How Secure Is Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disasters, we never exactly plan for them to occur, but we should!

By the very nature of most disasters, recovery can take some time. Even with the best laid plans, without a complete and tested Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP), most small businesses would struggle to ever get back to where they were before disaster struck.

What should you be backing up?

At the very least, all vital and operational documents, registers, and databases, including your Accounting package, should be backed up on a nightly basis.

A solid DRP for a small business would include a combination of onsite and offsite (cloud) backup solutions.

A Network Attached Storage Unit (NAS) of 1 or 2TB in size would suffice most businesses, which if the backup is set to Incremental, these units will usually hold up to 3 to 6 months worth of data.

The onsite incremental backup should be set to run every night, and should also backup the company email store.

A combination of the onsite as well as an offsite solution should be adopted for an all round DRP.

Your insurance company will love you for it.

Getting back to business following a disaster

Depending on the severity of the disaster, you could still find yourself requiring cash flow to purchase new computers and servers on which to operate, well ahead of the insurance company coming to inspect your site.

Add to this, sourcing replacement copies of your software and if necessary, serial numbers, etc.. You then need to factor in the time and costs to have all of the software reinstalled and configured.

Getting up and going again can be a real challenge, and most small businesses would simply not be able to cope, with limited cash flow available at such a time.

How can I best shield my business from disasters and make recovery easy?

The simplest solution to an all round protection policy available to all businesses large and small, is to operate as much of your business via a Cloud Provider.

Generally speaking, your email (unless you host your own Exchange server) and your internet banking, are two protocols you already operate via the cloud.

Why not consider your accounting package, via QuickBooks Hosted or Cashbook Online, Xero or Saasu, amonst others.

For your Office documents, you may consider Office365 (which offers virtual Exchange hosting), or a free solution such as Google Docs.

Quicker recovery via the cloud

Via any of the above cloud solution pr0viders, or you may choose a Private Cloud solution to host all of your business requirements, getting back online need be as easy as going to your local Internet Cafe or logging on via your iPad or home PC.

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Cloud POS Coming To A Handheld Near You Thanks To Reckon Limited

Reckon Limited, an Australian ASX listed software provider, best known for its Quickbooks range of products, is after more than just the bookkeeping market in Australia.

Shown today, exclusively to Cloud For Profit, at Reckon’s National Accredited Partner Conference in Hobart, was Reckon’s mobile Point of Sale offering. Reckon have produced the desktop version of Point of Sale for some time, however a mobile solution was always the vision of Business Division CEO Gavin Dixon.

Until now, the technology required to run such a solution was not in the price point of the majority of Reckon’s customers and did not fit the vision, of being on any device, not just multi thousand dollar clunky PDA’s.

In speaking with Reckon, Senior Business Analyst Simon Hutchinson commented, “this is going to change retail, from your tradesmen looking for a simple solution to send an invoice from their van, to the coffee cart at kid’s soccer matches, to the more traditional bricks and mortar, we can now provide them all with a cost effective mobile solution”. Gavin Dixon then commented, “and best of all, our customer’s don’t need any new hardware, they can run POS on their iPhone, HTC, Samsung Galaxy or Blackberry device”.

We tested the mobile POS Solution on our own Samsung Galaxy Note, and it was as if the product was made for the 5.3″ screen size.

The above screen shot demonstrates us processing a sale on the POS Terminal. We could also make use of the S-Pen which made the perfect tool for selecting products from the POS item list.

“Custom templates are our next project” relayed Hutchison, “I want to design templates to suit various device screen sizes, from iPod Touch, to Galaxy S II,  to Note and the 7″ and 10″ tablets.”

And not only is the Terminal going to the mobile platform, but also the Administrator back end, which allows for Management to monitor various terminal sales, close and open terminals, and transfer data to and from their QuickBooks accounting software.

The shot above demonstrating the sales each terminal is making.

“Traditionally another highly requested feature of POS users, was multiple location. Logistically this was previously a challenge due to the nature of the relationship between POS and Quickbooks, well not anymore, as we have hosted and link POS to Quickbooks on our Cloud Platform”, added Dixon.

So in terms of monitoring your terminals, these terminals could be anywhere in the World, being monitored from your Android device.

All you have to do is relax!

Reckon will be releasing the mobile POS solution sometime in Q2 2012.

Be sure to follow as this product nears its release cycle.

Profiting From The Cloud For Small Business

We are in very exciting times for small business. SMB’s who embrace the cloud and all it offers them, will benefit greatly and be infinitely more profitable than their competitors in more ways than one.

INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS

For most small businesses, employing staff is a costly exercise. Often the employee’s only tools, their computer and desk, are an after thought. Provided with ageing equipment and expired software is not conducive to high productivity levels. Most employers miss the mark here and fail to see the advantages gained by implementing new computers with modern software. The software costs alone usually outweigh the hardware costs, so most SMB’s won’t upgrade if they don’t have to.

SCALABILITY

By adopting a suitable Cloud solution, scaling up or down staff numbers could be as simple as a small increase on a monthly rental fee. The employee is mobile and productive from day one without the need for an IT Administrator to have spent many hours configuring a workstation.

The employee is happier working on the latest software versions they have been trained on and are instantly on their game. In fact, cloud is the perfect environment for clever business owners to implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. Many studies show that BYOD produces happier staff. Why not show you are modern and flexible and implement a salary sacrifice or employee device rental scheme that enables staff to purchase and own their own devices? It keeps the staff happy and lowers your TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). No software or data is loaded actually on the staff members device hence lowering security risks of the employee owning the gadget of their choice to work on.

UPDATE EFFICIENCIES

Another bug bear for small businesses perhaps already struggling with keeping margins competitive and still showing the Balance Sheet in the black, is software upgrades.

Keeping software up to date is expensive. Not only the physical cost of purchasing the upgrades or maintaining multiple software subscriptions, but the added cost of either an after hours IT visit, or facing the prospect of having your work force down for a couple of hours to a day whilst the upgrades are performed. Both of these situations drive costs through the roof and are less than desireable.

By operating in the cloud, small business can sigh the sweet sound of relief. Updates are pushed out by the cloud vendor while the SMB and its staff are at home fast asleep. Staff arrive in the morning, and just work.

PRODUCTIVITY

For many years, SMB’s just couldn’t compete with their larger, more agile, ERP equipped competitors.

Even a couple of years ago, the thought of an SMB mobilising its workforce on iPads, or introducing a real BYOD policy would have been simply a pipe dream.

Today, through SMB speciality cloud vendors such as Reckon Limited, with their QuickBooks and growing Hosted range of products, sales force mobilisation, online warehouses and working from literally anywhere in the world are a reality; and are allowing the more savvy SMB’s to operate on the same turf previously occupied only by the SAP and Netsuite boys.

CLOUD FOR PROFIT

Many small business owners are facing increasing pressures to their bottom lines, from fluctuating currencies, to squeezing margins and employee expectations and loyalty.

Now is the time for small business to adopt the cloud and embrace all it offers as a tool for Growth, Flexibility and ultimately – Profit.

About the author

Nathan Elcoate is a Small Business IT Specialist Consultant, based in Southport, Queensland, Australia.

With over 20 years in Operational Accounting and IT Support and Domain Admin, Nathan is now Director of Axis IT Consulting Pty Ltd, a boutique Accounting Software consultancy firm that is part of the RWG Accountants & Advisors Group.