Disaster Recovery -- Are We Learning the Lessons?


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Having an effective and tested disaster recovery plan is vital for companies in all industries. According to META Group research, over 30 percent of companies that suffer a catastrophic disaster, i.e. fire, flood, earthquake - never reopen their doors for business. In addition, that same research stated that 29 percent of businesses suffering a catastrophic disaster close their doors within two years of the event. And, even though the research shows that over 50 percent of Global 2000 companies have a credible disaster recovery plan in place, the events of September 11, 2001 have caused even these companies to re-examine their plans to cater for event the most extreme worst-case scenarios.

Even though disaster recovery has received increased attention in the aftermath of 9/11, terrorist acts or by no means the only security risk that organizations are subjected to. According to an FBI survey, 84 percent of large businesses and government agencies detected security breaches in the past year. Of those, 35 percent (186 respondents) quantified financial losses from those breaches, which totaled over $377 million.

In many ways, according to Brian Reuter, director of marketing at DataPeer, the events of 9/11 have impacted the way people look at their business in the short and long term as it pertains to strategic planning, product development, and research investment. But in many other ways, he says, it has not had as profound a difference on long-term IT development as people would think. "The 'repositioning' of storage products as addressing disaster recovery or contingency planning requirements was already happening before 9/11 - although the events of 9/11 did accelerate new messages and value propositions that were being pushed into the marketplace," he continued.

Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Illuminata, believes that the events of 9/11 had a strong impact on the placement of data centers. "Corporations are no longer looking to place data centers 10 to 15 miles outside of a major metropolitan area, they are looking at much further distances (such as 100 miles), " she says. "We all knew about the importance of disaster recovery prior to 9/11, but now we are thinking about it differently," she continued. And, even though McAdam says that companies overall understand that testing back-up is important, they are still not giving it the critical importance that it requires. She admitted knowing of companies that were backing up their data to tape and leaving the tapes on the servers.

Wayne Lam, vice president of FalconStor, believes that businesses are not only being more realistic about their DR commitments, they're also candid about maximizing the TCO on any implemented storage solution. According to Lam, companies now realize three important issues: (1). Data replication is vital for disaster recovery purposes (even though price and performance are also crucial evaluation criteria for a replication solution.) (2). Companies do not want to be locked into a proprietary solution. And (3), companies are looking for a solution with interoperability across vendor lines and applications.

Lam also feels that storage vendors are also taking steps to address data availability and are giving companies more choices in how their data is handled during the storage process. He says that businesses are looking at disk-based backup as a complement or alternative to tape recovery, for the purpose of immediately restoring data lost to soft errors in the short term. In addition, he says that realizing that one of the major technical challenges in maintaining a backup center is keeping the data and the backup data center synchronized with the data in the primary data center, companies are also looking for solutions enabling them to choose storage equipment, even mixing brands and types of storage, leveraging their present infrastructure with the ability to acquire new storage at any given time, he continued.

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