Earlier this week I was invited to take a look at one of SunGard Mobile Recovery Services Mobile Metro Center units, one of their three types of deployable IT Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery units. Setup in a parking lot in a low-key business development in southern New Jersey, the MMC was a self-contained business workspace with IT and telephony resources configured for up to 50 workers who could step back into their jobs in the event of a disaster that made their normal workspace unavailable.
When I arrived on-site, the MMC was already up and running, a process that Ron LaPedis, the Workforce Continuity Strategist who gave me the tour described as taking only 90 minutes from arrival at the planned location, as shown in the video here.
Transportable over the road by a normal tractor, the mobile units require no special permitting as they it in the normal size trailer space you would see with any truckload of goods moving down the highway. SunGard owns 2 tractors with a team of three drivers available to make their service guarantee of dispatch within 24 hours of customer request possible. Should additional mobile units need to go out, contracts are in place with nationwide firms to provide the necessary trucks and drivers.
SunGard offers three types of mobile units. The Mobile Data Center, which is a combination of workspace and IT facility, the Mobile Metro Center 2, which is a configurable raised floor data center with the ability to provide up to 5000 sq. feet of datacenter space, and the Mobile Metro Center.
The Mobile Metro Center, which I looked at, is focused on providing office space with IT and telephony capabilities ready to go. The large unit, which uses the slider technology that you would find in the consumer RV market to allow it to expand beyond what could be towed down the road, has almost 1000 sq ft of space available when setup and ready to go. The majority of the workstation equipment is mounted to the walls of the sliders and the team that assembles everything has only to set up the tables in the middle of the room and add keyboards and mice to the wall mounted workstations.
Completely self-contained, the MMC has a large generator and significant A/C equipment. Well designed using vibration and noise insulation, the worker inside the unit neither hears nor feels the generator in operation, even though it is mounted to the same trailer. Connectivity for the telephony and data load is provided via a 10 Mb full duplex satellite connection with a ground station at the SunGard facility in Illinois.
To a large extent the SunGard units are a blank slate with the configuration of the systems being determined by the contractual requirements of each customer. IT capabilities, telephony, user workstations, datacenter specs are tuned to what the customer has asked for with SunGard offering everything from the complete handling of the customer’s BC/DR needs to a handoff where they simply drop off the configured unit and leave it for the customer to get up and running.
Not unexpectedly, the recent weather issues on the East Coast have raised the profile of these types of services. Hopefully, datacenter operators will realize that having these types of services available is an ongoing requirement for a successful business and not find themselves lulled into the complacency often found after long periods where DR/BC resources are looked at as an expense with no return.