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02 Dec 2011
Information takes care of your business, so make sure you return the favour and take good care of information, says Roger Keenan, managing director of London-based hosting and colocation specialist, City Lifeline.
|Information is the lifeblood of a business. Without information, the other aspects needed to make a business tick - sales, customers or profit - stall. So naturally, access to information is of paramount importance to any business.|
Given its importance, one would expect protection and retrieval of information to be paramount. It should be easily available to authorised personnel, but kept safely out of the reach of others.
However, 60 per cent of respondents surveyed by City Lifeline at IP Expo 2011 (a total of 105 senior IT professionals) said they had lost access to their company’s IT system following an unexpected incident.
In 40 per cent of these cases, the unplanned downtime lasted for six hours or more, grinding the entire business to a halt for an entire working day. Just think of all the tasks your business carries out using IT in just one day: accessing email and checking customer documents, for example.
The consequences of this kind of outage extend much further and for longer: unhappy customers, disgruntled suppliers and an unenviable reputation for unreliability are common by-products of downtime.
Losing access to your data not only hurts your company’s reputation – it can hurt its financial results, too. According to the 2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey from security vendor Symantec, the loss of access to data and electronic communication systems costs small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), on average, around £7,500 a day in lost business and productivity.
An unplanned downtime can stem from something as innocent as a workman cutting through a power cable or as sinister as a malicious cyber attack. But all outages have one factor in common: the element of surprise.
The best business leaders prepare not only for the things that are going to happen, but those that could happen. “I didn’t know it was going to happen,” is not much of an excuse to make to an angry customer or an office full of staff who cannot perform their duties.
If your business’s information is adequately backed-up, the chances are that your IT systems will be back up and running by the end of the day. If not, the consequences can be disastrous. In a worst-case scenario, lost data can never be recovered. The business itself may be unrecoverable, too.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 90 per cent of SMEs that lose data following a major incident are forced to shut within two years. Yet the Symantec survey shows that less than half of SMEs bother to back up data every week, and a mere 23 per cent back up daily.
Taking the odd risk is often part-and-parcel of being in business – but risking the safety of your information is equivalent to leaving its oxygen supply to chance. Huge corporations often have the money, expertise and resources to escape from a tricky IT gaffe. SMEs quite often do not.
This vulnerability makes investing in off-site data back-up even more vital for SMEs, and the frequency at which these downtimes are occurring should act as a stark wake-up call. It only takes a fluke incident to disable access to your IT systems; and as the survey results show, it only takes one major incident to cripple your business forever.
Backing up important data on external hard drives should be common practice, but if your company lacks the time and resources to undertake such a task from scratch, it may be worth investing in a third-party provider to store your data securely in an offsite location.
Colocation data centres are specifically designed to keep your information safe and secure in the event of a disaster – so whether it is floods or fire, earthquakes or simply early-morning road works – your business’s information is always to hand.
Investing in your assets is just common sense, so do your business justice by investing in your information in the same way you would invest in a new computer or a new member of staff. Your information takes care of the viability of your business, so be sure to return the favour and look after it just as well.