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Virtualization Driving Organisations to Reevaluate Disaster Recovery Plans

Symantec research reveals fewer executives involved in planning; IT managers remain pessimistic on recovery times, concerned with testing impact to bottom line
  • 09 September, 2008 14:05

<p>SYDNEY – Sept. 9, 2008 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the global results of its fourth annual IT Disaster Recovery survey, which demonstrates a significant decline in executive involvement in disaster recovery planning and a significant increase in the number of organisations reevaluating their disaster recovery (DR) plans due to virtualization. As more applications and data are managed in a virtual environment, organisations are evaluating the most efficient ways to manage applications and data in both physical and virtual environments.</p>
<p>Nearly one-third of global organisations, and 20 percent of Australian organisations, reported they have had to implement part of their DR plan due to a computer system failure. However, in the past year there was a significant decrease in executive involvement on DR committees. And, while there appears to be improvement in successful disaster recovery testing, one-third of global respondents (12 percent in Australia) indicate testing will impact their customers, and one-fifth globally (12 percent in Australia) admit such testing could negatively affect their organisation’s sales and revenue.</p>
<p>With a rapid increase in mission critical applications combined with the continued growth of stored data – both physical and virtual – it is crucial that organisations incorporate a comprehensive, proven disaster recovery plan into the overall business strategy. This will help ensure the successful recovery of data and applications with the least amount of impact to business operations should a disaster – natural disaster, human error or system failure – occur.</p>
<p>Sharp increase in applications considered mission-critical</p>
<p>On average global respondents indicated that 56 percent of applications were deemed mission critical – significantly up from 36 percent in 2007. Within Australia, approximately 64 percent of applications were deemed mission critical. With the increase in the number of mission critical applications, it becomes difficult for organisations with flat IT budgets to maintain the availability of a greater number of mission critical applications. As a result, companies should look at more cost effective ways to protect applications including reducing spare servers, increasing server capacity, looking at physical to virtual configurations, and more.</p>
<p>More than one-third of organisations have executed DR plans</p>
<p>Disaster recovery plans are not documents collecting dust on shelves. In the past year, one-third of organisations surveyed had to execute their disaster recovery plans due to a variety of factors including: Hardware and software failure (36 percent of organisations globally, 20 percent within Australia); external security threats (28 percent of organisations globally, 12 percent within Australia); power outage/failure/issues (26 percent of organisations globally, 10 percent within Australia); natural disasters (23 percent of organisations globally, 12 percent within Australia); IT problem management (23 percent of organisations globally, 10 percent within Australia); data leakage or loss (22 percent of organisations globally, 8 percent within Australia); and accidental or malicious employee behaviour (21 percent of organisations globally, 10 percent within Australia). Given the regularity of events that cause downtime, IT organisations should expect that their DR plans will be tested at some point in the future.</p>
<p>Executive involvement in DR planning declining</p>
<p>Survey results also indicate that that C-level involvement in DR planning is declining. In the 2007 survey, 55 percent of respondents said that their DR committees involved the CIO, CTO or IT director. However, in 2008 that number dropped to 33 percent worldwide. Symantec believes that such a move is a troubling trend, particularly in light of the mission critical applications not currently covered in DR plans and the reevaluation of plans due to virtualization. Increased executive involvement has been shown to increase the success of DR plans.</p>
<p>Virtualization driving reevaluation of plans; automation and cross-platform tools needed</p>
<p>Virtualization is the major factor that is causing more than half (55 percent) of respondents globally – 44 percent in Australia – to reevaluate their DR plans. In some cases virtualization is being deployed for DR purposes and applications and data in virtual environments pose a difficult challenge since processes for physical environments may not work in virtual environments. In addition, native DR tools in virtual environments are immature and don’t provide the enterprise-class protection that organisations require. The respondents reported that 35 percent (30 percent in Australia) of their virtual servers are not currently covered in organisations’ DR plans, only 37 percent (50 percent in Australia) of respondents reported that they back up all of their virtual systems.</p>
<p>Fifty-four percent of global respondents listed resource constraints as their top challenge with backing up virtual systems, while within Australia lack of efficient technology/software and resource constraints were the top challenges cited by respondents, each at 35 percent. Globally, 35 percent of respondents (28 percent of respondents in Australia) cited too many different tools as the biggest challenge in protecting mission-critical data and applications within physical and virtual environments. Complications with having different tools for physical and virtual environments include higher training costs, operating inefficiencies, greater software costs and workforces that work in silos. Lack of enterprise storage management ranked second for Australian organisations, at 20 percent.</p>
