Can Primary DC and DR be Hosted With the Same Service Provider?

Article by Rishikesh Kamat

There is a myth that primary DC and DR have to be hosted with different service providers when outsourcing IT infrastructure.

Disaster recovery (DR) is a holistic strategy including people, processes, policies, and technologies. It is the process, policies and procedures that are related to preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure, which are vital to an organization after a natural or human-induced disaster.

Restoring of IT systems critical to supporting business is mandatory for businesses nowadays. Most organizations today are IT centric, with information as the backbone of the business. Ensuring that information infrastructure that runs the business is disaster proof is extremely critical considering the cost implications of system downtimes and information not available to the business.

Outsourcing DR to a service provider has myriad advantages. Infrastructure and cloud service providers can help you create your Disaster Recovery strategy. From co-locating your data center to Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offering, they use the latest and best technologies, process and people to protect your data:

  • Replication options that allow you to continually replicate critical servers (whether physical or virtual)
  • Plan and implement recovery environment in our data center facility
  • Experts and staff who can help fully managed recovery of critical servers, applications, etc.
  • Disaster recovery specialists can review your environment and propose a mix of resiliency tools that can help you achieve your recovery targets—all within your budget

Hosting Primary and DR with Same Partner

One of the key concerns of “old dogma” of the IT world is the misnomer of hosting primary and DR sites with the same partner. In earlier days when technology was still nascent and options to separate environments were not mature, this may be so.

Today with the advent of cloud and matured hosting and colocation solutions, this does not stand valid. Organizations across the globe are opting to host their primary and DR environments with the same partner for its obvious advantages and benefits it offers.

Simply put, it is more beneficial cost and technology –wise to host one’s primary and DR environments with the same partner. Customer cases have proved it over and again – all with critical IT and business environments.

Some of the benefits that are obvious and on the face are:

  • Ability to have a one-stop-shop for all hosting requirements. This enables CIOs to ease their vendor management challenges and ensure a smoother single line of communications for all hosting needs.
  • Ensures greater control of systems: since the partner hosting both DR and Primary environments are same, CIOs can have greater control of their systems and smoother monitoring.
  • DR can be hosted in a different premise of the service provider at a different seismic zone
  • Substantially improve cost efficiencies: and obvious benefit of single partner is the cost benefit since the environments can be further optimized due to management ease and technology.
  • DR in action is simplified – replication, getting back to normalcy is easy – since CIOs are talking to the same person, there is greater control and increased efficiencies in bringing things back to normalcy when disaster strikes.
  • Substantially reduce response times and increased operational efficiencies.

Some examples

Some key financial services companies and banks have opted this strategy and reaping benefits. To state some examples:

Example 1: One of the largest Financial Services and Broking House in India (operational since January 2010)

IT Environment:

  • The company’s data center is spread across 2 locations – New Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Data center 1 (DC1) at Delhi hosts Trading Application – ODIN, Telco Aggregation point of Branch network and Connectivity with Branches and Exchanges.
  • Data center 2 (DC2) at Mumbai hosts IBT setup – Asian CERC, Back Office – LD and Connectivity to external entities

The company’s business requirement to enhance this setup were:

  • To implement a DR Site for Critical Trading IT setup
  • To simplify the IT set up and consolidation
  • Make primary set up more robust
  • Set up proper DR capability across two cities
  • Improve DR capability through on-line replication to secondary site

Solution they opted for including the DR set up was:

  • Primary Site at Netmagic IDC in Mumbai
    • 4 racks hosting around 80 devices (Servers, network, storage)
    • Redundant links to 04 Stock Exchanges (Stock and Commodity), VSAT Hubs, Mumbai and Delhi Offices and between PR and DR Sites
    • Primary Site Hosting, Managed Services for Win 2008 Servers and 8 MS SQL Databases
  • Customer’s In-house DC in New Delhi is deployed as DR Site
  • DR Consultancy (AS-IS study and TO-BE recommendation, BIA and DR Strategy)
  • DR Site Implementation Support and Replication Monitoring
  • DR Plan Development & Testing, DR Drills, Switchover and Switch-back

Example 2: A world leader in Financial Services having business in India (Operational since August 2008)

  • The financial services company and bank is a world leader and has strong presence in India.
  • IT Environment:

    Primary Site (Netmagic, Mumbai)

    DR Site (Netmagic, Other location at Mumbai) – Plan to migrate to Netmagic DC facility at a different geo/seismic location

    Applications and Infrastructure Systems

    • 14 Business Applications
    • 18 Enterprise Systems and Network Devices

    The business objectives rendered the decision of the infrastructure setup to be hosted at multiple locations with the same partner:

    • End to end ownership of Services set forth in this SOW
    • Provide Techno functional expertise to own the Infrastructure support
    • Structured governance for the engagement
    • Recommend continuous improvement in processes, technology, tools to position IT as a business driver

    Solutions that the company opted for including DR solution are:

    • Complete Managed Services for Primary and DR Site Applications and Infrastructure Systems
    • InfraManage- Domain, DNS, Exchange, Blackberry, Symantec, SQL and SQL DBs and Network
    • Dedicated skilled resources deployed (Approx 30 nos.)

    Overall DR Program Management

    • Database Replication Management
    • DR Drills Management (Preparation, Execution, Report submission & Post-drill review)
    • DR Plan Review and Updating
    • BCM Audit Support
    • Coordination with 3rd party suppliers & vendors