Friday, 24 May 2013

New Business Continuity Solution - Storagecraft

Ensure you have a plan
in the event of an emergency
Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the importance we place on business continuity and disaster recovery for our clients. We’ve already produced a number of articles on the topic, to find out more visit What is Disaster Planning & Business Continuity? and How to Help your Business Survive Disasters.

We’ve recently partnered with an additional provider of solutions called Storagecraft. The beauty of the Storagecraft product suite is that it can restore servers and workstations in minutes, rather than hours or days. If providing a seamless service is important for your business whilst you recover after a disaster, Storagecraft is worth looking at.

With all disaster recovery and business continuity systems, the secret lies in prior planning. You can’t implement these approaches after the disaster has struck, you need to have planned and arranged it in advance. Then, when you need it, the recovery can be activated. Systems such as those provided by Storagecraft mirror your existing equipment so that they can be switched on quickly and reduce your downtime.

They can’t replicate the data saved on your systems, but they can ensure that your business doesn’t cease whilst you wait on replacement equipment. You don’t have to wait until after purchase, delivery and installation before you get up and running again, you simply switch over to the mirrored system and carry on whilst you get replacement equipment.

You’ll still need to replace any data you’ve lost (which will have required a robust off-site back-up routine), but at least you can get moving quickly again. It has been suggested that 70-80% of businesses cease trading within 18-24 months of a major disaster incident, so it’s worth spending some time considering how you might deal with the situation.

For examples of how Storagecraft have helped businesses like you, read their Case Studies.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Reducing the Pain of Switching Broadband or Hosting Provider

Before Making A Switch Ensure
You Know What You're Getting
Moving to an alternative website hosting company or broadband provider is a serious proposition. We explored some of the pitfalls in doing so in our last posting Thinking of Switching Hosting or Broadband Provider? and in the article Changing Premises and Suppliers. Here, we want to explore some of the techniques you can use to potentially mitigate the effects.

Start early. We can’t emphasise this enough. Setting up alternative arrangements and ensuring a smooth transition will take longer than you expect and could cost, so start considering the implications before you make the decision to change, rather than afterwards.

Do a complete back-up before the process starts. Then, if anything goes wrong or there are problems restoring the systems, you have a ready-made status quo to return to.

Consider implementing disaster planning and business continuity initiatives in advance. Techniques such as Virtualisation and Mirrored Servers ensure you can carry on in the event of a disaster and they can also get you up and running quicker afterwards. They can also be very useful in helping with a move such as this. These were explored further in What is Disaster Planning & Business Continuity? and How to help your business survive disasters.

Creating a Checklist Can Help
The Transition Run Smoothly
Create an alternative internet access system. You might need to use a Wi-Fi system or be temporarily located elsewhere whilst the changeover takes place.

Use cloud computing facilities. If visualisation and mirroring techniques are outside your budget, the cloud may provide a viable alternative through tools such as Google Documents, Google Calendar and Gmail or other web-based systems. You will need to ensure you have an alternative means of accessing the internet to use these systems and you may want to tell those with whom you communicate regularly to use a different email address during the period. You can read more about cloud computing in Introduction to Cloud Computing.

Consider email continuity. This system creates, in effect, an ongoing copy of your emails which can be activated automatically in the event of your email system crashing. If set up in advance, and used alongside an alternative internet access method, it can help to ensure that you retain access to emails whilst the changeover is taking place.

Using some or all of these techniques together can help to reduce the inevitable impact of switching providers. As ever, our advice is to take the advice of a competent and experienced IT support company before making the decision to switch, so you can be both knowledgeable and fully prepared beforehand.