When natural disasters strike, lives and livelihoods, businesses, and property are at risk. For businesses and organizations that rely on data centers, these events can mean costly interruptions in operations unless proper steps are taken to protect centers from the effects of storms and other natural disasters. Studies show that taking steps to prepare for disasters in advance is well worth the effort. In January, the NIBS (National Institute of Building Sciences) released the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report, which showed that for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation, the nation could potentially save an average of $6 in future disaster costs.

Hazard mitigation often includes a business-continuity plan and/or a disaster-recovery plan—a set of procedures and tools that allow businesses to either continue operations by keeping their tech infrastructures up and running after a disaster or enable the swift recovery of these systems. As more enterprises and entities rely on their IT infrastructures to conduct business, it’s important to ensure these entities are doing what they can now to ensure uninterrupted data-center operations when an adverse event occurs.

The Atlantic hurricane season in the U.S. starts at the beginning of June and lasts through the end of November each year. According to Colorado State University’s Dept. of Atmospheric Science, the 2018 hurricane season is expected to have “slightly above-average activity” so now is the time for those near the Atlantic coast to consider what plans they have in place in case a hurricane hits their area.

vXchnge, a colocation data center services provider, suggests several ways organizations can help protect data centers from significant downtime, starting with simply making sure they evaluate their data centers’ disaster recovery plans. The company also suggests asking when the data center last performed an integrated systems test. Similarly, Ready.gov, offers advice for entities looking to create and maintain an IT disaster recovery strategy to restore hardware, applications, and data so that operations aren’t affected more than absolutely necessary. To begin, businesses should create an inventory of hardware, including wireless devices, as well as software and data and identify which of these assets is critical. Recovery strategies should prioritize the most critical business functions and processes, and they should also account for varying levels of time sensitivity.

Data backup and recovery should also be integrated into IT disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Organizations must first identify what data to backup, then select and implement backup procedures, and then conduct the backups, ideally on a set schedule. Next, organizations should plan to check every once in a while to make sure their data is actually being backed up as it’s meant to be. Finally, disaster recovery and business continuity plans should be well documented, accessible, and frequently tested to make sure they function as needed.

Businesses of all sizes rely on data and technology to operate. Therefore, data and technology-enabled systems must be protected. Alongside discussions of cybersecurity, organizations should also be considering how they can protect their data and IT infrastructures in the event of an emergency, such as a hurricane or other natural disaster. In today’s connected world, this is more than good idea; it’s smart business.

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