How Old Is Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

How Old Is Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Do you have a disaster recovery plan in place for your office?

If the answer is yes, how old is it?

Just a few years ago, we operated our businesses in entirely different ways. Standalone software has migrated to cloud-based platforms. Our dependency on in-house technology is quickly disappearing.

Almost everything we use is online. But if the disaster recovery plan you created doesn’t take these changes into account, a disruption could leave you without your data. Or worse, without a business.

Businesses today are spending around 34 percent of their annual IT budgets on hosting and cloud services. Every year, this number will continue to rise as we increase our reliance on external sources for infrastructure, application, and management services.

Our connectivity as at an all-time high, rising with every new strategy and application we take on. But if the unthinkable happens and we’re not prepared for it, a company might not survive. According to FEMA, 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place is mandatory. Upgrading and reevaluating your disaster recovery plan on a regular basis is equally compulsory. Whether it’s a short-term technical mishap like a power outage or a disaster like a flood or fire, knowing your direction in the days and weeks that follow will ensure the success of your business.

Disaster recovery planning is all about thinking up the worst case scenarios and creating a plan that counters each of those actions. Whether it’s a major natural disaster like an earthquake or a hurricane, or a smaller isolated even, there are three ways you can fail:

  • Ignore your weaknesses and have no plan in place
  • Rely on one single point of entry without a backup plan
  • Fail to test the plan for internal weaknesses

Worst case scenario always boils to finding the weakest point and exploiting it in whatever way possible. If you don’t know what that is, you can’t establish the right policies to put in place to ensure it never happens.

Want to see how your current plan operates? Run a “fire drill” to find out how your team performs. Where does productivity falter? Where do systems simply shut down? You may be surprised at how quickly things fall apart, or even where the weakest points actually lie.

You’re Cloud Based and The Internet Goes Down. Now What?

You’re Cloud Based and The Internet Goes Down. Now What?

It’s one of the greatest fears of managers who are considering moving to the cloud: an office full of employees, customers standing by, and a major crash that prevents access to data.

We’ve all witnessed being without electricity for a few minutes. But when that turns into hours or even days, you quickly realize how dependent we are.

Our data is a little different. We’re aware of what it means to our business. Cloud-based applications are still new enough that we understand the vulnerabilities. If our data is online and it’s down, what would we do?

And it’s not just the Internet. If all of your data is on G Suite and it went AWOL for a day, how would you operate? It’s not as unrealistic as some would assume.

It could be a costly experience. According to one IDC estimate, the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year is between $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion for Fortune 1000 companies.

Like all other IT issues, the difference between operating successfully on the Internet and experiencing these downtime issues is having a plan in place. The key is not in thinking about what would happen if the unthinkable happens, it’s being prepared for it instead.

Start with a contingency plan

For every application you use in your business, you should have an alternative option. That means if you rely on G Suite for your sales presentation, you should have a backup method for accessing it on-site or on a hard drive.

For some programs, keeping backup copies in different forms is easy to do. It makes sense. But not all applications are that easy. When you’re working with third-party programs, you’re dependent not only on the Internet service, but also on the reliability of the third-party. You are very dependent on the provider and the contingency plan they have in place.

If you think about it before it happens, you can consider different options before the unthinkable happens. Sometimes it might involve finding different connections, or moving to a location where Wi-Fi is in place. You can always have some element in local storage, such as syncing with Dropbox.

Check premium apps for offline sync

Why should you upgrade to premium programs? In many cases, it’s for the feature of being able to access your data anytime. Before you start relying on a free app, consider the premium option carefully. Many of them have offline modes that allow you to keep working with the program no matter if you’re online or not. Once you return to a connection, the program will automatically sync and upload any new content you’ve added since the last update.

G Suite, for instance, has the ability to allow document creation and editing offline with transparent syncing of files when you’re connected. It’s all performed on the fly as you move to various locations. This same offline feature is also built into mobile applications, giving you the same accessibility and user experience no matter if you’re working on a laptop, tablet, or phone.

Provide training to your staff

Because cloud-based applications are still new in the work environment, your employees may not know about cloud-based functionality. Just because they are proficient in Microsoft Word, for instance, doesn’t mean they understand how Google Docs operates. Yes, they have the basic wordprocessing skills down, but they also need to understand the functionality of operating in both offline and online modes.

This is where IT plays a major role. An IT consultant should be able to help you select apps and services that offer the right benefits for your company, and help bring your entire staff up to speed. That means ensuring everyone understands how to operate in every situation, even when access to the Internet is anything but perfect.

What is your contingency plan for when you don’t have Internet access?

Understand Your IT Before You Move To The Cloud

Understand Your IT Before You Move To The Cloud

Using cloud-based applications may not be right for every situation, but most businesses agree that they will continue to move away from on-premises computing in the future. It’s a natural progression.

The cloud can be defined in many ways. Most would include the concept of working in a virtual environment, but it’s much more than that. It’s about increasing your work efficiency. It’s about scalability. It’s about being able to work smarter, faster, and in a better way.

For a successful cloud adaptation, it’s important to understand your IT environment and how it fits into your overall goals. But where do you start?

Start Small – Don’t start with a large program that is used predominantly throughout your business’s work cycle. Instead, start by integrating something small to test the waters. Use less critical applications like a department application before diving in and making changes to your entire company’s structure.

