Are you ready if your email server blows up? That is the question we asked ourselves at our headquarters this past Friday morning. Fortunately for us, the answer is YES. Shortly after most of us had just come into the office and started to get the coffee flowing and neurons firing, a strong natural gas smell began to permeate the office. We all quickly grabbed our things and headed outside. Within a few minutes, inhabitants of the entire office building were in the parking lot nervously milling about. We heard sirens and saw the fire department’s special operations brigade coming towards the building….
Most of our employees use our Hosted Business Email solution, but we also run a small server in our office (note–the network of servers that support our services are geographically dispersed throughout the country), mostly for file storage and for a few of the laggards who we have not yet migrated to the hosted platform. While we were in the parking lot waiting to see if our building was going to blow up, I began to think about what would happen to our business and the businesses of all of our building mates if the building actually did go up in flames. I knew that we would be fine. The data on our servers and computers is remotely backed up, we have disaster recovery enabled for our email users who are hosted on our mail server and we could essentially continue business without any interruptions. But, what about everybody else? From the looks on their faces, I do not think they had adequate data backup or email disaster recovery measures in place.
Luckily, the building did not blow up. As it turned out, there was a large spill of the liquid that is put into natural gas to make it smell bad about one-half of a mile upwind from our building. The smell carried into our air intake units and the building was inundated with a natural gas smell. The incident really got me thinking, though. We were close to pushing the “big red disaster recovery button,” which would have immediately switched our systems over. Even though we did not have to use it, I am more thankful than ever that we are ready to continue business in the face of any disaster. Of course, what if we did not have a rock solid messaging disaster recovery plan? What if we were like all of those other folks in the parking lot, terrified that the building might blow up and blow up their businesses with it. I guess I would not be writing about the incident…I would probably be scouring the web for a good disaster recovery service provider. But here is the biggest question–why didn?t they have a plan before today?
MxToolBox exists to keep business messaging flowing smoothly. We always say that while we are technically in the email services business, it is more appropriate to say that we are in the reliability business. Our messaging tools help administrators troubleshoot problems and our messaging services permanently solve problems. After several years in the industry, we know that nobody wants email problems, and everyone loves to solve them. But, what about the problems that don’t exist today? Some small Business IT service purchases are what you might call “reactive” purchases and others are more “proactive.”
Reactive service purchases are usually purchased as a reaction to a painful problem. For example, many of our spam, virus and blacklist solution clients became clients after one or all of these became a problem that could no longer be ignored. Likewise, many of our Hosted Email customers chose our solution only after their previous host messed up really bad, or their in-house mail server melted down at the worst time. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this approach, so long as anyone following it can accept that at some point in the future, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, there will be a painful, “my hair is on fire” type problem that will grind business to a halt and leave them desperately scrambling to marshal a solution.
On the other side of the coin, we have proactive purchases. These are purchases that are made to avoid a problem that is either non-existent, or not yet “to the level.” We have some spam, virus and blacklist solution and email hosting clients that fall into this category. Businesses in this category saw something they didn’t like on the horizon and moved to fix it before it caused them any pain. Our best example of a proactive service is Email Disaster Recovery.
The Disaster Recovery service is designed for organizations that manage an email server in-house and want an “email insurance policy” to ensure that if the mail server goes down they will not lose email. When a client adds Disaster Recovery to their service portfolio, they know that if their server goes down for any reason–natural disaster, fire, theft, loss of power, etc.–inbound email to that server will not be bounced into the ethers AND they will be given failover web mail access to continue sending and receiving email until the mail server is working again. Disaster Recovery for email servers is available as an add-on to our spam, virus and blacklist solution. Our most basic Disaster Recovery option is only $1 per user, per month. Yet, almost without fail, the majority of companies that buy the service are companies that have recently experienced catastrophic email failure and felt the dramatic impact that such failure has on a business.
It is not for nothing that email has been dubbed “the killer app.” Everybody knows that if email goes down for a substantial period of time, then business will suffer. For my money, 100 pennies a month per person is nothing for the email peace of mind I get with a rock solid email disaster recovery solution at the ready.
Note: Our Hosted Business Email clients automatically have bulletproof disaster recovery built-in to the service package.