MegaPath's Business Continuity Planning Checklist: What Every Business Should Know
Businesses of all Sizes Can Learn From Data Centers Level of Preparedness
COSTA MESA, CA, November 16, 2009 - MegaPath, Inc., the leading provider of managed IP data, voice, and security services in North America, today announced its Business Continuity Planning (BCP) Checklist, which helps organizations of all sizes to prepare for disruptions in business operations including natural disasters, pandemics or outbreaks. As companies prepare for the H1N1 virus, and most importantly, keeping employee health a primary concern, owners and managers need to ensure that work continues in the event of an office shut down.
"Enterprises with multiple data centers have business continuity planning down to a science, and other businesses can learn a lot from them. Having a plan that ensures business as usual in the wake of a natural or manmade disaster will instill confidence among your customers and partners," said Janet Wong, Senior Product Manager, MegaPath. "While adjustments will be made to daily operations, it doesn't mean that work comes to a full stop. With the right voice and data solutions in place, employees can still communicate internally or with external third parties."
Regardless of the disaster or emergency, businesses need to be prepared and have viable business continuity plans in place well in advance. According to a Forrester study titled "Businesses Take Business Continuity Planning More Seriously" (February 2009), it recommends that business continuity plans (BCP) be documented, actionable and up-to-date. While Forrester recommends BCPs be updated continuously, especially when there are changes to business or IT operations, few businesses reach this goal.
MegaPath's Business Continuity Planning Checklist
Designate a team: An effective business continuity plan should involve input from Management, the Chief Security Officer, the IT department, Web developer and Human Resources. These key departments have the ability to ensure the company runs smoothly in times of crisis, while taking into account the needs of their employees.
Identify key personnel: Determine which executives and employees are critical to operating the business (and supporting customers) that need to have access to key systems and information at all time. A business continuity plan must ensure these employees receive the highest levels of support, even during the most disruptive events.
Plan for spikes: Before an emergency occurs, businesses need to plan ahead for increased network bandwidth and secured remote access requirements. Implementing scalable solutions will enable organizations to add increased user licenses to the VPN and Internet connections in real-time.
Choose a flexible secure communications solution: There are many to choose from, but a SSL VPN is one of the leading solutions to provide flexible, remote access, which is essential to any business continuity plan. This technology enables access - via a Web browser - to sensitive corporate and customer data that exists on an enterprise network from remote locations. The SSL solution should be redundant and scalable to account for the increased spike in traffic, as well as integrated into the overall Disaster Recovery plan.
Create a single entry point: Create a business continuity portal for employees and partners. If the company has an Intranet, this site becomes command central from which employees can access information - HR policies, emergency contacts and a "click here to access SSL VPN" feature. As this Intranet would become the main source of information, it is vital to ensure that it is fast and reliable for employees no matter where they are located.
Coordinate a secondary back-up site: Should the primary site be unavailable, companies should have a real-time mirror of data housed at a secure facility. If configured correctly, organization's can provide an automatic failover between locations, so that any forwarding is seamless to employees as they conduct business with no impact to productivity.
Replicate non-real time data: In the event that the secondary site is unavailable, organizations should plan for multiple layers of failover. If users cannot access real-time data via the back-up location, a third-tier facility with updates, but not real-time data, can provide most of the necessary tools to keep the business operational until the secondary facilities come back online.
Ensure access from any device: With mobile devices and air cards now permeating the executive suite and key employees, IT departments can leverage these tools to ensure complete connectivity in times of emergencies. However, organizations must first conduct a thorough review of remote access policies in order to protect the data these devices are accessing.
Pre-arrange "on-the-fly" meeting capabilities: In the event of an office closure, employees still need to communicate internally or with external parties (i.e. suppliers, customers). Providing Web and audio conferencing to remote locations and offsite workers keeps the communication lines open, especially with those unaffected by the office closure.
Review number of sites and VPN gateways: Businesses need to have multiple channels for employees to gain access in case of fail over. Conducting a yearly audit will provide a complete picture of your network and the ability to address problem areas before a disaster strikes.
Test, test and retest: Typically, companies today test their Disaster Recovery facility (ies) and remote access policies about once a year. These "fire drills" enable companies to see how the current system is working, especially when employees are accessing information from remote locations (i.e. from home, a relative's house, and hotel). Once complete, those in Management, IT and Human Resources can modify their business continuity plan accordingly.
About MegaPath, Inc.
MegaPath is the leading provider of managed IP communications services in North America. MegaPath leverages its wide selection of broadband connectivity, Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Voice over IP (VoIP) and security technologies to enable businesses to lower costs, increase security and enhance productivity. Businesses of all sizes can easily and securely communicate between their headquarters, branch offices, retail locations, mobile workers, and business partners. To learn more about why 20,000 companies have chosen MegaPath's managed IP data, voice and security services to improve their business communications, visit www.megapath.com or call 1-877-MegaPath (634-2728).
MegaPath Media Contact:
Welz & Weisel Communications