Study: Companies inadequately prepared for IT disasters heading into 2013

The majority of companies are not adequately prepared for IT disasters heading into 2013, according to FalconStor Software, Inc.

This was one of the findings of an independent “Disaster Recovery Trends and Metrics” quick poll, which was conducted in partnership with IDG Research Services.

“The survey found that 42 percent of the businesses polled are still not adequately armed with modern disaster recovery solutions, even though they experienced at least one instance of data loss in the past year,” said Suresh Nair, General Manager and Vice President of Sales and Marketing, APAC Operations at FalconStor Software.

“Many of them continue to rely on ineffective manual processes and tape backup systems. However, the situation is changing. Most respondents anticipate an evolutionary move toward highly available, automated systems with data replication within the next 18 months,” Suresh said.

Janet King, general manager and vice president at IDG Research Services noted that the findings were somewhat unexpected.

“In conducting this survey, we found it surprising that participating companies experienced an average of 34 instances of data loss and IT outages; even with this level of system failure, disaster recovery testing was not a priority for these businesses,” she said.

“This poll illustrates why companies must remain vigilant on the topic of data protection by implementing automated solutions that eliminate unexpected losses,” she added.

The survey found that tape backup was the most pervasive data backup solution, with 23 percent of large enterprises, 48 percent of medium enterprises and 27 percent of small businesses relying on this technology.

The survey also finds that 65 percent of respondents reported using manual disaster recovery processes; however, 83 percent reported that they believe automated disaster recovery and data replication technologies will be more widely used in the next 18 months.

Seventy-two percent of overall IT leaders stated that their disaster recovery plans are only tested an average of once a year, with 82 percent of large enterprises completing disaster recovery testing one or more times yearly as compared to 75 percent of medium enterprises and 63 percent of small businesses.

Forty-two percent of respondents said their organisations experience at least one data outage per year, with an average of 34 instances across enterprises of all sizes; of these companies, the majority of respondents stated that downtime in excess of four hours for any outage is unacceptable.

Fifty-three percent of organisations responded that an outage of more than four hours is unacceptable, with the most common consequence being loss of productivity as reported by 67 percent, followed by 27 percent reporting harm to reputation, financial loss and loss of irreplaceable data.

Driven by decreased IT budgets and the conventional perception of disaster recovery as a manual, time-intensive process, IT has not quickly adopted new automated solutions. Data protection and disaster recovery technology is an insurance policy for today’s data centers, which must be able to operate 24/7 without IT downtime. In part, the delay in adopting these automated service-oriented recovery technologies lies in the education of the market and the executives who must approve these new systems.

“As demonstrated recently by the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the US, businesses must have a plan in place to quickly restore both data and IT services to curb the cost of downtime. With the increased adoption of virtualization and the extraordinary amount of time required for tape backup, companies are turning to disk-based solutions,” said Suresh.

“Through the use of highly available automation technologies and consistent disaster recovery testing, firms can be assured that they are prepared to handle any issue that may arise,” he concluded.