User survey reveals BC/DR trends

The third in a series of articles on data protection focuses on business continuance and disaster recovery.

By Thomas M. Coughlin and Farid J. Neema

This article is the third in a series that explores trends in backup, archiving, and business continuance and disaster recovery. It is based on the results of an in-depth (more than 200 questions per respondent) survey of 110 IT managers, representing sites relatively evenly distributed among a variety of company revenues, industry segments, and disk capacities. A similar survey conducted in 2003 provides year-to-year comparisons. All of the survey participants met the criteria of having backup and/or archiving responsibilities for IT operations that store a minimum of 500GB of raw disk storage.

Respondents were predominantly from the following industries: finance/banking, health, manufacturing, retail distribution, government, education, consulting, transportation, media/entertainment, and telecommunications. Sixty of the IT organizations have more than 2 petabytes (PB) of disk capacity, mostly in the transportation, entertainment, and telecommunications industries. The majority of the respondents in education and consulting have less than 5TB of total disk capacity.

Risks and costs of downtime

More than half of the respondents estimate that their entire company could be at risk if they are unable to recover critical data within eight hours. And 24% say they could lose more than $100,000 per hour of downtime. Despite this risk, 17% of the surveyed companies do not have a disaster-recovery facility today.

The survey participants reported that inadequate time to recover from a disaster was the biggest problem in their disaster-recovery and business continuance implementations, followed by network costs, staff-related issues, lack of a hot site, and the fact that data is not secured (see figure, below).

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Implementing hot sites

Almost half of the sites have implemented remote replication, with the finance/banking industry having the largest percentage of implementations. In general, the number of IT sites using remote replication will more than double over the next two years, with the telecommunications and health industries experiencing the highest growth.

Almost half (48%) of the IT organizations have implemented either a "static" or "live" hot site, and another 24% have plans to implement a hot site within the next two years (see figure, below).

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The number of sites with multiple levels of data protection for different applications has more than doubled in the past 24 months and is poised for significant future growth.

Based on our survey results, some of the hottest technologies are disk-to-disk backup, SAN-based backup, remote replication, virtualization, and IP storage.

What do users want?

Data security is a growing concern with the extended use of networks in general, and of storage networking in particular. Although very few IT organizations use encrypted data on their storage media today, 45% of the respondents believe it is a needed feature.

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In terms of users' criteria for selection of a business continuance solution, cost ranks below the ability to quickly recover from a disaster (see figure, above). However, when ranking impediments to implementing data protection, users ranked cost as the primary gating factor (see figure, below). In short, while performance and utilization of existing resources are important considerations in selecting a business continuance solution, purchase price is a major obstacle to actual implementation.

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For more information on the Business Continuance and Disaster Recovery-A User Perspective report, visit www.tomcoughlin.com, Technical Papers section). A companion report based on the survey, covering backup and archiving trends, is also available.

Thomas M. Coughlin is president of Coughlin Associates (www.tomcoughlin.com), a data storage consulting firm. He contributes to reports from Peripheral Research and Peripheral Concepts and is a co-organizer of the Network Storage Conference as well as organizer of the annual Storage Visions conference. Farid J. Neema is president of Peripheral Concepts (www.periconcepts.com) and chairman of the Network Storage Conference.

This article was originally published on December 01, 2004