Survey finds enterprise disaster recovery still lacking

A survey of 1,600 enterprises across the world shows a minority consider their disaster recovery plans better than average, and people remain the main cause of downtime in the data center.

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Most enterprises consider their disaster recovery (DR) plan average or below average, and 36% of those who have a DR plan believe it is inadequate, according to a survey of 1,600 data center managers and directors.

The survey, conducted by Applied Research-West and commissioned by Symantec Corp., covered organizations with 5,000 or more employees in 21 countries in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

Only 11% said their DR plan was excellent and another 21% characterized it as very good. Nearly one-third, 32%, described their DR plan as average, with 27% saying it needs work, and another 9% said it was informal or undocumented. These results do not include a small number of respondents who said they had no DR plan.

Recovering from backup is the most common part of a DR plan, including in 66% of the plans of the companies surveyed. It was followed by offsite backup (34%), replication (36%) and server clustering to provide local failover capability (34%).

People still major cause of data center downtime

Change or human error was identified as the biggest cause of downtime, as respondents said it caused 25% of their data center's unplanned downtimes. Other causes of downtime include hardware failure (21%), software failure (20%) and power outage (20%). Natural disasters (11%) ranked near the bottom of the list.

"People are still the largest contributor to unplanned downtime," said Sean Derrington, Symantec's director of storage management and availability. "That puts more of a focus on the people and process side."

Among enterprises who said they were re-evaluating their DR plan, 28% cited regulatory influence as the major reason. That was followed by increased management awareness of DR risks (21%), increased importance of IT to the business (20%), and customer or downtime SLAs (19%).

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