Colorado creates IT backup facility

Colorado state agencies will have a place they can call home July1 for their backup information technology facilities when the government opens its first central disaster recovery facility.

Agencies are not required to house their backup systems there, said Gigi Dennis, Colorado’s secretary of state, but so far none have said they won’t.

Four other agencies are ready to move into the facility immediately along with the Colorado state department, which is managing the facility, and Dennis expects it will take about two years for the other 18 state agencies to make the move.

The idea for the facility started after zinc whiskers, small threads of metal that grow on the zinc-electroplated flooring found in some computer rooms, found their way into the department’s computer systems and caused them to fail.

When the department talked to a government business advisory board about creating a disaster recovery facility for itself, the idea of a site that could handle the needs of other agencies emerged, said Brian Balay, Colorado state department’s chief information officer.

“They quizzed other agencies about plans they had for disaster recovery and found most of them didn’t, so the board asked us to think about this on an enterprise level,” Balay said.

The department is partnering with ViaWest as the collocation service provider for the facility, to be called the Enterprise Facility for Operational Recovery/Readiness/Response and Transition Services. ViaWest will provide the infrastructure and operational services for the site, along with a suite of managed services such as firewalls, system and database administration, and data protection services to which agencies can subscribe.

Agency users of the site will be provided with “plug, power and pipe” facilities for free, Balay said. They will be responsible only for their backup servers and disaster recovery plan, he added. The department will provide a facility manager, networking technician and physical security for the site.

Startup funding for the project is provided through the secretary of state’s cash fund, and ongoing funding is also expected to come through the secretary’s office.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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