Mission Critical – Keeping Going

In previous blog posts we talked of identifying and preparing for failures and now we’re staring one in the face – your internet connection is down and chaos is about to ensue….what next?

Remember we recorded items that would cause a serious problem in the event of failure? Each one needs to be looked at separately to come up with a failure fix and, if possible, a work around.

Depending on how in-depth you really want to get depends greatly on how much panic and confusion will reign if failures occur – I prefer to be calm, collected, covered and above all, Cornish!

So I’ve looked at my router manual, I know what all of the lights mean, I can look at my router during an internet failure and deduce if it’s a hardware fault or elsewhere.

This time it all looks ok – we can even browse to its web interface, log in and see it’s operational.

So, as previously mentioned, we have to look back “up the line” the router is ok, what about the phone line? I have a phone plugged into it too which I can pick up, dial 123 and find out what time it is – all seems well.

Now I refer to my (specifically created for my business) documentation and find out the contact details of my Internet Service Provider before giving them a call.

I am greeted with a recorded message “We are experiencing high volumes of calls due to the current outage – please call back later” and the line goes dead.

And it’s at this point you’ll realise, if not before, why I said that if your internet connection drops out the recovery really is in the lap of the gods. The majority of ISP’s don’t supply their own connections rather resell others, so they have to report the outage themselves and wait.

Next step is to refer to your workaround.

Having a small business means you are a bit more agile by default, if you’re a one-person concern it’s often just a matter of picking up your portable device and heading off to the nearest Pub/Coffee shop/Café/Restaurant/Other place with free wifi and carrying on as before.

You might be lucky and own a mobile phone that allows tethering, a neat way of sharing the data on the phone with other devices, or maybe you have a mobile broadband dongle you can either use on your router or computer.

Whatever the work-around it’s time to apply it. And here’s the benefit of being small and agile, you can usually ride these outages out without too much stress, imagine if you had a dozen members of staff all sat in an office especially those with on-site services & servers that need internet.

Just this week I visited a company who had an outage that affected just two PCs – staff explained without them they simply had no work at all they could do.

This is one compelling reason why it’s really important to get a handle on these serious business-affecting issues, work out how much of a pain they are to you and put in place some plans for what you (and your people) do if they happen – the more severe the more seriously you need to consider investment in a more robust solution being a general rule of thumb.

Next time we’ll take a look at third-party suppliers and how to ensure they give you the best service/response they can possibly.