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Off-site centers: closest thing to 'invincible.' (advice for placing data communications, telecommunications and transaction processing technology in off-site facilities for emergencies) (Property Management/Improvement; Section II)

One of the most obvious but least recognized facts of life is that nothing is invincible. From ancient Troy's oversized equine to Napoleon's boo-boo at Waterloo to the Titanic's jaunt through the icebergs to the jigsaw coll apse of the Soviet Union, history is littered with people, places and organizations that felt they could survive any challenge.

On a somewhat less fatalistic level, businesses are constantly reminded that their operations are not invincible especially if the threat comes from nature.

Natural and man-made disasters arrive in many different forms, but all pose the same threat to the invincibility of corporate data and telecommunications operations. The Wall Street blackout of August 1990 crippled the financial capital for six days, as many supposedly fail-safe buildings were not prepared for the emergency. More recently, last December's unexpected storm in the New York region shut down several low-lying buildings whose electrical transformers and telephone equipment were flooded. Similar versions of this scenario have been played out in different cities across the country and around the world.

However, there is an exception to the rule of invineibility, at least in terms of data and telecommunications equipment.

The answer is not part of any contingency plan which provides for alternative modes of data communications, telecommunications and transaction processing. Placing this important technology in secure, technically advanced off-site facilities specifically designed to the technologies in use is one method of assuring invincibility. A number of forward-thinking corporations have relocated data and telecommunications operations to off-site facilities to provide additional insurance against the unexpected.

Attaining invincibil ity requires careful planning that accounts not only for natural disasters but for the unseen problems within build ing infrastructures and operating systems. In today's global economic environment, round-the-clock information systems are increasingly used to meet the demands of international business. Many older buildings are not designed to handle the stress of heavily networked operations. Increased power requirements can create dangerous conditions when such systems are subjected to abnormal fluctuations in power levels.

An Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) should be a requirement of all office buildings. However, UPS was not included when many older building were constructed and cannot be installed today due to engineering restrictions Thus, tenants in such facilities will always be caught short during a disaster because telephone switches fail, preventing calls for help and canceling fax computer modem and electronie-mail communications.

What makes an off-site center the ideal location for housing data and telecommunications equipment? Besides a carefully designed system featuring back-up power and redundant climate control, the ideal infrastructure is carefully monitored and serviced by a professional maintenance force. Power, water, climate control and the necessary back-up systems must be tested regularly to insure optimum reliability and performance. Security is also a factor, for corporate sabotage is still a possibility.

The ideal fail-safe facility can support telecommunications and data systems which can accommodate the wide variety of data, audio and video transmissions available, i.e. Ethernet, token ring, fiber, microwave, on an international scale.

Any firm, regardless of size, should consider off-site operation centers. Many financial institutions, shipping lines, travel agencies, computer companies, telemarketing firms already have. The list is wide and varied.

The shift to an off-site center is not only an investment which will pay off in the long run, but can also provide immediate savings. When the maintenance and security of a company's data and telecommunications equipment are supervised by the staff of the off-site facility, the savings to a firm's data processing or MIS budget could add up to as much as 40 percent of the cost of doing it in-house.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Moran, Brad
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Feb 24, 1993
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