- Business Continuity Planning Services
Good business continuity planning is a fairly straightforward process and requires no special gimmicks or toys to implement (indeed, beware vendors that promote self-contained “Business Continuity in a Box” solutions; no vendor will ever know your business half as well as you). The main thrust of business continuity and disaster recovery planning is to address a series of basic questions about your business, its operations, and its critical applications:
What are my critical applications?
Most companies require at least daily access to email systems, but what other applications does your business require on a daily basis? For example, a doctor's office probably requires access to its practice management and patient scheduling applications, while a law firm might need its document management system. Identify what matters most to you.
Where do my critical applications reside?
In small offices, everything may reside on one or two servers, while larger businesses may have entire data centers, of which only a few systems and applications qualify as “critical.” Know which servers support the critical applications, including the kind of processor, amount of memory, and size of attached storage.
Where does my critical data reside?
Critical data is not necessarily on the servers. Email, for example, might be stored in individual Outlook (PST) files, which could reside on individual workstations. Know which systems (servers or workstations) contain the important data files.
Can my applications seamlessly transition between facilities?
The key word in "Business Continuity" is, of course, "continuity". With proper use of redundant circuits, "cloud" solutions, and other forms of alternate resources, many core applications can seamlessly transition to backup systems when a portion of the infrastructure is compromised.
Where (and how quickly) will I get replacement systems?
This is absolutely a question to be answered well in advance of an actual calamity. Regardless of the application, there will be no recovery process until there are servers and workstation to use in that process. Identify multiple vendors if possible, and put in a single place all the information needed to use that vendor (telephone number, email addresses, payment/credit information, and the list of systems needing replacement). Ideally, when disaster strikes, replacement systems will be literally just one phone call away.
Where will I go?
Having a recovery site is every bit as critical as having systems to which one can recover. Assume that your regular place of business will not be available. Have several places you can go where you know you can quickly set up shop. Make sure all selected sites have adequate power and air conditioning for your systems. In an actual disaster, your first phone call will likely be to your recovery site location.
Who will help me?
A grim reality of disaster planning is that your regular IT personnel may not be available when calamity strikes. Have a list of alternate resources—IT consultants and outsourcing firms—that can provide the expertise needed to get your applications up and running at your recovery site; After your calls to your systems vendor and recovery site, your very next call will be to either your regular or alternate IT staffs.
How will I recover my applications and data?
his is where the disaster recovery planning rubber meets the road. For every critical application listed in answering Question #1, you need a documented, step-by-step procedure for re-establishing that application and its data on a replacement system. Store copies of all required CDs and DVDs, along with the procedures themselves, in a secure location away from your business. Above all else, get backup copies of your data stored offsite regularly—and remember, your recovery plan can only be as effective as your last good backup, so move backup copies off site frequently (daily if at all possible).
- What are my critical applications?
Note that while these are general questions, the answers need to be as specific and as detailed as possible. Multiple answers to each question should be considered, each taking into account the different impacts of specific disaster scenarios; responding to the consequences of a hurricane might be very different from responding to a building fire, so it follows that the answers given when contemplating a hurricane might be different from the answers given when contemplating a fire.
The overarching objective in business continuity and disaster recovery planning is to think through the essential steps needed to keep your business' critical systems highly available, or to bring them back online in the shortest amount of time possible. Given that the National Archives & Records Administration reports that 93% of companies who lose access to their data for a mere ten days go bankrupt within a year (and 50% of such companies go bankrupt immediately), it is not possible to over-emphasize speed in recovering from a calamity; in disaster recovery, speed comes from planning and preparation (and nowhere else).
At TEKMedia Communications, we understand that the purpose of any emergency plan, including IT disaster recovery planning, is to arm you with answers and information before calamity strikes. Our goal when working with your company to build a comprehensive disaster recovery plan is to ensure you have the important answers and information at your fingertips if and when the worst happens. The more one knows before disaster strikes, the easier the burden of response and the greater the probability of success.
- Infrastructure Design Services
Networks add value to a business when applications are available and performing well. Networks subtract value from a business when applications are not available or do not perform well.
As with all things, good networking begins with a good design. Application availability and performance are not accidents; they are the result of proper planning.
While the components of the well-designed network will vary, every well-designed network emphasizes certain key principles:
In the well-designed network, the only thing better than speed is more speed. The unalterable reality of any application is that it requires data in order to function; when an application must wait on the network for that data, that application will not perform as well as it could. The well-designed network acknowledges this, and makes high data transfer rates and low latencies top priorities.
In order to achieve high performance consistently, the well-designed network must perform consistently. Speed does not happen when the network is down. Applications do not perform when the network is off-line. The well-designed network is not only fast, but stable, functional, and consistently available.
Networks are communications tools—nothing more, and certainly nothing less. The success of any network hinges on the extent to which that network facilitates communications among its users. A successful network makes business life easier for its users.
Networks cost money. This much is unavoidable. No company has unlimited funds, and so the well-designed network, as with all prudent investments, must be scaled to match available budgets. Sound network design differentiates between those elements that are vital to network success and those elements which are merely desirable. The well-designed network achieves network success without draining corporate coffers.
Albert Einstein once said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." This truth is especially appropriate in network design. Technology is only valuable to the extent that it enhances something else. Networks are valuable only to the extent they enhance core business activities. Network elements that do not enhance core business activities add needless complexity, cost, and maintenance burdens. The well-designed network eliminates such waste by remaining simple and straightforward. The well-designed network implements only those technologies and services which improve core business operations, resulting in either more revenue or less cost.
- Consistent high performance
At TEKMedia Communications, our network design efforts focus explicitly on these basic principles. We pride ourselves on delivering networks that improve your business.
Most importantly, we do not recommend technologies merely because they are new. We recommend only those technologies which will best enhance your business and your bottom line. We do not deploy technology for its own sake, but for your sake.