While most big businesses are all up to date with their back-up and redundancy strategies, SMEs all too often don’t give full consideration to what could happen should disaster strike.
The recent spate of natural disasters, including widespread flooding, hit many businesses hard. While some had no back-up strategy at all, others had their equipment stored in building basements that were the first to be flooded out.
The impact of disasters on an any business can be devastating – customer orders, contact information, financial records, supplier contracts, correspondence and stock records – what would you do if you lost it all?
Businesses without disaster recovery strategies need to be aware of the consequences should the unexpected happen and they lose their vital information and means of communication.
Don’t wait until a disaster strikes before giving consideration to outsourcing your systems, such as when server air conditioning goes out on a weekend, power goes down due to a storm, or worse.
If there is no additional air conditioning backup, machines will fry. Hard drives do crash, and they do lose data. It’s a bit like insuring a car. You don’t really think about it until you have a crash.
A couple of years ago, a well-known local business had a fire rip through its hub, destroying its proprietary IT system – from data storage to business intelligence, sales management, stock and its financial and accounting system. It took 10 weeks to get the business back to normal operations once new equipment and software had been put in place.
Everyone in your organisation has a job to do and is busy doing it. There is usually an employee with some knoweldge of IT in every business but no doubt there are more important things that pop up on their agendas each day. The last thing on their mind is spending time developing and implenting a disaster prevention and recovery system.
A proper disaster prevention and recovery system will plan for a number of things:
are there uninterrupted power supplies installed?
are the back-up capabilities sufficient?
are the cooling systems within the building adequate to support the IT systems, and is there back-up air conditioning in the event of a cooling problem.
When you manage your own IT infrastructure, you need to worry about this and it adds another layer of complexity that business shouldn’t need to worry about.
A solution is putting your IT infrastructure in a safe, secure environment. Purpose-built, enterprise grad data centres offer a number of benefits business who are running mission-critical IT systems. These include 24/7 “smart hands”, redundant power, physical security, ability to easily scale-up infrastructure, reduced costs and greater flexibility, improved utilization of leased premise. And less worry.
7 tips for SMEs managing IT infrastructure
1. Have a back-up plan
Considering the IT systems you run in house now, what would happen if one of them fell over or worse, if they all fell over? What would be the consequences of losing the data that sits on those systems? Calculating the cost to your business of an IT disaster is an exercise that is well worth doing.
2. Power can be expensive
A lot of power capacity can be expensive to deploy to a standard office building. Find out if there any limitations on power that can be delivered to your building as this could be critical to your growth path.
3. UPS is critical
Ensure you have the correctly sized UPS for your IT equipment to allow for an orderly shut-down of IT equipment in the event of a prolonged power outage. In the event of primary power failure – could you get someone on site 24×7 before your backup UPS is exhausted?
4. Don’t risk cooking your equipment
Work out what cooling requirements you will need not just for your current technology infrastructure, but critically, for projected future requirements. Some IT infrastructure produces a lot more heat than others.
Hot IT equipment reduces IT efficiency as CPU clock speeds reduce, which increases power-draw as fans turn on. This can eventually lead to the shutting down of your IT equipment if the temperature gets too high.
5. Physical security
Ensure you have the correct security posture appropriate to your requirements as well as your clients. For example, having your company comply with security systems such as PCI DSS and ISO27001 could be important to your clients.
Physical security can mean having audit logs of all access to your infrastructure, CCTV footage stored and a granular access control system to ensure only authorised members of staff can access certain area. Remember, sabotage can come from within.
- 6. Property Leasing
Check whether your on-premise IT equipment will not affect future negotiations with your landlord. If you have made a sizable investment in infrastructure in your building, it can sometimes hinder future negotiations for leasing rates as landlords know how expensive it is to move a large amount of IT equipment.
- 7. Consider outsourcing your Infrastructure
As soon as your reliance on your IT infrastructure becomes mission critical, you’ve got a problem. Relocating your IT assets into a data centre environment makes sense, both from a redundancy and back-up perspective, but also from a financial perspective.