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Report: Disaster Recovery Remains Spotty
February 10, 2006
By Pedro Hernandez

In recent years, costly disasters, both natural and man-made, have highlighted the importance of instituting policies and procedures that address business continuity. According to a report commissioned by Symantec, not everyone is getting the message.

Applied Research conducted its Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Survey in December 2005 by polling 500 IT/IS managers. The goal was to paint a picture of the state of business continuity among today's enterprises.

Although figures and data points abound, one stands out for the astonishing lack of preparedness on the part of a sizable number of organizations.

When asked if they had a business continuity plan in place, nearly half, 46 percent, answered no. Moreover, 27 percent of those saw no need to take such precautions, though 33 percent did admit to simply lacking resources. Another 20 percent cited complexity for the shortfall, while a 12 percent minority pointed to cost.

Commenting on why only 54 percent of IT managers in the survey had a complete disaster recovery plan in place, Peter McKellar, group product manager, Symantec Corporation, pointed to a big shortcoming for some businesses.

"Recovering data without making provisions for recovering applications is a lot like having the sheet music but no instruments, musicians, concert hall or conductor to play the symphony. It's just not going to get the job done," says McKellar.

After a crash, though, cost can become a big factor. For most, recovery costs nothing (26 percent) or less than $10,000 (29 percent). For 8 percent of IT shops, however, the price tag can balloon to over $100,000.

And the bottom line looms large over future disaster preparedness plans. 23 percent cited cost as the biggest challenge in that regard, while recovery time, natural disasters and viruses also ranked high.

Luckily, the majority of respondents seem to be able to recover rather quickly after a system outage, with 67 percent reporting that it usually takes hours (as opposed to days) to get back on their feet. Some (14 percent) are back up and running in a matter of minutes. 76 percent of those that responded felt that those times were acceptable for their business.

The report also revealed an interesting tidbit on storage. 53 percent of respondents perform backups primarily to disk as opposed to tape.

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