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How Much Distance Should You Have from your Disaster Recovery Site?


Assigning the correct distance to a disaster recovery site seems like a bit of a “solve for x” word problem from algebra class:

Jesse’s primary production center is in Y. He wants a disaster recovery plan that is X miles away, one that is reachable by his staff, has separate power supplies, utility services and redundant network paths. Yet this location should not be situated in the same geographic path of the disaster.

How many miles away should Jesse’s DRM be? Solve for X.

An additional challenge is there are no constants: the values for each company are different, even when you compare your disaster recovery plans to those in the office suite across the hall.

So how do you solve for X? How much distance should you have?

Variables to Consider in Identifying the Correct Distance

Gartner research cites the following considerations for good site selection:

  1. Has separate power supplies
  2. Utility services
  3. Location situated outside the geographic path of natural disasters
  4. Redundant network paths
  5. Reachable by staff

At Peak 10, we encourage our clients to:

  1. Prioritize a separate and stable power grid over whether or not the site is reachable by your staff. The beauty of the cloud is that you can be 50 or hundreds of miles away.
  2. Also consider compliance, as that may dictate how far you can go.

98-99% of our clients at least want to be out of the facility – a 50 mile minimum is a good rule of thumb.

Company-centric challenges to evaluate

  1. Again, compliance plays a role – specifically, HIPAA and PCI certifications.
  2. Also consider what kind of DR site you need: a “warm” site or an active/active one.
  3. How much capacity to failover. While 100% failover sounds ideal, there’s a cost attached. As a cost-savings measure, some clients identify key systems: accounting, billing, compliance, etc. Many companies failover only 30-50% for this reason.
  4. How much legacy hardware you have.
  5. Business needs

How a good managed services partner can enable you to solve for X in DR

  1. Guide you through all the above variables
  2. Help you identify a good distance for a second site location
  3. Help you identify a decision-maker to lead DRM
  4. Ask disclosure questions that may not have been considered regarding compliance, legacy applications, external email, security, and cost-saving measures
  5. Exercise your DR plan regularly.

Partnering with a grounded and collaborative disaster recovery provider who knows your challenges can give you a much-needed, independent POV when you need it most: during a disaster. They can help you weigh the variables in calculating the correct distance for your DR site, provide you with alternatives in terms of location, cost, or capacity, and be a true partner on the road to restoration.

Successful failover is only half the equation

A successful failover site is only half the equation: The other half is designing a successful failback strategy, because failover is not a permanent state. Successful failback commences once failover is achieved, and even in the best of scenarios, that’s usually a stressful time.

If failover is algebra, failback is closer to calculus, because failback largely depends on the engagement that caused activation of your disaster plan. In some cases, you can’t failback to the original production site, so decisions must be made quickly, so it’s also important to know whether your DR provider’s mission is to obtain your production workload, or whether they’re a true partner who prioritizes your objectives over their own.

The good news is when you’re in the cloud, whether the subject is failover or failback, you’ve always got a failsafe in the event of disaster. You’ve studied, you’ve run drills, and you’re in great shape to get an A in math.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest