A recent visit to the doctor highlighted just how much we rely on electricity, and the importance of backup power and alternatives.
There I was, chuffed that I had rocked up at the doctor’s office at 7:29, a whole minute early for the 7.30 opening. The lights weren’t even on yet. There was only one other person outside the office. “Beauty”, I thought... I’ll get this visit done quickly!
Then a voice comes from inside, attached to waving hands.
“There’s no power”
“There’s no power. It should be back by 8. You’ll have to enter around the back”
Ok. Fine. These things happen. 50 minutes later, still no power. I’m there with 25 of my nearest and dearest medical centre visitors, wondering when this modern necessity would come back.
Without power, the doctor’s can’t turn on his computer to see your records. He can’t print your Medicare form. The staff can’t take your Medicare card. There’s no bloods because it’s not safe to do needles in the dark.
You can’t even go upstairs to pathology as it’s pitch black.
Like many problems, the solution is multi-faceted, and although this occurred in a specific scenario it applies to all businesses.
The first step is to work out what systems or devices will need to run during an outage. Servers, computers, phones, and internet comes to mind. In this particular case refrigerators should be included in the mix.
Everything else can wait for mains to return.
Not every device in the priority category is needed. Yes, the server and internet are needed, but not all phones, and not all computers.
Divide which specific devices need to work even if the power goes out.
In many cases there are workarounds.
Use a laptop instead of a desktop, as they have batteries. Use a portable terminal for taking credit card payments - it’s got a battery too.
Have a 4G hotspot on hand. They are battery powered and will give internet access if it’s needed.
You may not get full functionality but your business will be able to continue as a skeleton.
A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) will give backup power for a while. How long depends on what's being powered. The bigger the UPS and the less devices which reply on it, the longer the run time.
Use a UPS only for the most vital systems - a server and a network switch, for example - to allow some server for the maximum time possible.
If it makes sense and can be done, use a generator for backup power.
Services in the cloud are located in secure, environmentally controlled, power-redundant environments, so it makes sense to switch services to the cloud where possible.
For example, a cloud VoIP PBX will continue to work even if your handsets are offline, with incoming calls directed to a mobile phone.
The best laid plans must be tested. Kill mains power and see what works, and what staff need to do to implement the workarounds.
Does the UPS work? How long will it run the attached equipment? Do calls divert? Can you process credit card payments? Does the 4G internet connect? Can laptops access the internet?
Call iHelp IT for a blackout assessment. We will give you a full report of the impact of a blackout on your business and customers, and what you can do to minimise it.