Early Preparation for the 2019 Hurricane

early preparation for the 2019 hurricane
Early Preparation

It is a great idea that everyone has a good plan in place for the upcoming 2019 hurricane to protect their IT systems. We understand the massive damages that hurricanes can do when it gets us unprepared.

Below are some steps you can follow in preparation for a hurricane:

  • Property check – Ensure your property is well protected from water damages as it is the main thing that affects IT  systems during a storm.
  • Regarding your building protection, ensure any openings near the IT systems are well covered to keep water at bay. These openings include doors and windows.
  • Disable the restart feature of your electronic devices. This is because, once power is back after a blackout, the presence of water can cause a short electric circuit. This, in turn, can lead to unexpected damages.
  • You can also back up your data and files in case computers fail. Offsite backup is more advisable since you’ll still retrieve them in case of damages at your data center.
  • Most importantly, have hard copies of some relevant documents that may be needed when your IT system is still offline after the hurricane.
  • Good communication plan

Check out 7 Tips for Preparing Your Business for a Hurricane

When disaster strikes, you’ll probably need a reliable way of communication for emergency purposes. That is why you are advised to use cell-phones as they are quick ii matters of emergency and you need immediate help.

Landlines and VoIP phones need aren’t much convenient during this time as they use electricity which is likely to be absent during a hurricane.

Remember to charge your cell-phones earlier before the hurricane.

To conclude, a hurricane is something that needs appropriate preparedness to avoid damages which means extra costs to repair and even replace some valuable assets. It is therefore crucial that you keep the above measures in mind and the earlier, the better.

Contact us if in need of professional information regarding hurricane preparedness.

Cloud Disaster Recovery: 5 Key Steps to Secure Your Data

benefits of using cloud servers
cloud servers.

Hosting applications on the cloud is tempting many IT organisations for sundry reasons like availing benefits from data centers, backup power sources and other capabilities that till lately only established IT organisations could afford.

Pay-as-you-go culture or guaranteed availability makes cloud adoption an easy and unperturbed choice for many SMBs and large scale organisations.

Many hosting providers maintain compound data centers, so decision makers often assume disaster recovery to be the inherent feature in the cloud culture that is offered to them. But little do they realize that this is a vital issue that warrants concern. Disaster Recovery (DR) is not a default configuration for many providers that offer cloud space in the IT market.

The 9/11 attacks cautioned many towards IT disaster preparedness (though probability of such disasters are extremely rare but not impossible). Before dealing with your cloud space provider and before signing on the dotted line, the DR diligence should be thoroughly assessed. The thought process should determine the risks, lay out the potential solutions and implement the plan that meets the required service level at reasonable costs.

This paper discusses the storage elements of disaster recovery planning process.

Step 1: Risks Assessment/Evaluating the Risks

Disaster risks can be perceived as a range of probability. They can be categorised into three major groups:

  • Site Disaster: Fire, short-circuits, or long-term power outages can render the data centre (or computer components) unusable for longer than the specified service agreement.
  • Area Disaster: Floods, tornadoes (we cannot forget the recent ‘Sandy’ that created much turmoil in US), hurricanes, snow storms can ruin a data centre completely.
  • Regional Disaster:  Terrorist attacks, financial failures, etc should never be under estimated.

An optimised data centre design softens various risks associated with all three of these categories. An appropriate data centre location can mitigate likely weather events, and other natural conditions that cannot be controlled or regulated.

Smart data centre designs have uninterrupted power supply sources for sudden power failures. Organisations that have a plan in place to re-host applications will experience less disruption and likely lowered costs. As a part of risk assessment, IT managers must consider how unavoidable statuses can met with just as ease.

Step 2: Determining Requirements

After implementing the risks assessment phase, IT organisations need to classify their recovery requirements for the applications that are hosted. Requirements should be developed under the guiding parameters of:

  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO):  RPO is the maximum tolerable period in which data might be lost from an IT service due to a major incident. The RPO gives systems designers a limit to work to. For instance, ‘quickest RPO’ indicates zero tolerance for data loss. A 24 hour RPO would indicate that restoring data as of yesterday’s backup is adequate, resulting in a loss of all transactions and data conducted after that time.
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO):  RTO determines the maximum tolerable time for recovering the lost data and bringing the application back running like before. RTO indicates the time to restart systems, databases and applications on the server.

