CloudEndure, a disaster recovery solutions provider, released the results of its 2016 Disaster Recovery Challenges and Best Practices survey, demonstrating the gap between organizations’ goals and their reality. After collecting information from 141 IT professionals about their disaster recovery experiences, the top challenge among respondents was reaching goals with insufficient IT resources—due to budget and lack of in-house expertise. The research illustrates the importance of comprehensive planning and support during recovery, and notes the strategies and technology used to ensure system availability. Weigh your efforts against the survey results to improve upon your methodology.
Explore the Survey’s Key Findings and Future Implications
The benchmark survey included results from professionals who serve enterprise customers, small business customers, and consumers. One overarching trend indicated increased faith in disaster recovery (DR) solutions in the cloud. Across all three categories and differing organization sizes, the DR study uncovered these persistent truths in disaster recovery:
Availability goals. The study results showed that 77% of businesses strive to maintain service availability 99.9% of the time. In other words, they expect to encounter less than nine hours of downtime annually. For the survey, respondents defined downtime in three ways: 50% percent defined it as an inaccessible system, 25% defined it as a partially accessible but not operational system, and 25% defined it as an accessible but poorly performing system.
Of the respondents, 90% reported meeting their 99.9% availability goals consistently or most of the time. While many survey takers expressed confidence in their ability to meet availability goals, 57% experienced downtime in the three months before taking the survey.
Figure 1: Ability to meet service availability goals
- Best practices: As disaster recovery programs migrate to the cloud, organizations experience increased cost-effectiveness and reliability. Cloud-based recovery systems deliver multi-level redundancies and backup stores and can provide immediate access in the event of a crisis.
During system availability events, 88% of survey respondents said they share information with their customers: 40% notify their customers, 24% notify their customers during routine emails, and 24% post a message online. IT departments shoulder most responsibility for DR activities.
- Best practices: Fast response and prior planning play a significant role in disaster recovery outcomes, while clear communication builds credibility and improves morale. The survey indicated organizations are shifting toward more transparent customer relationships, but results highlight the need for interdepartmental participation. While the IT team can handle technical issues, leadership, public relations personnel and other employees must understand their roles in disaster recovery—before disaster strikes.
Top availability risks. According to the research data, the five most common causes of system availability events include human error (22%), network failures (20%), application bugs (15%), storage failures (11%), and cyberattacks (11%).
Figure 2: Top risks to system availability
- Best practices: Ongoing employee training and education for data management and cybersecurity protection is critical, especially in an age where technology advances rapidly. The top availability risks highlight the need for testing. During DR testing, companies can identify the propensity for human error, network failures, and other problems.
Testing using set recovery point objectives (RPO) and set recovery time objectives (RTO) creates goals in disaster recovery planning. In the survey, 36% of respondents reported they maintain an RPO between zero seconds and an hour. For RTOs, 43% of respondents described keeping goals between zero seconds and an hour. Less than 10% of those surveyed do not cite RPO or RTO goals.
Top availability challenges. The survey results underscored the reality that most common challenges to service availability include a lack of tech resources, funds, and in-house expertise. Without buy-in from leadership and sufficient fund allocations, companies struggle in all areas of IT from productivity to cybersecurity.
- Best practices: With change being the only constant, awareness of the threat landscape, service availability risks, and the need for increased agility move companies increasingly toward tech-focused investments.
Current Top Data Protection and System Availability Solutions. To combat downtime and data loss, 38% of survey respondents indicate they use remote backup, 32% use local backup, and 21% use self-managed disaster recovery sites. Only 9% use Disaster Recovery as a Solution (DRaaS).
As hackers create more advanced forms of attack, these strategies for disaster recovery may fall short of full redundancy and protection—especially if backup systems only run every 12–24 hours. Around 38% back up or replicate application data every 12–24 hours. At the other end of the spectrum, 29% of respondents continuously back up information. Backup practices directly affect business continuity, and a 12- or 24-hour delay can cost companies thousands of dollars.
Figure 3: Frequency of backup and data replication
- Best practices: Several combinations of backup solutions can adequately protect data and minimize downtime risks, but the solution must match the type of data. Sensitive data backup solutions need to comply with federal regulations at least and involve secure and redundant backup plans at most.
Recognize DR Challenges and Best Practices
This research suggests there are distinct discrepancies between perceived and actual disaster recovery practices. Nearly three-quarters of respondents associate a day of downtime with a cost of $10,000 or more, and 17% associate it with a cost of $1 million or more. Survey participants believe that, without goal-driven testing, investments in adequate data protection, security, and employee training, businesses feel more confident in their disaster recovery planning than they should.
A global forecast study suggests the cloud-based disaster recovery industry will reach a valuation of $12 billion by 2020 (up from $1.42 billion today). As cloud solutions are deployed and mature, companies of all sizes gain the ability to optimize disaster recovery planning. From compliance management to ongoing testing, the cloud represents a viable and cost-effective way to manage best practices and address the challenges of disaster recovery.
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