<p>Respondents report one-third of disaster recovery tests unsuccessful</p>
<p>According to survey data, while having a disaster recovery plan is essential in most organisations today, knowing that disaster recovery plans work is equally important. In 2007, 88 percent of IT professionals polled carried out a probability and impact assessment for at least one threat. In 2008, that number increased to 98 percent of respondents indicating that they have carried out an assessment for at least one threat. However, respondents report that 30 percent (34percent in Australia) of tests fail to meet recovery time objectives (RTOs) with an average global RTO of 9.54 hours and 14.67 hours for Australia.</p>
<p>Respondents also reported the top reasons why their tests failed include: human error (35 percent globally, 18 percent in Australia); technology failure (29 percent globally, 18 percent in Australia); insufficient IT infrastructure (25 percent globally, 16 percent in Australia); out-of-date plans (24 percent globally, 10 percent in Australia) and inappropriate processes (23 percent globally, 10 percent in Australia). Since human error is one of the greatest problem hindering successful recoveries, organisations should look to automation that will speed recovery and reduce errors and reliance on personnel.</p>
<p>In addition, 93 percent of IT organisations globally report they have tested their disaster recovery plan since it was created, yet 30 percent of those tests are not fully successful – improved from 50 percent failed tests in 2007 – and only 16 percent say that tests have never failed. Within Australia, 86 percent of IT organisations report they have tested their disaster recovery plan since it was created and 16 percent state tests have never failed.</p>
<p>Disaster recovery testing impacts sales and revenue</p>
<p>The study showed that approximately 47 percent of organisations test their DR plans either only once a year or less due to disruption to the business and lack of resources. Reasons cited include: Lack of staff availability (39 percent globally, 34 percent in Australia), disruption to employees (39 percent globally, 22 percent in Australia), budgetary issues (37 percent globally, 18 percent in Australia) and disruption to customers (32 percent globally, 12 percent in Australia). In addition, 21 percent globally and 12 percent within Australia admit DR testing could impact sales and revenue.</p>
<p>While survey results indicate that the IT industry has demonstrated some improvements in successful DR testing over the past year, only 31 percent of respondents globally and 50 percent within Australia report that they could achieve baseline operations within one day if a significant disaster occurred that destroyed their main data centre. And, only three percent globally and no respondents in Australia said they could have baseline operations within 12 hours and nearly half (47 percent globally and within Australia) reported that it would take a full week to achieve 100 percent normal operations.</p>
<p>“While the research identifies a significant improvement in DR testing in the industry, we are concerned that organisations are not testing more frequently to improve their plans, and are not using adequate tools to reduce the overall business impact,” said Mark Lohmeyer, vice president of Symantec’s Veritas Cluster Server Group. “Virtualization is obviously changing the game for disaster recovery and organisations should involve IT executives in the process of reevaluating their DR plans and then implement best practices and solutions that ensure confidence in a successful and rapid return to full operations in the event of a disaster.”</p>
<p>Recommendations</p>
<p>Symantec recommends that enterprises implement a holistic data protection solution across virtual environments, remote offices, desktops, laptops, servers, applications and databases that can quickly recovery vital data and systems in the event of a disaster. In addition, consolidating on a single management tool that manages both physical and virtual environments will also help reduce the number of tools needed.</p>
<p>Symantec also recommends that organisations implement automated solutions that minimise human involvement and address other weaknesses in their DR plans to help to reduce downtime. Finally, using solutions that provide testing tools that minimise the impact of testing on customers is also recommended, so that organisations can test without affecting business processes, customers and employees.</p>
<p>About the 2008 Symantec Disaster Recovery Research Report</p>
<p>In its fourth year, the 2008 Symantec Disaster Recovery Research report is an annual global study commissioned by Symantec to highlight business trends regarding disaster recovery planning and preparedness. Conducted by independent market research firm Applied Research West during June and July 2008, the study polled more than 1,000 IT managers in large organisations across 15 countries in the United States and Canada, Europe and the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America to gain insight and understanding into some of the more complicated factors associated with disaster recovery.</p>
<p>About Symantec</p>
<p>Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help businesses and consumers secure and manage their information. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in more than 40 countries. More information is available at www.symantec.com.</p>
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<p>Press Contacts:</p>
<p>Angela Coombes
Max Australia
+61 2 9954 3492
Angela.coombes@maxaustralia.com.au</p>
<p>Debbie Sassine
Symantec
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debbie_sassine@symantec.com</p>

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