RPO and RTO requirements are directly proportionate to the cost of downtime. Cost of downtime can include actual loss of revenue, loss of employee productivity, loss of market goodwill and most importantly loss of reputation. If the cost of downtime is greater than the cost of Disaster Recovery Strategy, then (or any situation) strategy is always worth the cost.

If the cost of acquiring and treasuring the customer is high then a vigilant DR strategy is a must have on the ‘To-Do’ checklist.

Step 3: Understanding DR Options

Backup to tape and off-site storage: Tape remains the cheapest and most used method for moving data to a secured data storage facility or even for archiving it. Following are some issues that are related to tape and which should never be given a blind eye:

  • Tape format: The format compatibility between the source and the target should be taken good care of. Different generations of same technology can cause confusion too.
  • Magnetic disk drives vs tapes: The approach involves data redundancy in an offsite data storage facility to magnetic disk drives or magnetic tapes. Disk backups can potentially reduce recovery time in the event of any disaster. Most backup applications can be restored to disk using compression technology; therefore, the backup image is much smaller in size than the actual data image.
  • Note: Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) are specialised storage devices (disk only or disk -to-tape) that can further automate the Disaster Recovery process.
  • Synchronous Data Replication: Synchronous Data Replication ensures that every piece of data entered or changed is concurrently replicated. Although synchronous data replication is one of the most expensive off-site replication options.

Whatever the backup methodology, it is important to ensure that the operating system should have solid redundancy strategies so that the entire environment can be recreated even after the servers crash.

Step 4: Auditing Cloud Providers

Cloud providers should be willing to provide users with documentation regarding their data centre protection strategies. Location factor of the data centre is usually underestimated or ignored while introspecting disaster recovery strategies.

Clients should be vigilant towards exploring the range of data protection solutions offered by the provider. Most cloud space providers offer daily backup-to disk capabilities and some supplement that with periodic tape backup (e.g. weekly or monthly) but that ignores the need to create immediate data redundancy.

Off-site tape transfer facility should be checked under the DR strategy tools. On-site backups can help recovery from data corruption, and unintended data deletion, and allow quick restoration. Imperative elements that should be considered while auditing cloud providers are:

  • Location
  • Possible events
  • Power Grid/Communications Considerations and Contingencies
  • Proximity to ‘prone-to-danger’ locations (e.g. any water body or any potential terrorist target areas like airports, seaports)
  • Vendor’s DR emergencies

Step 5: Implementing and Managing Your Cloud DR Solution

As technological fluctuations will go round the world, cloud providers will likely be on the buying or selling side of the data centre acquisition or integration. Most important part lies in evaluating and selecting the right service provider with the right Disaster Recovery strategies, equally important is the step to review your DR requirements and solutions.

The Disaster Recovery solutions should be well tested and trusted by the provider to ensure the promised performance as the DR solution that was appropriate last might turn out to be non-operative over time.

Computer Upgrading

upgrading
Upgrading

Holding onto an old computer that’s maintained until the wheels fall off can be a good thing — a way to save money which is part of the battle in running any kind of business. Sometimes, however, businesses are compelled to upgrade or buy new computer equipment even though old equipment can still be used. A compelling to upgrade computer equipment can come from a variety of avenues, but let’s look at what is probably the three most important reasons businesses upgrade their computer equipment:

  • Security
  • Usage
  • Budget

Businesses change over time and so the capabilities of computers running those businesses must be able to handle the general workload that those computers are needed for. In some cases, the data being processed on business computers requires a much higher standard of security to protect it. If the data being processed through a business computer requires a higher standard of security, there are various ways that a computer can be upgraded, especially if a business manager is looking for free or economical ways of upgrading. Searching the internet for solutions is a good place to start. 

