Cloud2Me disaster recovery services protect your business

The severe flooding that recently affected large parts of the UK not only caused widespread damage to property and homes. It also disrupted economic activity by flooding office premises and causing damage to on-site IT systems.  Cloud computing offers a cost-effective way for businesses to protect against such risks by allowing employees to keep working if disaster strikes.

Vodafone’s data centre in Leeds suffered significant damage in the recent flooding as it was affected by a power loss, leading to service disruption for some of its customers.  Like most large enterprises, Vodafone has back-up power supplies to keep its data centre running in the event of an external power loss. But once the batteries in the back-up supplies were exhausted, the systems died as Vodafone could not gain access the site to install generators.

The scale of the recent flooding in the UK was exceptional. Nevertheless, the disruption caused has served as a timely reminder of the need for all businesses to re-evaluate their level of preparedness for disasters like floods.

The UK is fortunate in that it is spared the types of natural disasters that regularly hit other parts of the world. Hurricane Katrina,  which caused severe damage to the southern US in 2005, has been described as the most widespread critical infrastructure collapse that any advanced country has suffered since World War II.

Katrina-sized disasters are neither unprecedented nor unlikely to occur, and while the natural disasters that affect the UK are less frequent and their disruption much less, businesses need to be prepared and consider many “what if” scenarios.

For example, what would be the impact on data centres in London area if the Thames barrier failed to operate correctly during a major flood?  Are your IT systems located at or below ground level in an area close to a river? How feasible would it be to move those systems in a hurry?

Modern businesses have come to depend on their IT systems for internal and external communications, for everyday office tasks like invoicing, and for business-critical applications which need to keep running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The growing numbers of e-commerce businesses that depend entirely on the internet to generate revenues are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.

So how should you protect your IT systems from the threat of natural disasters? Ideally you want to locate your IT systems in an area that is not susceptible to floods or extreme weather. That may be possible for big enterprises as, in theory, they can choose where to put their data centre.

Nevertheless, corporate data centres tend to be geographically clustered together. The area around Slough is prime data centre territory but the wisdom of locating so many data centres close to the River Thames was called into question in 2014 when the Thames started to flood.

Fortunately, the water did not reach the business parks that house Slough’s data centres, and even if it had, modern data centres have sophisticated back-up systems and disaster recovery plans.

But for the UK’s small and medium-sized business community, planning for IT disaster is not usually a priority item. To makes matters worse, their IT systems are invariably located in the same building where the employees work.

Thanks to mobile devices, many employees can work from home if a natural disaster means they cannot go into the office. But their productivity is going to be severely affected if the applications and data they need to do their job are on an office server that is out of action and sitting in a pool of water.

In the modern era of cloud computing, businesses large and small now have an alternative to their traditional heavy dependence on on-premises IT.

Services such as Hosted Desktop, Hosted Exchange and Hosted Server mean that businesses can finally rid themselves of the high fixed costs and IT hassles associated with running their business applications in house.

Employees can connect to their applications and data from any location and on any device — Windows PC, a Mac book or an iPad. This “anytime, anyplace” computing boosts productivity and job satisfaction and, as an added benefit, it gives business a built-in disaster recovery strategy

That’s because by locating your IT in the cloud instead of in a vulnerable physical location, your employees can keep working if their office premises are put out of action due to a fire, flood – or even a hurricane!

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