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Disaster recovery site options

Calculating the cost of DR

Determining the cost of DR is company-specific, and the many variables make it difficult to devise a formula to calculate a DR cost for a given environment. In general, the cost of DR includes the cost for physical space, equipment, power, and network and professional services. But the cost of each of those components can vary greatly. "We have tried to put together a TCO tool, but data centers are too different and our DR options are so customized that it's very difficult to come up with a cost calculator," says David Palermo, vice president of marketing at SunGard Availability Services.

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp.'s Affordable Business Continuity (ABC) product is one of the few packaged DR kits that includes storage, hosting and bandwidth for a fixed cost of $190,000. The ABC kit includes two Eternus 4000s with 3 TB of raw storage each, replication software and one year of hosting with bandwidth. Fujitsu's professional services works with customers on customized bundles and assists with determining the required server infrastructure (servers aren't included in the bundle).

DR site options

The prevailing options for DR sites are remote-office locations, collocation space and DR service providers' data centers.

Remote-office location and collocation space: Companies with multiple locations frequently use their remote data centers as DR sites. Leveraging existing facilities and infrastructure

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is a very cost-efficient DR option. For companies with multiple locations, but not multiple data centers, collocation space offered by providers like Equinix Inc., Savvis Inc. and telcos, may be a good alternative. Collocation facilities are relatively cost effective and usually provide first-class space with sufficient power, bandwidth and high facility standards.

Cost was the primary reason why Matt Blydenburgh, CIO at Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP, New York City, used collocation space in Connecticut for the firm's hot site. Blydenburgh uses Double-Take Software Inc.'s Double-Take to replicate data from the firm's New York City location to its hot site in Connecticut. "We looked at managed disaster recovery services from companies like SunGard, but it was very expensive," says Blydenburgh. "We now pay $1,800 for space and another $1,600 for bandwidth for both sites."

Managed DR service providers: Managed DR services providers like HP, IBM, Recovery Point Systems and SunGard are dedicated to disaster recovery and are hard to beat in the quality of service they provide. But they're not cheap. To get a fair price comparison between a managed service and using in-house DR facilities, it's essential to take into account all cost components, including the cost of dedicated DR staff.

With 155 DR data centers worldwide, IBM is the largest managed DR firm. Similar to HP, IBM can source all DR components from within IBM. With 30 U.S. and 30 European data centers, and approximately 12,000 customers worldwide, SunGard is also a major player in the managed DR space. Prior to its acquisition of EDS, HP was focused mostly on providing managed DR for companies using HP equipment, but HP is now playing at the same level as IBM. Smaller DR services firms have the advantage of flexibility and are more willing to wheel and deal to win a contract.

Even in financially challenging times, you should never walk away from DR because you can't afford a certain DR tier. Instead, go with a lower, less-expensive tier that gives reasonable protection for the available budget. Not having a DR plan should never be an option.

This was first published in January 2009

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