DR Apps Critical to SMBs and IT Services

by Soma Tah    Feb 02, 2009

How is the Indian enterprise including the SMBs waking up to the need of a DR strategy? What kind of challenges they face generally?

In the last few years, small and medium businesses (SMBs) have been undergoing a steady revolution by conducting an increasing amount of business electronically, both internally among employees as well as externally with customers, suppliers and other business partners.

SMBs typically have small budgets and little or no dedicated IT staff almost never any dedicated storage staff so cost and simplicity are especially important. Many SMB customers tell us that backup and restore are their biggest pain points. Good data availability and secure backups have become critical because so many SMBs rely on their data to run their business. All this information is part of the strategy employed.

Symantec annual IT Data recovery report shows  that in the past year, one-third of organizations surveyed had to execute their disaster recovery plans due to a variety of factors including: Hardware and software failure (36 percent of organizations); external security threats (28 percent of organizations); power outage/failure/issues (26 percent of organizations); natural disasters (23 percent of organizations); IT problem management (23 percent of organizations); data leakage or loss (22 percent of organizations); and accidental or malicious employee behavior (21 percent of organizations). Given the regularity of events that cause downtime, IT organizations should expect that their DR plans will be tested at some point in the future.

Now IT managers are looking to use virtualization as well as tools to automate the recovery process - How cost-effective is it when compared with the traditional disaster recovery means? 

Virtualization is the major factor that is causing more than half (55 percent) of respondents globally 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 organizations require. According, to the Data recovery report globally, 35 percent of respondents 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.

Does the process of server virtualization demand any changes in the individual DR strategy of the organizations?

Technology fundamentally is evolutionary, but at the same time, lack of legacy allows for faster adoption of newer technologies, since there is no handicap that exists. Having said that base level concerns or if we want to call it, hierarchy of needs drives technology adoption. Securing Infrastructure and applications and interactions and making them highly available are primary driver at this time. And like in any other market here are the early adaptors who look at advanced solutions too.

Virtualization is the major factor that is causing more than half (55 percent) of respondents globally 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 organizations require. The respondents reported that 35 percent of their virtual servers are not currently covered in organizations DR plans, and only 37 percent of respondents reported that they back up all of their virtual systems.

Why do hosting providers need DR tools?

Disaster Recovery (HA/DR) solutions need to address an unprecedented number of threats, ranging from component failure (e.g., a disk that runs out of space), to worms and viruses, to more widespread outages (such as a power failure), to catastrophic site outages (as a result, say, of a tornado).

Disaster recovery isn’t simply an "insurance policy," but can actually boost operational efficiency by protecting systems against potential failures.

Companies should consider disaster recovery investment as a "rolling upgrade" that consistently augments existing infrastructure and application investments rather than as a one-time event that can be delayed.

How important are the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for the success of any effective DR solution?

When it comes to DR testing, organizations say that it has an impact on customers, sales, and revenue. Specifically, nearly one-third of organizations reported that disaster recovery testing will impact their customers, while over one-fifth admitted such testing could impact their sales and revenue.

According to Symantec Data recovery research data, while having a disaster recovery plan is essential in most organizations today, knowing that disaster recovery plans work is just as important. In 2007, 88% of the IT professionals polled carried out a probability and impact assessment for at least one threat. In 2008, that number increased to 98%. However, respondents reported that 30% of tests fail to meet recovery time objectives (RTOs), with the average global RTO being 9.54 hours.

Respondents listed the top reasons why their tests failed to meet those RTOs: human error, technology failure, insufficient IT infrastructure, out-of-date plans, and inappropriate processes.

Because human error is the biggest problem hindering successful recoveries, Symantec believes organizations should look to automation to speed recovery and reduce errors and reliance on personnel.

Symantec recommends that enterprises implement a holistic data protection and high availability solution across virtual environments, servers, applications, databases, and data centers. In addition, consolidating on a single management tool that manages both physical and virtual environments can help reduce the number of tools needed.