Hurricane season is around the corner, so it is important to make sure your clients are prepared. For companies with data assets or offices in the hurricane zone, these storms can be devastating for business, which is why it is important to implement a robust backup and data recovery solution.
The good news is that this year’s hurricane season should be milder than what occurred last year in the Atlantic. Reports from the Weather Company indicate a slightly less active season, but one that will still have a projected 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes. At least three of those could be major storms in the category 3 to 5 range.
In the future, things are likely to get worse. According to a study called “Lights Out: Climate Change Risk to Internet Infrastructure,” by 2030 a 1-ft. rise in sea level could affect 235 data centers, 771 POPs, and 42 Internet Exchange Points. Additionally, thousands of miles of fiber conduit could wind up underwater over the next several decades, putting even more operations at risk.
Practical disaster planning tips
For MSPs, it’s important to emphasize the importance of disaster preparedness and BDR services to clients. Natural disasters like hurricanes can destroy physical infrastructure, leading to data loss, downtime, and lost business.
The danger isn’t over once the storm passes. It can take weeks to complete data recovery after servers are damaged, and there can be equipment failure weeks and months later because of undetected environmental damage.Help your clients prepare for the worst by putting an action plan in place now that will ensure the integrity and availability of their data and systems. Click To Tweet
MSPs should encourage clients to take several critical steps to prepare, particularly if they are located in hurricane-prone regions. Those include:
- Put data centers in safe locations: Long-term, the best defense is careful site selection for data centers that takes into account the environment, potential for flooding, availability of power and fiber connectivity, as well as transportation assets like freeways. Data centers in flood- or hurricane-prone areas should include additional back-up power and pumping equipment.
- Establish off-site backup and storage: This is critical for clients in coastal areas. The cloud makes this much easier than it used to be. Data and applications should be backed up in a facility that’s unlikely to be affected in the event of a storm. There should also be a plan in place to ensure that a switchover can occur quickly if the data center is damaged.
- Create a disaster recovery plan: Establish a complete inventory of client systems, hardware, and applications so that you can react quickly in a disaster situation. Make sure they have a plan in place that identifies specific employees at each location who will lead the effort to protect staff, equipment, and data. Those employees should know what is expected of them, and to whom to report. There should also be an evacuation plan in place.
- Keep emergency supplies on hand: Make sure your facilities in high-risk areas are outfitted with equipment and supplies to wait out a storm. Besides back-up generators and fuel, the list should include water, food, and heavy weather materials that can be used to protect hardware. In remote areas, it may be a good idea to have radios or satellite phones available for emergency communication.
- Test and drill: Backup and data recovery systems should be tested multiple times per year to ensure that data can be quickly restored if a data center fails. Other emergency procedures should also be drilled on a regular basis so that employees know when and how to evacuate, and what steps they should take to protect facilities as a storm advances.
Hopefully, this year’s hurricane season will give everyone some reprieve from the devastation and tragedy in 2018. Help your clients prepare for the worst by putting an action plan in place now that will ensure the integrity and availability of their data and systems. By worrying less about business continuity, they can focus on the other prime objective — the safety of their employees.
Chris Crellin is Senior Director of Product Management for Barracuda MSP, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for leading product strategy and management. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.