Consolidation within the hot site industry has all but eliminated the small and start-up companies leaving well established reputable vendors in which to select from. Subsequently, evaluation criteria of past should be replaced with a question set commensurate with today's hot site industry.
The following questions have been designed to effectively and objectively select the most appropriate hot site subscription for your recovery requirements:
1. How many hot subscribers could potentially declare a disaster and gain access to the same facility and/or processor configuration?
*Note: The hot site vendor should maintain profiles on those clients which have backup power and have a policy on limiting the number of clients per processor.
2.What assurance of access will my company have in the event of the declaration of a disaster?
*Note: No hot site vendor can (absolutely) guarantee access, and subsequently, the 'first rights' policy should be fully disclosed.
3. How are regional disasters handled with respect to 'over subscription' (e.g., roll-back policy)?
*Note: In the event you're denied access to the hot site, how will the vendor accommodate you (e.g., which site will you be diverted to, etc.)
4. What criteria is used to differentiate between an 'Alert' and a 'Disaster'?
*Note: To ensure that your disaster declaration access won't be sublimated by someone who declares a proactive alert.
5. How will your company maintain pace with our advances in technology?
*Note: Many hot site subscriptions have become obsolete because the customer chose to migrate to a non-supported platform or one that was more expensive.
6. Contractually, what flexibility exists in the event we downsize our processing platform(s)?
*Note: Carefully examine the T&C's of the contract including; 'early out', assignment, and coverage reduction clauses.
7. Specifically, what type of support would we receive once we arrive at the recovery facility?
*Note: Who will be assigned to your recovery and what experience do they have. Pay particular attention to their network personnel.
8.What processes or innovations in recovery has the hot site vendor developed which could aid you in times of disaster and/or differentiate your company from others?
*Note: Over the years hot site vendors have pioneered or developed products and/or services which facilitate or simplify the recovery process.
9.What were the results of the three previous customer satisfaction surveys?
*Note: Look for trends in customer support.
10.What level of network redundancy exists to ensure our uninterrupted hot site recovery?
*Note: Most problems with recoveries occur within the network. Regional outages could also affect the recovery site or your network could be incompatible with the hot sites.
11.How far in advance can we schedule testing time and how much is additional test time?
*Note: Flexibility of scheduling is currently the biggest complaint among hot site subscribers.
12.What level of assistance will we receive in integrating our recovery plan with the hot site facility?
*Note: The hot site vendor should provide some level of consulting with the subscription. Typically, the vendor builds-in 10 to 20% of the face value as a credit for consulting services.
Tari Schreider, the former director of a consulting services and founding partner of Contingency Planning Research, Inc. is currently a Division Manager with Paranet, Inc.