How to Keep Downtime From Ruining Business
Every system needs a certain amount of downtime. Whether it's the employees who need a little vacation time, or the computer systems that need to be shut down every so often for upgrades or to prevent overheating, every system needs to stop working for a while one way or another. Scheduled downtime helps prevent many kinds of unscheduled downtime, but what else can we do to protect our operations?
Downtime can happen in a lot of ways, many completely out of a user's control. Fire and severe weather are two major causes; when lightning hits that power pole or icy roads send a driver skidding into that digital subscriber line access multiplexer (DSLAM) station, the system is out, and will be until it's repaired. Some threats aren't immediately visible, like hardware failure; parts don't hold up little hand-lettered signs reading “Help Me!” when they're about to burn out. It's even worse when a disgruntled employee helps hardware failure along with outright sabotage. Throw in thefts, accidents and floods and there are plenty of ways a system can stop working.
The numbers are even worse; the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council recently did a study noting that 38.3 percent of businesses lost as much as $20,000 from IT systems loss in 2014, and 10 percent lost up to $100,000. Worst of all, 19.6 percent reported losses anywhere from $50,000 to $5 million, and that's the kind of thing that can kill a business.
So how does anyone protect against this? Simple; cloud-based systems can be a huge help here, particularly when it's just the phone system that's out. If the phones are out, but the power's still running, users can access services remotely in many cases and carry on. If both are out, that's still not a complete loss, as users can go to where there is power and a working connection to carry on remotely.
Essentially, being prepared for telecommuting may be the best response to unexpected downtime. A mobile workforce can adapt well to these conditions by being prepared to work in places that didn't just experience a disaster. It doesn't work universally, of course; if power's off all over the state or even the county, expecting employees to put in a work day without electricity is on par with asking them to spin straw into gold. With some mobility, though, employees can proceed to a backup location and engage in at least something like a work day, which is better than the complete shutdown that would have been had without.
In the end, the best way to protect against downtime is to be prepared for it. Have scheduled downtime to address many common problems, and be ready to go to a backup site for when the unexpected hits. Being ready in this way will allow many common problems to be addressed, and that means partial victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi