Cloud Computing and Disaster Preparedness

by Tina Peppers - President & Founder - Domina Technology Solutions on March 31, 2010 · 11 comments

Most of the agencies I work with do no have a disaster plan that is well thought out and that is tested regularly. Often they have not plan at all. This planning is important for everyone, not just those exposed to hurricanes. In my area it is about tornadoes. Ten years ago last week downtown Fort Worth, TX was devastated by an F3 tornado. Insurance agencies, law firms and many other learned a lot about not having a plan and how to get back into business as quickly as possible. Thank you Tina for this valuable information.

Last week I was meeting with a prospective customer in Gulfport, Mississippi.  I had not been back to the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina.  Almost five years later, there are steps leading to nothing but a foundation where a house used to stand.   As much devastation as there was to property, there was just as much to Small & Medium Size Business (SMBs) business operations left with complete destruction of their equipment and facilities.  There are lots of blogs and articles about the awesome Return On Investment (ROI) the Cloud offers, but there is less emphasis about the benefits of cloud computing for disaster preparedness and recovery, especially for SMBs.

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Gartner estimates that a single data loss incident can cost a company an average of $10,000.  What does a total loss cost?  Most SMBs I know of would not survive such a loss.   A great mitigation of these risks is provided out of the box if you’re utilizing a cloud computing model.  In that model the data is stored in multiple geographically dispersed data centers that provide extensive backup, failover capabilities and data archive.

Since Cloud Computing requires no servers, being up and running after a disaster is a matter of accessing the Internet.  The ability to deploy your workforce away from the geographic location of the event and have your operations running in a remote location can be the difference of your company surviving the event or the end of your company.

Though utilizing Cloud Computing will fortify your business against a disaster,  it also puts you on track in thinking and covering all aspects of your business continuity plan.  This kind of planning is your company’s remedies for things that you expect to go wrong.  This could include, hardware failure, server failure and electrical outage to name a few.  For SMBs not getting into the expensive field of “Running your own Data Center”, Cloud computing is the answer for most business continuity plans.  Being able to focus on just a few variables, such as Internet Access is a less daunting task then traditional planning that involves an on-site data center.

Living in Florida, June 1 is fast approaching. This is the official beginning of hurricane season.  It is a good time to review your disaster recovery plan and your business continuity plan  Any good plan needs to be tested and tested frequently.
Speaking from experience, our business operations utilizing Amazon, Salesforce and Google Apps can continue uninterrupted by our staff from any safe location in the country.

Whether it is your business continuity plan or your disaster recovery plan, are you prepared?  How long will it take you to resume normal operations?  Bottom line – can you recover?

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  • Great post! Every agency needs to have a plan for either a disaster to their agency (fire etc) or a natural disaster that affects a large percentage of their clientèle. During the aftermath of Katrina once peoples basic needs were met I am sure that contacting their Insurance Agent was one of their top priorities.

    Last year our agency moved to TamOnline. Our server was aging and we decided to make the move instead of invest in a new server. All of our customers data as well as our Outlook is housed off site. In the event of a disaster, or even an extended power outage we can forward the phones to our cell phones, find an internet connection and continue with business as usual (or close to it).

    Two more steps that we still need to put into place to complete our plan is moving to an off site fax service (I really wish faxes would go away but thats another discussion!), and a online comparative rating software for personal lines. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them!

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