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Top Disaster Recovery Challenges and How to Address Them

In today’s enterprise environment, a disaster-recovery plan isn’t just something that’s nice to have—it’s more crucial than ever. A business-continuity strategy must be formulated to ensure that when a disruptive event takes place—be it a service interruption, inclement weather or any other outage—the company can sustain its usual processes.

By Alan Glazer

Creating an effective disaster-recovery plan isn’t without its fair share of challenges. Unless every essential aspect is factored into the strategy, the enterprise will likely find the plan lacking when it comes time to activate it. Therefore, pinpointing and addressing these obstacles ahead of time is a critical part of a successful disaster-recovery strategy.

Related: Why You Want a Witness to Disaster Recovery

Who’s Adequately Prepared?

According to a Dimensional Research study commissioned by Axcient, today’s enterprises deem a backup and business-continuity strategy critical. The majority find current approaches lacking, however.

The study found that 90 percent of IT leaders employ several different backup and recovery tools. Of the respondents with multiple disaster-recovery systems in place, 60% said these tools had overlapping capabilities. At the same time, 91% noted that having a variety of tools in place causes numerous problems with the company’s disaster-recovery strategy, including the learning curve involved with the use of several different systems and the cost of added service licenses and maintenance.

The research also underscored the impact of unscheduled downtime. Although 97% of respondents had experienced a major outage in the past 24 months, only 7% said they would be able to respond and recover from a similar subsequent event within two hours. Overall, Axcient CEO Justin Moore noted that such downtime and permanent data loss can cost the business market more than $40 billion annually.

“With multiple, disparate, legacy tools for backup and recovery, current solutions are broken,” Moore noted. “As a result, users are unable to recover their systems in the event of an IT outage, or even worse, a disaster.”

The study also found that half of all IT professionals agree that if data is unrecoverable, their department is held responsible. With this fact in mind, IT teams are working to find new solutions to these issues that will help them create an all-encompassing plan for disaster recovery.

Related: Disaster Recovery Belongs in the Cloud

Other Challenges

In addition to the obstacles illuminated by the study, senior systems engineer and technology author Karl Palachuk also noted several other issues with companies’ disaster-recovery strategies:

  • They may not have a disaster-recovery plan in place at all.
  • The current plan is incorrect or unreliable.
  • The plan includes unnecessary technology.
  • The plan hasn’t been effectively tested.
  • The plan doesn’t include sufficient information management regulations.

“The bottom line is that preparation will make a disaster recovery go as smoothly as possible,” Palachuk wrote. “Having technical knowledge and a vague idea of what needs to be done is simply not enough. A successful recovery requires a good plan that addresses the… biggest problems of disaster recovery plans.”

Addressing Challenges

There are several approaches business leaders and IT managers can take to mitigate the challenges to their enterprises’ disaster-recovery plans, according to an Acronis whitepaper:

  • Carrying out smaller backups that help streamline information organization, backup scheduling and overall management.
  • Employing scalable technology that can expand with the business’s needs.
  • Using data-deduplication strategies for cost-effectiveness in storage.
  • Integrating new, non-traditional deployment systems.

Related: How to Avoid Downtime with a Proper Disaster Recovery Plan

Using the Cloud

One of the best solutions to emerge in this arena is cloud technologies. The study found that one-third of businesses currently use the cloud as part of their disaster-recovery plans, and 89% of respondents noted clear benefits in employing the cloud in this capacity. Furthermore, of the 74% of IT professionals who use a non-cloud secondary site for their business continuity, 79% said they would consider switching to a cloud-based strategy if the resources were in place. As such, Moore noted it’s no surprise that IT departments are beginning to realize the advantages of including the cloud in disaster-recovery plans.

“Given the staggering complexity and limitation of traditional on-premise backup and recovery solutions, there is clear value in fully transitioning to a single, comprehensive cloud-based solution,” said Diane Hagglund, senior research analyst at Dimensional Research. “Although cloud-based backup and recovery is still early in adoption, the recovery market is ripe for innovation and the cloud is the next frontier.”

As traditional disaster-recovery approaches—which entail daily and weekly data backups and rely on unproven assumptions that network computing infrastructure can be rapidly reassembled after a disaster—come up short, interest is growing in the IT community to explore cloud technologies as a method of improving enterprise disaster recovery. The increasing reliance on web applications for core business functions like sales, customer support, supply-chain management, health-care recordkeeping and real-time financial transactions and record generation underscores the need for a disaster-recovery strategy that can quickly restore data and business capabilities. Another possible driver of greater interest in cloud solutions is that companies who rely on log files to update databases with recent transactions may find that in some disaster-recovery situations, skilled employees won’t be available to perform the needed updates.

For all of these reasons and more, IT professionals are choosing a more automated recovery approach that addresses the need to recover data in real time and that enables rapid network computing environment restoration—all while minimizing or eliminating the need for company-staff intervention. Cloud-based disaster-recovery solutions are therefore gaining in popularity as IT leaders recognize them as a better, more affordable option for businesses of all sizes.