Tag Archives: disaster recovery planning

Your Business is Under Attack from “Them”

What kind of attacks affect businesses in Arizona?

Arizona and Phoenix Metro in particular are not any more vulnerable than other parts of the country when it comes to Natural disaster. As a matter of fact when it comes to natural disasters, Phoenix is listed as the second safest city in U.S. Metro Areas with 1 million inhabitants or more, Rochester, New York being the safest.

      1. Rochester, New York
      2. Phoenix, Arizona
      3. Columbus, Ohio
      4. Buffalo, New York
      5. Cincinnati, Ohio

We are lucky enough to avoid, tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, earth quakes, floods, & wildfires more than most other major cites. Unsurprisingly, many businesses locate their call centers, data centers, and office operations in Arizona taking advantage of the relatively disaster free state and metropolitan area. What then if anything do business need to worry about if we are mostly free from natural attacks? Although we enjoy relative natural stability, mother nature can still pack a wallop when she wants to.

Lightning and Power, and Heat,  Oh My!

Major Metropolitan areas of Arizona can breath a sigh of relief when it comes to most massive natural disasters, however, we are still significantly affected by smaller natural attacks such as lightning which can kick up quite severe in our Monsoon season. Lightning strikes in Arizona annually cause dozens of businesses to lose equipment and data because of their notorious effect on electronics and storage devices. Most businesses are inadequately protected from lightning strikes because they fail to invest in lightning protection equipment and fail to adequately store their sensitive data on high availability backup systems. Arizona heat directly and indirectly affect sensitive equipment and electrical systems in AZ. When the temperatures rise, so does demand on the grid. Older parts of the grid and poorly supplied buildings become more susceptible to “brown outs” and “power spikes” caused by fluctuating power. That variance in power wreaks havoc on computer systems and consequently the data that exists on those systems. As an IT professional I have personally seen power variations damage hundreds of systems in every sort of business over the past dozen years in the Phoenix area. What strikes me funny is the surprised look on people’s faces when I tell them “power destroyed your system”, as if this thought had never occurred to them before. Surge protectors are good, and UPS systems are even better, but the best protection you can buy is in a backup system that continuously backs up your data and keeps your business going, even if a few systems are damaged by lightning, power, or anything else.

What’s the real “attack” threat?

Since so many businesses and so much data is located in Arizona, we face a more menacing threat than any natural disaster. We’re talking about Cyber Threats. Most businesses are not nearly paranoid enough when it comes to cyber crime. Most business spend money on external prevention and internal authentication without addressing data accountability and recovery. IN other words:

“Arizona is a prime location in the world to store Data. Data is more valuable than gold to many people around the planet. This makes Arizona and many businesses located here a major target for cyber criminals, hackers, and data thieves.”

In March of 2013, U.S. Army General Keith Alexander, who is head of the U.S. military’s Cyber Command, said cyber attacks on private companies were getting much worse. He stated that the intensity & number of attacks will grow significantly throughout the year.

May 31st, 2013, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated that cyber-threats pose a quiet, stealthy, insidious danger to the United States. Hagel Quoted, “Cyber threats are real, they’re terribly dangerous,”

The question then becomes, what do we do about it? Prevention is important to be sure. That means implementing the best firewalls, security software, and security policies you can. Equally important, considering the threat, is what to do if your data is stolen, destroyed, compromised. etc. Finding and eliminating the threat are top priorities, next is restoring your data. It’s important to know that your data is stored safely with many revisions available in an offsite location so that you can quickly recover your data. If your live data is corrupt, you need to find revisions of files that are not compromised and bring those back into your live data set efficiently. Does your existing disaster recovery plan account for this?

Remember, cyber criminals do not only exist in a vacuum in China, Pakistan, or Russia, they exist in your organization, your vendors, your public cloud, or your ISP. Sometimes data compromise and corruption occurs by accident from errant software or a careless employee, or even faulty hardware. Prevention and cure are the main focuses when dealing with cyber threats. If your prevention fails, will your cure be quick, efficient and painless, or just as horrifying as the attack itself?

Pull your resources and make Data Security happen within your own company. Work on your business continuity planning and your data recovery planning. If you’re not up to the task, get a professional IT company to help you with the task. Use the best you can find.

To illustrate how many businesses are seeking solutions for Disaster/Data Recovery issues, I’ve researched monthly web inquiries and plotted the results in an infographic that you may find useful.

Disaster Recovery | Infographics

 

If you have questions or need assistance, please reply to this blog or contact us directly. We’re here to help.

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Blue Skies & Rain, Sunshine & High Availability Platforms

blue-skies

We all wish for blue skies and sunshine!

When your computers are running great and the your servers are humming along fine, your work environment cam  seem like blue skies and sunshine. However, planning for the day when server or workstation hard drives fail is more important than just your average backup planning. No, we are not talking about Disaster Recovery Planning this time, or your overall Business Continuity planning, but instead, your high availability planning, or just plain High Availability (HA)

In other words, how do you make sure that your critical servers and computer workstations stay up and running when hardware fails? How do you keep those critical server applications available when a server decides to take a dive? Ordinary backup can take a long time to recover and often does not include the very latest data. In addition, backups do nothing in the immediate when you lose hardware.

The answer: High Availability Planning.

Saving for a rainy day is all well and good, but isn’t it better to build a roof with gutters? High availability platforms provide your organization with the ability to absorb the unexpected stormy days and computer hardware crashes and keep you resiliently speeding along without missing a beat.

