Business site availability through redundancy is a critical component of disaster recovery planning. The three basic site redundancy strategies include hot site, warm site and cold site plans. All three sites replace an organization’s place of business should a major disaster or other outage render the organization unable to operate at their current location. Regardless of the strategy type employed, geographically locating redundant sites a safe distance away from the current place of business determined by the types of disasters known to occur in the area.
Of the three strategies, the hot site strategy provides the quickest disaster response time by enabling the organization resume operations at the hot site within hours. A hot site is the most expensive of the three options. Hot sites require a complete duplication of server hardware and organization business systems along with pre-configured, up to date software and information maintained at the hot site, in some cases on a 24 hour basis (via frequent data replication over a secure, high bandwidth WAN connection). Hot sites are usually best suited for short-term alternate locations due to the cost and configuration.
For organizations that can afford some down time, the warm site strategy offers a set of unique advantages. A warm site is similar to a hot site in that all the same server and other system hardware required for a hot site is also required for a warm site. The difference is that the warm site is not pre-configured nor synchronized regularly. Instead, should the organization require warm site services, administrators have to power up the systems, apply software and restore backups from the main site, configure the network systems and perform other preparations for warm site operation before the organization can resume business at the warm site. Some of the advantages of a warm site include the lower cost of not having to regularly maintain the fail-over site on a daily basis. Another advantage is that omitting server and other system hardware that is not absolutely critical to bring up the backup site may further reduce the warm site cost. In addition, a warm site can also serve as an excellent location for testing backup restoration (which should also be part of the disaster recovery plan testing).
Cold sites are appropriate for organizations that can successfully manage a longer recovery transition of up to two weeks and that require the most cost-effective recovery site available. A cold site provides just a location where the organization can resume operations, but without the network infrastructure, server hardware and other necessities needed for the organization to conduct business. A cold site may take days to configure rather than hours before the organization can resume operations at the cold site. However, in addition to being more cost-effective, a cold site is generally better suited for situations in which the organization requires a long-term stay before complete recovery of the organization’s main site necessary to resume operations.
If your organization is not yet protected by a disaster recovery plan, contact us to develop a strategy and plan that prepares your business to survive the inevitable.