Awareness of the importance of disaster recovery (DR) measures among companies worldwide has risen this year, but many strategies still have major shortcomings.
According to a survey conducted by IT industry watcher Dynamic Markets on behalf of storage software vendor Veritas, disaster recovery is increasingly taken seriously at the highest corporate levels. The analysts found that, in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, the proportion of respondents who assign the responsibility for DR at board level doubled in 2004 to 21% from 11% a year earlier. Moreover, the proportion involving their CIOs, CTOs or IT directors in DR provision increased from 22% in 2003 to 36% this year. In the majority of companies (52%), however, this responsibility rests one or two rungs down, with an IT manager or equivalent.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all but 3% of those surveyed said that without a DR plan in place, they would feel exposed. Reports of downtime have decreased, however, with only 29% of EMEA organisations reporting unplanned downtime in the last 12 months, compared to 69% last year. The authors of the survey attribute this to increased application of DR measures.
However, when faced with a scenario of a major fire destroying their main data centre, most were unable to predict how long it would take to restore operations. Of those that could, only 3% said their DR plan would kick in and enable the organisation to carry on with business as usual. The average estimated time before operations could be fully restored was 3.23 days.
Astonishingly, 53% of the worldwide sample and 67% of UK respondents reported that they keep their copy of the DR plan in the main data centre. As well as pointing to commonsense failures in the respondent companies' DR provision, the survey also suggests that some companies infrequently update and check the disaster recovery software and plans. Of the UK companies that were questioned, 32% only review their DR plan on an annual basis, and 28% review less frequently than that, if at all.
Despite these shortcomings, the companies surveyed reported using a wide range of technologies and processes to deal with any disasters that may beset them. At 79% of those UK organisations surveyed, basic backup systems are in place; 53% of the UK sample use rapid restore software; and 57% have off-site backup facilities.