When South-East Queensland Flash Floods occurred last year many people were taken aback by just how quickly these came on. Caboolture received a staggering rainfall total of 333 mm in just a few hours while Brisbane received a record amount of rainfall for the entire month of May, some 181 mm, in a little under eight hours. A number of businesses are still recovering from this flood and others were forced to close their doors for good.
And it is not just floods that business owners have to be worried about. A fire is another unexpected event that can be just as devastating. Unlike water which doesn’t necessarily destroy everything in its wake, there is often very little salvageable from a fire. Fires also tend to be isolated incidents while floods are more likely to affect an entire community. This means demand for your services will still be high after a fire whereas during a flood there is likely to be a decline in demand as your clients will also be dealing with recovery efforts of their own.
Surviving a flood, fire or any other type of physical disaster can be a struggle and there will be a million and one things you need to deal with in the aftermath. These problems are made worse if you are not prepared to deal with such an event. Despite this fact, Australian businesses, especially small and mid-sized ones, continue to neglect their backups choosing on-site options over more reliable methods like cloud backups.
The most puzzling thing about this lack of proper disaster planning and readiness is that many companies already realise they are not prepared. In a survey conducted by the EMC Global Data Protection Index, 78 percent of Australian organisations said they are not fully confident in their ability to recover after a disruption.
If you are one of these business owners who don’t have off-site backups or a disaster recovery plan in place, it’s time to act. Taking preventive measures today and utilising cloud backups will keep your business operational in the moments and days after a disaster. In order to better illustrate this point, let’s use a fire at a construction company as an example of how one such solution, cloud backups, can be the difference between staying in business and going out of business.
In this example we will say the fictional construction company is based in Newcastle where their primary headquarters are located but they handle projects throughout New South Wales. There is on-site staff at the main office as well as teams in the field and the business stores their data on-site. However, they also decided to invest in cloud backups instead of sticking with traditional, tape backups.
In the aftermath of a fire, there is a lot to take care of. And while you and upper-level management are going to be handling these issues, most employees will have nothing to do. This is one reason why it is important to keep operations running even if in a limited capacity. However, if you do not have access to any applications, files or data this will be near impossible. Permits will be lost, employees won’t get paid, orders won’t be fulfilled and the list of issues goes on and on.
Returning back to our hypothetical construction company, as the fire was being put out, someone at the business called their cloud service provider (CSP) to have them start restoring their servers as a way to limit disruptions. In this case, they opted to have the server/s setup off-site so employees could access everything via the cloud. This allowed for the company’s various departments like human resources and accounting to work remotely while another facility was secured. It is also possible to have this information restored to a backup location should you already have one ready to go.
The process for restoring a server with data from cloud backups can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. It is during this time that the construction company’s management team informs departments as to how operations will proceed. Some departments would work off-site, as we mentioned before, while a few others would work out of a crisis centre that had been organised. Most importantly, employees in the field were able to continue working as if nothing had happened at all.
It’s important to note that without cloud backups in place things would be very different for this organisation. Not only would it be impossible to conduct payroll, meaning employees would stop being paid and in turn stop working, but materials could not be ordered and it would be hard to do a number of other tasks necessary to maintain daily operations. Work on all projects would cease for an indefinite amount of time.
Let’s return our attention to the cloud-backup powered construction company. After 24-hours, all information is now up and running on the CSP’s off-site servers. This means data, along with applications such as email and specialty applications, are once again usable to every employee as long as they have internet access. This prevents an insurmountable backlog of work from piling up and by the end of the week most everything is functioning as it was before.
Of course, it is far from smooth sailing at this juncture as the company must create a new work space as well as reintegrate all of its system. In the short term, however, this scenario is far more palatable than the alternative of no work being done at all. And since backups remain on the cloud storing all updated data, when the time comes to move everything back to on-site servers, the process can be done in a matter of hours and not days, preventing further disruptions down the road.
Despite having to deal with a fire that destroyed everything at their main office, the construction company was able to carry on without being forced to halt all operations which led to clients becoming frustrated or taking their business elsewhere. Work was able to continue, employees and vendors were paid on-time and all other vital functions were carried out.
One last point, while cloud backups can help prevent downtime, they are not the ultimate cure to surviving a disaster. The reason the construction company succeeded was the disaster recovery plan the management team had in place. The company ensured all employees were on the same page. Cloud backups can provide you and your staff with all files and applications but simply having access to these isn’t enough. Your team must be made aware of what they need to do in a disaster scenario and how they can use the tools provided to them.
While this is a good example of how cloud backups can help save your business in times of a disaster, Empower IT has real world experience in storing and deploying cloud backup solutions. We can store your data at a major data centre or in-house and offer fast response times in cases of emergency. If you would like to know more about how cloud backups work or how Empower IT can help, please get in touch with us today because you never know what tomorrow might bring.