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MSPs must protect their employees as well as their own business during hurricane season.

3 Min Read
hurricane season
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Managed service providers (MSPs) operating in geographies where hurricanes and coastal storms occur regularly have to prepare for anything, including educating and preparing their clients for hurricane season. Businesses usually have advanced warnings of an approaching storm. However, because storm paths are notoriously challenging to predict, these warnings can often be false alarms. Some businesses therefore fail to respond to storm warnings due to the “Cry Wolf” syndrome. MSPs must protect their employees as well as their own business. This article explores four things every MSP should consider to ensure their business can keep operating even if a natural disaster strikes.

Technology Continuity: Hurricanes and coastal storms can put a data center out of commission for a day, a week, or permanently. All businesses, especially those operating in a storm or hurricane-prone areas, should be prepared for anything. Preparation should include:

  • Disaster recovery (DR) testing with your clients ahead of time. Check out Datto’s blog for a checklist of basic DR steps to take to ensure you are ready to support your customers throughout potential hurricanes.

  • Continuous off-site backup of data, applications and server images.

  • The ability to restore IT operations in the cloud and/or at a site sufficiently farther inland from the coast to be unaffected by the storm. This restoration may require the evacuation of crucial IT personnel out of the storm area so that they can continue to work remotely from their laptops even if the area’s mobile data services are interrupted.

  • Creation of website pop-ups and messages that alert customers and partners about storm preparations, along with frequent post-storm updates that allow visitors to track the progress of any necessary recovery. “Business continuity, communication, an excellent team and having first-class professionals backing you up at the partner level is what it is all about. Stay safe out there.” — Blake Dowling CEO, Aegis Business Technologies

People Continuity: Major storms can affect entire regions for an extended period of time. Business continuity plans should include:

  • Availability of a sufficiently distant inland facility, along with any temporary housing necessary for key employees whose homes are also in the path of the storm.

  • Constant internal communications with employees and updates on resource availability, recovery status, etc.

  • Any necessary third-party contracting for shipping/receiving, mail processing, duplicating, etc.

Process Continuity: In the event of a regional disaster, in addition to making sure their operations continue uninterrupted, businesses should be prepared to help their nearby customers and partners get through the crisis. Planning should include:

  • Communications in advance with local/regional customers and suppliers who the storm may also impact. This communication should include alternative mobile contact numbers.

  • Develop predetermined policies regarding order turnaround times, invoice processing, scheduled service visits and other activities likely to be affected by the storm.

  • Service your customers directly with supply-chain partners, where appropriate and feasible. “Our advice to another MSP would be to secure your clients, have a quality backup solution you can trust, and be proactive about hurricane planning with your clients in May, before a storm hits.” — Deana Pizzo CEO, I.T. Solutions in South Florida

Insurance Considerations: In the wake of a major weather event, businesses should ensure that their policy covers all aspects of business continuity, rather than just damage and outage impacts. Also, given that businesses typically have significant warning of such an event, companies should avoid confusion by contacting insurers in advance to confirm exactly what steps both parties will take in the storm’s immediate aftermath.

To learn more about preparing your business for hurricane season, listen to Datto’s podcast to hear how Blake Dowling and his team at Aegis Business Technologies partner with Datto to prepare for hurricane season.

Chris Henderson is Director of Information Security, Datto.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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