Plans are under way to build Spokane's first computer disaster-recovery site where companies with mainframe computers disabled by fires and other disasters can be back in business in 48 hours or less.
Rita Harvey, owner and president of DCS Data Center Systems Inc. of Spokane, said she will break ground in February on a climate-controlled building at Spokane Industrial Park and hopes to be in business in June.
The center, she said, will fill a need now met by out-of-state companies.
Computer-intensive companies and agencies throughout the state, such as banks, stockbrokers and schools, can save money for themselves and their insurers by doing such business in Spokane, she said.
"For a lot of companies that depend on computers, if they go down they are out of business and they can't even write a paycheck. And their insurance companies are asking, 'What is your disaster plan?' " she said.
Harvey has signed up Washington Water Power Co.--owner of the industrial park--as among her first subscribers and said she hopes to have 15 when the center opens.
One company from Seattle, two from California and two others from Spokane have signed letters of intent for access to the center, although Harvey declined to name them and to reveal what DCS is investing in the center.
The subscribers pay from $200 to $500 per month, and will have their computer disaster plans and copies of software stored at the center's fire-proof vault.
When disaster strikes their computer operation, they can then use one of the two services offered by DCS.
The "warm-recovery" system allows subscribers to scrape by on computers stored at the site that are capable of performing the basic essentials for subscriber companies.
The "cold-recovery" system allows the subscriber to be fully back in business by having a computer manufacturer like IBM deliver a new mainframe to the DCS site for emergency computing, which she said can be accomplished in just 48 hours under existing arrangements with computer makers.
"In the event of a disaster, they get the first replacement available," said Harvey, whose company has designed and constructed large climate-controlled mainframe computer rooms for six years.
There is a $2,000 set-up fee during disasters. Subscribers then pay by the month for the amount of space used while their original systems are repaired or replaced.
Besides storing disaster plans, software and daily computer tape backups at the site, the center has on hand all the necessary computer cables, electrical outlets and phone lines for transmitting and receiving data, and operates on an uninterruptible power supply.
The only similar operation in the state is a "hot-recovery" company in Seattle, a subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Co., that makes available exact duplicates of subscribers' computer systems in the event of a disaster. But Harvey said that operation is not accepting new subscribers.
Harvey said the centers are necessary because individual companies cannot afford to build recovery centers, which she said are "tremendously expensive."
They must be vapor- and fire-tight, temperature-controlled and dust-free. Some mainframes, which can cost tens of millions of dollars, even require water-cooling systems for internal temperature control.
Harvey said the center will be available only to companies that have signed up in advance of a disaster.
"This is essentially an insurance policy. I don't know of an insurance policy you can buy after the accident," Harvey said.