Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are all about a company’s ability to survive and continue operations in the face of physical and environmental events, such as natural disasters (fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc), network outages, disgruntled employees and computer viruses. Critical business technologies – telephone, email, Internet, corporate applications, databases – must be included in the planning process to ensure corporate survival and continued operation.
The straightforward method for reducing the impact of these events is to position your critical technologies in a more secure and resilient environment. You can either invest in constructing your own environment or utilize a commercial facility. For small and medium-size businesses, the former is often costly, as it includes:
• Installing electrical generators
• Using uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)
• Improving cooling and fire protection
• Increasing physical security
• Maintaining redundant communication lines for voice, Internet and data traffic
Colocation refers to hosting your equipment at a commercial facility, specifically designed to provide the redundant services required to guarantee uptime. Properly designed colocation facilities provide redundancy in all environmental systems such as generators, UPS, HVAC and communications, along with greatly improved physical security.
Taking advantage of the benefits provided by a colocation facility requires rethinking how technology is deployed within your organization. Usage of a colocation facility can range from providing a secure “mirroring” location for corporate data and server “images” to housing all servers and PBXs.
In determining the value of colocation, design decisions focus on assessing the value versus the cost of having all technology components available and operational regardless of what happens to your company’s facilities. This assessment is then used to determine what should be moved to colocation.
Some companies, such as a manufacturer with a single facility housing all company operations, may benefit most by mirroring data and server images. Companies with multiple locations or whose revenue generation models are less tied to a single location, such as financial or sales-based organizations, will benefit more by moving all critical technology to a colocation facility.
The benefits of colocation were once available only to large corporations due to costs. Today, colocation, virtual servers (virtualization), data replication, remote computing, and large bandwidth communication pipes provide smaller organizations powerful new tools to address business continuity and disaster recovery needs.
Hurricane Ike convincingly demonstrated that available technology means little unless coordinated planning and preparation have preceded the need. Colocation and other tools should be considered when developing a plan, but the most critical component is having a plan.