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How to Choose a Disaster Recovery Location

The issues surrounding the location of a back-up data storage facility are complex and numerous. Hint: don't overlook concerns about personnel.

A big part of disaster recovery is copying data and storing it away from the main data center. But where should one squirrel that second data center where it will be both safe and readily accessible? In other words, how far away is far enough? It is, by all accounts, a tricky question.

The question of how far is far enough arose after 9/11 when a significant area of Manhattan was shut down as a result of the horrendous terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings. Some estimates show as many as 18,000 businesses were affected. “All of the recovery vendor sites were filled to capacity” said Ginnie Stouffer, vice president of Consulting at IDC Partners.

Shortly thereafter, the question on appropriate distance was raised by The Security and Exchange Commission, The Federal Reserve and The Office of the Comptroller. They produced a 2003 position paper, Interagency Paper on Sound Practices to Strengthen the Resilience of the U.S. Financial System, that "suggested that 200 miles would be appropriate between the primary and secondary sites,” said Stouffer. But even that suggestion comes under question.

“A backup data center hundreds of miles away can't effectively mirror data in real time, so the risk of lost data between the last backup and the event is increased,” explained Bill Ashland, founder of Disaster Game―a game that helps organizations prepare for disasters by creating highly detailed event scenarios. 

“Disaster recovery site placement isn’t about the IT, it is about the disaster,” said Matt Podowitz, executive director of Business Advisory Services at Grant Thornton. “If the CEO lies awake at night worrying about the Mayan 2012 apocalypse, then the moon or Mars might be good, if impractical, choices for DR site locations. Fortunately, most business executives have a narrower and more realistic view of the disasters they want to hedge against.”

Read the rest at CIO Update.




Tags: data center, disaster recovery, data recovery, disaster recover, data center security


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