In most situations, power outages are inconvenient. They disrupt daily operations, and change project timelines. But when they last, or lead to data loss, inconvenient can easily become devastating.
Put simply, your business should have a plan in place for protecting against power outages. The human effects of recent natural disasters are undeniable, and their impact has yet to be fully measured. The same is true for businesses, particularly in Florida and Texas, who took days to get their power back and are still grappling with the effect these unplanned outages might have on their long-term operations.
There is little a business can do against these types of outages themselves. You can, however, protect yourself against its adverse effects by making sure you’re prepared for their possibility. To get to that point, here are 5 things every company can do today to prepare for an unplanned power outage.
1) Implement a Cloud-Based Productivity Suite
One of the biggest problems a power outage creates tends to be the disruption in regular work order. Suddenly, work reliant on electricity can no longer be performed until the power kicks back on. One way to mitigate that issue is to make sure all of your company’s productivity tools exist not on physical, location-based hard drives, but in the cloud.
Microsoft Office 365 offers the perfect example of this potential. The software package takes advantage of the cloud, storing all company files and data remotely rather than in your business. Similarly, all of your employees have access to Word, Excel, and even Outlook, regardless of their location.
That possibility of remote access, in turn, can make a major difference in getting your regular operations back up and running during and after an outage. Even without power to regular workplaces, your team will be able to check and answer email, and even continue to work on projects, from remote locations, their mobile devices, and laptops.
In addition, transition back to ‘regular order’ is eased significantly. Rather than reinstalling or recovering an existing build, that build exists in the cloud and remains ready for access as soon as you are. Implement Office 365 today, and your productivity will remain steady even in the face of an unplanned outage.
2) Understand and Take Advantage of Hosted Desktop Services
Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) is similar to a productivity suite like Office 365 when it comes to recovery after an unplanned power outage. The concept of a hosted desktop describes the virtualization of hardware, moving traditionally desktop-based tasks to the cloud and increasing their centralization and accessibility as a result.
The set up is typically simple: through a browser-based connection, your team and employees can log onto a virtual desktop environment that is not stored physically in their own computer, but remotely in a centralized data center. Any work, change, and update is saved in that data center, which is layered with protections both for data security and against outages or power surges.
When an outage strikes your business, therefore, no data will be lost. The devices affected don’t actually store anything your employees will be working on, only the connection to that location. As a result, implementing a Hosted Desktop system today will protect you from the potentially devastating effect of this type of outage.
3) Protect Your Server With Azure Site Recovery
Set up specifically to protect businesses from unexpected circumstances, Site Recovery is what Microsoft calls Disaster Recovery as a Service. It’s designed to protect you entire digital work environment by setting up a complex system of backups, replication of virtual machines, and more.
As a result, your data, site, and virtual environments will keep running, even as the outage strikes either your business or your primary cloud data center. Think of it as the data version of two-factor authentification: it builds in backups for your backups that make sure that even in the worst possible scenario, your data, work space, and any other software-based aspect of your company will not be lost.
In addition to its emergency services, Site Recovery also allows you to continually monitor the health of your protected instances. As a result, you will be aware immediately should data become corrupted or inaccessible, and take immediate action to reroute it and keep your contingency plan for an unplanned power outage in place.
4) Build a Backup in the Cloud
Sometimes, of course, keeping your data safe in the event of an outage or safe is simpler than a complex site recovery process. For these instances, it’s always crucial to build a cloud-based backup system into your regular business and data-based operations.
Azure Backup is the perfect example of how this type of service can work. Rather than treating the cloud as a simple data storage ‘dumping ground,’ it builds on a hybrid model that distributes your storage more efficiently, saving you money and bringing with it a number of additional advantages – such as:
- unlimited scalability
- unlimited data transfer
- extensive data encryption
- application-consistent backup
- long-term retention.
In other words, a backup solution that takes advantage of the cloud in more than the most simplistic storage way could be vital for your company’s continued data integrity and health should the unexpected occur. You can read more about Azure Backup in an article we recently published on our blog.
5) Create an Outage Contingency Plan
Using services like the above four, you can build a technology infrastructure that allows you to prepare for unplanned outages. Even if these outages last for longer than expected, you can make sure that your data is not only protected, but that you can continue to work and maintain your regular operations until the outage has passed.
To take full advantage of solutions like Office 365 and Azure Backup, you also need to make sure that your employees know exactly what to expect. In other words, it makes sense to build a contingency plan that outlines exactly where they might be able to find necessary data, and know at least somewhat what happens until the power is back.
Some of that contingency plan will require a written overview of what happens. It might also require some training to walk your team through the process and get them familiar. Finally, the plan needs to assign roles of members within your organization that know exactly what steps to take, and when to take them, in order to keep your business running.
As with every aspect of your business, a contingency (and continuity) plan for unplanned outages should be strategic. This guide can walk you through that process and ensure you are prepared, should a power outage hit your company.
Finding the Right Partner For Your Contingency Plan
Thanks to the capabilities of the cloud, businesses today can be back online and assured of data security almost instantly after an unplanned outage. Of course, getting to that point requires not just planning and foresight, but technical knowledge. For instance, implementing cloud services like a backup or Office 365 in a way that benefits your business needs to be done right, and thoroughly.
That’s where we step in. Applied Innovations focuses specifically on helping businesses take advantage of Microsoft Cloud Services, and many of them are uniquely applicable to the challenge of managing unplanned outages. Contact us to learn more about our services, and how we can help you prepare for the unexpected and keep your business running.