The Recovery site is sometimes also referred to as the Alternate Site, Standby Site or Fallback Site.
Recovery sites can function purely as a standby data centre for your IT systems or they can be for business recovery as well, with desks, phones, desktop computers, meeting rooms and other facilities.
The data centre equipment and also the business recovery seats can be dedicated, by that meaning, totally reserved for your use only or shared, meaning first come first served in the event of a disaster. Which is why the ratio of clients to equipment is important as is the formula for how many clients from a given geographical area they subscribe to their ‘shared’ facility is as well.
One key decision when determining the most effective Business Continuity Strategy for an organization is the maximum readiness level of the recovery site (cold, warm, hot) that is required.
A cold recovery site is a facility that already has in place the environmental infrastructure required to recover critical business functions or information systems, but does not have any pre-installed computer hardware, telecommunications equipment, communication lines, etc. This scenario has the longest lead time to restoring live services because the equipment must be provisioned and setup after the event.
A warm recovery site is a site which is equipped with some hardware, and communications interfaces, electrical and environmental conditioning which is only capable of going live after additional provisioning, software or customization is performed, and the restoration of a database backup into the environment.
A hot recovery site is a facility that already has in place the computer, telecommunications, and environmental infrastructure required to recover critical business functions or information systems. Typically the organization’s data is synchronized to the hot site so that it can be switched across into live operation in a very short time, almost instantaneously in some instances. Because the data is mirroring at the data centre instantaneously or very frequently, the level of data loss in this scenario is usually minimal.
How to determine which type of recovery site is right for you?
Arising from your Business Impact Analysis, the Maximum Tolerable Outage for your business functions will give you the requirements by when the systems need to be up and running. The Recovery Point Objective, or the amount of acceptable data loss will help to inform these requirements as well. The right balance needs to be struck between the cost of the recovery solution and the cost of data loss, delays and downtime if you had to wait days or weeks to recover the systems.
This is why a wholistic, comprehensive Business Impact Analysis, involving the right business stakeholders and sponsored by Executive management is essential in order to determine the business continuity recovery strategy for your organization.