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Why is Disaster Recovery still an afterthought?

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If the last year has been anything to go by, we all should have learnt by now, anything can happen. According to research from iland, despite 85% of respondents experiencing a failure or outage at some point, only 65% of organisations actually have a company-wide Disaster Recovery (DR) plan in place.

Despite the increasing incidence of failures and outages, iland has found that less than two-thirds of organisations surveyed have a documented company-wide disaster recovery plan in place whilst only a comparatively small number of respondents rely on the cloud for their replication, suggesting that the move to the cloud – and DRaaS – has been slow among larger businesses. 

The research: ‘When plan B goes wrong: Avoiding the pitfalls of DRaaS’, surveyed 150 technical and business decision makers from organisations drawn from a wide cross-section of UK enterprises, each employing a minimum of 500 people.

The objectives of the research were to establish what DR systems organisations currently have in place, how often plans are tested, and whether enterprises are confident in their ability to recover from disaster as easily and swiftly as possible.

Failures and outages are more common than many people realise. Out of the 85% that had experienced failure at some point, two thirds of that group had experienced the outage within the last 12 months and half of those within six.

This could be due to the fact that DR testing doesn’t seem to happen all that often, and certainly isn’t top of the agenda, with 57% of respondents testing only annually, or even less frequently. 6% didn’t test at all.

Of the organisations testing less frequently, the results of their last test led 44% of them to believe that their DR may be inadequate, with 22% encountering issues that would have led to sustained downtime.

Those testing more regularly are far more likely to have more ambitious objectives for data recovery than those who test less frequently. 15% expected to recover data in seconds or minutes and 16% actually did so. 61% expected recovery within hours and 62% achieved it. So, the proof is in the pudding – test your system!

The most frequently encountered problem with failback to original sites is network problems, experienced by 53%.

Commenting on the research findings Sam Woodcock, senior director, Cloud Strategy at iland said, “The results of the survey lay bare the relatively low priority that DR continues to be given by many organisations despite the prevalence of outages.

“In most circumstances I think this is based on some misconceptions of what constitutes a disaster. When determining budgets, executives assess the likelihood of data centres being hit by a plane or falling into a sinkhole and determine, correctly, that the chances of these events actually occurring is very low indeed.

“However, our research has shown that smaller scale disruptions generated by human error are regular events. 85 per cent of those contributing to our research had had to restore data or services within the last year.”

“Another surprising revelation from the research findings concerns testing. Any reader of this paper is likely to be hyper-aware of the dynamic and fragile nature of technical ecosystems – which makes the finding that more than half of organisations represented in this research are testing annually at best rather worrying. 

“The results of infrequent testing are predictable. Almost half of those practising infrequent testing fear their DR may be inadequate, which is a classic example of a head-in-the-sand approach. Failure to test DR will, at some point, lead to a recovery failure. It really is only a matter of time.”

“But it’s not all doom and gloom,” concluded Sam Woodcock. “We’re aware that for many organisations DR has the potential to seem every bit as complex as the infrastructure it is protecting, and our research has demonstrated that a significant number of businesses are looking for DRaaS solutions to help them manage this complexity – as well as reduce the costs inherent in running a second physical data centre.

“DRaaS solutions can help to simplify organisations disaster recovery plans, offering increased flexibility, customised runbook functionality, optimised RPOs, and near-zero RTOs so businesses have more control over their disaster recovery plans.”

You can access the full report here.  

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