Business Continuity in the New Millennium

By Buddy Pitt, TNSC Product Development Manager

When I first entered into the technology field, the adoption of business continuity in the small business world was extremely different than it is today. I was an onsite field technician that drove around from client to client solving problems on small computer networks. Most of these businesses were not connected to the internet and accesses to any external systems were normally gained via a dial-up connection. In most cases, dialing directly to a vendor to achieve a very specific purpose such as transmission of payroll data to ADP or collecting punches from a time clock. While functions like this saved time, if they didn’t work, it really wasn’t a big deal. Employees would simply revert back to the way it was done in the recent past, “manually” or “on paper”.

Often I would have to deliver the bad news that a particular system would be down for an extended amount of time while a part was ordered or a repair was being made. At the time this was just accepted. When I think back to this reality and how it differs from today, the hardest part for me to believe is that it was only 15 years ago!

Today most businesses, regardless of size, rely on technology for their day-to-day operations. I would now consider it an oddity if a business doesn’t have a constant broadband, or better, connection to the Internet.. In addition, businesses have become much more reliant upon data and applications access from their local server(s). As a result, when a system doesn’t function or is inaccessible, there is a direct and immediate impact to the business’s ability to produce their product or service. The business impact is so severe statistics show that 60% of businesses close their doors within 6 months following a total loss of their data. Today’s business owners can’t ignore this reality and it creates quite a conundrum for them. If you don’t adopt technology you don’t have to worry about these issues, but you also probably won’t be very competitive in your market space either. So what do you do now that we are so reliant on technology for day to day operations?

Well, it is actually quite simple. As demand for technology grew, supply grew with it, competition emerged and costs were driven down. The end result is that redundant systems which were only available to large corporations have now made their way into the SMB market as well. While the concept of “business continuity” remains the same, the method of achieving it has changed. 15 years ago, employees knew both the paper and electronic methods to complete their tasks; however, this is no longer true. So business continuity has adapted to keep the electronic method running in the event of a disaster. It is now cost effective to integrate a Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution into your business similar to purchasing an insurance premium to cover your property and protect you from financial loss if found liable for damages. These systems range from protecting you from the loss of a single e-mail or file to the loss of your entire building, to an event that impacts your entire geographical region. While this level of preparation may sound extreme for a small business all scenarios need to be considered.

In October of 2011 the northeast region of the country was hit by an unusual winter storm called Alfred. The impact was devastating and widespread throughout the region. A lot of businesses here were unable to operate for up to 10 days or more due to the sheer number of power outages. At the time, we had a very good disaster recovery solution implemented at many of our client sites. We had all of our client data from these devices stored at offsite locations; ready to be shipped out if needed. However, an early winter storm resulting in extended and widespread power outages showed that having data protected offsite doesn’t go far enough for true business continuity. TNSC therefore, went back to the drawing board, invested and re-invented our BDR solution to be a true business continuity system. If a similar event were to happen again, we now have the ability to bring up our clients’ servers in our own data center located in a different region of the country. We call this solution “StoreIT 2.0” and this provides real business continuity. The best part is, using the latest software, technology and some of our own innovations we are able to deliver this service at the same cost as the previous version!

While technology will continue to change at an exponentially increasing rate, there will always be one constant. That is that businesses need to continue operations regardless of what circumstance they are facing. In today’s competitive market it is too simple for a customer to find someone else, even if that “someone else” is on the other side of the country or even the world. When your business has fewer problems and can recover faster than anyone else, you are a step ahead of your competition. We can help you achieve that competitive advantage by making sure your applications are as ready to conduct business as you are.

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