Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 12/19/2012 | 7 comments

Andrew Froehlich
Enterprise IT departments and service providers that demand stringent network uptime commonly purchase and store spare hardware components in the event of a critical failure somewhere within their infrastructure.

Keeping equipment in-house has benefits, but it can also become costly and difficult to manage. Up until now, there really has been no other alternative if your organization demanded failure resolution in a matter of hours. But now that shipping supply chain and distribution methods have gradually improved, it may be time to rethink the cold spare inventory methodology.

Many vendors, including Dell and Cisco, offer 24/7 four-hour hardware Return Merchandise Authorizations (RMA). As of today, maintenance contracts with such low RMA turnaround times are considered "premium services." It has historically been cheaper to purchase and store spare hardware in-house, opting for a less expensive support contract with slower replacement times.

But now that we live in an age where Internet shopping is expanding every year, the speed and cost to ship goods and services continues to drop. Supply chains are shortening across every industry. In a few years, a four-hour RMA turnaround time for hardware replacements will become the norm rather than the exception, and cold spares will definitely not be necessary.

It should be pointed out that there are some benefits to a cold spare disaster recovery (DR) plan no matter what type of maintenance contract you have. For example, you can prepare your cold spares to be production-ready by updating software and configurations. This greatly cuts down on downtime of the failed hardware. But let's be honest, maintaining spare hardware is a task that often gets neglected. Components get misplaced, used as a lab, and otherwise abused to the point where it's no longer ready to be put into a production environment. I've seen this happen even in the most strict IT departments.

Even though we're a few years off the complete extinction of maintaining a cold spare hardware inventory, you might want to take a second look at the cost of a four- or eight-hour RMA maintenance plan. While they may not have been cost effective a few years ago, prices and your organization's strategies may have changed to the point where a premium service plan now makes sense. After doing the math and really thinking about the true effectiveness of managing extra hardware, you may find that it's time to put your cold-spare DR methodology to rest.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
batye   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   2/1/2013 4:48:23 PM
Re: Hybrid RAID Cloud Architecture to replace DR
same question here... the bottom line is the cost... and we need to look at the cost first in this case...
Skr2011   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   12/31/2012 2:51:53 PM
Re: Hybrid RAID Cloud Architecture to replace DR
Yes what is the cost?
Syerita Turner   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   12/26/2012 1:09:02 PM
Re: Hybrid RAID Cloud Architecture to replace DR
Many companies have the same DR plan since the late 90's with no regard to the present. Many companies need to evlauate their DRplans to ensure that it is up to date and that it keeping up with the times. Ever so often the DR plan should be visited and adjustments made according to the growth of the company.
sohaibmasood   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   12/23/2012 8:39:55 AM
Re: Hybrid RAID Cloud Architecture to replace DR
@parkercloud, what are costs for this sort of implementation / contract as compared to the RMA based solution? I would appreciate if you could give us some estimates. 
@parkercloud   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   12/22/2012 6:49:25 PM
Hybrid RAID Cloud Architecture to replace DR
I think it's time to think about continuity instead of recovery
The benefit of a Hybrid RAID Cloud Architecture is an entire data center can go down and there is only a loss of capacity but not availability

Hybrie RAID Cloud Architecture
http://www.enterpriseefficiency.com/author.asp?section_id=1045&doc_id=236115

@parkercloud
Salik   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   12/20/2012 7:09:04 AM
Re: Four hour ?
Agreed, this might be very costly for the organization to reset new spare parts for recovery of older systems.
singlemud   Time to Rethink Your Cold Spare DR Plan   12/19/2012 9:45:49 PM
Four hour ?
4 hour is just the hardware ready time, you have to installed and test all the service, which may require serval more hours. I think if the company can afford so many hours down time, it can afford to wait for more days to avoid the pricey contract.


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