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To survive the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are expanding or creating new teleworker positions. This rapid and widespread deployment is stressing technology infrastructure and exposing deficits at every level. The deficits range from a poor internet connection on the employee’s end to inadequate bandwidth at the service site or out-of-date software and hardware. Sometimes it’s all the above.

These issues pose an immediate threat and long-term challenge to West Virginia businesses and our broader economy. If employees can’t work remotely, business productivity and revenues decline, firms fail, and jobs are lost. In the short-term, businesses experiencing these issues should consult with their information technology professional, address the problems, and get their business on a path to operational effectiveness.

Alpha Technologies is working to address this growing challenge through the West Virginia Work Remote Connection (WV-WRC) Initiative. This program offers secure servers and connectivity to any small- to medium-sized West Virginia business, at no cost, for 90 days. Alpha Technologies will host, either physically or virtually, a business’s server(s) at Alpha’s federally secured data center in South Charleston, install any necessary software to enable the business and remote worker to connect, provide voice/video services, if desired, and offer technical assistance and training to get them online. After the initial 90-day term, Alpha Technologies will restore them to their previous state of operation or, based on need, extend the program.

Professional service firms generally need for their employees to work remotely, access and share files securely, collect personally identifiable information (PPI), conduct video meetings and route business calls through a remote receptionist. These are all specific needs requiring individual solutions.

Let’s say you’re a furniture store or a company that sells products customers typically come to the store to see. How do you continue operations in an environment where customers can’t visit your business? Do you have the technology infrastructure in place to more substantially move your business online by offering video tours and product photos? If so, are you able to effectively communicate with customers virtually?

Large companies or government agencies processing immense amounts of data require significant server capacity and multiple power and internet redundancies to safeguard against business interruption while protecting their information.

The COVID-19 crisis points to the critical need for all businesses to have a disaster recovery plan in place to assure business continuity. Each business or organization is unique, and a disaster recovery plan should address each business’s own specific challenges. A disaster recovery plan for technology infrastructure is based on assessing what a business needs to effectively continue operations.

As a scuba diving hobbyist, I learned long ago that you always plan your dive and then dive your plan. You need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get back in case something goes wrong. Disaster recovery planning is no different.

While the circumstance we find ourselves in today appears grim, I believe West Virginia — with the benefit of hindsight, planning and preparedness — will come out stronger because of it. We, at Alpha Technologies, will do all we can for a state that has blessed us with so much.

Doug Tate is the president and chief executive officer of Alpha Technologies, a service-disabled, veteran-owned information technology firm headquartered in Hurricane, W.Va. The company operates the largest commercially owned data center in the state offering multiple power/internet redundancies to safeguard against business interruption.