CDP driven by recovery, compliance requirements

According to an end-user survey, IT managers are turning their attention toward continuous data protection.

By Farid Neema and Tom Coughlin

ractically unheard of two years ago, continuous data protection (CDP) is now recognized by a majority of IT managers as an efficient and easy-to-use tool for backing up and recovering critical data. A recent survey conducted by Peripheral Concepts and Coughlin Associates reflects a major rise in the awareness of the benefits of CDP, when compared to other surveys performed over the last year. For example, 19% of the surveyed population said they were “very familiar” with the CDP concept, and an additional 50% say they are “somewhat familiar” with it (see figure).

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Out of 2,134 responses to a screening survey, 34% of the IT managers use a CDP or “near-CDP” system today, and 23% plan to acquire one in the next 18 months (see figure, below). In addition, half of today’s CDP users will upgrade to a better system this year.

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Among CDP users, the majority (65%) store 11% to 50% of their data on CDP systems. Only 8% of the population use CDP for 80% to 100% of their data (see figure, below).

Tighter legislation mandates on data retention and recovery have contributed to the elevation of data protection to the top of IT managers’ concerns. For example, 37% of the surveyed population rank data protection highest among their storage management challenges, a ranking equaled only by their challenge in managing growing capacity requirements.

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IT managers rank recovery problems at the top of their data-protection concerns. The three problems that topped the list (for the third year in a row) were

  • Improving time to restore backed up data;
  • Faster recovery from system failure; and
  • Easier recovery from disaster.

IT managers rank product cost and management complexity at the top of the impediments to acquiring the data-protection solution that would satisfy all their needs. Cost of bandwidth, ranked first in 2004, is now in the third position.

To comply with various legislations, businesses must show evidence of data protection and timely recovery. Recovery is also at the top of users’ criteria in selecting a CDP product, followed by total operational cost and ease-of-use. The survey shows that improving the recovery time objective (RTO) is the major incentive for CDP acquisition. (The percentage of companies aiming at RTO and RPO of less than 20 minutes has doubled since 2004.) Liability and compliance is the second major incentive for purchasing CDP systems, cited by 29% of the survey respondents (see figure, below).

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CDP has not replaced (or at least not yet) existing backup processes. Most CDP users continue to perform periodic full backups, not fully trusting the new technology. Actually, the periodicity of full backups has not changed significantly since our 2004 survey. But the window allocated for a full backup has decreased dramatically: 32% require a backup window of less than one hour, compared to only 6% in 2004.

CDP constitutes a major step toward achieving seamless business continuity, eliminates the backup window, and improves disaster recovery. It will also reduce the cost of managing backup processes and will ensure compliance with regulations.

For additional information about the 2006 Continuous Data Protection-A User’s Perspective report, visit the Peripheral Concepts or Coughlin Associates Websites at www.peri concepts.com or www.tomcoughlin.com. The report provides statistics on backup practices, ranks issues and requirements, and analyzes CDP trends and purchasing plans.

Farid Neema is president and senior analyst at Peripheral Concepts, and Tom Coughlin is president of Coughlin Associates.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2006