College Station Welcomes the Annual Texas Fire Training School

Brayton Fire Field Prop 43 during a fire training session
Watching your company go up in flames is bad, but not having a tested business continuity plan in place is even worse.

Each year in the U.S., firefighters respond to more than a million fires that threaten homes and businesses. And, as we've said before, it's important for you to not only prepare but also to test your disaster recovery plan ahead of time so your employees won't be in the dark about what to do in the event of a fire.

Our headquarters, located in College Station, just so happens to be the home of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the leading firefighting academy in the state. The firefighters that train at this academy each year know a little something about the importance of testing.

This week the Annual Texas Fire Training School hosted a week-long training course for industrial and municipal firefighters at the largest facility in the world, the Brayton Fire Training Field. During these training sessions, thousands of firefighters learned the importance of safety, adaptability and teamwork and took the opportunity to teach the community techniques on how to extinguish fires.

This school is a prime example of the importance of disaster education. In the same way you want firefighters with prior experience and proper training to show up if your business catches fire, your customers want to do business with a company that has a business continuity plan (that's been tested).

While you can't prevent unexpected business disturbances, you can prepare for them so your business doesn't waste unnecessary time, money and reputational damage.

Not prepared for a fire? Check out our Wildfire Preparedness Checklist to get started.

BC/DR for Small, Medium and Large Businesses — Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series, we discussed the best disaster recovery options for small and medium businesses, respectively. Our final topic is BC/DR for large businesses.

We live in a world where you, as a large business, must protect your company from both planned and unplanned outages to preserve your brand and shareholder value. With deeper pockets and more manpower than both small and medium businesses, you have a wider range of BC/DR options. You have the capability to outsource nearly all recovery activities, but having more employees reduces the need for everything to be outsourced.

Taking these two factors into consideration, we've mapped out the best BC/DR options for large businesses.

Business and Mobile Recovery Centers


SkyscrapersWe've already mentioned that our Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) and Mobile Recovery Centers (MRCs) are beneficial for both small and medium businesses, but they're also a good recovery option for large businesses. As a large business, you can't afford to take a break if a disaster renders your facility unworkable. To continue business operations, consider using a BRC or MRC as an alternate facility.

If a disaster strikes your building and it's unsafe to work in, you can continue business in one of our fixed-site BRCs. This is the best option for an alternate workspace if you and your employees must relocate and need a facility equipped with voice and data technology, as well as office resources. Our BRCs will provide the hardware and technological infrastructure to ensure you can resume daily business.

If your employees must stay near home, a mobile facility may be a better option. Our MRCs can be deployed to any location you specify, which prevents your employees from relocating. The mobile units will be configured with the data and communications you require so you can continue business as usual and serve your customers during or after a disaster.

Rentsys Continuity Manager (RCM)


Federal mandates require many businesses to have BC and emergency management plans. Even if your business isn't required to have a plan, you still need one to assure their stakeholders and customers that business operations will continue following a disaster.

One of the most challenging aspects of creating a plan is outlining clear action points and goals for every possible scenario that may develop during a disaster. Rentsys Continuity Manager (RCM) software will cover every aspect of a business continuity plan so you can be sure that you're prepared for anything that may crop up during a business interruption or disaster. RCM also generates intelligent risk analysis reports based on your data and will create mitigation strategies for your BC/DR planning and testing.

Professional Planning Services


Although your business may have a BC/DR specialist, it's still tough for a single employee to cover every aspect of BC/DR planning and testing. To make sure nothing is left out of your BC/DR strategies and processes, consider hiring professionals to review and offer recommendations on your plan.

One of the benefits of using professional business continuity consultants is that they will provide your BC/DR strategist with updates on government regulations so you can be sure that your plan complies. Rentsys consultants can also act as your RCM system administrators to design your BC/DR plan, define process dependencies and assign recovery team tasks. By outsourcing these duties, you can be sure that you cover every contingency in your plan.

No matter the size of your business, it's crucial to be prepared for a business interruption. Download our disaster recovery plan checklist to make sure you cover every possible solution. As soon as you have an idea of which solutions you'd like to outsource, contract your recovery services so you're prepared before a disaster strikes.

