It’s of vital importance to have your company’s data and mission critical systems protected and accessible before, during and after a disruptive event. We have all seen the dollar amounts associated with downtime, but for a number of reasons many organizations continue to adopt the approach “we will be OK.”

According to the 2010 hurricane forecasts, this is not the year to assume you will be OK. We are already seeing activity with Hurricane Alex.

U.S. meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center released the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season forecast calling for a very active season with 18 named storms, including 10 hurricanes. The leading research team for hurricanes based at Colorado State University provided additional support of this forecast by stating of those 10 hurricanes, five were expected to develop into major hurricanes.

Whether you believe the probability of the research or not…the real question is if your organization is ready for a repeat of some of the past events to hit the Texas Gulf Coast?

Have you made the necessary plans to continue operations regardless of the severity of the disaster?

This season is going to be an active one, so make sure you have answered the following questions and backed up those answers with a written plan that has been exercised through real-time DR drills.

Are your assets protected and backed-up?

Be prepared. When an event occurs, you can rest easy knowing your job is not at stake because your company will not be able to access the applications or data it needs to continue operations. Or even worse, that data will be lost or destroyed.

Have you verified the effectiveness of your emergency response?

This takes practice. As a youth sports coach, I tell athletes that practice doesn’t make for perfect play, but rather “perfect practice” makes for perfect play. In the case of youth sports, millions of dollars is not at risk. When it comes to your organization, it is.

Have you mitigated your risks?

Not everyone has the financial resources to guarantee zero downtime, but you can minimize the risks your company is willing to take. One example is the location of your IT infrastructure. The costs are relatively the same to have your IT assets in a data center, a safe distance from the Gulf Coast, versus housing them onsite. Yet many organizations have not mitigated this risk.

Are you ready to continue doing “business as usual” when an event occurs?

Think business continuity, not disaster recovery. In most cases, a disastrous event is not long in duration, but the aftermath and clean-up can take days and even weeks. If prepared, your only concern will be for your own personal belongings and not whether your company can continue to access and use applications, which drive the business.

If you are part of an organization that deemed yourself lucky following events such as Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike or Allison, then hopefully you have heeded the warning and are completely prepared for a repeat. Based on this year’s forecast, a repeat seems more likely than ever. With the proper planning you and your organization can be one of the success stories.