Are your clients ready for a major weather event?

Ben Taylor

Whether you’re a climate change believer or a doubter, you couldn’t deny that there has been a significant rise in tragic environmental events in recent years. Hurricane Katrina and “Super Storm” Sandy have both caused devastation, and they only account for the US East Coast. There have also been similar disasters elsewhere in the world, including huge floods in the UK last winter.

Stormy-WeatherThis upturn in extreme weather has seen FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) amending their flood zone maps, and significantly increasing the price of insurance against flooding, eroding long-present subsidies for businesses in areas considered at risk.

While it may seem callous to sidestep the (sometimes enormous) human impact of these weather events, MSPs also have think about the technical practicalities. No company develops a disaster recovery plan hoping that they will get to try it out in a real-life situation, but the frequency of these disasters goes to highlight the importance of these plans.

Here are a few pointers to help you prepare your clients for the worst:

  1. Make sure all your customers actually have a business continuity plan. It may seem hard to believe, but IT consultants still encounter clients in the SME space who fail to recognise the need for one.
  2. Make it very clear to all clients that you don’t consider any business continuity plan to be effective until it’s been properly tested. Testing means carrying out a full disaster “simulation” and checking that all necessary services can be restored in the desired timeframe. Only by doing this can you identify the small issues that could thwart the successful application of the plan.
  3. Consider ways in which you can use cloud services to make physical location less important. One example is using hosted Exchange email instead of something “on premise.” With hosted Exchange, nothing except occasional provider downtime should prevent your clients accessing company email. Even clients who are completely averse to moving to the cloud should consider the benefits of this. After all, it keeps an essential line of business communication open, even if a customer’s central office is destroyed.
  4. Look into providing Disaster Recovery as a service. There are myriad ways to achieve this, but the cornerstone usually involves some kind of image-based backup, and mirroring to a second geographical location. Using image technology (sometimes alongside virtualization) provides for far faster recovery times than traditional backup methods.
  5. Make sure that your customers constantly revisit their DR plans so that they evolve alongside their infrastructures. Creating a DR plan is not a one-off exercise; adding provision for new systems and software and maintaining a regular testing schedule is of paramount importance.

There’s plenty of revenue to be made in assisting with disaster recovery. The best strategy for MSPs is to develop a tested and reliable way of doing things, and to then work on selling the solution across their client base.

Are your clients ready for a major weather event? Tell us how you helped the prepare in a comment below!