[PODCAST] Disaster Recovery Is a Lot More Than Data Recovery

Disaster recovery is a lot more than data recovery.
Road sign that says "Disaster Recovery"

This is one of the points David Tedford, National Sales Manager for Rentsys Recovery Services, emphasizes in a recent podcast interview with David Littman, Director of Business Development for Truth in IT.

During the interview, Tedford answers some key questions people have about the types of solutions Rentsys provides. We've highlighted a few of them below, but be sure to listen to the full podcast on Truth in IT’s podcast page.

How Is Rentsys Different From Other Disaster Recovery Providers?


"We provide the hardware, the software and the services related to BC/DR."

In the podcast, Tedford mentions that not all recovery vendors offer solutions to meet all of a business’s recovery needs. He highlights Rentsys’ primary services:

  • Cloud services
  • Colocation
  • Communications recovery
  • Workspace
  • Quickship
  • Business continuity software

Will You Be Able to Recover My Business If There’s a Regional Disaster?


"Our clients… know they have a solution that’s going to work when they need it."

Tedford confidently tells Littman that Rentsys has "the lowest customer-to-asset ratio in the industry." As a result, he explains, we’re not over-subscribed, so we’re able to provide our clients with the services they need when they need them.

What Businesses Are a Good Fit for Rentsys?


"When your environment changes and you want to grow with your solution provider, you want to make sure they have those other solutions already in place."

When Littman asks if Rentsys has a vetting process for customers, Tedford reiterates how important it is for a vendor to meet a customer’s needs versus adding digits to their number of subscribers. He points out four areas they look at when speaking with potential customers:

  • Executive buy-in
  • Past incidents involving systems, data or employee downtime
  • Compliance requirements
  • Budgetary guidelines

To hear what else Tedford has to say about disaster recovery versus data recovery, working with clients to meet their recovery needs and more, listen to the full podcast here.

How to Protect Your Business After a Wildfire

Smoky wildfire at night
On June 9, the Bend wildfire in Oregon marked the start of the 2014 wildfire season. The flames arrived three weeks ahead of schedule, catching residents and businesses off guard.

You might feel you're prepared for a wildfire because you've read about how to prevent wildfires and reduce the risk of your business being destroyed by a fire (especially if your office is located in an area prone to drought).

But do you know how to protect yourself and your employees after a fire? 

Just because a wildfire has been extinguished doesn't necessarily mean that your business is in the clear. To keep your employees and business safe, it's important to be aware of the aftereffects of a wildfire.


Avoid Wildfire Smoke


Following a wildfire, keep an eye on local air quality reports. In 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported that almost 212 million people lived in areas across the U.S. that were affected by wildfire smoke (which can last for about a week after a fire has died down).

It's important to note that the smoke that lingers after a fire is different from other types of fumes, because it carries a mixture of gases and fine particles from plant materials. These particles are dangerous and can cause health problems such as pneumonia.

If the local air quality reports for your area are unsafe, you may need to consider relocating your employees to an alternate fixed-site facility or a mobile unit outside the affected area.


Prepare for Power Outages


Wildfire season also began early for California this year, leaving 5,800 San Diego Gas & Electric customers without electricity for at least 24 hours. If your business were affected by a power outage, could you avoid downtime? By keeping data backed up at an alternate location, you can access business-critical data whenever you need it, regardless of the disaster.

Anticipate Flooding


According to FEMA, wildfires can increase the risk of flooding, because they destroy the vegetation that usually helps absorb water. Flash floods are especially dangerous, so check your area's flood risk and elevation before bad weather arrives. It's also a good idea to purchase flood insurance and inform employees of relocation plans in the event that your business is damaged.

Wildfires, as with any disaster, aren't always preventable. The key to surviving them is to be prepared. For more safety tips and details about wildfires, visit ready.gov/wildfires.

Tornado Season Isn't Over Yet

Tornado
Nearly 40 percent of tornadoes occur between June and August each year. These tornado-heavy months require you to be prepared for severe thunderstorms and high-velocity winds. Here are some steps you can follow to prepare for, react to and recover from a tornado.