The goal of any high availability platform, or (environment), should be a minimum of 99.999% also referred to as the “five nines” That means no more than 5.26 minutes of total platform downtime per year as show in the chart below:

Availability % Downtime per year Downtime per month* Downtime per week
90% (“one nine”) 36.5 days 72 hours 16.8 hours
95% 18.25 days 36 hours 8.4 hours
97% 10.96 days 21.6 hours 5.04 hours
98% 7.30 days 14.4 hours 3.36 hours
99% (“two nines”) 3.65 days 7.20 hours 1.68 hours
99.5% 1.83 days 3.60 hours 50.4 minutes
99.8% 17.52 hours 86.23 minutes 20.16 minutes
99.9% (“three nines”) 8.76 hours 43.8 minutes 10.1 minutes
99.95% 4.38 hours 21.56 minutes 5.04 minutes
99.99% (“four nines”) 52.56 minutes 4.32 minutes 1.01 minutes
99.999% (“five nines”) 5.26 minutes 25.9 seconds 6.05 seconds
99.9999% (“six nines”) 31.5 seconds 2.59 seconds 0.605 seconds
99.99999% (“seven nines”) 3.15 seconds 0.259 seconds 0.0605 seconds

As you might imagine 99.999% up time is a difficult target to reach, but ever more relevant in today’s “need it up and running right now” computing environment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything were in the “five nines” category. Think about it driving, no oil changes, no gassing up the vehicle, no red lights, not stopping for anything except perhaps a NASCAR tire change one per month. Ahhhh! That would be nice.

The truth is that most computing environments fall far short of the elusive 99.999% goal and most environment are lucky to hit a better than 97% goal overall. However, most environments don’t need to include every piece of IT technology in their High Availability (HA) solution.

99-uptime

For example. Do you need to include your fax machines and printers? The old computers that are not critical to the environments operations? How about laptops, or vendor equipment? Perhaps some of these items will not be counted in your (HA) plan and you can automatically exclude them and focus on the critical items.

For many organizations a typical very basic (HA) plan for their IT environment might look like this:

  • 9 out of every 10 servers included in the plan
  • 1 out of every 10 workstations included (because most employees can be moved to another workstation or a replacement is readily available)

*Network equipment sometimes has redundancy, but often times is not completely redundant and represents a Single Point of Failure in many organizations.

**Communications lines and links to the outside work are usually not redundant in most smaller environments and also represent Single Points of Failure and can represent significant downtime.

High Availability represented in the simplest way look like this:

Data : Redundant  – Servers : Redundant – Workstation Functions : Redundant

There are many ways to implement (HA) and many different platforms to choose from. However, the most important thing you can do is educate yourself and make certain that your IT firm are experts that are well trained to adequately serve your needs.

www.triyoung.com

 

 

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Business Continuity Planning – Your Catastophe Averted

TriYoung and Your Business Continuity Plan

     How many catastrophes can you remember occurring during your lifetime?  I’m talking about things that affected thousands of people – – and businesses.  Since I am undoubtedly older than most of you my list will probably be longer than yours, but we can all relate to the latest – -the Boston Marathon Bombing.  The question is, how many companies in the Boylston Street area in Boston had business totally disrupted because they did not have a Business Continuity Plan?

“The statistics are staggering regarding businesses that do not have a proven Continuity Plan, or any Continuity Plan, in place,” Julie Young of TriYoung Business Solutions, Inc. in Glendale, Arizona, who specializes in Computer Services in Phoenix shared.  “And that can prove to be almost as devastating as the events that mandate the need for one.”

The stats Young alluded to are:

  • 16% of companies surveyed said they don’t need a Plan
  • The closure rate for businesses affected by a major incident within two years is 80%
  • Business that lose data due to a disaster have a 90% closure rate within two years

It is obvious that if you haven’t already done so you need to confer with your IT Support in Phoenix and make sure that they have Business Continuity Solutions in Phoenix available for you. Your IT Solutions should include a clear understanding of what a Business Continuity Plan is, and ways to verify that it will “work” when the time comes.

“There are a couple of viable definitions for a Business Continuity Plan,” Young advised, “and it is, of course, important that you have a firm grasp of them before you design your plan.”

A “standard” definition is: “A series of contingencies that enable key business activities to continue to function in the most difficult of circumstances.”  Claims Management Magazine defines it as, “The process of identifying internal and external threats and establishing specific plans to continue operations under adverse conditions.”  Regardless of the definition you prefer, it is important that you have a plan.  And, there are four steps in creating a proper one:

  • Know your own Business – – Especially the critical components – facilities, IT Systems and people!
  • Determine the risks to these components, and ask a lot of “What ifs…”
  • Create a Plan to ensure the continuation of business during a catastrophe.
  • Test and Revamp the plan.  A poor time to discover that you miscalculated in an area is during an actual disaster!

“Having a plan that was drafted in 2001 after 9-11 and thinking you are ‘covered’ is like having a Commodore 64 and thinking you are on the cutting edge of computer technology,” Young advised.  “Even worse than that,” she continued, “would be to have a circa 2001 plan and not taking a look at it since it was drafted.”

From preserving vital data to ensuring vendor and supply lines stay open, your Business Continuity Plan truly is a necessity in 21st Century America.  If you have questions regarding how you can benefit through the efforts of an IT Services provider in regard to those important issue, you may want to contact TriYoung Solutions at 602-424-1700 and Julie and her staff would be happy to assist you in determining the things that you might be lacking with your current Business Continuity Plan .

To learn more about TriYoung Solutions, go to:

www.triyoung.com

To learn more about this topic go to:

Keeping the Lights On with Business Continuity Planning | Blog

Lessons in Business Continuity Planning Best Not Learned the Hard

Preparing for Supply Chain Disruptions with Business Continuity Plans

Testing Business Continuity Plans – It’s not an Option

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