By Scott Hoffman, IT Director – Burnett Staffing Specialists / Choice Staffing Services
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity have both been popular buzzwords lately. With Mother Nature playing havoc with our surroundings with what seems to be regularity, most companies have been looking very seriously at, or implementing a disaster recovery plan to protect their mission critical data. According to Symantec, “57% of SMB’s do not have any type of Disaster Plan, and 41% of those companies have never even thought about it”. Most people wouldn’t think of driving a car without insurance, or visit a doctor without making sure that they were covered first. If you haven’t implemented a disaster recovery plan, or haven’t even thought about it, you need to. If all of your company’s data were lost, how would it affect you? Would you still be in business?
Most companies that do not have any type of disaster plan cite high cost as the biggest deterrent. The fact is; you don’t need to have a fully hot DR site in order to insure that your business can continue in the event of a disaster. My company decided 10 years ago that we needed to have a business continuity plan that would allow us to recover from a disaster that took out our corporate data center. Our budget would not allow us to mirror our entire data infrastructure to a hot site synchronously. We decided that if we lost our data center, we could be down for a short period of time while we transitioned over to our disaster site. By allowing for a short period where the company would be unable to access our computers, we saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware and telecommunication costs.
Our data is mirrored asynchronously from our primary data center to our DR site in a colocation center. Colocation centers (sometimes called carrier hotels) are a type of data center where multiple customers install network, server and data storage devices, and interconnect to a variety of telecommunications and other network service provider(s). Asynchronously mirroring our data to our DR site in a colocation center allows us to use less bandwidth between the sites and use less costly hardware to store the data. The data that is being transferred may be a few minutes behind real time, but we would only have to roll back a few minutes instead of days or weeks if we have to actually resort to rebuilding our environment and restoring from tape backup. Disaster Recovery doesn’t have to include a colocation facility. If your budget doesn’t allow for a replication of your computing environment, then just mirroring your data to an offsite vendor may give you the peace of mind you need.
Here in Houston, we have the added concern of hurricanes and tornados, but data centers continue to evolve with the environment. There are data centers in the Houston area that can withstand a category 5 hurricane. There is even one that is built 60 feet underground in an abandoned nuclear fallout shelter! Whatever level of protection you need, there are facilities able to accommodate you.
A disaster plan needs to incorporate more than just what is going to happen to your data in the event of a disaster. You need to plan for what you are going to do if your office is not accessible. Where are your employees going to be, and how will you get a hold of them? What safety precautions need to be made to make your working environment as safe as it can be? Make sure that your procedures are recorded and disseminated to the people who need to follow them. No matter your size, budget, or exposure level, it is important to mitigate your exposure to any disaster.
For further information, do a Google search for disaster recovery facilities in your town.