How to minimize downtime in the cloud

Sometimes downtime happens and there’s nothing you can do to control it. However, with some forethought, you can set yourself up for success and minimize whatever downtime does occur.

Here are a few points to consider when configuring your cloud infrastructure.

Stay on top of security

One case of downtime that can be catastrophic is a security breach. Not only are you losing productivity time but you could also be losing data.

This includes aspects like making sure your firewall settings are current, changing passwords periodically, updating software regularly, and training employees to follow good security practices.

Make sure your network security is up to snuff and you will be eliminating several vectors for sudden downtime.

Backup and disaster recovery

If you don’t have a backup and disaster recovery plan (BDR plan) in place already, then it should become your top priority. In the event of catastrophic failure, irreparable hardware damage, or even natural disasters, an effective BDR plan can save your organization a lot of pain and loss.

It should include how you back up your data, where the data is stored, and how to bring it back to a point where it can be utilized again as quickly as possible. If you prepare it ahead of time, you’ll be glad that you have it when you need it.

This ties into our next point but should operate independently.

Related reading on data integrity: How to avoid downtime and disruption when moving data

Multiple copies

Most effective cloud storage solutions should be organized so that your data exists in multiple copies stored in multiple locations. This policy should be in addition to your backups maintained for your BDR plan. This extra measure is to cover your bases in the event of things like a power outage temporarily preventing full network access or someone accidentally deleting something that they shouldn’t have.

In either case, you still have a significant dataset to work with and can use it to restore any other copies that are necessary. Your data is intact and available because you planned ahead. It’s a quick and easy solution that doesn’t require you to go into emergency recovery mode.

Some solutions even go so far as to split files up into smaller chunks and store them in different locations. This is to improve both security and redundancy. If a subset of data is lost, you only have to replace that subset. Similarly, if only a subset of data is stolen, the attacker can’t make much out of it.

Redundant hardware

Another critical component of effective cloud infrastructure is hardware redundancy. Generally, cloud solutions involve some degree of systems running in parallel and sharing capabilities already. Ideally, you should have redundant systems warmed up and ready to relieve the strain that a failed machine will place on the network.

This way if one component goes down or needs repair, it won’t bring down the entire ecosystem. In fact, the impact will be relatively minor and the malfunctioning part can be replaced without issue.

Related reading about redundancy practices: 4 ways to avoid cloud outages and improve system performance

Keep thinking ahead

It’s always best to plan ahead when you have the opportunity. Think about things like what would happen in specific situations and how you would respond to those challenges.

And don’t hesitate to call the experts if you have any questions. We can help set up your network reliably or, at the very least, provide you with guidance.

Business Mobility Tips for Bad Weather

Across the country the last few days, the cold weather has been devastating. Raleigh-Durham had its coldest day in 130 years. They call this one the “bomb cyclone” because of the sudden and extreme drop in temperature. Weather like this is uncommon in the South, but in the Northeast, it’s somewhat expected. This past October, 80,000 Maine customers lost electricity. With this kind of weather, businesses everywhere must prepare their staff for mobility. Here are our mobility tips for keeping downtime to a minimum and keeping your staff productive and collaborative even when the office is inaccessible.

Ensure You Have the Right Tools

As most business owners already know, the wrong tools can slow your growth (or bring it to a halt). The same goes with productivity and collaboration tools. An essential component of running a smooth process is first and foremost getting your team all on the same software. This could be Office 365 or G Suite for Business or whatever makes sense for your company. Every member of your staff should be well-educated on the tools of the office, so there are no hiccups when employees are on their own.

Communication is key. Audio and video conferencing tools should be thoroughly researched and available so your staff can continue with meetings and brainstorming sessions that yield productive results.

Tied into this, you may want to explore a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program. The key here is to ensure your security protocols are maximized, even when employees use their own iPhones or laptops.

Automate Whenever Possible

We haven’t quite made it to the land of artificial intelligence. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t improve our businesses with automation and with machine learning. When bad weather strikes, the fewer manual tasks your staff has to perform, the smoother your company will run. Assessing your workflow and automating whenever possible can yield incredible results – and that’s not restricted to bomb cyclones or any other bad weather days.

To properly automated, you need to fully understand the complexity of your processes. Gather your staff together and start charting out how products are released, how distribution and channeling is tasked out, and how information is shared. The simpler you can make these, the more effective your business will run when your team is unexpectedly scattered.

Get as Much in the Cloud as You Can

The cloud is the new business powerhouse. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020 cloud deployment of software solutions will be the default option. This shouldn’t be a surprise because the enterprise-level security you get in the cloud, combined with the ideal mobility, gives you many advantages over the old model of server storage in the basement.

When bad weather hits, on-premise data storage can be tricky at best and devastating at worst. By migrating to the cloud, you give your team secure access wherever they are. This gives you and your employees the best chance of limiting downtime and keeping productivity high and heading toward your goals.

Get Your BDR Plan in Shape with EaseTech

One of the main factors in combating bad weather is preparation. For businesses, this lies in your backup and disaster recovery plan. The plan itself is a living document that should detail the procedures and processes for getting back to business when the worst happens. Your BDR plan will give tasks to each employee, so there is never a question as to how the business will continue.

So, when you’re prepared for the worst, you can expect the best results.

Related: How to Build a Disaster Recovery Plan for Accounting Firms