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Keep the lights on this winter

Posted: 18th December 2015

Companies across the UK are being encouraged to put procedures in place to reduce the potential disruption facing them this winter, after rain and strong winds wreak havoc throughout the country.

Businesses are on high alert with forecasters warning that Britain could suffer its most severe winter in over a century, with cold and wet conditions likely to continue well into the new year. Storm Desmond has already devastated large areas of Britain and the last time the nation suffered such a severe winter was back in 2013, which analysts estimated cost the UK economy well over £1bn.

As organisations are becoming ever more reliant on their IT systems for day-to-day business activities, there is a growing concern about staff being unable to reach their offices or access their company data. As a result, companies are now placing greater emphasis and resources on their Disaster Recovery processes, with a recent study carried out by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal showing that 37% of respondents were planning on increasing their budgets over the next 12 months.

Disaster Recovery is a critical element of any company’s strategy but the cost and man-hours required to support and maintain a resilient IT infrastructure can be significant. The threat of data loss and downtime as a result of systems being compromised has seen more businesses work alongside third-party experts when decided how to manage their key IT applications.

Neil Stephenson, CEO of Managed Services provider Onyx Group, feels that it is vital that all businesses have a stringent continuity plan in place in order to combat not only the threats winter may cause, but every day problems such as power and hardware failure. To aid businesses, Stephenson has produced his top 5 tips that all companies should consider when establishing their Disaster Recovery strategy:

  1. Host your data and backups offsite: Hosting your IT in-house makes the likelihood of being able to access your data following a major workplace disaster almost impossible. It is vital that businesses find a supplier who can duplicate their data across multiple geographically diverse Data Centres in order to guarantee them maximum uptime and availability.
  2. Invest in a robust Workplace Recovery model: Whilst many businesses’ core focus is maintaining and restoring their IT systems and data, many neglect to consider where their staff would operate (and access their data from) if their offices were deemed unavailable. A Workplace Recovery model allows staff to relocate to a secondary site and still maintain access to their vital company data and communications systems.
  3. Enable staff to work effectively from home: Explore the possibility of implementing a VPN solution to allow people to access their data and work from home if winter conditions make it impossible for some staff to reach your offices. This remote access tool provides staff with additional mobility, especially those whose attendance at your offices is non-vital as they can access their work via other applications such as BYOD’s.
  4. Ensure rapid rates of recovery: This is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a disaster recovery solution. It is imperative that any backup system you have in place can quickly restore your data in order to minimise any periods of disruption to your business activity and to achieve your Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) established during the initial planning stage. To ensure this, businesses should look to add a cloud solution to their IT strategy rather than traditional forms of backup such as tape, which involves a much slower process and can hinder recovery.
  5. Regularly test your Disaster Recovery plan: Your plan needs to be tested and updated at least twice a year to ensure your business can recover in a swift and successful manner. The process is a challenging task for most IT teams, but if it has has not been thoroughly tested and updated, it is likely to fail in your hour of need.

Formed in the North East in 1994, Onyx Group has grown from a regional, home grown IT company to a national technology provider with sites in the North East, London, Scotland and Yorkshire regions.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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