Internal vs External – Before you make a change that will impact what your customers see, select programs that will impact smaller in-house functions first. Employees will be more patient with changes than clients will. It can help you test how well your internal structure performs before implementing on a wider basis.

Licensing and Agreements – What does a cloud-based application cost you as you move from other platforms? What about dedicated models? Will it be fully supported internally or through a third party? How is it serviced? Ensure that cloud-based models work the way you need them to work for how you operate.

Platform – The more sophisticated the system, the more you need to verify it works with the culture of your work environment. Is there a specific operating system version required for your application? Do you need specific devices for operation? Do you have those in place?

Security – Where will your data be hosted? How secure will the information be? How much control will you have over the information you are moving to cloud-based applications? Be sure to validate if the cloud vendor supports any regulations or security issues required for your business.

Moving to the cloud can be a simple process, but it isn’t always an easy process. Make sure you consider all of the repercussions before you make a move.

 

Are you ready to move your IT into the future?

Traveling With Your Laptop and Phone

Traveling With Your Laptop and Phone

We can’t imagine going anywhere without our electronic devices. They’ve become a part of the way we live.

But every once in awhile, we’re reminded of how they can put us at risk.

Just this week, a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco was diverted to Michigan after a lithium-ion battery caught fire in a passenger’s carry-on bag. The occurrence wasn’t a lone event.

In March 2017, a passenger’s headphones caught fire on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne, blackening and blistering her face.

In October of 2016, a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight was powering down his phone for a flight when it began to smoke.

Small lithium batteries are commonly used in small, portable devices, such as phones, tablets, and laptops, as well as other electronic items such as watches, cameras, and even remote car locks. Lithium is safe, but with millions of products using the technology as a power source, occasionally things happen.

There are two basic types of failures.

The first occurs as a design defect. Something happens in the manufacturing process that puts the technology at risk, and when discovered, the company issues a recall.

The more difficult to detect are the random events like those listed above. These are likely caused by stress events when using a device, like charging at sub-freezing temperatures, a sudden vibration, or just a random fluke incident.

Mild shorts can occur at any time. In most cases, the heat buildup is very low and doesn’t cause a problem. But if enough particles converge in one spot, a sizeable current can begin to flow. And if enough power is kept at this point for an extended period, it heats up and weakens. If enough combustible material is located around it, it can quickly catch fire and escalate to even exploding.

Still, the risk is low. With millions of laptops and smart devices used every single day, reports of problems are rare.

But there is a larger potential problem brewing.

Recently, bans have been enacted that require passengers to begin checking laptops instead of carrying them on board. That means dozens of laptops will potentially make their way underneath the plane, out of sight. That alone will increase the risk of a potential fire getting out of control.

There’s more. It also increases the risk of laptops disappearing altogether from the checked baggage. The risk for fire is still extremely low. The risk for your laptop “disappearing” from your luggage will be at an all-time high.

What would happen if your laptop suddenly disappeared? Do you have sensitive material available to anyone that powers up and clicks on a few items? Do you risk losing months, years worth of work because it’s stored on your hard drive?

Or are you 100 percent cloud-based, with your laptop merely a device to have access to the data?

Just one more reminder that while we rely on our digital devices for just about everything we do, safety and security should always be at the forefront of our minds.

Using Remote Control In Your Practice

Using Remote Control In Your Practice

Imagine a world where you can listen to a patient’s heartbeat or check vitals from 90 miles away. It’s not science fiction; it’s reality.

But it doesn’t happen without technology. And with that comes an entirely new way to practice.

Remote control can supercharge the way you operate your business. It can let you perform actions in many places at once. It can allow you to reach out to your patients, no matter where they are in the world. And as a health care provider, it can become a great tool in both your training and delivery processes.

And while choices may be sparingly at best, that’ll change in the coming months and years as we utilize technology even more.

What should you look for in remote control technology?

Online Collaboration

Delivery isn’t the only side of this technology; you should look for solutions that empower everyone in the audience too. Remoting into a device should give you, your patient, and any other provider or attendee that has a bearing on the meeting a place to be comfortable in the communication process. This will empower you to quickly provide the right service and present solutions that will solve whatever issues you may have.

Compatibility and Integration

Compatibility is a must. That means your remote control solution should support Windows, Apple, Linux, Android and iOs devices. It should work seamlessly with new devices and not-so-new ones too. It only works as well as the parties you can reach.

Easy Connectivity

The system should be easy to login to and easy to access for you and the party you are reaching out to. If it’s more difficult than driving to their location, you’ll never use the technology. Be sure to fully understand capabilities before investing in a solution.

Ability To Control Machines

Being able to see what is happening on a client’s device is nice, but being able to control the device is even better. Especially if you have a not-so-tech-savvy patient on the other end.

Ability To Chat

The more ways to communicate with a technology, the easier it will be to communicate with end users. This means voice, audio and chat features can all help make the process easier. While you can work over the phone or with text our separate chat systems, full integration can make the process smoother, which means a more efficient process for you and your patients.

Ability To Record

There are a number of reasons recording sessions are important. HIPAA compliance, training, or just proof of performance. Recording features should be easy to use and implement, with nothing more than recording at a touch of a button. Also focus in on storage solutions and how big the files will be, all of which can impact your setup for the long term.

Security

It goes without mention that security of the process should be a top priority. If technology is easy to hack into, it puts you and your patients at risk.

How could remote control access change our business?