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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Disaster Recovery Plan That Works

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) with a well-prepared disaster recovery plan gives their clients the advantage of remaining operational in the wake of a disaster. Every MSP ought to have a detailed plan documenting procedures to prevent downtime or loss of data due to a disaster and how to recover from one. A simple system glitch or larger-scale power failure can wreak havoc on a business. Mother Nature can have devastating effects as well. Severe rain and snow might result in power outages or flooding and some regions are susceptible to tornado and earthquake damage. A MSP proactive in putting a procedure in place to avoid such a crippling situation is better prepared in keeping client business operations functioning and critical data safe.

Prevention is important to protecting a client’s IT operations. MSPs are capable of shielding clients from downtime and data loss by protecting the psychical environment in which the IT infrastructure exists. MSPs are required to think strategically about the placement of IT systems to avoid damage if a disaster occurs. Technology kept in a building with multiple floors should be stored in a location above street level. Avoiding basements and windows reduces the chance of water damage from rain or flooding. Single-store facilities need to stack systems in order of importance. Systems containing highly sensitive client data should be placed at the top of the stack, high off the floor. Larger MSP organizations that have multiple geographical locations can store backup data at a separate facility. In the event of a large-scale disaster, the MSP can remotely access and recover that data.

Assessing and troubleshooting technology is a critical part of a disaster recovery plan. MSPs should test systems on a regular basis. Every time an organization’s infrastructure changes as a result of adding or removing software or hardware, procedures become out-of-date. If a disaster were to occur based on outdated procedures and records, it is unlikely that everything will be restored. Daily testing of systems guarantees all measures are current. Closely monitoring and troubleshooting technology validates that everything is working and will work correctly should a disaster occur.

Reviewing disaster recovery service level agreements with clients determines what is expected from the MSP. MSPs gain a clear understanding of what support their clients will need during a disaster and steps to take to restore operations and data. Clarifying disaster recovery service level agreements identifies pertinent, time-sensitive information and operations that need to be recovered immediately if data loss were to occur. This is why MSP employees need to have a solid understanding of disaster recovery procedures.

The best way a MSP can prepare their employees to handle a disaster is to organize training drills. Engaging staff in regular disaster recovery drills better prepares them for how to handle the recovery process. Because disaster situations can be unpredictable, employees familiar with performing perform critical business activities will help limit surprises. A well-prepared staff guarantees recovery effectiveness.

MSPs are better prepared to handle a variety of situations that can put a client’s productivity and data at risk with a disaster recovery plan. Storing systems out of harms way and utilizing different data backup locations keeps systems safer. Consistent testing and maintenance of technology ensures procedures are up-to-date and are more helpful in alerting MSPs if something isn’t working correctly. Reviewing disaster recovery service level agreements with clients and training employees provides MSPs with the knowledge they need to support clients and keep business operations running smoothly.

Kevin Hart is avid writer of help desk tips. He especially likes working with GMS Live Expert, which is an outsourced help desk provider for managed service providers.

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