Q

Distance between home and recovery

A user recently asked what our expert thought about having a recovery site 3-4 hours away. See what expert Robert McFarlane said.

We are currently planning to revise our existing recovery plan to allow for rapid recovery of our call center, e-mail and other telecom functions. We are thinking of engaging a regional provider (within 3-4 hours driving time) to replace our old recovery plan which involved flying to a distant hot-site to bring back our communication functions. Are there any "best practices" on distance between home and recovery? I've heard several answers from across town to 200 miles away. We are making sure that the recovery site is on a different power grid and has redundant facilities just in case.

This question has been discussed and debated ad nauseam, with no results. There was even talk at one point about a "legal mandate" for financial institutions, in the order of fifty miles. The problem is, whether the recovery site is near or far, people still need to get there for it to be useful. I don't know where you're located, but in New York City on 9/11 all bridges and tunnels were closed. If your backup site was across the river...

in New Jersey, or even in a different borough of New York, you were pretty much prevented from getting to it. And if you had to fly there, you were obviously out of luck.

Actual distance will depend on two things: As much out of the same power grid as you can make it; and still accessible under emergency conditions in a time frame that makes it worthwhile. Remember, if you're in tornado, or hurricane, or earthquake country, your ability to get places may be just as curtailed as it was in NYC on 9/11. It can really help if employees live in different directions from your main site, and at least some are likely to have a way of getting to your recovery location even if others can't.

In short, you seem to be considering all the right things. But the only absolute regarding distance is that there is none. And in my opinion, there never should be.

This was first published in July 2005

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