Prepare

  • Make sure your disaster recovery plan includes provisions for tornadoes. Practice this plan with your team periodically to avoid confusion in the event of an actual tornado.
  • Have enough water, nonperishable food and medical supplies to last at least 72 hours. 
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • Low-lying clouds (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the above danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

    React

    • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for important weather updates.
    • Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
    • If indoors, stay away from windows and glass doors and go to the lowest floor of the building. Seek shelter in a small center room, under a stairwell or in an interior hallway with no windows.

    Recover

    • Account for all employees and address any staff injuries. For the severely injured, contact 911.
    • When conditions are safe, inspect your building for damage. Take pictures for insurance purposes.
    • If you come across any loose or dangling power lines, keep away from them and inform the power company immediately
    • Refer to your detailed disaster recovery assessment to determine the next steps for continuing business operations.

    Check out our Tornado Preparedness Checklist for other items you should gather before a tornado. 

    [INFOGRAPHIC] Extreme Heat Safety this Fourth of July

    The Fourth of July is coming up, and that means fireworks, hot dogs and summertime fun all around. It also means you're likely to spend more time outdoors than usual. If you're not prepared, the heat that goes along with this time of year could prove to be deadly, as it does for up to 1,000 people a year. Check out this infographic from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to see how you can prevent heat-related illnesses and death.

    CDC Infographic

     For more disaster preparedness tips, check out our  "What to Do When" posts.

    BC/DR for Small, Medium and Large Businesses — Part 2

    In Part 1 of our three-part series, we evaluated how the business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) needs of small businesses differ from the needs of medium and large companies. Now it's time to turn the spotlight on medium-sized businesses. 

    Typically, medium businesses have anywhere from 100 to 1000 employees, meaning they can assign specialized job functions, such as BC/DR planning, to members of management rather than outsourcing a consultant.

    Medium businesses also tend to have slightly larger budgets than small businesses, giving them a few more options when it comes to selecting BC/DR solutions. For instance, they can afford to outsource more services, which in turn helps strengthen their BC/DR strategy. Here are the services we recommend for medium businesses, along with a few reasons why they're important.

    Cloud


    During a disaster, you have to recover as quickly as possible — and you can't do that when your information has been compromised in a server failure. Almost half of all businesses that do experience an IT disaster don't attempt to reopen, and nearly 80 percent fail within one year. So having a data backup and restoration solution that isn't too time-consuming on the front end or too difficult to execute after a disturbance is a must.

    cloudA cloud solution, such as Rentsys' BlackCloud vaulting and recovery, enables you to rapidly back up and recover data within a secure and flexible infrastructure. In the event of a disaster, a cloud solution can also reduce your recovery time objectives (RTOs) and enable you to continue business as usual — no matter what type of business interruption comes your way.

    Using site-to-site replication, BlackCloud allows you to minimize your downtime after a disaster by vaulting your data to an off-site location at a predefined interval (e.g., every 15 minutes, hourly, nightly or in real time). Because your data is sent directly to our recovery location, you can recover within a few minutes or hours depending on the replication setup.

    Mobile Recovery Centers (MRCs)


    As many as 40 percent of businesses fail after experiencing a disaster. Without proper recovery strategies in place, your business could be at risk. To make sure you can continue business after a disaster, consider including an alternate work environment in your recovery plan. A Mobile Recovery Center (MRC) is the most flexible option.

    Rentsys' MRCs can be delivered within 24-48 hours to any location you specify after a disaster. They can be configured as command centers, data centers, claims facilities, bank branches or general workspaces. You can get back to business quickly while proving to your customers that you're reliable and efficient.

    Colocation


    We've said it countless times: When a disaster strikes, you have to be fully prepared to recover. Even if your BC/DR plan includes an alternate workspace, such as a Business Recovery Center (BRC) or MRC, your RTOs and cost of downtime may dictate that you need your systems up and running within minutes or hours of a disaster.

    Colocation rack spaceColocation rack space allows your business to place equipment directly inside a secure cabinet within our BRC. You can then deploy a replication solution to ensure your production systems are in sync with your colocation (i.e., backup) systems.

    When a disaster strikes and your primary production environment is no longer available, the colocation systems will become production systems so your company can be up within minutes.

    Visit our website for more solutions to include in your BC/DR plan and check back next month to see the best recovery options for large businesses!