Slow recovery from disasters or other downtime handicaps organisations' ability to respond to unforeseen events, and less than a quarter of companies are confident of making a "full recovery to agreed timescales", according to research commissioned for the V3 Cloud & Infrastructure Summit.
Peter de Vente, a systems consultant and business continuity specialist at Dell, suggested that organisations need to make sure that disaster recovery plans include prioritising systems, databases and data so that IT staff can focus on getting the most valuable IT assets up and running first.
"It's a good question. How much time do you need for your restore? And you have to put that against how much data you need to restore. Then it becomes another story," he said.
Vente suggested that organisations ought to look at how much raw data they store and then scale up to take account of how much data they are likely to store in 10 years' time in order to build an enduring data recovery and back-up strategy.
"I always joke that in 10 years' time I won't have a job anymore, because if you look at the pace of data growth and how we deal with data protection, it simply won't work anymore when organisations have hundreds of petabytes of data. You can't do that in the old-fashioned way," he warned.
One of the challenges many organisations face when disaster strikes is that staff supposedly working to bring up the same systems don't communicate and work together effectively.
"In a lot of companies, I see different admins: someone is responsible for data and data protection, and another person for the application. As long as they do back up, it works. At the point of restore, though, they need to work together. It's not that they can't, but that suddenly they need to talk to each other," said Vente.
"They need to ask each other: 'How does this relate to our backups? How can I know what version is what?'. There's sometimes a language difference, too. The database administrator wants 'this', but the back-up administrator only has 'that'."
Vente was speaking in a Summit panel debate entitled 'Identifying the cost benefits of a strategic approach to enterprise backup and recovery' alongside Andy Boura, senior information security architect at information company Thomson Reuters.
Boura pointed out that, while building and maintaining a backup and recovery infrastructure does cost money, the cost in terms of lost business is even greater, as reflected in the Computing Research among CIOs and other IT leaders.
"The average for a Fortune 1000 company would be $100,000 per hour. If you have a day's outage, that's an awful lot of revenue," said Boura.
The research also noted a big difference between the time IT leaders think it would take to recover data in the event of a disaster, and the time it might take to bring applications back online. "There's pressure to keep that [time] down, but I'm not surprised that it is expected to take longer to restore applications than data because there's a lot of additional complexity with applications," said Boura.
"You have dependencies - potentially external dependencies - versioning, and you have the risk of partial or incomplete processing of data [when the application went down]. You may even have corruption of data that you have to deal with and that can mean an awful lot of high-adrenaline work."
Restoring data, he added, is typically more straightforward than getting an application back up and running, provided backups are up to date and easily accessible.
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