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How close to build a redundant data center

By crackelb ·
This is a disaster recovery question. I'd like to know if there are any industry rules of thumb to advise us on the distance at which we should place a permanent local redundant data center. We want it to be close for staff convenience, but how close is too close? How many miles would "typically" be evacuated for a "typical" environmental hazard, for instance? Does anyone know of any good resources to consult on this topic?

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What type of data center

by TheChas In reply to How close to build a redu ...

Is this just off-site data storage?
Or, is the plan to move to this site for business continuity?

For business continuity, you may need to be farther away than you might think.

At a minimum, you want the second site to be served by a different power sub-station, if not a different high voltage main.
Same for the phone and internet connections.

Evacuation areas depend on many factors. Wind, specific chemical, available routes, etc.

IMHO, the bare minimum is 5 miles away.
Assuming the second location is up-wind of the primary site.


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Type of data center

by crackelb In reply to What type of data center

We intend to use this facility for storing live redundant mirrored applications, as well as failover infrastructure servers for active directory, email, telephony, mass storage, etc. We'll have a redundant SAN and enterprise archive as well. Additionally, we plan to use it as recovery space for applications that need to be attached to SAN storage (for which the huge masses of data to be recovered would otherwise be prohibitive in the needed timeframe), or for those having high band-width requirements so must be on our fiber network. We're a hospital - lots of radiology images. This facility may end up meeting any/all purposes including cold storage of equipment and backup tapes for more rapid recovery than we could achieve with storage with an off-site storage provider.

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Cheaper to get a provider like Sunguard than build

by JimHM In reply to How close to build a redu ...

Why build - when using something like SunGuard or one of the thousands of other DR providers do that for you ...

Thats a big waste of capital -

I would recommend something like a Sunguard service or one of the other DR providers..

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Consider Hazard Zones

by curtis_n94521 In reply to Cheaper to get a provider ...

Depending on what part of the country you are at, considering the area's exposure to different types of disasters is probably more important than distance. For example, CA needs to worry about earthquakes, so a DR site anywhere is CA is not ideal, if this is where your primary business is also located. East Coast needs to consider hurricanes. Check with your insurance company who should have this info readily available. But it also depends on the size of your operation. Also consider JimHM's post above. Not many folks create a DR site for DR's sake anymore. However, you can have multiple primary sites that are designed to back each other up. In this way, you are not having a large capital investment that essentially sits idle.

Good luck.

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Why build?

by crackelb In reply to Cheaper to get a provider ...

Some of my explanation above about our plans for the center may explain why we're considering a build vs. Sungard solution.

We're estimating this facility would need to be between 500-1200 square feet. IBM's price for a local facility is $70/s.f. Local leased data center space is around $20/s.f. Sungard doesn't have a local facility, and we need it to be on hospital fiber.

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JimHM, think again

by wordworker In reply to Cheaper to get a provider ...

SunGard's services aren't cheap. I know the company well and like most of the people I've met who work for them, but they're not by any stretch of the imagination going to be a less expensive solution for every company. At least if you build your own center, you have something left at the end of the day. With SunGard, it's all insurance money - you pay it whether you use it or not.

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Got to agree -

by SkipperUSN In reply to JimHM, think again

Sunguard is expensive for a dead center - and you got to wonder - what happens when two or three need the same center.

One of DR drills failed because Sunguard didn't have the facility. Now with HIPAA - the building needs to be more secure -

So from his post about being on the Fiber - that isn't as big an issue as HIPAA security over anything else.

His concern about Fiber connection can be handled without much problem - even from a sunguard site.

My recommendation is - list his major requirements - list his budget - is this going to be a dark site - then he could answer his own question... Or list them here and we don't have to guess - and what his needs are...

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More information needed!

by DamiantheX In reply to JimHM, think again

Before we can decide what's the best solution, we have to know what the parameters are.
How much down time is acceptible? What's the geographical location (flood plain/tornado alley/etc.)? What's the size of the data-center? How many bodies are available to the IT department?

If down time allows and depending on the software you are running, a substitute data-center can be assembled in about a day with as many as twenty computers (with IT pulling an all-nighter) while adding more each day. Put a backup domain controller in your network off-site, buy a spare 50 port switch, a 1000' box of cat5 cable, and a complete cabling kit. Keep these items with the BDC. Create a package that will allow you to install software FAST (one media per title, a list of software keys, the phone numbers to key software vendors, etc.) Do some research and find a local computer rental place that can guarantee the number of computers you will need to rent on a moment's notice. Also find a location that will meet your needs that will be available at the time you need it, too. Air conditioned warehouse space should suffice for a large center, just use long folding tables. The tricky part is communication. It generally takes about a month to have a T-1 installed. You might want to get in touch with your provider to see what the best option is. Depending on the size of the center, you might consider having a satellite dish on hand to handle about twenty computers. It'll be slow, but easy to install and it will give you Internet communication. This service will not cost a lot for a personal service account.

The most important factor to consider when planning a contingency plan is to determine the mission critical nature of your data-center to the businesses survival. Would your business survive if offline for a week? Would two days put your company in the ground? The longer you would have to build an offsite center, the less expensive your plan will be.

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..definitely more planning needed.

by ddt102 In reply to More information needed!

In order to find how much downtime is acceptable.. It will depend on your business processes, their importance, and what applications and services you provide them. Perform a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and define what is critical, necessary, and optional. Critical.. 4-24 hours, Necessary.. 24hrs to 3 days, Optional.. 3+ Days out..

As far as the substitute datacenter.. It seriously depends on your size. Remember it is your backup.. your only safety net. If your datacenter doesn't have proper facilities.. Power, Air Conditioning, Connectivity..(dist. to COs, availability of Fiber, etc..) your putting yourself at serious risk. The last thing you want to do is to throw together a DR DataCenter in an emergency situation. Just think that if you perform a DR to a warehouse.. and it has power issues or the Air Cond. systems haven't been maintained.. You could be trying rebuild your infrastructure in an unstable environment.

As far as renting computers.. If there is a significant disaster, everyone else in that vicinity will be also hitting up those computer rental vendors for computers.

As far as DR.. network infrastructure.. It depends on your purchasing power with Vendors. Exelon can get a T1 installed within 3 days. But

As far as performing "installs" with S/W.. I do recommend having a full copies of your software, patches, and customization at your DR site. However, what are you doing to do about customization of configuration, additional work by integrators/developers.. In the majority of cases, it is just not keeping a good inventory of your s/w, but having a complete DR/Backup strategy by Application. In some cases, it is easy to rebuild a box & install S/W on it.. in others.. you really want to perform a full recovery. If it is TOO complex to rebuild from scratch.. take the necessary time, work out the procedures, and perform tests..

Again.. perform a BIA, review your architecture deeply, analyze the critical components and their recovery, setup a DR site in advance with possible matching hardware, store away system images (refresh often), configurations, at your DR site. Once you realize what systems and components are critical.. you then have the key requirements for your DC.

Plan wisely

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FEMA says no closer than 1.6 miles

by wordworker In reply to How close to build a redu ...

FEMA recommends putting an alternate data center no closer than 1.6 miles from your main center.

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