History of Disaster Recovery: Four Key Facts

History of Disaster Recovery: Four Key Facts

Disaster recovery (DR) has gained visibility in recent years due to several events that caused investment management firms to to take planning and technology seriously, such as Hurricane Sandy, high-profile cyber-attacks, and general human errors.  What you may not know, however, is that disaster recovery has been a part of the business landscape for almost forty years. Read on to learn four key facts on the history of disaster recovery.security-globe

Disaster recovery first became an issue during the 1970s as organizations began to shift their businesses to computer-based operations. Prior to the movement to mainframe computer systems, business relied mainly on paper-based operations and was not concerned with technology infrastructure outages. With the onset of the computer era, having a clear plan in the case of a technology failure became a necessity.

As more business operations began to be hosted on mainframe systems, companies became more dependent on these systems to keep their businesses running smoothly. Employees grew concerned that if mainframe systems were down for several days, there would be a dramatic negative effect as they would be unable to access files and applications used to conduct day-to-day business. Out of this need, combined with the rise of internet-dependent business applications such as email and many popular CRM systems, interest in disaster recovery increased. Businesses of all sizes began to rely more heavily on their IT infrastructure as well as reliable connectivity to information on a 24/7 basis.

The first hot site, a location to which an organization could fully restore their operations if their current place of work was not functioning, was first developed by SunGard Information Systems in the 1970s. Hot sites are locations that are already functioning with the entire infrastructure needed for a firm to continue working, and allow a firm’s operations to be resumed immediately. This is the most extensive type of disaster recovery plan, as it depends on the implementation of duplicate infrastructure.

In addition to these hot sites, other types of DR sites include warm sites, which allow some, but not all of operations to be restored immediately, and cold sites, which don’t allow any operations to be restored immediately. Cold sites provide an alternative site from the day-to-day office if it is not usable due to an emergency. In both of these scenarios, a firm would need to install and provide either some or all of the necessary equipment and functions required to restore operations in order to continue working. As a result, these types of office environments would not be production-ready immediately. While both of these scenarios have lower associated up-front costs than a hot site, the corresponding downtime can have a negative impact on business efficiency. Firms that are extremely cost-conscious can adopt a warm site approach by having their most critical IT systems available immediately and less vital technology operations installed when necessary.