The Micro Data Center
To quote Bane from the The Dark Knight Rises movie, it is truly "time to go mobile". InformationWeek.com released a collection of Data Center Trends for 2013, and the concept of a "mobile" or "micro" data center is fascinating. This trade show photo shows what one of these units might look like (photo credit to PenguinComputing.com)
We've all seen Titanic-sized data centers, we've heard about their security measures (man traps, 24/7 security, etc). Still, many enterprises must locally house critical infrastructure and cannot rely on the robust protection that many Data Centers provide.
In the article, AOL's staff notes that their Micro Data Center proved to be an effective deterrent against mother nature, in that the unit "performed wonderfully through Hurricane Sandy". The unit was set as a standalone unit outside of the complex, fitted with a weathered shell and it's own cooling/power capabilities. An on site "mobile" Data Center like AOL's is an excellent deterrent for preventing localized "chokehold" data failure/loss, and essentially provides "weather-hardened redundancy".
For example, AST Modular, a maker of "micro data centers", unsurprisingly pegs their primary products as a "Smart Bunker" and a "Smart Data Safe". For the Smart Data Safe, it includes integrated remote monitoring software for temperature, humidity, vibration, flooding and power. The unit has excellent protection, and can be placed in an alternate "on site" location for data recovery. For an enterprise with on-site infrastructure, this can be a life-saver of sorts. The terms 'bunker' and 'safe' drive the concept of complete and comprehensive redundancy (though this is virtually impossible regardless).
If you're placing a Micro Data Center in a "local offsite location", or in a common server room area, the benefits are pretty simple. The "Fort Knox" design and protection ensures true redundancy of your systems, and a terrifying weather forecast is truly no match for the unit. Some makers, such as AST Modular, compare their safeguarding abilities to that of an airplane's "black box", indicating that it can withstand forces that may be equivalent to a plane crash. Though this is more a comparison, the bottom line is that Micro Data Centers are extremely durable and protected by design. For every exposed server, comes a redundant and weathered backup option that can withstand the forces of nature. Micro Data Centers, in short, provide exactly that benefit. When faced with the question of cost for a Micro Data Center, the question is really geared towards "How important is the local data to the critical operation of our business?" If the answer is "extremely important", a Micro Data Center may be a useful disaster recovery tool.
Regardless, a Micro Data Center is still a costly extra and isn't always neccesary for all enterprises. It represents the needs of a very small percentage of enterprises that rely on localized infrastructure. Other costs include the implementation, setup and support of the unit.
Within your primary data center, temperature monitoring is more of an immediate (and cost-effective) concern than an entirely robust backup unit. Simple temperature monitoring devices like Temperature@lert's Cellular Edition provide backup power in the aftermath of a power outage, and serve as a first line of defense against a potential disaster. Once you're alerted to the impending failure, alternative strategies like Colocation are a much more desirable and cost-effective plan for data access and recovery.
We're left asking the same questions; what preventative methods are you using to prevent an on site "data chokehold" in the event of a natural disaster? For companies and enterprises with mission critical systems on site, what other recovery methods have you put in place to insure the safety and accessibility of your data?