Cables running into the back of a server.

Dealing With Disruptions to Your Network and Getting Back Up to Speed As Quickly As Possible

Sometimes, despite best efforts, things do go wrong. Things break or someone makes a mistake; it’s inevitable. IT systems are no exception. Hardware failure, disaster, and human error are all unfortunately common issues for organizations of all sizes.

Knowing that these issues are inevitable lets you focus on solutions, though; chief among them a reliable disaster recovery and business continuity plan that mitigates downtime and ensures minimal interruption while you get things up and running again.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes of IT disasters and failures, what you can do to address them, and how managed IT services can help.

Common Causes of IT Disaster

There are any number of reasons why things go wrong with IT networks and infrastructure, including, but not limited to:

Hardware Errors and Failure

One of the most frustratingly common issues facing your IT systems is something that’s often outside your control. Hardware errors or outright failure can strike without much warning. For example, say you have a vital server you rely on for daily operations. Data backups are great and ensure you don’t lose valuable information but won’t help much if the motherboard fails and you have no physical backup for your technology.

On a much more basic level, hardware damage can occur if, say, there’s a water leak, or you’re a victim of bad weather and your premises are damaged.

Machines, like humans, can be fragile. Identifying points of failure, the limits of existing technology, and the likelihood of malfunction are all vital steps in developing a reliable disaster recovery plan.

Human Error

We’ve all accidentally deleted a file we need or saved over something important. Imagine the possibility of human error when it comes to a large-scale enterprise: misplaced passwords, phishing attacks, ransomware scams, and even a simple lack of understanding of the technology at hand can cause serious problems for any organization.

Capable firewalls, anti-virus software, and careful anti-spyware measures can help mitigate these risks and can all be provided through managed IT services.

Power Outage

It’s basic, but it’s an issue: power outages can wreak havoc on your IT systems and infrastructure. For instance, a wide-spread power outage as a result of severe weather (such as a tornado) can cause widespread power outages.

If the power’s out, are you able to continue business operations? Uninterrupted power supplies can help, but in some cases, you may need other solutions off-site to ensure continued operations.

Coordinated Attacks

Cyberattacks are increasingly common, whether via coordinated distribute denial of services (DDoS) attacks or through something as relatively mundane as ransomware or a virus.

In fact, according to the NTT Security 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report, ransomware attacks increased by almost 350% in 2018. Attacks of all forms are on the rise, and all organizations are potential targets.

What Do You Do When Systems Break Down?

It’s clear that there are significant threats to an organization’s IT systems, but the question remains: what do you do when systems break down?

Ideally, you implement your disaster recovery plan (assuming you have one), taking a step-by-step approach to getting things back up and running as soon as practical.

Assess Damage

First things first: what happened? What went wrong?

Determining the extent of the damage, whether it’s a technical failure or the result of a coordinated attack, will dictate your next steps and reveal how long it will take to get things back up and running.

Ideally, you’ve got backups in place to help you out while you sort out the next steps. Data replication and off-site backup can help you in these cases, but without a true backup solution, one that can ensure seamless business continuity, you’re at risk during downtime.

Determine Timelines & Implement Solutions

It’s a bit inaccurate to set this as the second step, as assessing the extent of damage will typically occur hand-in-hand with setting timelines.

This is where the rubber starts to hit the road and you confirm your recovery. You’ve assessed how hard you were hit, and now it’s time to triage and prioritize what you need to continue operations normally, or as close to normal as possible.

The biggest consideration in this phase is downtime. Minimizing downtime is likely your main priority at this phase, so it’s important to determine what systems are mission-critical and which ones can take more time to return to full operations.

Avoiding and Preventing Disaster

Avoiding and preventing IT disasters and other issues means you’ll have to invest in technology, solutions, and software. In many cases, and especially for smaller organizations who don’t have the budget needed for a robust IT network, managed IT services can act as a vital addition and extension of your in-house resources.

And, as we mentioned earlier, it’s worth your time to invest in a disaster recovery plan.

Investing in a Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan is exactly what it sounds like: a guide to help you get back up and running when things go incredibly wrong.

These plans are invaluable for large organizations, but the fact of the matter is they’re increasingly a must-have for every business and enterprise operating over a network, or with significant IT needs.

Managed IT services provide a convenient turnkey approach to IT investment and planning. You determine the scope of your service arrangement with your provider, and they handle the rest. At IDS, for example, we’re frequently called upon to help organizations upgrade, protect, or backup their IT resources. In some cases, we recommend vital technology investments, and in others, we’re able to provide what our clients need with the technology they have.

Regardless of the approach, managed IT services focus on outsourcing tech needs to a team of qualified and highly experienced experts—exactly the sort of team you want in your corner when things start breaking down.

All too often it seems like Murphy’s Law—“Whatever can go wrong, will”—rings true in today’s increasingly interconnected world. As threats to IT assets increase, so too must investment in reliable solutions.