Monthly Archives: September 2016

Majority of small-business owners now using the cloud, poll reveals

Though once considered a mysterious, nebulous technological innovation that was the stuff of the distant future, the cloud is as mainstream today as the home computer. Web users by the millions take advantage of the cloud to gain access to the storage solutions they've been looking for without having to take into account the added space that on-premise systems require. Based on a newly released survey, a majority of business owners in America today are turning to the cloud for more than only data protection purposes.

Nearly two-thirds of small businesses in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom run at least a portion of their day-to-day operations via the cloud, according to enterprise software company Intuit, TechRepublic reported. That's up substantially from 2015, when cloud use was less than 40 percent.

Approximately 2,000 small-business owners were included in the study, each commanding between one and 50 employees, in the previously mentioned four countries.

Vinay Pai, Intuit Developer Platform president, indicated that the rapid adoption of the cloud is nothing if not expected.

"That same expectation has bled over into how they're running their business, looking to using apps for invoicing, billing and time management," Pai told TechRepublic.

Cloud viewed as more secure
In addition to its intuitiveness and accessibility, the cloud is highly regarded for its security bona fides. In a separate poll by business-to-business software solutions firm Clutch, 90 percent of small and medium-sized cloud-using companies pointed to it as being more secure than on-site backup.

Furthermore, the cloud enhances productivity, something that virtually every business could use in greater amounts, even if a given company is functioning like a well-oiled machine. Among their biggest struggles, 40 percent of respondents in the Intuit survey pointed to controlling costs and reducing unnecessary spending, TechRepublic reported.

Cloud feeding ground for enterprise software
Supporting the notion that the cloud's efficiencies extend beyond the security and storage realm is Joshua Greenbaum, analyst for Enterprise Applications Consulting. Greenbaum recently spoke at Rock Stars of Cybersecurity Threats and Countermeasures, a summit held in Seattle on Sept. 13. In a statement released in July that announced the summit, Greenbaum referenced how more enterprise software is being introduced in the cloud, which is attracting businesses. Enhanced lifecycle management and more pliable resources are also major draws.

"The cloud is not impregnable to security threats."

The cloud is not impenetrable, however, as security walls can be breached when precautions aren't taken. David Kennedy, chief executive and founder of an Ohio-based information security consulting firm, told CNBC earlier this year that third-party security providers have proven vulnerable to hacking.

Though the cloud is an option for business owners, no one would suggest that it's incapable of being accessed for malevolent purposes. This is why it's important to establish a business continuity plan, which is what Continuity Centers specializes in. Continuity Centers offers a one-of-a-kind security system called Instant Business Recovery. As its name implies, this quick, one-click technology takes just 60 seconds to restore data that has been compromised. IBR capability is literally at business owners' fingertips and can be rolled out for servers held on premise, off premise or in the cloud and using Microsoft Windows operating systems.

3,571 power outages last year caused by weather

While it may be a stretch to say that life comes to a grinding halt when the lights go out, there's no denying that electricity is the lifeblood of the nation's economy, as everyday transactions and productivity processes require power. Last year, however, millions of Americans had to make due with what they had, according to a newly released report on outages.

Over 3,550 power outages in 2015 stemmed from weather-related events, energy company Briggs & Stratton reported from data compiled by power management firm Eaton. This translated to approximately 13 million Americans who were in the dark for at least some of 2015.

Weather has caused 34 percent of electricity failures this year
‚ÄčThe year still has over three months left in it, but 2016 is playing out similarly to its predecessor. Over one-third of the outages so far have stemmed from Mother Nature, Briggs & Stratton reported.

With September being National Preparedness Month, Briggs & Stratton marketing manager Amanda Funk encouraged families, both in the literal and business sense, to prepare now so they can overcome these inconveniences when they develop.

"A power outage can leave families without electricity for hours or even days," Funk warned. "This is a long time for families to be without heat, AC or the ability to cool a refrigerator. Not to mention not having the access to 'luxuries' we've all become accustomed to like Wi-Fi and entertainment streaming devices."

This year's National Preparedness Month theme is "Don't Wait, Communicate," according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Outages are lasting 5 to 10 percent longer per year since 2000."

More intense storms lengthening outages
Power outages can happen for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is when the grid is overused, which can occur in the summer months when temperatures are oppressive. Increasingly, however, they're stemming from weather phenomena. Experts from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University have reported that while the frequency with which outages have taken place has held relatively constant, they're lasting a lot longer than they used to. Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Peter Larsen noted that there's been a 5 to 10 percent increase in the total number of minutes the average outage has lasted each year over the past 13 years.

