From Rayanne Buchianico our TechYourBooks accounting guru. She has learned from business continuity lessons while still being without power due to hurricane Irma. There’s nothing like a real-life test of your business continuity plan.
As I sit in my 85-degree home, trying to work from a Microsoft Surface and cellphone hotspot, I have had some time to think about my BDR plan in abundance. Going into Hurricane Irma, I felt pretty prepared. My server was backed up. The external drives were safe. The server was protected. My clients’ data was safe. Our email is hosted. If something terrible happened, all I needed to replace was a router and maybe a desktop or two. Everything else was completely manageable.
The storm hit Monday morning at 2am. The power has been out since shortly after that. The major cable company in the area had equipment damage and has a county-wide cable and internet outage. Today is Friday with no definitive end in sight. We are limping along doing what we can with a generator and our cellphones. However, it seems we missed a few steps in the planning process.
We should be up and running in full force by now. Here’s where we went wrong
• I can get onto the internet. I can check bank balances, log into QuickBooks Online for clients, Bill.com, and correspond through email. What I can’t do is log into my server because it is here with me with no electricity. I am not comfortable running the server and networking equipment from the generator. The generator is running essential household appliances and I don’t want to overload it. I don’t have Hyper-V on my laptops to spin up a new server and restore the backup. That’s one thing I could do differently.
• If there was ever an argument for a cloud-based server solution, this is it. I cannot access my tax software or my desktop QuickBooks clients because guess where they are stored? Right, same server. I made sure the data was safe, and it is. It’s so safe that even I cannot access it. This is a fabulous argument for cloud-based services or a cloud-hosted server. If everything was accessible through the Internet, I could have been back in business days ago. Our days for an on-premises server are numbered.
• Desktop computers are next on the chopping block. Even if I did hook up the generator to the network, we have desktop computers, many without wireless network cards. Something wireless has to be the internet connection. I don’t know about your Surface, but mine didn’t come with an ethernet port. All new workstation purchases will now be mobile and wireless. We can connect multiple monitors with a docking station.
• Business Income Insurance, a/k/a Business Interruption Insurance. You have liability coverage in case someone is harmed on your property. You have E&O insurance incase someone makes a grave error. You might have disability insurance or employee theft insurance. But, what happens when you are displaced from work for a few weeks or longer? What if no one in your company could work? Do you simply stop paying bills, including payroll? Loss of income takes a huge toll on a small company. How long can you go without earning any money in your business? So far, I’m on week two: last week to prepare for the hurricane, and this week in its aftermath. I’m not going out of business, but September is a huge revenue month for me with tax deadlines and year-end planning, and I’ve missed out on half of that.
• Funny story goes with this. To replenish cash, I needed to send an invoice out. I couldn’t access my QB file (server again), but I found an old backup from 2015 of my file on Dropbox. I copied it to my Surface, upgraded to 2017, and created an invoice in a QB file that is not my current file, then emailed it to the client so they could pay it online. It worked. It took an hour, but it worked. I think we’ll be moving to QuickBooks Online next year.
Our company has already stopped taking on new bookkeeping clients with QuickBooks Desktop because accessing multiple networks remotely is too difficult to maintain with VPNs, 2FA, and other security concerns. However, this week confirms another solid reason why we should not be working with local data any longer.
Cloud is not the only answer, but it should be one of the top 3. You will still need a plan to access your data during power and internet outages. You will also need to back up your data for multiple reasons including access. In your BDR planning, you already have plans to restore data, replace drives, and recover quickly from a disaster, but hopefully, I have given you at least one or two new items to think about. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Mother Nature throws a wrench at your head.
About Third Tier
Established in 2008, Third Tier only works for IT Professionals by providing them with access to advanced support services. No one can know it all these days, so we give IT pros a place to go to get the hands on support they need in areas they normally don’t work in or problems they’ve never encountered. We also work on projects, fix their accounting practices and do many, many migrations and other installations. Our staff covers a wide range of technologies.