IT Business Continuity – Preparing For Winter (Part 1)

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Now that summer is officially over and we are heading into the holiday season, we are also getting ready for the winter. Last year many parts of the country, especially the Northeast, experienced a brutal winter. Snow piled up by the foot and schools and businesses experienced multiple closures as the road crews couldn’t keep up with the amount of snow that was falling. Being located in the Boston area, we are no strangers to the New England winters. Some winters are brutal, cold, with snow storms every week. Others tend to be mild. Even though we can’t predict the weather with 100% certainty, experts are forecasting that we are going to be in for another doozy.

 

 

You can take steps now to plan ahead for crazy winter weather. Even if you and your employees get snowed in and can’t make it to the office, or if an ice storm causes power outages in your building – you can keep your businesses going with a little technological assist.

 

One way to ensure that your businesses will keep going in the event of a major storm or outage is to migrate your business productivity applications to the cloud via platforms like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Work.

 

Microsoft Office 365

With a traditional Microsoft Office deployment, emails are stored on a Microsoft Exchange Server in-house. If the power goes out in the office or the internet experiences a hiccup, employees are unable to access their emails. Although many businesses have migrated their Exchange Servers to the cloud, but still rely on traditional installations of Microsoft Office that include storage of files locally on workstations and/or on network drives. So even if employees are able to access their emails at home should they be snowed in, they don’t have access to files and other important materials.

 

Exchange in Office 365 is hosted in the cloud with replication across multiple Microsoft Data Centers – meaning your email is always accessible. Microsoft Office 365 also features OneDrive which helps to share and sync files in the cloud as well as facilitate collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. With Office 365, if employees are stuck at home during a snow day, they can still work with their team members on projects thanks to cloud applications and collaborative editing features.

 

Google Apps for Work

As many of us are already familiar with the Gmail interface, moving from a desktop suite to Google Apps for Work means little adjustment for your employees. When your business email is hosted via Gmail, your employees can access important messages and send and receive emails on any web-enabled device through the Gmail portal. Keep track of important meetings and reschedule events with the click of a mouse through Google Calendar. So even if you are unable to get to the office, you can get most of what you would normally get done at work, from the comforts of your own home.

 

Google Apps for Work includes Google Docs for document creation and collaboration, Google Sheets for spreadsheets, Google Presentations (similar to Microsoft PowerPoint) as well as easily synced cloud storage across devices through Google Drive.

 

If migrating your business applications to the cloud by moving to either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Work isn’t in the cards for your company, you can still move some business operations and/or data storage to the cloud through an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider – so you always have access to your business data regardless of whether or not the weather lets you into the office.

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