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Virtualization and Cloud Technologies Add Complexity to Disaster Recovery Initiatives

Symantec research reveals more than half of Singapore enterprise virtualised environments are not covered by disaster recovery plans
SINGAPORE – December 13, 2010 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the Singapore findings of its sixth annual Symantec Disaster Recovery Study, which demonstrates the growing challenge of managing disparate virtual, physical and cloud resources because of added complexity for organisations protecting and recovering mission critical applications and data. In addition, the study shows that virtual systems are not properly protected.


The Singapore findings highlight that 50 percent of data on virtual systems is not regularly backed up and only one in 10 respondents use replication and failover technologies respectively to protect virtual environments. Respondents also indicated that 65 percent of virtualised servers are not covered in their current disaster recovery (DR) plans. This is a notable increase from the 50 percent reported by respondents in 2009.


Inadequate Tools, Security and Control
Using multiple tools that manage and protect applications and data in virtual environments causes major difficulties for data centre managers. In particular, just over six in 10 of these respondents (64 percent) who encountered problems protecting mission-critical applications in virtual and physical environments reported this to be a large challenge for their organisation.


In terms of cloud computing, respondents reported that their organisation runs approximately 50 percent of mission-critical applications in the cloud. The main concerns of respondents of putting applications in the cloud are security (39 percent) followed by lack of control (27 percent). However, the biggest DR challenges Singapore respondents face when implementing cloud computing and storage is the ability to control failovers and make resources highly available (35 percent) and the ability to backup (24 percent).


Resource and Storage Constraints Hamper Backup
Respondents state that 85 percent of backups occur only weekly or less frequently, rather than daily. Resource constraints, lack of storage capacity, and incomplete adoption of advanced and more efficient protection methods impedes rapid backup of virtual environments. In particular:
  • 45 percent of Singapore respondents identified resource constraints (people, budget, and space) as the top challenge when backing up virtual machines.
  • Respondents state that insufficient backup tools (52 percent), lack of available primary (48 percent) and lack of backup storage (47 percent) hampers protection of mission critical data.
  • To reduce the impact of virtual machine backups, Singapore enterprises utilise advanced client-less methods (25 percent), standard client without deduplication (25 percent) and standard client with deduplication (25 percent).

Large Gap between Perceived and Actual Downtime and Recovery
The study showed that the time required to recover from an outage is two and a half times longer than respondents perceive it to be. When asked if a significant disaster were to occur at their organisation that destroyed the main data centre, respondents indicated that:

  • They expected the downtime per outage to be two hours to be up and running after an outage.
  • However, the Symantec study found the median downtime per outage in the last 12 months was five hours, two and a half times more than the two hour expectation.
  • Organisations experienced on average five downtime incidents in the past 12 months.

Major Causes of Downtime
When asked what caused their organisation to experience downtime over the past five years, respondents reported their outages were from system upgrades, power outage or failure, cyberattacks, and configuration change management issues. Specifically:
     
  • 81 percent experienced an outage from system upgrades, resulting in 11.8 hours of downtime.
  • 78 percent experienced an outage from power outages and failures, resulting in 6.4 hours of downtime.
  • 71 percent experienced an outage from cyberattacks over the past 12 months resulting in 6.9 hours of downtime.

The study also showed significant gaps between those organisations that experience downtime and those who have conducted an impact assessment on the causes of the downtime: only half (51 percent) of respondents’ organisations have conducted a system upgrade or power outage impact assessment, and 66 percent have conducted a cyberattack impact assessment.


Quotes and Recommendations
  • "While organisations are adopting new technologies to reduce costs, they are adding more complexity to their environment and based on the Symantec Disaster Recovery Survey, more than half of Singaporean organisations are not protecting the new virtual environments they create," said Tan Yuh-Woei, country manager, Singapore, Symantec. "While we expect to see further consolidation in the industry of these tools, data centre managers should simplify and standardize so they can focus on fundamental best practices that help reduce downtime."
  • Treat all environments the same: Ensure that mission-critical data and applications are treated the same across environments (virtual, cloud, physical) in terms of DR assessments and planning.
  • Use integrated tool sets: Using fewer tools that manage physical, virtual and cloud environments will help organisations save time, training costs and help them to better automate processes.
  • Simplify data protection processes: Embrace low-impact backup methods and deduplication to ensure that mission-critical data in virtual environments is backed up, efficiently replicated off campus.
  • Plan and automate to minimize downtime: Prioritize planning activities and tools that automate and perform processes which minimize downtime during system upgrades.
  • Identify issues earlier: Implement solutions that detect issues, reduce downtime and recover faster to be more in line with expectations.
  • Don’t cut corners: Organisations should implement basic technologies and processes that protect in case of an outage, and not take shortcuts that could have disastrous consequences.

About the 2010 Symantec Disaster Recovery Study
In its sixth year, the 2010 Symantec Disaster Recovery Study is an annual global study commissioned by Symantec to highlight business trends regarding disaster recovery planning and preparedness. Conducted by independent market research firm Applied Research West during October 2010, the study polled more than 1700 IT managers in large organisations across 18 countries in North America, Europe and the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America to gain insight and understanding into some of the more complicated factors associated with disaster recovery.


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