How long could your organization afford to go without access to its data or IT systems? If you don’t have a disaster recovery and business continuity strategy, it might take days or even weeks to restore your IT systems following a major business disruption such as a fire, flood, equipment failure or ransomware attack.
Almost all organizations today depend on their data, software and the internet to conduct business. When those resources are unavailable, business grinds to a halt. Smart CIOs have disaster recovery and business continuity strategies and are prepared to quickly move business operations to a hosting or colocation facility when a natural or manmade disaster threatens.
Colocation is Safer by Design
Colocation is not a new concept, but one that has become more popular as concerns over cyber-attacks and climate change have grown. CEOs and CIOs want to achieve IT resilience, so their companies can continue to operate despite disruptions. IDC defines IT resilience as “the ability to protect data during planned disruptive events, effectively react to unplanned events, and accelerate data-oriented business initiatives.” Colocation helps to ensure IT resilience by providing disaster-resistant infrastructure along with redundant IT systems, power and networking. Colocation providers often have emergency office space and support services for customers who can’t access their office.
Moving a company’s primary IT equipment or backup systems to a colocation facility is an attractive option for any CIO worried about disaster recovery but is reluctant to invest CAPEX or financial resources to build, staff and maintain a private, disaster-proof, data center.
Having a colocation partner that is experienced in disaster preparedness can be a relief when a major event – such as a Category 4 hurricane, happens. Just ask Sam Bayer, CEO of Corevist, an ecommerce platform provider for manufacturers. Located in Raleigh, NC, the company has weathered several major storms in the past few years.
“Hurricanes in the area cause us and our customers a lot of stress,” noted Bayer.
When Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, came ashore in 2018, Bayer was able to reassure customers that the IT systems were safe and secure in TierPoint’s resilient data center in Raleigh.
“We had confidence because [TierPoint’s people] were managing the situation,” said Bayer.
In fact, Corevist suffered no downtime at all, despite the storm causing $17 billion in damage elsewhere in the state.
Why Colocation Works Well for Disaster Recovery
The main benefits of colocation for disaster recovery are:
Cost - One of the great advantages to colocation is that it allows multiple businesses to share in the cost of facility maintenance and operations. Many colocation facilities also provide office desk space, dedicated suites, phone services, internet connectivity and other essential equipment for daily business operations if a customer’s office becomes unavailable.
Physical resilience - In a natural disaster, a colocation facility will be much better equipped to protect IT systems and data than the average company can afford to be. It should also have redundancy built throughout the IT infrastructure, including: utility transformers, automatic transfer switches, redundant diesel generators, multiple power feeds from two or more electrical substations, redundant chilling units, several UPS systems, and diversely routed fiber feeds and connectivity to other carrier-class network providers. Depending on your geographic region, look for evidence it is built to withstand local disasters, such as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane and EF4 or 5 tornadoes.
The provider should be certified on IT industry standards such as:
- ISO 22301, an international standard for business continuity management for natural and man-made disasters, environmental accidents and technology failures.
- The Uptime Institute’s Tier certifications for Tier IV-fault tolerant site infrastructure or Tier III-concurrently maintainable site infrastructure
- Trusted Site Infrastructure (TSI) – a list of requirements on ten different areas of a data center including areas such as environment, construction, fire-handling, security, cabling, energy, air, organization and documentation.
Advanced security - Good colocation facilities have advanced security features. Physical security should include 24-hour electronic monitoring and onsite staff, locked cages for customer equipment and access controlled by two-factor authentication, such as an ID card and PIN or biometric scan. Two security standards that providers should meet are:
- The Center for Internet Security best practices on privacy and security.
- ISO 27001 -- Information Security Management System (ISMS) for managing sensitive company information.
A colocation provider may also offer managed security services such as managed firewall service, advanced threat detection, DDoS defense, traffic scrubbing, and automatic mitigation of cyberattacks and other IT security problems. Managed security services can help IT departments stop cyberattacks before they do major damage in prevention and mitigation of threats.
Improve your Resilience Against Disasters
IT resilience is a critical factor in business success. Downtime can cost a company in lost revenues as well as loss of customer trust and damage to the brand image. IT resilience and business continuity in the event of storms, fires, floods and cyber-attacks are why many CIOs are turning to colocation as a key element of their disaster recovery plan.