There are a few places network redundancy is really important: Security, Hardware and Knowledge. Having redundancy at these three levels will help your small business to grow, be more profitable, and help you sleep at night. There are a lot of frightening technology threats that can greatly affect your business. Having a plan and redundancy in place isn’t as expensive as most small business owners assume it is. In some cases, it is actually more cost effective.
As an example, if you are considering hiring a full time IT person, you might spend $30k-$80k in salary- and that doesn’t include all the overhead. The benefit of having a full time employee is that their time is 100% dedicated to your network. Response times are quick, and depending on their ability, they may be able to manage other aspects of your technology. But what happens when they get sick, go on vacation, quit, or something tragic happens to them? All of that network knowledge goes with them. Maybe you can make it through a sick day or two, but what about something longer? If all the knowledge of your network is in one head, you are assuming an incredible amount of risk. On top of that, you have to consider how quickly technology changes. Having a technical resource dedicated to one network means the practical experience they have will be outdated in a matter of years. Completing a server or email migration may only happen once every 5 years for a small business: so by the time your full-time resource is ready to complete a second migration, they may no longer have any of the knowledge needed to complete the task. Outsourcing IT to a company that provides a dedicated team will not only give you redundancy, but it will likely cut your costs in half. The team will have multiple resources with strong understanding of your network. Because they are doing projects and upgrades at multiple businesses, you will benefit from their growing understanding and experience with today’s technology.
Not every piece of hardware on your network needs to be redundant, but it is important to identify the thinnest places where the impact of downtime is most significant. This is likely to include many of the core components of your server(s): hard drives, processors, memory and power. Your business may have a unique risk point. For example, a call center can likely do without email, but phones become a risk point. Identifying what pieces of hardware that your business relies on can be challenging, but worth every dollar you choose to spend making them redundant. Very few elements of your network can survive without a failover. Even end user desktops and laptops can have a layer of redundancy built in, so that your employees aren’t sidelined if they spill coffee on their machines.
The most recent trend lines for small business cyber security are daunting. If you have a business with employees and the internet, the likelihood of getting hacked is a coin flip. Banking your livelihood and that of your employees on those statistics is not the answer. Many small business are told to buy Anti-virus, maybe a firewall and if your are really concerned, you will have some sort of backup. Those are all good, and we too would highly recommend all of them- but they aren’t all equal.
Just like any technology, the best in breed today might be irrelevant next month. Each layer on its own is very porous and will expose you to risk. Having your security in layers will create an overlap and redundancy that are crucial for your small business. Backups, Anti Viruses, Firewall, Web Security, Email Security and Monitoring. You have additional layers that you can employ beyond those, but those are a great foundation for your small business.