In today's enterprise environment, a disaster recovery plan isn't just something nice to have – it's more crucial than ever. A business continuity strategy must be formulated to ensure that when a disruptive event takes place – be it a service interruption, inclement weather or some other instance – the company can sustain its usual processes.
Creating an effective disaster recovery plan isn't without its fair share of challenges. Unless every essential aspect is factored into the strategy, the enterprise will likely find it lacking when it comes time to activate the plan. Therefore, pinpointing and addressing these obstacles is key.
Who's Adequately Prepared
According to a Dimensional Research study commissioned by Axcient, today's enterprises deem a backup and business continuity strategy critical. However, the majority find current approaches lacking.
The study found that 90 percent of IT leaders leverage several different backup and recovery tools. Of the respondents with multiple DR systems in place, 60 percent said these tools had overlapping functionalities. At the same time, 91 percent noted that having a variety of tools in place causes numerous problems with the company's DR strategy, including the learning curve involved with the use of several different systems and the cost of added service licenses and maintenance.
The research also underscored the impact of unscheduled downtime. Although 97 percent of respondents had experienced a major outage in the past 24 months, only 7 percent said they would be able to respond and recover from a similar subsequent event within two hours. Overall, Axcient CEO Justin Moore noted that such downtime and permanent data loss can cost the business market more than $40 billion annually.
"With multiple, disparate, legacy tools for backup and recovery, current solutions are broken," Moore noted. "As a result, users are unable to recover their systems in the event of an IT outage, or even worse, a disaster."
The study also found that half of all IT professionals agree that if data is unable to be recovered, their department is held responsible. Since a permanent loss of data could also result in a loss of employment, IT teams are working to find solutions to these issues that will help them create an all-encompassing plan for disaster recovery.
In addition to the obstacles illuminated by the study, senior systems engineer and technology author Karl Palachuk also noted several other issues with companies' disaster recovery strategies, including:
- They may not have a DR plan in place at all.
- The current plan is incorrect or unreliable.
- The plan includes unnecessary technology.
- The plan hasn't been effectively tested.
- The plan doesn't include sufficient information management regulations.
"The bottom line is that preparation will make a disaster recovery go as smoothly as possible," Palachuk wrote. "Having technical knowledge and a vague idea of what needs to be done is simply not enough. A successful recovery requires a good plan that addresses the...biggest problems of disaster recovery plans."
There are several approaches business leaders and IT managers can take to mitigate the challenges seen with their enterprises' DR plans, according to an Acronis white paper:
- Carrying out smaller backups that help streamline information organization, backup scheduling and overall management.
- Leveraging scalable technology that can expand with the business's needs.
- Utilizing data duplication strategies for cost-effectiveness in storage.
- Integrating new, non-traditional deployment systems.
Leveraging the Cloud
However, one of the best solutions to emerge in this arena is the use of cloud technologies. The study found that one-third of businesses currently utilize the cloud as part of their DR plans, and 89 percent of respondents noted clear benefits in using the cloud in this capacity. Furthermore, of the 74 percent of IT professionals that use a non-cloud secondary site for their business continuity, 79 percent said they would consider switching to a cloud-based strategy if the resources were in place. As such, Moore noted that it's no surprise that IT departments are beginning to realize the advantages of including the cloud in DR plans.
"Given the staggering complexity and limitation of traditional on-premise backup and recovery solutions, there is clear value in fully transitioning to a single, comprehensive cloud-based solution," said Diane Hagglund, senior research analyst at Dimensional Research. "Although cloud-based backup and recovery is still early in adoption, the recovery market is ripe for innovation and the cloud is the next frontier."
To find out more about how the cloud can be leveraged for disaster recovery, contact a trusted service provider like Hostway. Hostway offers best-in-class business continuity services and can help business leaders craft a DR plan that will suit their company's needs.