Utility companies and energy experts point to backup power systems as the best workaround for outages. Traditionally, these systems come as portable models – which are best for homeowners – as well as permanently installed versions, ideal for business owners who require a more reliable, heavy-duty fallback.

A core component of continuity planning is a backup energy source, as virtually every company requires electricity to get tasks accomplished in a time- and cost-efficient manner. But even if entrepreneurs don't have one set up just yet, Continuity Centers has them covered. The experts at Continuity Centers can arrange for systems delivery and energy assistance before, during or after the lights go out so companies can get up and running again in no time.

Ensure prep essentials are in place during peak hurricane season

Every summer brings the heat, and boy did Mother Nature ever bring it over the past three months or so. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. mainland had the fifth hottest summer on record, tied with 2006 when the average nationwide temperature was a steamy 73.5 degrees Fahrenheit, a full 2 degrees above what's typical for June through August.

But just as the dogs days of summer are known for oppressive heat, September is reputed for being the peak of the hurricane season, as some of the strongest storms in history have taken place during the 30-day stretch leading into October. It's with this in mind that the Insurance Information Institute has released tips on how entrepreneurs can prepare for whatever the Atlantic Ocean has in store as summer turns into fall.

Business owners have to be resilient when environmental disasters are possible. Unfortunately, when an establishment's mettle is tested, the doors never reopen for 40 percent of companies that encounter damage from violent weather extremes, the III noted from survey data run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Prioritize continuity planning
Business owners' chances of riding out the storm increase substantially when a business continuity plan is in place. These plans contain usable information including what the chain of protocol is when disaster strikes and what systems have to be called upon to ensure that operations remain as normal as possible. The III cited the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety as a template for how to respond to natural catastrophes and institute recovery planning.

Filing centers and lock boxes both serve as effective offsite places for maintaining crucial information. Filing cabinets and lock boxes both serve as effective offsite places for maintaining crucial information.

Keep important information in a different location
As the old saying goes, you never want to put your eggs all in one basket. This axiomatic phrase has real world applications, as in order for a business to be truly recoverable, critical data needs to be maintained off campus so that the company can pick up where it left off, the III stressed. Examples of information that should be stored elsewhere include sensitive banking material, insurance policy specifics, backed up computer data and contact information for both vendors and suppliers.

Review insurance policies
Insurance coverage often gets lost in the shuffle, figuratively speaking, when running a business. Once it's purchased, it's normal for policyholders to forget it until they need it. This can lead to unfortunate surprises, as was the case for a number of home and business owners in Louisiana. According to estimates from reinsurance firm Aon Benfield, approximately 80 percent of properties in the Bayou State do not participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by the federal government and made available through private insurers. In general, the typical flood policy for entrepreneurs provides $500,000 in building coverage to fund losses and another $500,000 for contents that are destroyed or damaged.

Update emergency supplies
Maintaining an emergency kit – containing food, water, medical supplies and communication specifics – isn't a one-and-done deal. Medicines expire and resources that are traditionally effective may no longer be so when consumables aren't rotated. Both the Insurance Information Institute and NOAA encourage business owners to assemble disaster relief supplies and make note of their "use by" dates. Replace products, supplies and foodstuffs where and when appropriate.

Continuity Centers has the experience and know-how to keep businesses up and running when everything else is falling apart. A company is only as strong as its weakest link. Enlisting the help of Continuity Centers can help ensure that kinks in the chain are smoothed out so slowdowns are rendered moot.

Clear your calendar for the Continuity Insights Conference

If the United States is the lifeblood of the global economy, New York City is its heartbeat. Home to over a half-million employees, the Big Apple is the epicenter of the nation's finest businesses and industries, something we at Continuity Centers are keenly aware of, having many clients in the city that never sleeps.

To steal another line from the great Frank Sinatra, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, which is why thousands of New York-based business owners are expected to attend the annual Continuity Insights Conference next month. However, entrepreneurs from around the country – not to mention the world – are also highly encouraged to attend.

"The Wyndham New Yorker Hotel will be the place to be for advice on overcoming today's challenges, from cyberspace to natural disasters and more."

What is it?
On Oct. 13-14, the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel, located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, will play host to the annual Continuity Insights gathering, which over the years has drawn household name companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, T. Rowe Price, Time Warner Cable, Tiffany & Co., Reader's Digest and even the New York Yankees. And yes, this includes Continuity Centers, as we'll be in attendance to provide invaluable information on how to roll with the punches and be truly recoverable when adversity rears its ugly head.

Over the two-day period – which is actually three days if you include the pre-conference workshop that kicks off at 9 a.m. on Oct. 12 – participants will be peppered with news and information they can put into practical use as soon as they get back to their home turf.

