Downtime is a dangerous thing for alarm monitoring centers and central stations. The effects can be catastrophic.
If your systems are down, even for mere minutes, you can’t provide your promised monitoring services. And it only takes one critical incident to destroy years of reputation building. One day, you’re a trusted name. The next, an unpredictable wildcard.
You simply can’t take chances with downtime. And yet, even the most meticulously guarded systems will occasionally go offline. So how do you mitigate potential damage?
In this article, we’ll explore downtime. Specifically, we’ll be looking at ways you can avoid it and, in worst-case scenarios, minimize it.
When it comes to downtime, the worst plan is no plan at all. Here’s what you need to think through before downtime affects your monitoring center or central station.
How to Improve Your Downtime Strategy
A downtime strategy is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a plan you can fall back on in the unlikely event of unavoidable downtime.
It’s not a pre-formed excuse. Instead, it’s pragmatic. After all, even the most stable system can experience hiccups.
Your downtime strategy needs to be multifaceted. It should focus on mitigating the potential effects of downtime. That includes responding quickly in the event that a downtime time incident does happen. But it should also focus on preventing incidents of downtime before they occur.
Below are 6 specific strategies for handling downtime at your alarm monitoring center.
1. Focus on Redundancy
If a single incident can wipe out your entire physical and digital infrastructure, then the danger of downtime is enormous. Even if your systems are well protected and robust, you simply shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Doing so puts your clients (and your business) at risk.
Redundancy provides you with a failsafe. Building redundancy into your infrastructure proactively mitigates potential instances of downtime—particularly catastrophic downtime events that could corrupt or erase valuable data.
Redundancy may not stop downtime, but it can dramatically lower the negative impact of many digital threats.
2. Gain Forward-Thinking Insight From Data
For too many businesses, including businesses in the security industry, downtime strategies are primarily reactive. The entire strategy is built around putting out fires and restoring systems.
While this can provide quick fixes and short-term solutions in dire situations, reactive strategies won’t stop downtime from happening in the first place.
Rather than relying exclusively on reactive measures (which should be a part of your downtime strategy), you should also give thought to getting out in front of potential threats. A data-driven approach can empower you to take action before your systems are taken offline to begin with.
Predictive solutions might include measures like:
- Machine learning to identify potential threats before they occur
- Regular system tests
- Frequent team meetings to discuss current security trends
- Thorough system maintenance on a documented schedule
- Self-conducted tests, like penetration testing, to ensure high levels of protection
While you won’t be able to predict every possible threat, thinking proactively will allow you and your team to make an important mental shift. Don’t be entirely reactive. Be proactive whenever possible.
3. Move Key Infrastructure Off-Premises
In today’s digitally-focused landscape, it can be easy to forget the physical side of things. But as you well know, all of your digital solutions are supported by a physical hardware infrastructure.
Business continuity isn’t just about defending against cyberattacks. Natural disasters and physical incidents (such as fire or theft) can just as easily create downtime. We’ve already discussed redundancy as an important part of your strategy. Moving your infrastructure off-premises is a key aspect of this.
A hybrid model can help you achieve the required level of redundancy while maintaining a high level of control and oversight. You get the best of both worlds, combining physical solutions with cloud structures.
4. Deploy Cloud-Based Monitoring Solutions
The cloud is a vital component of any redundancy strategy. Cloud servers are well protected from cyberattacks and physical incidents. Plus, modern cloud services are available at all levels of security and compliance. Even if you provide security for heavily regulated industries, there are cloud solutions available to you.
Monitoring solutions housed in the cloud give you the advantage of accessibility, redundancy and security.
And if your clients express hesitation about working in or with the cloud, this is a prime opportunity to proactively communicate. Take the time to explain the pros and cons of monitoring solutions that incorporate the cloud.
More than that, use this as an opportunity to get a leg up on your competition. Position yourself as forward-thinking and proactive.
5. Adopt a Schedule of Preventative Maintenance
Downtime prevention is not an “install and forget” solution. There is no permanent, long-term fix here. Instead, there needs to be an ongoing process of maintenance, assessment and reassessment.
This process increases your readiness even as the threat landscape evolves. It also helps your organization remain agile and flexible even as new dangers emerge.
We touched on this idea in tip #2, but the concept of maintenance warrants its own place on our list, as well.
That’s because maintenance is easily one of the least exciting aspects of any digital job. There’s nothing flashy or particularly engaging about it. If done well, it doesn’t even result in overtly identifiable results.
Systems stay online without incident. It’s hardly attention-getting.
And yet, you cannot afford to overlook it. When overlooked, any resulting downtime was entirely preventable. Make sure you focus on maintenance as an essential task. And make sure your team understands what’s at risk if your maintenance schedule isn’t adhered to.
6. Work With the Right Partners
We’ve looked at some of the more technical solutions that can help keep your alarm monitoring services up and running in the event of a disaster. However, there’s another strategy that has less to do with the technical side of things and more to do with the human element.
Make sure you’re working with the right partners.
Your alarm monitoring software and financial management solutions, for example, are critical aspects of your business. A software glitch can take your system offline just as easily as a cyberattack. And while a billing issue might not indicate downtime, it hurts your clients’ estimation of your stability and consistency.
Be sure these aspects of your business are handled by someone you trust to be just as reliable as you are.
Start Building Your Downtime Strategy
Neither you nor your clients can have peace of mind until your downtime strategy is strong.
If you haven’t built out a complete downtime strategy, start the process today. Even a quick meeting with key members of your team to get the conversation going is forward progress.
Downtime isn’t an issue … until it is. And by then, it’s too late to build a strategy.
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