In some cases, the motive for upgrading computer equipment can stem from what the computer is being used for. Although that can encompass computer security as part of the motive, sometimes, for example, computer programs won’t run well on old versions of computer operating systems (such as Microsoft Windowsand so the computer operating system must be upgraded in order to run the newly written computer program (such as Microsoft Office). If for whatever reason, a computer operating system cannot be upgraded, continuing to use the computer for other jobs is a common way to get one’s money’s worth out of it.

Obviously, the budget of any business or organization is going to affect how and when computer equipment can be upgraded. If upgrading hardware or software is cost-prohibitive, there are economical ways to upgrade computer hardware as well as computer software. The internet contains a sea of free software that can usually do just as well as some of the more popular software — Open Office and Kingsoft Office are free alternatives to using Microsoft Word. Buying used computer hardware from eBay or Amazon can be a good place to acquire needed computer hardware.  

Please contact us if assistance is needed in upgrading computer hardware or software. It can be a tedious job and in many cases, business owners and managers don’t have time to dedicate to such a task. 

Are You Receiving The Services Your Need From Your Network Support Provider?

are you receiving the services your need from your network support provider
Services Needed Network Support

Getting ahead of the competition is always important in every industry, especially when the industry is filled with competition and is very lively. One of the key ways you can ensure that you will place yourself in front of your competitors is to make sure you have the right network support service on your side. The right network support service will ensure that you are equipped with a variety of services.

Secured Data

Due to the numerous risks of identity theft and data breaches, your business needs to have a network support service that is engaging at all times because an engaged network support service will give you a better chance at managing these risks. The right network support service will be able to create a security system that will not be easy for outsiders to access. The security system will also be used to monitor the security of your networks on a regular basis.

Established Network

Another important feature that your network support service will provide you is the maintenance and establishment of your network. Your business needs to have a network that is able to store data and share the data when needed. The network support service will also be able to create a network that every employee will be able to connect to. When you use strong networks and cloud technology, you will quickly discover that your business will become more productive and more efficient.

Are you currently receiving any of the above from your current network support provider? If you are not receiving the services or support you feel your business needs, it may be time to think about switching network support providers.

If you have experienced hardware failures, if your support questions are never answered, and if you are not able to retrieve any of your backups, please do not hesitate to contact us today for more information about our network support services and how we can increase your business’s efficiency.

Understanding the Subscription Based Economy

understanding the subscription based economy

subscription based economy

If you are not creating long-term relationships with your customers, you are missing out on the benefits of a phenomenon known as a subscription based economy. In such an economy, the customers and the services they receive are more profitable than the shipping of an actual product. Several corporations in different sectors are seeing great results after shifting their focus in this direction.

Volvo’s Ownership Alternative

Recently, the automaker Volvo announced that they would be offering a subscription service in which customers can get a new vehicle whenever they please for a low monthly fee. The fee includes maintenance, insurance, and service. The monthly price is such that it is no more expensive than buying a new, similar car.

Porsche’s Passport Program

Similar to Volvo’s subscription service, Porsche is allowing customers to regularly exchange sports cars and SUVs using their mobile app. Subscribers get access to 22 different models of Porsches with unrestricted mileage.

Customer Reception and Retention

But why are customers loving this model? And what does it have to offer the businesses? Well, it turns out, inclusive subscription models allow customers peace of mind and ease of access. Instead of worrying about car maintenance costs and depreciating values, customers can count on one monthly fee that never changes and is about equal to what they would pay for a singular new car, without service fees and insurance. When the model is executed correctly, meaning that the business is providing high levels of customer service and satisfaction, customer retention is much higher, and referrals skyrocket.

Implementing Subscription Based Purchases

If you want to get in on the subscription based economy, you need to consider what type of service your business is offering, and figure out how to offer it on a monthly basis with a fee. This means setting up extensive programs on your website.

At 4 Corner IT, we understand more than technology. We understand your business. Contact us today to find out how we can set up a subscription based program for you today.