Site Selection for Mission Critical Facilities: White Paper

by Wendy Torell

Executive Summary

When selecting a new site or evaluating an existing site, there are dozens of risk factors that must be considered if optimal availability is to be obtained. Geographic, site-related, building, and economic risks need to be understood and mitigated to lessen to downtime effects on your business. In this paper guidelines are established for selecting a new site or assessing an existing one. Common risks that affect the availability of a business are defined and techniques for minimizing these risks are presented.

Introduction

In building a new data center or evaluating an existing one, it is important to understand the geographic environment and the threats that it poses. For any given site, there are dozens of risk factors that need to be considered. The key is to understand these risks, how they could impact your business, and how best to mitigate them.

The first step is to identify the critical business processes that must remain operational. Without these critical processes, there would a significant impact on the success of the company.

It is important to remember that it is often significantly less expensive to invest in mitigating a risk of downtime, than to recover from the event after it occurs. If the impact of the event is understood, an educated decision can be made regarding whether or not to take the appropriate preventative measures. Preventative measures might include re-designing a building, making structural changes, or buying certain types of insurance. Although risk mitigation may seem expensive, it is important to consider the alternative – the cost of recovering from a potentially long-term interruption in business.

A diaster recovery plan should be written and then regularly reviewed with employees. This plan must exercised in the event a disaster occurs. It is important to be clear on the procedure for transferring the operations from the main site to a disaster recovery site, if one exists.

There are several categories of risks that should be considered. Geographical or regional risks are major ones, and these include severe weather events as well as man-made hazards. Site-related risks, building risks, economic risks, must also be taken into account.

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