The appropriate dimension of the Alternate Data Center


Sometimes we meet at meetings where we are asked: What is the appropriate size of the alternate data processing center?

From experience we know that it is a fairly common question.

It involves developing an appreciable budget for this center that will be defended before senior management who will not always feel comfortable observing the scenarios and the expenses to be incurred.

Initial considerations

Given this feeling of early rejection, those responsible for sizing the center begin to consider that the appropriate proportion should be the minimum.

This consideration may be the beginning of a series of errors that will lead to an unfortunate end in the design of alternate data centers.

This is because you really should not consider the minimum, but the basics.

That which allows to be able to restore the critical and fundamental processes of an organization.

These processes are not always the ones that can make the most money lose to organizations, they can also be those that can severely affect their reputation.

That is why we must consider the following aspects:

• Identification of business processes and assets that require more protection
• Determine the costs of losing these assets or that an interruption is generated for a time that exceeds the optimal recovery time
• Identify recovery strategies and alternatives for different recovery scenarios
• Determine the detailed engineering to establish the cost of the infrastructure to be placed in the alternate center

Let’s check point by point

The first three points do not represent a major problem for those who have had experience in the development of contingency plans related to business and technology processes.

The critical point is that related to the design of the detailed engineering and the expense that must be executed to acquire the necessary infrastructure that will make the recovery process feasible, covering / mitigating the greatest number of interruption scenarios.

When this step is reached, we find a conflict between those responsible for sizing the alternate center and the desire of business units.

It is not simple to set the balance point between what is required by the units of the given business, usually in the optimal recovery times (RTO) of point 1 and the expense to satisfy said RTO.

Business units tend to be inflexible in terms of modifying and expanding their rto’s.

However, they do not feel committed to the investment that must be made to recover the processes in the required times.

Similarly, one of the mistakes made by the designers of the architecture of the alternate center is that they do not clearly specify the point of balance between the losses caused by the interruption of business operations and the investment required to satisfy That point.

An additional aspect that should be considered is the optimal recovery point (RPO), which allows to determine in detail the backup and recovery practice as well as the retention time applied by the organization.

If this is very low, it may require more investment in backup, storage, replication and processing.

That is why it is not only advisable to calculate how much is lost if a company does not continue to operate for a certain time.

It is also very important to have the detail of how much it costs to restart the processes at the desired times by the business units and their stakeholders.

Due to this it would be what will allow to establish the margin of tolerance and limits of risks, as well as the amount of money to place to satisfy the basic level that an alternate center must offer.

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