In the past years, hurricane season in the United States has brought some of the most widespread destruction we've ever seen. There is no doubt, however, that the havoc wreaked by these hurricanes will continue to haunt the communities they struck for decades. It was clear to everyone, locals or not, that the hurricanes caused immense physical damage. The reverberating impact these natural disasters have on the community is not as clear. This is never truer than it is with the small businesses in the areas.
"Forty percent of small businesses don't survive these events," said Russel Honore, the previous Joint Task Force commander for Hurricane Katrina. The electrical grid is knocked out for days, and businesses are forced to close the office for what they hope is a temporary period due to flooding.
Every day that a business can’t run, can’t sell or provide services, it loses money. The small companies, owned by entrepreneurs just like you, often can’t keep their head above water. So, they’re forced to close for good. The promising upstart is now unemployed and searching for a job they’re not likely to find quickly in the post-hurricane mess.
It’s not just the physical building that’s in danger, either. Flooding can be terrible, but if the building still stands, cleaning up shouldn’t be too big a deal. Yet, most companies don’t account for the IT infrastructure when they prepare themselves for natural disasters. All those computers, servers, printers, and firewalls that got flooded? They’re not as easy to fix. New computers are easy enough to buy, but all the data that was held within those computers or by that server? Irreplaceable.
Far too often, this kind of catastrophic loss of data will shut a business down for good. A 2010 report by technology research firm Gartner Group stated that 43% of businesses went belly-up almost immediately after a "major loss" of data, while 51% shut down within two years. That leaves a measly 6% survival rate for businesses that suffer company-wide data loss.
Those numbers aren’t great, but you can prepare yourself for this kind of disaster. Just like you pay for flood insurance in hurricane-heavy areas, you’ve got to preemptively protect your business data, too. Any business that migrates their data to the cloud is significantly less likely to lose that data. This isn’t just because a cloud service provider typically backs up your data several times a day, and in several different places, but also because the cloud data centers are actually more secure than their onsite counterparts.
It’s not just physical disasters that make your onsite data susceptible, either. Human error is the number one culprit of data loss. When you add in angry employees and ill-minded hackers your business data is most assuredly threatened. A 2012 Alert Logic report stated that "on-premises environment users actually suffer more [hacking] incidents" than cloud-based users, while also be subjected to "significantly more brute force attacks." Of course, this isn’t because the cloud servers miraculously cause hackers to stop hacking or stop a forgetful employee from deleting an important file. The difference here is the data centers have access to enterprise level infrastructure that is more adept at blocking attacks, and you can’t accidentally delete any of your data. There are always, always backups.
Even after all this, the cloud isn’t a fit for every single business. Some business models need onsite structures for a variety of reasons. Some find it cheaper. But, it is better to do your research and understand the cloud as a potential option for your company. It could save your business.