(As seen in Phoenix Business Journal)
Let that sink in for a minute. Next, consider the fact that, according to the IT Process Institute, it takes around 200 minutes to resolve one incidence of IT downtime. Sobering, isn’t it?
Market research firm IHS reports that lost productivity and revenue account for most of the hefty price tag associated with network downtime, which makes sense: workers can’t work and products can’t be sold when the network is down.
So, what’s a smart business owner or manager to do? Although a network failure can happen to any organization, proactive planning can help prevent (or significantly mitigate) the next outage and its impact on productivity and revenue.
Here are some steps you can take right now.
Keep the power on
Power outages are among the more common risks to a business. They can happen anytime, anywhere, but they don’t have to shut you down. Your backup power plan (a must for an organization of any size) should include a battery backup solution. This solution can range from an economical Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that keeps things running long enough to save data and power down properly, to a standby generator that connects directly to your power system and automatically fires up if the electricity goes out.
It’s also a good idea to connect redundant devices to separate power circuits so that if one goes down, it doesn’t shut down service entirely.
If your company’s data and business applications are hosted in the cloud, there’s a good chance your provider’s data center is protected from a power outage. In this case, you can still access your critical business programs with an internet-enabled device from a remote location that has power.
Don’t neglect your devices
Devices can fail, especially if routine maintenance isn’t being performed. Stay current with software updates, which provide fixes to bugs and security issues. Apply patches on a regular basis to keep hardware up-to-date and reduce the risk of failure. It’s also a good idea to keep redundant devices that perform critical operations, just in case. With redundancy, if one fails it won’t impact the entire network.
Out with the old and obsolete
Even well-maintained hardware has an expiration date. Once it’s no longer supported, a device can actually become a threat to the health of your network. Conducting a thorough audit of your devices will allow you to plan ahead for upgrades and replace out-of-date equipment. A Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) plan with a managed services provider is a cost effective strategy for securing new equipment and comes with 24/7 support for an economical monthly fee.
Stay on top of network security
A security breach or unauthorized traffic can shut down a network, fast. Double-check your security measures, and consider a firewall to prevent a network failure. Firewalls, which can be hardware, software or a combination of both, are the first layer of defense in cybersecurity. They monitor the incoming and outgoing traffic on a company’s network and decide which traffic to block or allow based upon defined cybersecurity rules. They also protect a company’s network and computers from being compromised and used for illicit activities without the business owner’s knowledge.
Get an assessment
A thorough network assessment will help you determine whether your business is at risk of a network outage. If it’s been a while since your last assessment, or if your business has expanded or added locations, there’s a good chance your network is underperforming. An assessment should evaluate all office locations, servers, data backups, firewalls, users, devices, applications, and anything else that pertains to your network. If you’ve got plans for future growth, a proactive assessment and network design will ensure your network grows and thrives with your business.