Plan ahead to ensure your business doesn’t go up in smoke

In the week before Easter firefighters took more than 36 hours to put out an electrical fire in a tunnel beneath a central London pavement.

Some 5,000 people were evacuated in the major incident in Holborn and, by the time the fire was extinguished, scores of businesses had had to shut their doors for a second day.

In the region of 3,000 premises had originally been without power as a result of the fire, forcing businesses, many of which are in the legal and professional services sector, to close and theatres nearby to cancel performances. Early estimates were that the fire cost businesses £40m.

This is the kind of disaster every business person dreads, the event that comes out of the blue, which, because it is so unexpected, is usually unprepared for.

In fact, the nature of modern business, in all its complexity and its reliance on IT and communications, means that it is highly vulnerable to many kinds of incident.

A major power outage, which renders IT and telecommunications useless, or any kind of civil emergency which leads to evacuation and denial of access to buildings, means loss of contact with customers, suppliers and records – in other words, loss of business and the longer it goes on, the more catastrophic it can be.

Businesses need not be frightened by this, but should regard it as a timely warning to take a look at their own operations and consider how vulnerable they might be and how they could ensure continuity of operation if all their vital lines of communication were to be severed for any length of time.

The availability of solutions that physically takes IT out of a building through the use of cloud-based, hosted desktop, where information is stored and accessed through secure, remotely-located data centres, totally eradicates the threat to business continuity.

From short term solutions, such as enabling staff to work from home on a range of devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones, to the potential need to relocate to temporary premises, a virtual desktop hosted in the cloud enables businesses to maintain their operations and vital relationships with clients.

The Holborn fire was, in itself, an unpredictable event, but the fact these events happen is entirely predictable. Therefore, the foresight companies can show by embracing cloud-based technologies could be the difference between maintaining productive business operations and running a commercial ghost ship.