Using Office 365 as a Disaster Recovery Tool

When a company’s faced with a disaster, communicating with customers, as well as coordinating the restoration efforts, are both high on the priority list.  Some of the first steps include contacting customers to alert them of the situation, contacting vendors and contractors to pull in the needed materials and services, and tracking a list of action items to ensure the other needed steps actually get done.  Office 365 enables companies to do this, and can be set up quickly and without any upfront cost.

In the case of a complete site failure, such as flood, fire, structural collapse, etc., key personnel need to be able to communicate with each other and with 3rd parties.  Chances are that they’re at remote sites, working from home, or even from a coffee shop.  Walking down the hall and having a chat isn’t an option.  They also need to share, store, and edit documents in an efficient manner.  Setting up an Office 365 trial account, configuring the users, and redirecting mail flow takes less than an hour.  Users will be able to instant message, share screens, audio chat, and video chat with Lync.  They can share and store documents, as well as manage project tasks, in SharePoint.  They’ll be able to email each other and their outside contacts with Exchange.  The trial’s good for 30 days for up to 25 users, which gives the business time to either rebuild their IT infrastructure or just stay on Office 365.

Another case where Office 365 is useful as a DR tool is when a company’s only email server crashes/dies.  Rather than taking many hours to recover the information store(s), just set up an Office 365 trial account and hook the users up to that.  If all the computers were running Outlook in cached mode, exporting their old mail to PST, then importing to Office 365 is a simple task.  The only things that would need to be recovered off the old server are the public folders, if they’re even being used at all.  The 30 day trial period would give the company time to recover their original server, build a new one, or stay on Office 365.

Having the ability to quickly and easily set up a communications platform in Office 365 makes it a great option for disaster recovery.  Businesses may want to consider incorporating this as part of their Business Continuity Plans.