Hurricane Warning: Is Your Business Ready?

By Robert Lupo, GM, TierPoint Jacksonville Facility and Operations

Well, it’s that time of year again. No, not the Holiday Season.  It’s Hurricane Season.  It is of particular concern to businesses here in the Jacksonville area, but these storms can cause tragic circumstances across the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf Coast states.   This time of year is a good reminder to make sure your business is prepared.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is predicting this year will be a near normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean.  This means the government agency is forecasting a 70% chance of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of these, 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

lupo hurricane graphic

It just takes one natural disaster to ruin people’s businesses and lives.  So it is vital that periodically you ask yourself whether your business would be able to recover from a weather event like a big hurricane.  If your employees were ok but you had a damaged workplace, would they have a way to continue to work?  Would your data be recoverable if your servers were underwater?

The stakes are high during a disaster for a business’ survival.  According to a recent survey by CIOInsight, 73 percent of respondents said that downtime costs their company more than $10,000 per day.

Reducing risk is a big part of what we do…

One of our critical missions at TierPoint is to help clients reduce business risks.  As such, we are constantly educating customers about disaster recovery and business continuity.  We find there are misconceptions about the differences.

Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

To prepare your business for a hurricane or other disaster, you need both a Disaster Recovery and a Business Continuity plan.

These two plans are often mentioned together in the same breath. But they are not the same thing. In fact, Disaster Recovery is a part of Business Continuity – a very important part, yes, but it’s not the whole picture.

Disaster Recovery (DR) is largely an IT function. The goals of your DR plan are (1) to keep your IT systems running or restore them as soon as possible following a catastrophic event, and (2) to preserve and protect your mission-critical data if an event happens.

In a nutshell, your DR plan involves:

  1. Coordinating with your IT team on how to do a full system recovery if your critical systems go down.
  2. Storing your servers in an off-site data center, so your mission-critical systems will not be destroyed by a hurricane or other disaster.
  3. Backing up your critical data and storing it in several locations (data redundancy), to ensure it will preserved and available after a disaster.

Business Continuity (BC) goes beyond your IT systems. Your BC plan is the contingency plan for your entire organization. It determines what steps your company will take before, during, and after a disaster to make sure your business continues with as little downtime as possible. Your BC plan covers how you will protect your employees, minimize your losses, and continue to serve your customers.

Many companies have a Disaster Recovery plan, but ignore the Business Continuity side of the overall plan. When a hurricane or other disaster hits, they are caught off guard by how much their business is affected, and how much time, money, and resources are needed to fully recover.

The Summer Forecast

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity are part of an ongoing, long-term process that you need to plan and execute over a period of several years. In the weeks to come, we’ll post more articles on this blog about how to develop effective DR and BC plans.

For now, it’s important to know that you need both a Disaster Recovery and a Business Continuity plan. It might be too late to fully prepare your business for a weather-related event in 2016. But you should start planning for next year’s hurricane season, and for the years that follow.

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TierPoint's Robert LupoRobert Lupo is GM, TierPoint Jacksonville Facility and Operations.  He has more than two decades of experience in infrastructure support design and implementation leadership.  At TierPoint, he focuses on helping clients receive a first-class experience by keeping the Jacksonville data center operating at peak performance and efficiency.  Additionally, he counsels clients on the best infrastructure solutions to help them reduce business risks and cut CapEx costs.