Archive for October, 2012

DR and BC – Oh My!

Just like any industry, the IT industry has its own alphabet soup. Two of the most important abbreviations are DR and BCDisaster Recovery and Business Continuity. Following is my article explaining the difference which is crucial for you as a business owner to understand.

Face it—downtime is depressing, difficult and downright dumb. You can’t afford to lose business, clients and your reputation because of failed computer systems. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC).

Almost every business depends on secure, reliable computer systems. It doesn’t matter if you’re a retail establishment, an online business or a service provider like us. You rely on technology in order to perform everyday functions.

The Costs of Downtime

The cost of downtime is significant. In this Internet-connected age, most companies lose money when systems are down. Customers cannot order products, so they go elsewhere for services. It’s also difficult to communicate with people when your e-mail and web sites are inaccessible. Downtime hurts your competitiveness. Eventually your company’s repu-tation can be damaged.

This is why Business Continuity is so much more important than simple Disaster Recovery practices. You want to prevent downtime instead of recovering from it.

So, what’s the difference and why should you care?

Disaster Recovery is simply one part of Business Continuity. The word “disaster” indicates a situation where continuity has been broken. If you
are recovering from a disaster, your computer systems are down. Your business information systems essentially failed. Typical disruptions include planned, unplanned, intentional and unintentional events. A backhoe can snap a telecom line at a nearby construction site, for example. Malware or viruses might take down your local network.

Business Continuity describes the way you eliminate disruptions. That’s the big difference between DR and BC. When hard drives, servers or networks fail, BC practices ensure that duplicate systems are in place. When downtime occurs, BC systems instantly switch to copies of the same data you have been using all along. Users don’t even notice the switch.

Smart Business Continuity Solutions

These days you have several options to help keep your computers running and your information available 24/7. Storage solutions that contain backed-up, redundant hard drives, like Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) storage devices, help you recover in failure situations. Your users never see that a drive failed. Their data and applications are always available, even if hardware breaks. Similarly, modern networking technologies protect organizations from networking failures. Both these hardware solutions help you maintain business continuity when things break.

Many companies don’t have the latest hardware and software installed, however. It’s important to upgrade your systems in order to take advantage of the new solutions. You need to have a plan for dealing with natural disasters, hackers, viruses, legal threats and new rules governing data protection.

3 Business Continuity Considerations

Here are some key areas to examine:

1. Consider how important computer systems are to your bottom line. Do you rely on an internet connection for payment? If you lost your customer database, would that immediately impact your business?

2. Pay attention to your storage habits. Make sure all critical data is backed up to a central server in your office AND in another physical location. Your best option for offsite storage usually is a “cloud” backup solution such as CMIT Guardian Secure and our more robust on-premise and cloud solutions (www.CMITDenver.com/databackup) as well as virtualization.

3.   Think about installing a local NAS or SAN device that has several copies of your data on separate disks. Many of these devices now also have built-in cloud backup solutions.

Ultimately, the data and applications you use to run your business need to be protected. Consider them vital organs to the health of your business.

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Over the last few months I have increased the control over my Inbox. It’s not easy and it’s not a one-time fix; it’s an ongoing and even daily control and discipline that helps keep me focused.

Here is an article with the main points (the rest is accessible by clicking on the link below) from Microsoft and author Sally McGhee (a local Denver entrepreneur in fact) entitled “Empty your Inbox: 4 ways to take control of your email.” I would add “and take control of your time.”

If your email Inbox is out of control, you might want to rethink your methods for organizing your email and emptying your Inbox. Developing a new approach to processing your Inbox can help you to gain more control, improve your response time, and keep up with critical actions and due dates.

This article covers four key factors that can help you process your email more efficiently—both at home and at the office. Although some of the productivity tools mentioned here are specific to Microsoft Outlook (Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and Outlook Web Access), most of the techniques—and even the organizational attitude described here—can help you to more efficiently process email and empty your Inbox, even if you use an email application other than Outlook.

1. Set up a simple and effective email reference system.
The first step toward an organized Inbox is understanding the difference between reference information and action information….Most people receive a considerable amount of reference information through email. Sometimes as much as one-third of your email is reference information. So it is essential to have a system that makes it easy to transfer messages from your Inbox into your email reference system—a series of email file folders where you store reference information to ensure you have easy access to it later.

2. Schedule uninterrupted time to process and organize email.
How many times are you interrupted every day? It’s nearly impossible to complete anything when there are constant interruptions from the phone, people stopping by your office, and instant messaging. So it’s critical that you set aside uninterrupted time to process and organize your email. Many email messages require you to make a decision. The best decisions require focus, and focus requires uninterrupted attention. Establish a regular time each day to process your email so that you can empty your Inbox.

3. Process one item at a time, starting at the top.
Resist the temptation to jump around in your Inbox in no particular order. Begin processing the message at the top of your Inbox and only move to the second one after you’ve handled the first. This can be hard at first, when you might have thousands of messages in your Inbox. But as you reduce the number of messages over a few sessions, eventually you’ll get to the point where you can process the 60–100 messages you get every day and regularly get your Inbox down to zero.

4. Use the “Four Ds for Decision-Making” model. Your 4 D’s are: Delete It,  Do It, Delegate It or Defer It.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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I don’t know if you get frustrated like I always have when attempting to position an image in Word. Hopefully you are spared the agony. Oh the agony of trying to align the image and get it where you really want it and then to experience the ecstasy of success.

PC Magazine had a nice article from 2009 on aligning images in Word that explains it simply. It seems that it comes down to unlocking the image.

To unlock and align the image:

  1. Go to the image that you just inserted in your Word document OR insert a new image to the document.
  2. Right click on the image
  3. Go to Format Picture
  4. Click on the Layout tab
  5. Choose the Wrapping Style of “square” or “tight” or the other options
  6. Click OK and your image will be unlocked!
  7. Now, you can easily move and manipulate the location of your image in your Word document.

Enjoy image alignment in Microsoft Word! I know that I will – finally.

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Most of the principles and strategies used in business today emanate from authors, historians, politicians, philosophers, businessmen and even sports professionals. It’s amazing to recognize that as much as things are in a constant state of flux, there are numerous similarities to reference from our recent, distant and ancient past.

Our first glimpse is from John Ruskin of Britain who lived in the 1800’s.

“You Get What You Pay For” … thoughts from the Victorian era on this truth:

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money—that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common-law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot—it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

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