Just because your company’s data is stored in a server closet in your basement and is “protected” by your expert IT team doesn’t mean the information is safe. In fact, just the opposite is probably true.
Here are two true stories that illustrate why using cloud ERP technology to back up your information can drastically improve business continuity.
First, a horror story: Before switching over to the cloud, one company’s chief information officer (CIO) — someone you’d think would be among the most well-trained in handling technology — decided to do some dusting in the server closet. Sounds innocent enough, right? Not quite. While he was wiping away the dirt and grime, he managed to wipe away critical financial data.
When the CIO pulled out a hard drive from the shelf, the action caused the entire server to fail and the company lost all the data on the unit. And with none of that information backed up, the company lost weeks — maybe months — of work and transactions. Even worse, the company couldn’t process transactions for days, so it wasn’t getting paid and wasn’t making needed payments.
It took a team of financial accounting technology experts four days straight, including the weekend, to try to get the business back up and running. The company then spent another week or two manually entering in old transactions from previous months to catch up. It then had to buy new (very expensive) equipment to replace the fried unit.
Fortunately, not all accidents are quite so damaging and costly.
Another company also experienced a downed server. Early one morning, the employees discovered that none of them could log in. Fortunately, the company housed its financial data in the cloud and immediately called the provider. Within minutes, the provider discovered that, yes, the login server was down, and it restored access within 12 minutes. As it turned out, employees were using bad login information and the company designed its system to purposely block all users after several failed login attempts.
It was a security issue, but the provider was able to quickly diagnose the problem and restart the server to restore operations. The employees had 12 minutes of panic, but then they immediately appreciated the value of the service when it came back, especially since it could’ve taken hours or days to figure out what happened on their own.
This second example best illustrates why using cloud-based financial accounting software is very much like paying for car insurance. It’s easy to complain about the regular payments, but as soon as it’s needed, we’re very glad to have it. Often, people don’t recognize the value until bad things happen.
The point is this: Cloud providers are monitoring the information on the server 24/7. They perform patch management, maintenance, upgrades and system performance constantly so if something could potentially become an issue, the provider can find and fix the issue before it has a chance to become problematic. Often, the customer never sees the problem, because the provider is proactive about averting issues.
If your company’s crucial system goes down, how will you keep the business going? Backing up your system in the cloud in case of disaster or theft can keep costly issues from happening.
Here are three ways that technology can help improve business continuity.
- Regular backups: Having the information backed up daily or every few minutes prevents loss.
- Theft protection: The cloud provider is in the business of securing data and making sure it’s safe, protected against human error and natural disasters, at a level well beyond what you can do yourself.
Try getting in the front door of a data center if you don’t have a keycard; try getting into a rack that’s not your rack. You can’t. So you can sleep well knowing that data centers specialize in this kind of protection. And if a tornado hits one data center, the provider likely has another one in a different part of the country, and redundancy protects your information.
- Speedy restoration time: Think about the equipment. What if the server fails? In a provider’s data center, you’ll have a backup and restore process. As soon as you know the system is down, you can be back up, typically within 12 to 48 minutes. If you have your own server in your own office — regardless of your IT department’s brilliance — do you have another server where you have everything backed up and ready to go? One of the many values of the cloud is the risk mitigation it provides.
Despite the above stories, if you’re still unsure about the cloud, there’s a baby step you can take: Have a really good off-site backup system. Don’t use an external hard drive for media; they’re prone to failure and malfunction. Invest in a mirror server. Use the hardware even if it’s doing nothing more than backing up your data. That will go a long way toward providing much-needed business continuity and peace of mind.