By Steve Ricketts
As winter storm Nemo began its barrage on the Northeast U.S., managed services providers across the nation were reminded how critical it is to be prepared for a natural disaster. Rather than scramble to deal with unpredictable outage scenarios as they crop up, the key is to help your clients have a solid plan in place — because no one can predict when the next catastrophe may occur. Here are three things every MSP should know when it comes to clients’ business continuity.
Take a Holistic Approach to Planning
You are your clients’ trusted adviser. Encourage them to build a comprehensive business continuity plan that covers not just technology, but operational and strategic aspects as well. The goal is to ensure that day-to-day activities continue to function no matter what. No detail is too small and even “no-brainers" such as plugging important technical equipment into surge protectors can be crucial to business data surviving an emergency. Also important — testing the plan with a mock emergency before a real one strikes.
Spring Into Action
When a power outage is imminent at a client’s site, it’s time to launch their plan. While the details will differ depending on each business’s unique needs, we can recommend a few last-minute best practices for MSPs:
- Have all users at the client site shut down their computers. This ensures you can cleanly shut down the servers.
- Shut down the client’s servers, making sure you have a good backup first. After the server is shut down, unplug the power from the server to prevent an electrical surge from damaging the hardware. (If the server is plugged into a surge protector or UPS, this is not required.)
- If equipment is located where it could likely be damaged by flooding, it should be raised off the floor to prevent permanent damage to the hardware.
Choose the Right Partner
If you want to effectively support your clients in any contingency, you need a business continuity solution in place that offers continuous, end-to-end support. In addition to disaster recovery, this solution should include an offsite service desk to handle client calls (even when you can’t) along with integrated intelligent remote monitoring and management (RMM). Questions to ask potential vendors before choosing a partner include:
- Does the solution offer both on-site server backup and off-site data replication for real-time system recovery?
- Does it provide continuous system monitoring and management with the capacity to handle additional storm-related server issues?
- Can they offer around-the-clock end-user support, including on-demand increases in staffing levels to meet spikes in support activity as a storm hits?
Steve Ricketts is vice president of marketing for Continuum , responsible for marketing, product management and business development.