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One of the most important aspects of a comprehensive IT Strategy for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) is the development of a strong Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plan. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most often overlooked. In large organizations, such a strategy is almost ubiquitous. A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute indicates that this is not true for small businesses. The survey states that 62% of American SMBs are not confident they could recover quickly should a "serious incident" take place. This is not because SMBs are not serious about BC/DR, but SMBs often opt to use their limited resources to focus on implementing and maintaining production systems rather than potential disasters.

The foundation of any BC/DR plan is a comprehensive backup strategy. This is essential to your SMB's ability to recover from any disaster. A disaster, in this context, can mean anything from an earthquake to a prolonged power outage. No matter the situation, your employees will need to access your company's critical data without delay. Before recent developments, immediate access was not always a possibility. Now, with the rise of online backup solutions such as MozyPro, your critical data can be recovered immediately with little more than a computer and an internet connection.

Online backup solutions come with some disadvantages. Naturally, online backups use the internet to transfer data. This is a problem when trying to recover large amounts of data as internet transfer speeds pale in comparison to that of a local area network (LAN). You must also have some way of recovering data in the event that no internet connection is available. For these reasons, local offsite backups and onsite backups are also necessary.

There are many technologies available that your organization could use to maintain strong local backups. Software packages such as Symantec Backup Exec can be used to handle local backups of your file server. These backups can be placed on Network Attached Storage (NAS) Devices, or could be placed on a standalone hard drive and taken offsite by a trusted employee. The latter is a common strategy for local offsite backups. Symantec System Recovery can be used to quickly recover a crashed server. Not only do you need to backup your files, you must also ensure that all your emails are safe. GFI MailArchiver can provide email backups as well as any archiving necessary for compliance. If your company has a virtual server infrastructure such as VMware, products such as VMware Data Recovery and Veeam Backup and Replication are powerful tools for virtual machine backup.

A strong backup strategy is important, but it is only one element of your BC/DR plan. There are many other components to BC/DR that must be considered. In order to maintain business continuity in the event of hardware failure, there are many precautions that can be taken. All of your servers should be configured with RAID Arrays to prevent data loss, but with critical servers the array should be configured with at least one hot spare. Failover clustering of critical servers, including virtual hosts, should also be considered. Failover clustering can be combined with the use of a replicating storage area network (SAN) to mitigate the risk of hardware failure.

A comprehensive BC/DR plan is not an entirely technical undertaking, but requires careful planning and instruction for your employees. It is essential that there are procedures in place for everything from a key IT employee leaving to a tornado striking the premises. Your employees must be able to react quickly to lower the effect an incident has on your bottom line.

Black Sea Systems can partner with you to assist with all of these various elements. We will conduct a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) of all your systems, determine which ones are critical and what action is taken for each one, and implement whatever technical changes are necessary. We will also work with you to develop a written BC/DR plan and train your employees on the actions necessary to ensure business continuity.

Overview of backup hardware and software systems deployed and supported by Black Sea Systems in various firms:

Hardware:

  • Dell PowerVault Tape Drives
  • EMC AX Series Storage Area Networks (SAN)
  • EMC VNX / VNXe Storage Area Networks (SAN)

Software:

  • GFI MailArchiver 2011
  • Mozy Pro
  • Symantec Backup Exec
  • Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery
  • VMware Data Recovery

Black Sea Systems office locations:

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