How to Prepare Your IT for Wildfires in California
Wildfires in California are a serious concern for any business. They present both a danger to the people working at your organization and to your operations as a whole. Many businesses create plans for the former concern, which is, of course, the most important. However, the latter, continuing operations during and after a wildfire, can be overlooked, especially concerning IT. Below are some tips on creating an IT disaster plan for California wildfires.
1) Analyze Your Vulnerabilities
Consider how your information technology would be affected by a natural disaster. For example, do you have server hardware on-site in your main office? Do you rely on Internet connectivity to work? If you have IT resources outside of your headquarters, where are they located?
Understanding your vulnerabilities is essential to creating an IT disaster management plan. By thinking through what would happen if your physical location(s) were shut down, you can prepare your business for lasting operations during and after a wildfire.
Keep in mind that IT disaster planning doesn’t just revolve around safeguarding computers and data. More important are the essential personnel who help keep your IT infrastructure running. Hopefully, you already have a plan in place to ensure the safety of your staff. If you don’t, that should be your number one priority.
Once you have planned for your team’s safety, consider how they will resume work during and after the disaster. Will they need to connect remotely? If so, how will you enable them to do so?
2) Set Priorities
In the event of a disaster, there are scenarios that may prohibit your company from immediately resuming full operations. To determine what business elements are most important to get up and running again quickly, set and communicate priorities beforehand.
For example, perhaps the top priority is to get everyone connected to your network and each other again. Or it may be to ensure your proprietary data is both secured and accessible.
Understanding these priorities will help you to create your IT disaster prevention and disaster recovery plan. It will also help your team members to maintain clarity in the event that things don’t go exactly as planned. They can make decisions on the fly more easily when they have pre-determined goals.
3) Plan Redundancy
One of the most important elements of any IT disaster management plan is redundancy. IT resources can become unavailable in the event of a disaster. This can include hardware hosted at your place of business, overall network infrastructure, off-site resources, and more.
For example, if your business currently uses a terrestrial-based Internet connection, you may find yourself disconnected in the event an earthquake or wildfire damages nearby network infrastructure. Unfortunately, repairing damage can take a long time depending on the extent of the destruction. A great solution to avoid this vulnerability is to have two Internet circuits, a fiber optic connection (terrestrial) and a fixed wireless circuit (air), that issues automatic failover via a SD-WAN device in the event one experiences an outage. Having duel Internet circuits also ensures a business’s hosted VoIP connections remain active during a wildfire.
All in all, establishing IT redundancy ensures business continuity in the case of a wildfire or other natural disaster.
4) Plan for Data Continuity
No matter what business you are in, data is important. Perhaps your business is quite literally based on collecting and analyzing data. Perhaps you use customer information to make critical marketing decisions. Regardless of how you use the data, having access to critical business information is vital.
If you let it be a vulnerability, you may find your bottom line significantly impacted when a wildfire hits California.
Thus, cloud-based data back-ups are an absolute must for any business. If your business isn’t currently leveraging the cloud, it is time to get started. Additionally, you should have at least one back up drive located off-site. Issuing nightly backups of your key data is also strongly encouraged.
5) Evaluate Your Insurance
For many businesses, IT resources represent a significant investment. You need the proper insurance coverage to ensure that you can reestablish your operations promptly without risking your cash flow. This is especially true for California businesses given the state’s frequency of catastrophic events including wildfires and earthquakes.
Policies such as business interruption, loss of use, and extended coverage are worth significant considerations for any CA-based business. Insurance should be a component of every business’s IT disaster plan.
Getting Ready for the Next Wildfire
Whether you are ready or not, you may be affected by a wildfire in the very near future. It is best to have a plan in place so you’re prepared to handle the situation. Having a strong IT disaster management plan can make all the difference in the world.