Planning for Business Continuity

Posted by Michael Lahoud on Tue, Mar 05, 2013 @ 09:33 AM

Business continuity planning is a key focus for corporate IT leaders.  While corporate data centers are one piece of a well-designed recovery plan, they often do not receive enough focus.  As more corporations embrace outsourcing data center operations as part of a business continuity plan, certain factors should be kept in mind.


The geographical location of corporate data centers is an obvious choice when designing a business continuity plan.  Typical focus is on distance between data center locations, which is a good practice dictated by factors such as corporate risk tolerance and regulatory compliance.  An additional locational attribute that should be considered is ease of site access.  Specific examples include:
  • Proximity to major airport to allow quick access from corporate offices
  • Multiple major roadways allowing for alternate routes to the site
  • Metro areas containing qualified third-party service providers to help support the recovery process.

These factors help to ensure that facilities used during a disaster event can be quickly and easily accessed by critical personnel. Additionally, thoughtful site selection in the data center development process ensures security and minimizes risk, two important factors in business continuity planning. Consider facility locations with no proximity to rail, flight paths or industrial uses, strict zoning, low seismic activity and access to robust power and fiber infrastructure.

Dedicated business continuity space within a data center provides additional protection. Plug-and-play facilities allow IT staff and call center employees to immediately deploy operations and provide ongoing services to customer and clients. Data centers that include dedicated office space and conference room facilities are designed to house IT staff, call center employees and additional team members during both short- and long-term crises. 
While many colocation providers have usable office space on site, it is often shared among multiple users and a “first come, first serve” configuration.  Controlling your own office space on site could be a critical component to a successful execution of a business continuity plan.

How well a data center facility is prepared to deal with a disaster is critical to your recovery plan’s success.  It is very important to question colocation providers you are considering.  While every credible operator has a well-designed facility, knowing its strengths and weakness will help end users better prepare.  Below are a handful of questions to ask that will act as a simple test of facilities business continuity planning:

  • What critical systems do you self-perform service on?
  • What is your guaranteed emergency response time for critical system repairs not self-performed?
  • Are critical spare parts inventories kept on site or in an accessible centralized depot?
  • Do you have provisions for emergency implementation of generators or chillers?
  • Are critical systems such as generators supported by a common shared backup or is your infrastructure completely self-sufficient?
  • What plans are in place for emergency fuel delivery?  Most facilities claim to have priority delivery services, but in the event of a major emergency the only guarantee is ample on-site fuel either through storage or contracted fuel truck placement.
In our opinion, the data center provider you select to support business continuity plans should be treated as an integral part of the process and a long-term partner.  Ask these difficult questions and expect concrete answers.

Take a tour of Stream’s fully-commissioned Private Data Center model to learn more.

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Tags: data center insights, disaster recovery, business continuity