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Selling management on the importance of disaster recovery planning

One of the most common challenges DR planners face is convincing senior management of the importance of disaster recovery. DR is frequently compared to buying insurance, because it can require a significant ongoing capital investment. It also requires a considerable time investment to get off the ground, as well as ongoing maintenance, testing, etc. As such, many organizations, especially smaller companies, have a hard time justifying disaster recovery planning. The Acronis Global Disaster Recovery Index, a survey of 6,000 small and medium-sized businesses in 18 countries, reported this year that almost half (47%) of respondents feel that business executives are not supportive of their backup and disaster recovery operations.

You need to present a business case for disaster recovery, according to Jon Toigo, head of Toigo Partners International. "Risk reduction is not a very efficient way to justify a costly project like disaster recovery," he told the audience at a recent Storage Decisions event.

He advised attendees to look beyond risk reduction, and consider cost containment and improved productivity as benefits of disaster recovery planning.

Toigo said one way to convince management of the importance of disaster recovery is to analyze the amount of downtime during the course of a year and calculate its financial impact. "Sell them on the fact that [IT operations] were down this many hours, and it cost this much," he said. According to Acronis, smaller companies lost an average of $366,363 per year because of IT downtime.

The Quantum 2012 IT Manager Survey also paints a bleak disaster preparedness picture. The survey found that 90% of IT managers polled still think their data is vulnerable in the event of a disaster. Quantum collected data from 500 IT decision-makers at companies with at least 100 employees.

According to Toigo, presenting a case that disaster recovery planning can ensure application uptime -- rather than simply reducing risk -- is the key to getting management buy-in. Tell executives how they can improve productivity by ensuring that employees have access to applications all the time from anywhere. "Now you are building a real value case for what you are trying to do," said Toigo.

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