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Palindrome Consulting Blog

Palindrome Consulting has been serving the Hollywood area since 1999, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

4 questions to make BC less challenging

If the scale of natural disasters in 2012 is any indicator of what 2013 is to bring, we could see an increase in the severity of the weather. For businesses, this often means disruption of key services. We don't have to tell you that any disruption in service could have a drastic negative impact on profits. To mitigate potential losses, many companies are turning to Business Continuity (BC). Those just starting to develop their own plans are often at a loss due to the scale of the project. We're here to help make it a bit less daunting.

Here's four questions you should answer when looking into adopting a Business Continuity plan.

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Who knows your important passwords?

When it comes to disasters, people and businesses tend to think big, really big. Take for example Superstorm Sandy that hit the eastern US earlier in November. It can be pretty much guaranteed that a whole string of businesses will be preparing diligently for the next big storm. While this is important, smaller issues that happen at a higher frequency will be pushed to the side. One common issue revolves around passwords, and who manages them.

Search for Terry Childs online and you'll find a number of articles about a former Network Administrator for the city of San Francisco who is currently in jail for supposedly doing his job. His job, as a network administrator, was to manage the city's network. When he was asked by his boss for the passwords to critical parts of the network, he refused on the grounds that the request went against the established network policy.

Issues like this: One employee or vendor in control of vital passwords, can pose a big problem to companies, especially during times of disaster. Imagine if you work with an administrator who is based in New York, and they lost power during Sandy. What could you do if your network crashed, or you needed access to your system and someone else has all the passwords?

The most crucial factor is you shouldn't trust one person or organization with passwords to vital systems. We don't mean personal passwords to systems, we mean passwords to vital systems, like servers or Internet connections. If one person has the passwords, there's just too much risk. If they are disgruntled, they have the power to do some serious damage, and if they are injured or are no longer alive, you'll face untold amounts in lost profit, and fees in recovering passwords and information.

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Ensure your DR plan is ready to fly when needed

Disaster Recovery (DR), the act of ensuring that your systems and departments are ready for a disaster and that your IT systems can recover from it, is an important issue for all companies. While large companies with operations in more than one country can often bounce back quickly, small to medium businesses in the disaster area might have a tougher time, Ensuring a DR plan is reliable is necessary for small to medium sized businesses.

Here are four ways to ensure your DR plan is sufficient and company is disaster-ready.

Are your systems compliant? Many DR systems are licensed, and it’s important to ensure that these licences are both up-to-date and supported by all necessary backup systems. If you’ve added or changed components like a server or software, but not upgraded the relevant licenses, chances are your systems won’t be covered when disaster strikes. If this is the case, when you go to retrieve the backup, you’ll just get a license error; your data can’t be retrieved.

Another issue with DR software is that it’s often not used, lying dormant for years. You should regularly check and ensure the software meets modern compliance standards, is up-to-date and licenses have not expired. You should also be aware of how the software you use integrates and interacts with the DR software. For example, an upgrade to a new email server, may not communicate well with your DR software.

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Internet not winning any speed records?

The Internet is the lifeblood of many, if not all companies. We rely on it to communicate, research and relax, and in the modern world, we hardly disconnect from it. As we increasingly rely on it, any disruption in service will normally cause employees to be less productive and your company to lose money. Any slowing down with your Internet can be just as bad, if not worse.

Have you noticed that from time to time the Internet is a lot slower than it should be? If so, this could be because something is hogging all the bandwidth, which is the rate at which data is transferred in and out of one connection. Here are six of the most common bandwidth hogs.

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Data backup is good, Continuity’s better

Business continuity - the act of ensuring that business activities are available at all times, including during disasters - is a practice all businesses, regardless of their size, should be implementing in their organization. While many businesses backup their data and think that they’re protected, they will find that during times of disaster they aren’t.

Here are five things you should be doing, aside from backing up your data, to ensure you're ready for anything.

  • Where to work. One of the first things you should consider is where you're going to work if your office is inaccessible. Hotels, convention centers or other office buildings are viable locations. Whichever location you pick, you should pick at least two different places, as far apart as possible. You should also be sure to inform your staff and include maps of the routes to the locations you’ve chosen.
  • Replacement equipment. It’s incredibly important that you know exactly what equipment you use and how integral it is to operations. For mission critical equipment (equipment your company absolutely can’t work without) you need to have a plan in place as to how you can quickly replace lost equipment, the cost of it and replacement time. For less important equipment, you should have a couple of vendors in mind.
  • Communication systems. During adverse business conditions it’s vitally important that you and your employees are able to communicate both with one another and with your clients. You should look into a communication system that’s flexible, can be established wherever you are and allows you to keep your numbers. VoIP is a great system, telecommuting is another option as well.
  • Coordinate staff. You’re staff drive your business, without them, your business likely won’t be able to run. With the continuity plan you develop, it’s important that you have hard and soft copies of the plan that are accessible to all staff, and staff know their role in the plan. When your plan is enacted you need to contact your staff and ensure that there aren’t any problems.
  • Access to critical documents. If you have a good backup location, can set up equipment quickly and staff know their roles you may think your plan is perfect. You’re missing one key element: access to documents, employees won’t be able to work without them. It’s important to ensure that you can access your data backups, which means you should probably keep copies offsite and in the cloud if possible.
A continuity plan is important, hopefully you’ll never have to enact it. Nevertheless, you should plan for the worse. If you’re unsure of where to start, or feel your current plan is inadequate, please contact us.

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