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Be sure it’s truly a disaster before switching to a virtual server

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This story begins with an annual consultation with the technology vendor, when our personal computers and servers are monitored and assessed as to strains on memory or processor use.

We asked about our ability to make use of a backup, since a main concern always had been how quickly we can get it, if needed.

We learned that we could mount a virtual server and be productive in four to six hours after notifying the vendor.

However, we were reminded of complications when doing this – primarily going back to a real server once the disaster is over. It is very difficult to reconcile the activity from a virtual server back to the real servers and have pure, up-to-date data.

The vendor described how using a virtual server should be the last resort.

DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS

It was emphasized to rethink what is truly a disaster. What one assumes is a disaster may be a repairable event, once fully explored.

For example, it may only be equipment failure, a vendor said. Once the equipment issue is resolved, we would be back in business.

The problem is troubleshooting and assessments deployed to discover this may take days.

In other words, despite the rush to get going again, don’t be too quick to use the backup.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

This caused unease. Our office can’t wait for a repair-or-replace determination and still remain productive.

So we devised a solution.

Our firm has two offices. We installed equipment at both locations to have a secondary server-like device that mirrors the first, and it duplicates itself every night.

MOCK DISASTER

Because we have a second office, the solution was relatively inexpensive. A network-attached device in our second location receives the data pushed from the server, and, if needed, can be used as a temporary server.

We tested the solution in a mock disaster event.

Staff and the technology vendor were informed at 6 a.m. one Tuesday that our building was compromised, and were denied access to the building. Everyone was asked to report to our second office.

REASSURANCE

That day, we were able to use the network-attach device and access our spreadsheets, internet, Word documents, QuickBooks and tax software.

We viewed the test as a tremendous success.

It was comforting as a business owner to know that while we may be dealing with issues of significant consequence, the ability to serve clients was only inconvenienced, as opposed to impeded.

Emilio “Jack” Morrone, Certified Public Accountant, is principal and co-founder of One Financial Services in South Whitehall Township. A member of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, he can be reached at jack.morrone@onefinancialservices.com.

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