Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and snowstorms—the last decade saw its fair share of severe weather of all shapes and sizes. Warmer ocean temperatures have been causing rising sea levels, which has been a contributing factor to changes in weather patterns and the increase in intense storms. In fact, NASA claims that severe weather will surge 60% by 2100.
Intensifying weather is not only a concern for communal livelihood. It impacts a business’s ability to secure and protect its property too. From data center stability to physical and digital security, it’s critical to plan for the worst.
Weather-induced business disruption can cost a company thousands of dollars in lost employee productivity, physical disaster recovery, and lost clients or customers. After all, time is money. So without a proactive disaster recovery plan in place, companies risk being one of the more than 30% of businesses that aren’t able to reopen their doors after a catastrophic weather event.
Develop a Business Continuity Plan
Every successful business continuity plan designed to outlast even the most severe storm includes a robust disaster recovery (DR) strategy. When it comes to DR, the two main concerns are:
- Restoring IT infrastructure as soon as it’s feasible so the provider’s customers aren’t left without access to their workloads
- Preventing as much data loss as possible after a disaster strikes
The best strategy is highly unique to each business’s needs. There is no “”one-size-fits-all cure-all”” for uninterrupted business continuity. However, two broad guidelines can be very helpful: diversify and partner.
Diversify: Engage a backup for your backup. The most common and proven method to prevent failure in software continuity is through the engagement of a second backup platform. Never put all your eggs in one basket, and never rely on a singular data center for all your critical workloads. Having a secondary storage site helps ensure data, applications, and business processes are protected against data center failures due to natural disasters.
Partner: Find an IaaS partner with DRaaS capabilities. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers can help their clients’ businesses stay afloat through many emergency situations. The more that companies migrate their infrastructure to the cloud, the larger role IaaS providers play in offering tried-and-true protection and recovery strategies. While an IaaS partner isn’t immune to “”acts of God,”” their goal is to serve as a safeguard to disaster.
IaaS providers with disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solutions focus on providing physical and digital security—in addition to continual testing—to help ensure businesses don’t experience gaps in operation. As with most partnerships, always discuss with the chosen IaaS provider which services they do and don’t cover as early as possible to avoid surprises down the road.
Find the Right IaaS Provider
Consider the following when determining which IaaS provider is right for your company:
Location, location, location. Record-setting cold snaps earlier this year around Dallas left millions of people without power for weeks. Wildfires ripped through California in 2020, burning a record-breaking 4.2 million acres across the state and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Hurricane Harvey displaced 30,000 Texans and inflicted nearly $125 billion in damages. While natural disasters can certainly happen anywhere at any time, it’s critical to choose a hosting provider that occupies data centers in areas of the country that tend to be out of the direct pathway of active storm areas. Further, organizations that host data in one or more data centers can boost latency in the event of a power outage and aid in recovery times. Spreading out data in multiple locations can ensure that if the business is in an area that doesn’t have power, continuity of service can still be attained.
Disaster-resilient security. We know all too well what can happen to a community rattled by a strong storm; looters and thieves can easily enter abandoned homes, stores, and offices. Valuables and belongings left behind are next to impossible to recover. Similarly, when the power goes out at a data center, hosted applications and workloads are disrupted, which can lead to data loss and gaps in security. IaaS-hosted data centers should have security protocols in place that limit access to servers in the event of a power outage and protect against physical damage like floods, fires, or overheating due to loss in AC operability. They should also have 24/7 video surveillance, alarms, key card access, and electric fencing to protect against possible intruders.
Fire is the test of gold. It’s too late to prepare for disaster after it’s already struck, which is why the best contingency plans are in place long before a storm is shaped. On-call data center staff should have routine checks in place to avoid or contain data and productivity loss when disaster strikes. Hosting providers should perform regular maintenance along with drills to review severe weather procedures. There should be customary audits of operational documents to make sure all information is up to date. These tests are meant to ensure that disaster recovery plans are still effective and cover business operations.
In today’s work environment, no amount of downtime is acceptable. With so much business productivity depending on the functionality of cloud-supported devices and software, it’s never been more important to fortify and protect cloud infrastructure from disaster. Though severe weather may become more frequent and intense, businesses won’t stop needing access to their apps, data, and operating systems. Choose an IaaS provider that will do everything it can to maintain continuity, so downtime is kept to a minimum during even the worst situations.
LEX BOOST is CEO of Leaseweb USA, a hosting and cloud services company.