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How do you define an IT disaster? And are you ready?

By Eli Sabatier

In an always-on world, ensuring 99.9% uptime is paramount to maintaining business success, customer satisfaction, brand integrity, and a healthy bottom line. In fact, any downtime, regardless of the cause, can have an immediate and long-term effect on customer loyalty and a company’s reputation and brand.

Furthermore, downtime of any kind immediately results in lost productivity and revenue. Therefore, it’s essential when an emergency strikes and network equipment fails that you experience not just a rapid response, but an immediate response—one that quickly prevents extended downtime.

That said, many times the issue is not what one might think as it relates to disaster recovery and business continuity. Far too often, the concept surrounding business continuity is centered almost entirely on the idea of major disaster types: fires, floods, hurricanes, zombie outbreaks … the big stuff.

But does that truly constitute all disasters and what to plan for? Yes, fires, floods and other dire scenarios should always be planned for as they make up at least 50% of a good disaster recovery and business continuity plan. But what of the other 50%? The other half that consists of the mundane aspects of daily IT life must still be part of the continuity plan.

Here’s a perfect example: The number of times we have received calls regarding something as simple as an onboard power failure in a piece of equipment is unreal. However, the consequences can be just as serious. When a major piece of network equipment fails, having a backup in waiting could mean the difference between an inconvenient momentary outage in service, a full day, or more. And as hours translate to dollars is that not a disaster, even when no sign of bad weather was part of the scenario.

It’s also about cause and effect. Again, major catastrophes aside, have you ever seen the damage that one misplaced full cup of coffee can make? It may sound humorous, but trust me when I say it’s not. There have been countless times that people have accidentally taken a coffee into a server room without thinking, precariously placing it on top of a piece of gear, and subsequently knocking it over multiple units and countless network applications and connectivity.

Imagine the damage done if someone was to spill a beverage into the company’s phone system. Suddenly, everything from interoffice communications, to outside connectivity, and even call-center applications may be down for an unknown period of time. Again, the damage and cost can be in the thousands of dollars along with countless angry customers—all due to a single misplaced cup of Starbucks coffee.

So, now that the other 50% of incidents is planned for—at least in theory—what becomes the next step in closing the loop to ensure immediate disaster recovery and business continuity? Simply put, find a partner who can help not only with the planning phase, but also with the response, delivery and maintenance aspects as well.

It’s one thing to find the most cost-effective solution, but another to get the parts and equipment you need, when you need them—immediately if the situation demands it. When you work with the right partner, one who consistently responds rapidly to your inquiries, you receive immediate quotes, your time-to-delivery is short, and you have an established shipping method. All of these things are critical in keeping your uptime at optimal levels.

There is one last aspect to consider in a partnership. For any IT project, it’s about buying the right IT equipment for the right job. However, with the complexity inherent in everything from networking gear to data center infrastructure and more, ensuring fit, compatibility with other systems, and so on, is a big part of the acquisition process. You need a partner with the background and skillset to understand the required individual hardware, and the knowledge to understand the holistic nature of the greater project to ensure the right gear is ordered in the first place—reducing project times and increasing success rates for project launches.

The only way to avoid downtime is to ensure that you have a partner who understands IT business infrastructure and what is needed to mitigate risk in all cases. The foresight in knowing how to plan the infrastructure to begin with will lead to knowing what critical spares are needed and what critical parts are most common if replacement is required.

The best way to look at any disaster recovery and business continuity plan is to prepare for the expected, to prepare for the unexpected, and to prepare by having the right partner at the ready—because in IT and business, luck always favors the prepared.