Posted by: Beth Pariseau
Data center disaster recovery planning
Symantec Corp. released the results of its survey of 1000 IT managers and decision makers about disaster recovery for 2008 today. Among its findings was a decrease in C-level executive involvement in DR planning compared to the results for the 2007 survey, which Symantec officials said they found alarming.
In the 2007 DR survey, 55 percent of respondents said that their DR committees involved the CIO/CTO/IT director. In 2008, that number dropped to 33 percent worldwide.
“Executive complacency could be attributed to the improvement in DR testing successes,” according to the company’s survey report. Delegation of tasks to lower-level managers once the C-suite sets overall DR goals could also be at play, conceded Symantec director of product marketing for Data Protection Marty Ward. However, the survey results remain a cause for concern at Symantec, Ward said. “It’s more likely that DR is still just not seen as a basic requirement for companies – there also haven’t been as many current events lately that spur people into thinking about disaster recovery.”
As for that last statement, let’s all just take a moment to knock on wood. Meanwhile, Symantec says other results of the survey, like the fact that only 14% of chief security officers are involved in DR, point to complacency rather than delegation.
Other key findings of the study:
- Although one third of organizations have had to execute a disaster recovery plan, just under half say they can get fully operational in a week.
- The amount of applications that IT Managers believe are business critical has increased 20 percentage points over data from the previous year, and only about half of these applications are covered in DR plans.
- Virtualization is driving organizations to reevaluate their DR plans.
- Organizations report that DR testing impacts customers, sales and revenue because of the lack of tools that can address both virtual and physical environments.
On that last one, a recent customer case study we ran on the site can attest to that issue. It’s tough enough for companies to classify all data and arrange for tiered recovery while maintaining accurate and realistic RTOs and RPOs. So tough, in fact, that very few companies I’ve come across have even reached the frontier Northeast Utilities came up against – keeping the DR plan current and in working order without the operational bandwidth to complete live tests.
The analogy I’d use for this situation is to another unpleasant task – dieting. If initial DR planning is like losing weight, continued monitoring and updating for the environment is like keeping it off–in other words, the really hard part. According to the 2008 Symantec survey results, only 30 percent of tests meet RTO objectives. Only 31 percent of respondents reported that they could achieve baseline operations within one day if a significant disaster occurred that obliterated their main data center. Only 3 percent believed they have skeleton operations within 12 hours.
Not all is doom and gloom, though. “Don’t get me wrong, there has been a 10 fold increase in testing over the last decade, and one of the most encouraging things about the 2008 survey is that it showed that not only are people testing, but more people are testing successfully,” Ward said. Last year, 50% of DR tests failed. This year, that number was 30 percent. “But there are still ongoing issues.”