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

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Work-area recovery

A major issue today is work-area recovery, which focuses more on getting people back to work than just getting systems up and running. It’s the biggest

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growth area in the alternate site business, according to Brown, who estimates there are approximately 1,000 vendors offering work-area recovery. People are a major planning consideration in traditional alternate sites and the primary concern with work-area recovery.

Where will your people work if their primary offices are unavailable? Unless your employees can safely use telecommuting and similar remote-access arrangements, they must be willing to relocate, even temporarily, to another site. According to Brown, a major issue that nobody truly thinks about is what happens if people bring their children to a work-area recovery center. Parents may not be able to (or want to) leave their children with someone while they work at a distant recovery location for what might be an extended time.

Major aspects of work-area recovery deal with human resources issues. “Should the possibility of working in another area for an extended period of time be added to job descriptions?” he asked. Another issue is whether employees should be required to participate in tests.

According to Brown, most major organizations in the public and private sectors have good IT recovery plans. “What they don’t have are good work-area recovery plans for employees, contractors and other staff,” he said. There’s also the issue of senior management’s perception of the value of alternate sites.

Additional points for consideration

Alternate sites should be located far enough away from primary offices so that they’re less likely to be affected by the same disaster/ failure events that have put the main facilities out of service. The issues of site proximity, operational risks and service-level agreements (SLAs) should be considered when contracting with disaster recovery service providers.

Alternatives to traditional alternate sites discussed in this article include colocation facilities, in which your organization can locate disaster recovery equipment in the same building as major service providers, such as telecommunications carriers; and cloud-based recovery services, in which alternate site facilities are located within the “cloud.”

BIO: Paul Kirvan is an independent consultant/IT auditor and technical writer/editor/educator with more than 22 years of experience in business continuity and disaster recovery.

This was first published in January 2012

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