We think that users of Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server (SBS) should reconsider their disaster recovery plans.
SBS enables you to have everything on one computer – but if that fails, all business services are lost at once. Failure could be caused by anything from a proper biblical-style fire, flood or act of God to a terrorist attack, significant hardware or software failure, malicious damage, a simple mistake, a server being stolen, malware, or a hacker attack.
Rebuilding SBS is difficult because it has a number of key applications that might otherwise be found on separate servers. This makes the rebuilding process is often longer and more complicated.
Only one copy of Active Directory controls user access, security controls and other key functions. Without Active Directory, nothing will work and if anything goes wrong with its restore it is difficult to diagnose.
SBS users need to factor in who will do this work, whether those staff would be available, and how long their business could do without all its computer systems before customers go elsewhere.
Companies that rely on SBS may have limited or no in-house IT support. Microsoft’s remedy in a server loss scenario is to recover from backups. On average, about 20 per cent of backups fail, and that can only be tried once the SBS is replaced or rebuilt. Rebuilding SBS can take up to 10 days, due to the application’s complexity.
With little IT support, it is also harder to do system maintenance and repetitive low-level tasks like server backups. If backing up is done consistently, the backed-up files may almost never be tested.
A managed disaster recovery offering could help a small business get back in control quickly. The service would also need to simplify the IT requirement rather than complicate it and use virtualisation technology to make it cost-effective.
Tim Dunger is director at Plan B DR
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