for your business’ purposes.
What Makes a Data Backup Such an Important Asset?
In a word: insurance.
Data is, as we’ve well established, a crucial component to your business’ continued operations and survival. Tons of it is generated, collected, stored, and updated each day to support our daily lives. If a business were to lose the data that it had accumulated, it would suddenly find itself in a very bad spot.
This is what makes the idea of a data backup such a good one—in many cases, it is this backup that keeps a business from going under. Of course, this requires that the data backup be properly maintained as well.
To put themselves in the position that offers the most success, we generally recommend that businesses prepare their data backups in accordance with the 3-2-1 Rule.
What is the 3-2-1 Rule of Data Backup?
Simple: keep at least three copies of your data, in two mediums or formats, at least one copy of which kept off site and separate from the others.
Why multiple copies? Multiple copies ensure that—should one of your backups become corrupted or infected or otherwise infiltrated, you have a spare or two to fall back on. While we say three, three should really be considered the bare minimum.
Why multiple formats or mediums? Well, consider what would happen if you made yourself two lunches in case it rained, but packed both into a paper bag. With both in a paper bag, the backup lunch would end up equally soggy as the original lunch. Keeping your backup in a different format or storage medium helps prevent it from being impacted by the same thing that damages the original.
Why the offsite version? Keeping a backup offsite helps to ensure that—even if a disaster were to completely annihilate your business’ physical location—the data you rely on would still be accessible to you by virtue of the data backup. This gives us something else that is important to consider: the concept of an “air gap” in terms of data security.
What is an “Air Gap?”
Let’s go back to our “backup lunch” example, for a moment. While having an extra lunch was a good idea—our example made it clear why—keeping it so close to the original removed its benefits. However, if we were to take the same concept of having a backup lunch and add in an air gap (keeping an extra lunch in the break room at work, or stashing a few bucks to order something out, perhaps), we removed the threat of a single disaster preventing us from eating.
In terms of the data on your network, an air gap is just that—physical distance and separation helping to isolate resources and protect them from many threats.
Point North Networks, Inc., is here to help businesses like yours manage all the complexities of their technology so that you have more room to succeed. Give us a call at 651-234-0895 today to find out more.