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February 02, 2019

Keep Your Business Running in the Next Polar Vortex

The Midwest of the United States is very used to cold weather so there should be no surprises from utility companies or power distribution grids, right? Wrong!

When you have parts of the United States colder than Mars, it is time to pay special attention to how your organization will function in such extreme weather.

Especially, how will your business deal with power outages? Can your servers and other equipment function when it is -50 degrees outside and the power is out?

Do you have a plan in place? More importantly, if you made it through this extreme weather, have you considered what you should do to be ready for the next incident?

To give you a sense of how bad things were last week – there was an outage in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin among others.

These are areas which should be able to cope with the coldest of the cold weather yet, this obviously wasn’t the case.

This means that if the power generation systems of these areas aren’t as prepared as we thought, companies in these and other states that could witness natural disasters, should be prepared.

For example, are New York, Connecticut or New Jersey in better condition to deal with such extreme cold? Probably not. Outages can happen at any time and when the mercury plunges, regardless of location, the chance of outages increases dramatically.

Preparation includes ensuring systems are backed up. Other considerations are a cloud mirror which allows workers to be productive – even if a local data center is not working. Other thoughts are a generator, battery backup systems and SD-WAN to ensure multiple broadband connections are available – even if one provider becomes unavailable.

Quite often it is best to bring in a quality MSP to assist and give advice. These managed service providers typically have hundreds or thousands of customers meaning they are far more experienced in terms of seeing things which can go wrong. This is especially true in your local area as they have more experience dealing with specific vendors such as the ones which provide broadband. In addition they can help you choose a business continuity solution allowing your company to work in the cloud if local servers become unavailable. Datto, for example, provides a popular solution to these issues.

Outages are costly. They can lead to secondary financial losses such as customer defection in the future. It can cause immediate loss to productivity as well as an inability to take customer orders.

Garter says the cost to a company per day of an outage can be as high as $300,000 per hour but it obviously varies based on the business and how functional the company is during it. Are there certain times of year where more business is done such as around the holidays? Imagine an outage hitting during peak demand – what could it do to your business at that moment and into the future?

Now – having (hopefully) survived last week’s extreme weather, is a good time to take stock of your business, processes, systems and data. Make a plan, implement it and sleep better at night knowing you are better prepared for the next vortex, earthquake, storm or other cause of an outage.

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