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Hot, warm, cold: What’s the best DR site for your company?

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Figuring out what kind of disaster recovery (DR) site your organization needs requires careful planning, and you will have to balance costs against any risks.

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One of the toughest disaster recovery (DR) issues to resolve -- and potentially one of the most expensive decisions in a DR plan -- is determining the type of recovery site your organization will use. The options (cold sites, warm sites and hot sites) can keep you awake at night as you try to figure out which one is best for your organization. The reality is that any of these options can help your organization recover from a disaster, and with some careful planning they can also help you protect critical data.

Recovery site options can vary significantly in cost; we’ll provide some guidance to help you determine the most appropriate recovery site setup, and also give you an idea of what you should expect to pay for private facilities and third-party services.

According to Ted Brown, CBCP, MBCI, CBCV, and president and CEO at KETCHConsulting, a business continuity (BC)/DR consultancy in Waverly, Pa., a good way to think of these various options is as alternate sites. “The development of alternate sites came from the need to protect data centers,” Brown said, and within each data center are hardware and software, physical facilities, a variety of systems and services, and operational/critical data needed to run the business.

There are two fundamental alternate site arrangements: internal and external. “If you have the need and the funding, you can design and build an internal recovery site, typically a second data center, to provide the resources you need to recover and resume data center operations following a disaster at the primary data center,” Brown said. Companies with very large information requirements and aggressive recovery time objectives (RTOs) are more likely to have internal recovery arrangements.

This was first published in January 2012

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