The number of options for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity (DR/BCP) locations in Fairfield County are numerous…. but let’s first start with your overall options. All options are, of course, highly dependent on your business needs and as a result I’m trying to keep this as agnostic to application as possible. Some firms may need a dedicated facility, some may just need simple backup with a reasonable plan to repair facilities within a week’s time frame.
The structure of this article (which may expand over time)
A few words on your options. I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this because let’s face it, you really should define your needs prior to determining what solutions you need. A listing of pros and cons could do harm because it’s almost impossible to capture the pros and cons.
I’d rather do something more helpful here, which is give up some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the past fifteen years looking at IT colocation, designing DR and working with numerous companies around the world designing solutions. A lot of times this information is help captive by IT service firms looking to make a sale, and that’s not right (disclaimer: it might be good business for me though! Oh well…)
The key for firms in the Fairfield County / New Haven / Westchester / New York City area who have decided that Connecticut would make a great place to build out a DR/BCP site is knowing your options, being an informed buyer and having a firm grasp on the priorities of your business’ DR/BCP needs. Unless you’re one of the rare lucky ones you’ll be making some compromises along the way.
1. Dedicated Facility (your own office, your responsibility)
2. Dedicated Colocation (placing your equipment into the hardened facilities of a company which specializes in doing so). You may want to combine the above with some temporary reserved seating for your employees
3. Dedicated Colocation w/ seating. Same thing as above but a few of the local DR/BDP facilities also have seating reserved for people in two fashions: either dedicated seats or oversubscribed seated. What oversubscribed seating means is that you’ll be buying the option of using a seat at this facility but not necessarily have one assigned to you. These faciklities like this because they can sell the same seat a few times. Of course they guarantee you’ll have a seat if you need one, but I always felt this was a talking point. After all, what good will a SLA or guarentee in a contract worth if your CIO is looking for someplace to sit after the entire North East loses power?
5. Everything else. Too many to list here but it involved everything from hardened tape backups to an employee copying files to a flash drive at night… don’t laugh, some people do it and moer times than not I’ll agree with them…. which elads me to preach for a second: The Most Important Thing That You Can Do with your DR/BCP is find something which works for you. Designing a plan which looks incredible on paper but in reality has too many moving parts, employees who are unable or unwilling to support it or isn’t designed around solving the problem of “what do we do, how do we do it if our primary site goes away and what’s out tolerance in terms of how we do it and when we do it?”
Select the vendors in the area:
There are a few major players in this area. Please be advised this is nowhere close to a comprehensive list — these just so happen to be a few players who should be on anyone’s short list. These are providers who are recognizable and/or upcoming who either are de facto options or companies who are hungry and are willing to get creative to win your business.
FiberTech: FiberTech is one of the area’s premeire data vendors. They’ve been around for about ten years but it’s only until recently that their name recognition has really starting skyrocketing. Simply put, their service is second to none. They have a great facility up in New Haven which will cover all of your major needs. The only downside, as is the case with most carrier facilities, is you may have disincentive to bringing in internet and connectivity from other carriers. FiberTech runs a solid network with great coverage in this area (and are reasonably priced) so for DR/BCP applications this should not present a problem but is something to keep in the back of your mind.
SteelVault: New firm who are building out a data center in the old video broadcasting facility in Oxford, CT. The site was previuosly equipped (and tasked) to monitor wireless signals and the new owners have done a great job working with local telco providers to bring in multiple redudant providers. The facility is run by two very enterprising brothers who I’ve been impressed with in my dealings with them. Most importantly, they recognize the benefit of getting customers in, making them happy and growing thruogh organic referral growth. Translation: they’ll be aggressive and over-service you. They should be on anyone’s short list.
Cervalis: These guys are located in the industrial park off of Hope St in Stamford. It’s been a favorite of the lower Fairfield County financials since they moved in a few years ago, with the help of a huge anchor tenant (one of the big Stamford financials). They run a great facility. I’ve looked into them on numerous occassions and the usual problems I have with them are (surprise) price and contract flexibility.
Digital Realty/Sentinel: Sentinel may be the most interesting facility in lower Connecticut. It housed the old NASDAQ data center and it shows. For example, it’s HVAC redundancy is unsurpassed in this area — should primary and backups fail, the tertiary systems utilize local wells to provide cool water. It’s really a great site, which of course means you’ll be paying for it. Is it worth it to you? They also have approximately 800 seats for temorary trade desks/key people.
CAPS: Located in Shelton. They’re a mid-tier option. Located in the excellent Scinto buildings on corporate drive, they benefit for a ton of bandwidth options. They’ve tried to really form a niche in the DR local industry and, in my opinion, have failed. They offer a good product but the difference between DR and normal colocation is small and I think their business has suffered as a result. New ownership took over about a year ago and cleaned house, getting rid of a ton of dead weight and bringing in a few time-tested industry vets to run the business. This new group seems hungry and is likely to be competitive on price. They have plentiful DR/BCP seating available and, given the plaza they’re located in, you could move your entire business there in short area if something really bad happened.
RECOL: Just North of New Haven in the town of Branford, RECOL has opened up a brand-spanking new colocation facility. One of our clients is currently hosted there and speaks very highly of the support that he’s received since moving in a few months ago. They’re not your typical colocation center. Their model is more centered about providing a few rack units within a larger rack. If you’re looking for a dedicated place for a server and a firewall this might be the place as most locations don’t want to sell anything other than a half or full rack (for comparison sake, a full rack can fit up to approximately forty 1U servers)
Why are multiple providers important? Well, in addition to making sure you have full diversity you’ll want multiple carriers in your space to ensure that you’re able to play them against each other to get the pbest prices. The worst telco contract you’ll ever get is one where they’re the only player in the building. And speaking of diversity… always remember to request fiber routes into the building to ensure that they don’t cross with your backup providers! (if you have one, of course)
You decide to location and the infrastructure
It’s tough to find suitable locations. Buildings with generator backup are tougher to find than you’d think and expensive to install on your own.
You have to maintain the location. I learned that while it’s tough taking care of additional UPSes, generators and CRAC units