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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.

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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