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Stuart Crawford and Ulistic MSP Marketing Solutions Show What True Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Is All About

If you’re going to talk the talk, you have to be able to walk the walk. Well, Ulistic Strategic Web Marketing Services proved during the recent Hurricane Irma crisis that it can walk through any disaster unscathed as a business entity. This is due to Stuart Crawford, CEO of Ulistic, having all of his company’s disaster recovery and business continuity ducks in a row prior to the hurricane striking in early September.

To quote the online marketing and business journal Channel e2e on Ulistic’s disaster preparedness for Hurricane Irma:

“[Ulistic’s] Sebring {Florida] office took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma at 10:52 Eastern Time on Sunday night, according to CEO Stuart Crawford. “All staff are OK,” he adds. “We executed our business continuity strategy on the Wednesday prior to the storm.  Everyone at Ulistic is OK and all of our services are online.  Operations have been transferred to our Canadian office in Fort Erie, ON.”

And, Stuart and crew ought to know about the great importance of disaster recovery and business continuity.

Their web marketing strategies for managed service providers (MSPs) from Melbourne, Australia to Costa Rica to Toronto, Canada (and all across the United States) put into stark detail how crucial a business continuity plan, data backup, and disaster recovery are to any business operating in the world today.

The Ulistic office in Sebring, which is near Orlando, FL, took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, but suffered very little actual damage.

Stuart was able to keep his business running smoothly and seamlessly, benefitting from his 22 years of IT knowledge, employing server colocation and virtualization, offsite data backup, and virtual desktops for remote employees.

Please note that he had all of that in place long before Hurricane Irma struck.

What did Stuart learn from his recent, active business continuity experience? Quote:

“There is absolutely no reason for any company today to have servers or phone systems on premise. I don’t care what excuse an IT company gives you.  There is zero reason for you to run a server on premise.  Companies like CloudJumper have robust systems allowing you to do almost anything in the cloud.  We use Office 365 (which is great), Jive Canada for our phones, and Basecamp for our file storage.  These are awesome solutions and worth every penny I pay for them.

Make sure all “mission critical” people get the heck out of the way of the storm. Missy and I fled to Alabama and guess what? The company is still running today.  We are limping along with some of our key staff members just coming back online, but there is ZERO reason for mission-critical people not to leave the area.

You can’t control the Internet, gasoline shortages, etc. Now, some guy on Facebook smartly advised me that I need a generator.  Great advice, “smart ass.” Where am I going to get the fuel?  If I did have it running, how are people going to connect to the Internet when central offices and cell towers are without power or knocked on the ground?”

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity is the ability of an organization to maintain essential functions during, as well as after, a disaster has occurred. Business continuity planning establishes risk management processes and procedures that aim to prevent interruptions to mission-critical services, and re-establish full function to the organization as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The most basic business continuity requirement is to keep essential functions up and running during a disaster and to recover with as little downtime as possible. A business continuity plan considers various unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, fires, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks and other external threats.

Business continuity is important for organizations of any size, but it may not be practical for any but the largest enterprises to maintain all functions for the duration of a disaster. According to many experts, the first step in business continuity planning is deciding which of an organization’s functions are essential and allocating the available budget accordingly. Once crucial components have been identified, failover mechanisms can be put in place.

Technologies such as disk mirroring allow an organization to maintain up-to-date copies of data in geographically dispersed locations. This enables data access to continue uninterrupted if one location is disabled.

The key elements of business continuity are: resilience, recovery and contingency.

Conducting a business impact analysis (BIA) can reveal any possible weaknesses, as well as the impact of a disaster on various departments. The BIA report informs an organization of the most crucial functions and systems to be prioritized in a business continuity plan.

Disaster Preparedness in the Recent News

Anyone who’s been paying attention to the news in the last month needs no reminding of the hurricanes, floods, and fires hitting North America. But, what they may need reminding about is how, if they’re doing business without a disaster recovery plan and business continuity strategy, they are putting their business livelihood at great risk.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused nearly $200B in damage to homes and businesses in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean Islands, and other parts of the Southeastern U.S.

The cost is comparable to that racked-up by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This, according to a preliminary estimate from Moody’s Analytics on Monday.

Hurricane Harvey battered Houston with record amounts of rain and flooding last month while Irma slammed Florida and other southeastern coastal states.

But Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said rebuilding from the back-to-back storms will actually boost the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of this year and into 2018.

“While at this point it’s hard to know how much [damage there is], the storms seem likely to have caused $150 billion to $200 billion in total damage to homes and furnishings, vehicles, commercial real estate, and public infrastructure. This is comparable to the property loss resulting from Hurricane Katrina,” Zandi’s analysis states.

How to Get Prepared for Disaster in 2017

Disaster preparedness isn’t just about having the usual disaster checklist, like that which includes flashlights, water, and emergency backup generators.

It also must be about how your cyber-connected business will continue. Because it’s only if you are able to keep doing business online and through networking technology that your physical business operations will be able to continue.

It’s no joke: Following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans alone lost 190,000 jobs and employment fell by more than 30 percent from August 2005 to December 2005 due to all the businesses that had to close (many of them, no doubt, due to not having adequate disaster avoidance and business continuity plans in place). Statewide, Louisiana lost 214,000 jobs, or 12 percent of its total number of jobs.

A company can increase resilience by designing critical functions and infrastructures with various disaster possibilities in mind; this can include staffing rotations, data redundancy and maintaining a surplus of capacity. Ensuring resiliency against different scenarios can also help businesses maintain essential services on location and off-site without interruption.

Rapid recovery to restore business functions after a disaster is crucial. Setting recovery time objectives for different systems, networks or applications can help prioritize which elements need to be recovered first. Other recovery strategies include:

  • Resource inventories
  • Agreements with third parties to take on company activity, and
  • Using converted spaces for mission-critical functions.

A contingency plan has procedures in place for a variety of external scenarios and can include a chain of command that distributes responsibilities within the organization. These responsibilities can include hardware replacement, leasing emergency office spaces, damage assessment and contracting third-party vendors for assistance.

Are you a Managed Service Provider in Need of Marketing Services?

Stuart Crawford and Ulistic can be your online marketing coach, and get you the SEO rankings and coverage you need to spread the word about what you do, where you do it, and how you do it.

If you would like to speak with Stuart in regards to your online marketing or social media strategy, or how to blog effectively, give him a call at 716.799.1999 or email him at scrawford@ulistic.com. His hurricane-tested disaster recovery and business continuity mastery assure that you’ll always be able to get through to him!

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  • 7120 Schumacher Road

    Sebring, FL 33872

  • phone: 863.451.3088

    Fax: 863.659.4578

  • 27 Queen St

    Fort Erie, ON L2A 3L3

  • phone: 416.840.9106