Monday, July 11, 2011

Redundant Redundant Connectivity Connectivity

By John Overton

Is one of your competitive advantages the ability to stay in business when others are put out of business by a disaster? We serve several such businesses. Through either hard knocks or pure business savvy, they understand the importance of 1) best-of-breed primary systems, and 2) as many backup systems as they can conceive and afford.

As with any insurance policy, calculating a ROI is hard until you actually need it. I just renewed my flood insurance. In the 11 years that I've been in this house, have I ever flooded? Nope. I recently visited Nashville, TN and got a somber reminder that just because you're in a 100 year flood plain doesn't mean it won't happen in your life time. More than a year after a devastating flood in this beautiful country music paradise, numerous retails areas, businesses and homes are still down and out (granted, some of it is due to insurance settlement disputes!)

Don't let that point slip past you--many of these businesses had flood insurance. They should have been good to go, right? Nope. They discovered that their backup plan was inadequate.

Similar scenario with one of our clients who has a very robust IT infrastructure, massive batteries, awesome gas generator, and bad-to-the-bone redundant connectivity system via a mobile satellite internet system.

But what happens when somewhere in the outer edges of our atmosphere something goes wrong with that satellite? It's not the client's fault, not the installers fault, not the manufacturer's fault, . . . ultimately whose fault it is--that's irrelevant. And it is small consolation when your backup plan is kapoot, that thousands of other businesses across the continent are affected by that same bird in the sky.

Motosat Satellite Internet we installed on a Barge! (Nope, even this isn't foolproof!)
No matter how great everything is going with your primary systems, knowing that your backup plan is shot makes you feel vulnerable. This is where "redundant redundant connectivity connectivity" comes in to play. Beyond the technology tools, your systems and processes is your team. Are you connected to the people who understand your business needs? The right team is not only essential to putting together an effective disaster plan, but also is the most important part OF your disaster plan. Technology will fail. Systems will fail. Processes will fail. And when they do--like this mobile satellite internet system--your peace of mind comes from knowing you did the best you could, but if that doesn't cut it you're connected to the right team with the right resources (and desire) to get you back in business.

Here's the Motosat TCC Satellite trailer we deployed for a client.
As bad to the bone as this is, even it goes down sometimes.

I wish I could control the satellite technology. I can't. But I am connected to people who can get this system working on another bird. That's my commitment to this client. We've had clients with servers that went up in smoke, and the backup that they tested a week ago got corrupted somehow. We've had clients on "the Cloud" who have had Amazon and Sprint-level crashes.

It's when Plan A and B are toast that your Connections (we'll Creatively Call it "Plan C") make all the difference. We've rebuilt corrupt data, provided loaner servers (that a story for another post), and restored data from a 3rd or 4th backup of mission-critical systems--whatever it takes. The right Plan C team can turn a road block into just a pot hole. Now is the time to make connections to your Plan C team--your redundant redundant connectivity connectivity.

Call us today to get your plans in place!

John Overton

Disaster Recovery 101

Joplin, Missouri's recent tornado devastation should be a wake-up call for every business owner.  

That is, it should be your wake-up call if you've been pressing the snooze button on your "Hurricane Gustav" alarm clock.

Which should only be buzzing still if you slept through Hurricane Katrina.......

Seriously, I can't understand how many businesses, healthcare practices, schools, and other organizations don't have any Disaster Recovery (D.R.) plan whatsoever.   Whether or not a disaster would put you out of business, if you're not prepared for it, it will certainly cause you, your employees, and your customers an unbelievable amount of grief and unnecessary work.

It's simple to get started on a good D.R. plan, and simple to lay out the basic fundamental elements.   Here's a quick guide, and some simple solution ideas:
  1. Don't have a D.R. plan?   Get started now.   Get a pen & paper, your IPad, whatever.   Seriously - please do it now!
  2. Start with a worst case scenario: "If I showed up at work and there was nothing but a concrete slab there, what would I do?"
  3. From that scenario, let's line out some key areas that would need to be addressed (this is only a starter, not a complete list by any means...):
    1. How do you communicate with...
      1. Employees (idea...  ever thought about Google Voice for a D.R. hotline?)
      2. Customers
      3. The community (if it's relevant)
    2. How do you keep doing what you do?
      1. Do you need to have an alternate facility scoped out?
      2. Can you temporarily run your business without an office (ie, go ?   
    3. How do you keep money coming in?
      1. Do you have your accounting data readily available via an offsite backup?   
      2. Can you get back to billing easily?
      3. In the event of a regional disaster, would your customers be able to keep paying you?
      4. Do you have sufficient business continuity insurance or cash reserves to handle 1 payroll?  2 payrolls?
  4. If your business is like mine, you don't have time to sit down & answer all these right now.   BUT GET STARTED!!!!   Somewhere, anywhere!
We've been working on our D.R. plan here @ Turn Key Solutions for 12 years.   And, as our business evolves, that plan will have to keep changing to stay relevant.

For example, we now have almost all of our servers in Tier-3 & Tier-4 data centers in Texas & Louisiana.   We've also just moved to a pure I.P. based phone system.   These two steps mean that we can really work from anywhere, even if our phone lines and/or power go out (which happens a lot in Baton Rouge).

So, don't try to make it perfect right away.   But do take time to think about what you'd need to do in a worst case scenario.   Because sooner or later, Mother Nature is probably going to visit us all, and we better be ready....

And if you need help with this, don't ever hesitate to call or email us for some more ideas!

Where has this blog been????

Turn Key Solutions LLC
Turn Key Solutions, LLC officially opened our doors on April 12, 1999.    Our founding goal was to provide the best, most accountable I.T. consulting services in the region.

Over the years (AAAGGH!!  Has it been 12+ years already???) we've grown, changed, transformed ourselves a few times, and lots of other stuff, and we've always kept that founding goal in the front of our minds.

That goal has been re-written & re-phrased a bunch of times, but it has always translated to a philosophy of basically this: we work hard, we do whatever it takes to provide the best solutions our clients can afford, and we take care of our employees.

So, in the 100+ hats we've worn in the process of taking care of our clients & our coworkers, the BLOGGING hat never got worn.  I personally suspect that we've not blogged because somewhere in the dark recesses of our minds we so many blogs seem to be written by very self-centered, shamelessly self-promoting, egocentric people, and for better or worse, that's just not who we at Turn Key Solutions are.    At our hearts, we're just hard workers armed with a lot of I.T. skills, our ethics, and a desire to serve.

So, here we are.   Blogging.   Why Blogging?    

In our constant search  for the best, most relevant & accessible way for us to get our knowledge, our experience, and our suggestions to our clients, we feel this will be a powerful tool.

And our goals here?   We're going to aim to do the following:

1. Get relevant I.T. trends & news to you in a format that they can read when and if you choose to do so.
2. Keep you informed about what we do and how we can help your business.

Simple enough.   Put in simpler terms - the goal of this blog is to let you know what's up with business technology, and what Turn Key Solutions can help you do about it.

So, thanks for reading, stay tuned, and let me know what you'd like to hear from us about!


Henry D. Overton
(225) 751-4444