Covering Your Construction Assets with Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery

By Brad Peterson, vice president of marketing, Workspot

The construction industry is used to weather-related delays, so it’s common to be well-prepared with contingency plans when project timelines are affected. But when disaster strikes, such as a flood or fire, your construction company is just as susceptible to ruin as other businesses. In fact, FEMA reports that two of every five businesses that experience a disaster fail to recover.

As more business processes are conducted digitally, there is an increased need for disaster recovery (DR) planning. When a business disruption happens, such as a natural disaster, what is the most effective and affordable way to get back to productivity once people are safe? Fortunately, with today’s cloud computing capabilities, a natural disaster doesn’t also have to be a financial disaster. With the right plan and the right technology, you can keep your business running – even when employees cannot access their PCs or office workstations.

Reducing Risk – or Adding to It?

Construction businesses using physical PCs need to plan for a time when your employees may not be able travel to the office to access those devices. Many vendors offer services involving alternative office space, whether an offsite location or a mobile recovery unit (MRU) that is delivered on-site. Unfortunately, these legacy DR solutions have limitations that introduce risk to your business – both functional and financial – at a time when you need certainty.

Planning out a comprehensive disaster recovery program can be very complex. Solution due diligence, lengthy checklists, intricate sizing exercises and initial testing are time-consuming and IT resource-intensive. However, the real challenges begin when these resources need to be deployed.

It may seem like a good idea to have an MRU and/or to have an offsite office location established, but these approaches introduce risk. A natural disaster could impact transportation infrastructure to such an extent that these alternative work locations are rendered useless. In some cases, the MRU could simply be undeliverable to the designated site. Moreover, factors such as limited hardware configurations, capacity constraints and limited availability of alternative DR office sites all create uncertainty around your ability to recover.

Another issue with traditional DR solutions is that they force a trade-off between Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and cost. Businesses required to execute fast time-to-recovery feel the financial pinch as costs climb to meet an aggressive RTO.

Lastly, testing becomes an issue. In the Disaster Recovery Journal, Forrester Research asked IT and risk mitigation professionals about their disaster recovery plans to gauge the maturity of such planning. The most recent survey in 2018 revealed that more than 50 percent of businesses never conduct a full DR simulation test, and more than 40 percent conduct it only once a year. With such low levels of testing, how can a business leader be confident that their DR solution will be sufficient and work when it is needed? Without this critical step, the probability of a DR failure climbs.

Cloud Computing Shifts the DR Paradigm

Your business may lose physical IT assets due to damage sustained from natural disasters, but the real damage happens when business data is lost. This is why virtual desktops are a great approach to PC disaster recovery; your company data is safe in a central location rather than being stored on individual devices. But not just any virtual desktop will do. When PCs and GPU workstations are delivered from a public cloud, the right solution can deliver a wealth of benefits, beginning with cloud PCs that are activated with one click by your IT person, enabling employees to work from anywhere that’s safe using a PC, Mac, iOS or Android device.

With cloud PCs, employees don’t need to be trained – they just use their Windows desktop as usual. IT doesn’t need to forecast what resources will be needed when disaster strikes or compromise on RTO because costs are too high. And because your corporate Windows image is used for your DR cloud PCs, they are always up to date. Formal testing of your cloud PCs isn’t needed, but if there are compliance reasons for periodic testing (or if it just makes you feel better to do so), you can activate your cloud PCs anytime, day or night, with a single click and without disrupting the business.

DR Peace of Mind

When disaster strikes, it’s too late to come up with a disaster recovery plan. Set up in advance, the gold-standard DR plan is one that is easy to set up and quickly activate. In addition, you should have the ability to quickly scale the resources. Cloud PCs meet all these criteria at a lower cost than traditional DR solutions. This gives construction firm owners and their IT teams peace of mind that no matter what kind of disaster may strike, the digital assets and access will remain.

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