Why you should be there
If you take a look at the agenda that's scheduled, you'll see just how eventful this year's Continuity Insights will be, which is why we here at Business Continuity Centers are honored to be a part of once again. After a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at in the Wyndham New Yorker's grand ballroom, the proceedings keynote speaker will kick things off. Jeff Parness, founder and executive director of the New York Says Thank You Foundation will discuss how companies the charitable organization has worked with have bounced back when faced with adversity. He'll also discuss some of the lesser-known perks of corporate volunteerism.

Following his speech, two more presentations are on tap, each delving into the ins and outs of business continuity. All of the workshops are roughly 60 minutes in length, immediately followed by 15-minute breaks so attendees have time to stretch their legs a bit and converse with friends, coworkers and acquaintances. If you're planning on going and haven't already come by to see us at this point, please do. We'll be at booth No. 17.

"Disaster recovery is critical to overcoming business interruptions …no matter what form they come in."

No stone left unturned
Continuity planning is essential because hardships can come in a variety of forms, not just natural disasters. This is something Continuity Centers knows full well. As such, weather-related catastrophes won't be the only topic at hand during the mid-October mixer. Other issues that will be on the docket include how to manage public relations in a social media world, cyber warfare and how to be protected from it, as well as the legal side of crisis management, a major issue in today's increasingly litigious society. This is a topic that will be tackled by Stephen Williger, partner in business litigation for the Cleveland-based law firm Thompson Hine.

From IT disaster recovery to professional development, crisis management to compliance issues, you'll be hard-pressed to find an issue that's not covered at this year's Continuity Insights Conference. We're looking forward to being there to share, teach and inspire, as we're all in this better business building challenge together!

For more details on registration, the agenda as well as what you can expect at the pre-conference workshop, check out the event's official website.

What to expect at the 55th annual DRJ Fall World Conference

As our clients and highly satisfied customer base can attest, Continuity Centers never fails to come through in the clutch when the unforeseeable arrives. So it's only fitting that we will be on hand for an annual event that's as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west – the Disaster Recovery Journal's Fall World Conference, a must-attend for all business owners who are serious about continuity and emergency planning.  

In its 55th year, the DRJ Fall World 2016 – held at the fabulous JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in the heart of Arizona's capital city – is rather appropriately titled, considering that it's world-renowned and draws business experts, like Continuity Centers, from around the globe. We're truly privileged to be able to provide our expertise, along with our fellow experts in the disaster recovery industry, on how to weather the storm, no matter what form it comes in. Taking place over four days, from Sept. 18 through Sept. 21, the 55th annual conference is not only a great place to learn, but it's also a veritable hub for networking with other stakeholders and small-business owners in a variety of industries.

"The pre-conference festivities begin on Sunday, Sept. 18."

General sessions start each day's proceedings
The four-day business continuity summit has all the hallmarks of being the best one yet, as the agenda is positively packed with workshops, seminars and sessions that are designed to keep entrepreneurs informed and prepared for life's travails. For example, following a brief meet and greet period allowing attendees to register and mingle, the proceedings start with three general sessions on Sept. 19 that cover a wide range of topics that virtually everyone will find applicable to them. The pre-conference takes place on Sunday starting at 8:30 a.m., but the kickoff to the main event is Monday morning.

The presentations last for about an hour and run back-to-back-to-back, beginning at 8:15 and ending just before lunchtime at 11:45 a.m. Topics covered will range from the lighthearted – like why it pays to bring levity to the office environment – to the more serious, where Dr. Melanie Irons of Charles Darwin University will discuss how communities and businesses have made it through moments of crises.

The workshops continue on Tuesday throughout the morning and into the early evening. Like Monday the general sessions kick things off, but later break off into more specialized topics, allowing attendees to get the most out of their experience and learn as though the conference is especially for them and their business continuity needs. Some of the issues broached will include how to respond to cyber attacks, how to think "outside the box" when it comes to continuity planning and ensuring a safe work environment for employees.

Post-conference classes also available
Even when the conference wraps up early in the day on Wednesday, Sept. 21 it's still not over. On Sept. 22, those who really want to get their fill can attend the post conferences. However, these do require an additional fee.

For more information on the schedule of events, visit the website where you can download the agenda. Also, if you're planning on going, be sure to swing by booth No. 204, where we'll be located. We're excited to meet you and as our vendors will attest, Continuity Center's singular mission is providing the very best in recovery services that meet the challenge every time when the going gets tough. Our 100 percent success rate speaks for itself. Plus, we'll be raffling off a high-definition television to one lucky winner that's sure to draw some attention.

Hope to see you in the desert on Sept. 18 for a conference unlike any other!