Sunday, May 1, 2016

Blueprint: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Demand Survey

by Ofer Gadish, CEO, CloudEndure

We live in the Information Age, but it’s fair to suggest we also work in the Availability Age. Just about every organization expects fast and reliable access to their sensitive data and critical applications.

With integral business functions dependent on the highest level of accessibility, companies recognize that disaster recovery (DR) is just as important as the efficiency of their infrastructure or cloud service. But despite aiming high and wanting nearly-perfect business continuity, many businesses are far from reaching that goal.

That’s what we discovered in our most recent annual survey of more than 140 directors, CIOs and managers of large, mid-sized and small companies. The majority of respondents to the CloudEndure 2016 survey Disaster Recovery Challenges and Best Practices serve more than one type of customer, providing services to a mix of enterprises and small businesses and often directly to customers. They face the constant pressure of offering business continuity they can hang their hats on.

The respondents delivered good news: some pain points of disaster recovery have improved since last year. Cloud provider downtime, for example, decreased for many. But the respondents also said progress is still needed in many critical areas, including the prevention of consequential human error. Indeed, the top risk to system availability for most of these professionals is a mistake made by man (and woman) and not machine. The same held true in 2015. Network failure, by the way, was the second most cited risk this year and last.

It’s worth reviewing several of the survey’s findings to highlight the deep concerns and enlightened opinions of these IT professionals so that your organization hopefully will have a better understanding of the practices and challenges many businesses have when ensuring DR and business continuity.

DR on the Rise for Production Machines

The importance of disaster recovery has been (almost) fully realized. Today, only five percent of companies have no DR for any of their production servers, according to the survey. Have no fear: Those holdouts expect to have DR by next year. Similarly, 67 percent believe they will have DR for more than half of their servers within the next 12 months. An even better indication of changing standards about disaster recovery – even though it’s a slow shift – is that 22 percent of the surveyed companies want DR for all of their production servers by 2017. Right now, 13 percent of those surveyed have DR across the board.

High Expectations for Service Availability

A smart business will usually research the service availability of a service provider before signing a contract. Our numbers support that: Eighty-four percent of our respondents rated service availability as a highly critical expectation of their customers and thus their business operations. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed organizations have a service availability goal of 99.9 percent (“three nines” or less than nine hours of downtime a year) or better.

But many businesses told us they have even higher expectations for service availability. Twenty-eight percent have a goal of 99.99 percent (“four nines” or less than 53 minutes of downtime), while 19 percent aim for 99.999% or above (“five nines” or less than five minutes of downtime a year). 

Meeting Their Goals

Half of those surveyed define downtime as an inaccessible system, while the other half expanded the definition further by saying downtime also means the system is accessible but its performance is highly degraded or some functions are not operational. With these standards in mind, 90 percent of businesses said they meet their service availability goals consistently or most of the time.

Still Suffering from Downtime

Despite having high expectations for service availability and believing they meet those goals, businesses nonetheless got hit by downtime not long before we reached out with our survey. More than half of them (57 percent) had an outage in the three months leading up to the survey and nearly a third (31 percent) had an outage in the days and weeks before answering our questions.

Human Touch and Network Failures Are Chief Concerns

The top risk to system availability is human error. Twenty-two percent of respondents said lack of training, poorly-labeled and illogical functions, human fatigue and inattention are the leading causes for employees jeopardizing system availability. Not far behind on the list of risks was network failures (20 percent), followed by application bugs (15 percent), storage failures (11 percent) and external threats such as hacking and denial of service attacks (11 percent). More good news: Cloud services might be improving their availability. We say that because the downtime of cloud providers, which ranked as the third biggest risk on our 2015 survey, fell to sixth this year.

What’s Preventing Them from Reaching Availability Goals

Just as we learned last year, insufficient IT resources and budget limitations are the top two challenges stopping businesses from meeting their availability goals. Other hurdles listed this year include lack of in-house expertise, difficulty keeping pace with change and growth, a narrow ability to prevent software bugs and limited cloud resource capability.

The Cost of Downtime Influences DR and Backup Efforts

Resources, budgets and other hurdles undoubtedly hinder businesses from staying on top of backup and DR. For example, while 29 percent of respondents take advantage of continuous data replication, 38 percent of them are on the other end of the spectrum: performing less thorough backup only every 12 to 24 hours.

Unquestionably, time and money spent on DR and backup influence how organizations handle business continuity. Our survey found a strong correlation between the cost of downtime and the average hours a week invested in backup and DR. Organizations that estimate the cost of a day of downtime is less than $10,000, in turn, invest fewer than five hours a week in backup and DR efforts. Those that see daily downtime costs exceeding $100,000 spend more than five hours a week on DR and backup.

The risks and challenges addressed in our survey said a lot about what businesses are worrying about. But if anything, the responses of many of these professionals show that despite budget limits, staffing issues and other hurdles, they want to meet customer demand for service availability and have confidence that disaster recovery will ensure access to critical data and applications.

About the Author

Ofer Gadish, CloudEndure’s CEO, is a serial entrepreneur and prolific innovator. He has over 16 years of extensive experience in senior management positions, both in startups such as Camelot, Jungo and Digicash and at established corporations, including Globespan, Amdocs and Limelight Networks. Ofer was previously the CEO and Co-Founder of AcceloWeb and VP & General Manager in Limelight Networks after its acquisition of AcceloWeb.

About the Company

CloudEndure provides Cloud Migration and Cloud Disaster Recovery for any application, allowing companies to mobilize entire applications with their data to and across clouds with near zero downtime and no data loss. CloudEndure enables truly consistent, block-level, real-time replication using continuous data protection. Founded in 2012, CloudEndure’s Cloud Workload Mobility technology creates an exact copy of the entire application at an alternative cloud location – at the touch of a button, within minutes, and with the latest data. CloudEndure supports physical, virtualized or cloud-based applications as the source and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft’s Azure and OpenStack as target cloud locations.