Setting up a new business can be exhilarating – finding the right location, hiring the best staff, developing your product, finding clients, seeing the business plan take shape. If all goes well you are on your way to fame and fortune. Sad to say, all does not go well all the time. Poorly planned businesses seldom succeed, and one of the areas frequently overlooked in the planning is what to do if disaster strikes. How will you keep your business running with the least possible interruption of service? The physical part of the business should be covered by insurance, but how will you recover damaged records?
Let’s imagine that your company relies heavily on computers for inventory tracking, customer relations management and accounting, plus you have an extensive phone network in constant use. You back up your data daily and store the tapes in a safe location.
Then, suppose, there is a massive storm, resulting in the power being off for three days, or – as one headline put it – “Mating frogs spark major Irish power outage”. Your telephones go off, your computers crash, and business comes to a standstill until power is restored. Even then, it is going to take time to restore the data from the backup tapes, and you will never get back what happened between the time of the last backup and the time the lights went off.
Now suppose that, instead of tapes, your data was backed up with an online service. You take your laptop to the nearest unaffected area, log on to your account and download the most essential data, stuff which will allow you to keep operating, up to a point. You are limited by the capacity of your laptop which may not be able to handle the complex software used to run your core functions.
You can use your mobile phone for essential calls, and so the outage does not cause a complete catastrophe, especially if other key staff members can do the same. Also, suppose that instead of using landlines, your telephone system was also based on the internet, that is, a VoIP system. Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as IP telephony or broadband phone, can provide all the services of line-based systems, including voice mail, music while holding, and direct inward and extension dialling, and many other features.
Finally, suppose that not just your data was stored online, but that you had wisely invested in a hosted disaster recovery system. This can be a rented, dedicated server housed in a location protected by every safeguard imaginable, which is loaded with all your software, and which handles all your computing. Alternatively, the backup system consists of duplicating everything that happens on your server, so that it is not only your data files that are backed up; it is the entire contents of the server, including your VoIP phones. This can be accessed from any computer, anywhere, and – hey presto – it’s as if disaster never struck.
So, yes, a combination of VOIP,online backup and hosted DR probably is the perfect solution for SMEs.