With the hurricane fast approaching, it's important to start thinking about what to do in case of emergency not just at the home, but at work too. Just like insurance, business continuity planning is an essential exercise to consider should disaster strike.

So, what exactly is business continuity planning? Business continuity planning (BCP) refers to the processes a company takes to ensure that normal business operations can continue during a disaster.

  • Successful plans typically contain at least 3 elements:

  • Uninterrupted access to data

  • A safe place for employees to work

  • Ensuring that network connections, online systems, phones, network drives, servers,
    and business applications remain up and running

Unlike disaster recovery, which is all about data, business continuity is business-centric. Plans are measured by their ability to limit downtime and put systems in place to prevent the company from going offline.

Here are some steps that you can take to prepare or better strengthen your business continuity plan:

  1. Begin the dialog: Confer with the people who depend on you to keep the network running. At every level of your company ask what systems are the most important to maintain. E.g. "What systems can you absolutely not go without?", "What are your business function priorities?”, and "What is the maximum downtime your department can live with before it starts hurting the business?” Answers to questions like these will help build the processes needed to recover critical pieces of your infrastructure.

  2. Conduct a hardware risk analysis: Identify exactly what you need to protect and replace. Create a detailed list of hardware, the original cost and today’s cost to replace it (including outside vendor delivery and labor, if applicable). Rank how critical every piece of equipment would be if it were to go down by assigning values to each item. The number of values assigned can depend on infrastructure complexity. (Use a simple “1, 2, 3 approach”- 1 being most critical and 3 is the least important. Or you can rank from 1 to 10 or use a color-coding scheme.)

  3. Map your network configuration: Diagram your entire network: identify network switches, cables, PBXs, PDUs and routers and have backups – so it can be replicated. Keep resilient components on hand (and if possible at additional offsite locations) for essential infrastructures, such as server rooms, core networking and large offices. To avoid downtime, have redundant power at the ready.

  4. Protect your equipment: Control humidity and temperature (install equipment away from exterior walls and windows to minimize performance impact). Dust is a network killer – keep your IT room clean.

Follow up Thursday for Part 2!

About Comtel

Comtel Communications, a telecom/technology consulting agency based in Richmond, Virginia since 1991, provides best-in-class solutions and unbiased counsel to a diverse group of small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses, totaling more than $18.2M in annual billings. Leveraging unique access to 350+ national and international providers, Comtel benefits its clients through competitive quotes from multiple sources, to ensure their business goals are met with current and dynamic telecom and technology services. Acting as a partner, long after contracts are signed and services are deployed, Comtel offers superb back-office support to manage upgrades, track orders, and provide training to clients.

Author: Amy Humphreys