Are UK businesses really DR savvy?

Businesses are now relying more heavily on business continuity initiatives, as the risks of downtime become more costly and commonplace.

As an organisation which has, in the first half of 2016, seen a 248 per cent revenue growth rate in our Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) and Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) offerings, we are fully aware that in the face of increment rises in cyber-attacks, infrastructure failures, human error and other threats, companies now have an increased focus on Business Continuity initiatives that were previously more of a tick box exercise.

There have been several notable and high-profile incidents of late which highlight the importance of having adequate defences in place to combat IT outages.

Take, for example, the recent British Airways computer outage which caused extensive flight delays and resulted in the carrier having to apologise over problems with check-in systems at Heathrow and Gatwick. This outage caused the check-in wait times at Heathrow Terminal 5 to go up to 45 minutes for some passengers, resulting in irreparable damage to the organisation’s brand.

Another recent high profile issue concerned major US carrier Delta Air Lines. The organisation subsequently confirmed that the computer outage it suffered in August 2016, which cancelled thousands of flights, cost the carrier $100 million in revenue.

But aside from these major, high profile occurrences, there are also every day system failures, environmental threats and numerous other incidents which have resulted in IT departments racing to protect their businesses against increasing threats. This has prompted increasing numbers of companies to evaluate disaster recovery technologies as a means to ensure resilience in the event of a potential outage.

Keen to understand just how organisations are approaching Disaster Recovery (DR), and ultimately DRaaS adoption, we commissioned independent market research company, Opinion Matters, to survey 250 UK decision makers responsible for their organisation’s IT disaster recovery plans. Those surveyed were from a broad range of industry sectors including: Government and Local Government, Financial Services, IT and Telecoms, Retail and Catering, Legal, Art and Culture, Professional Services, HR, Healthcare and others.

Our goal was to understand if organisations recognise the importance of DR, if DR adoption is growing, whether IT departments/teams are confident in failing over their IT systems and what are the main IT DR concerns and challenges. Here is a snapshot of what we found:

  • Outages happen more frequently than many believe: A staggering 95 per cent of respondents faced an IT issue that resulted in an outage over the past 12 months. Problems ranged from a system failure (53 per cent) through to human error (52 per cent), corrupted data (37 per cent), cyber-attack (32 per cent) and unexplained downtime (30 per cent). Notably, only 20 per cent of the respondents indicated IT issues stemmed from an environmental threat such as flood, storms, fire and power outages.
  • Problems arise despite confidence in failover plans: 87 per cent triggered a failover in the past 12 months, reinforcing the need for IT resilience. However, while 82 per cent of respondents that executed a failover were confident it would be successful, more than half faced issues during the process. This is concerning since 69 per cent reported mere minutes of downtime can have a highly disruptive or catastrophic impact to business. 
  • Testing and training are key, but currently insufficient: Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents claimed to have a trained team and test DR plans either quarterly or twice a year. However, given the prevalence of failover issues reported, this training and testing appears to be lacking. The remaining 37 per cent either have a lightly trained or untrained team while DR testing is infrequent or nonexistent. This significant number highlights the need for more awareness of the importance of DR testing.
  • There is a gap in understanding of DRaaS reliability, security and compliance: A higher percentage of on-premise respondents are optimising for zero downtime (74 per cent) while DRaaS adopters claim to accept minimal downtime in the name of budget (43 per cent). This indicates that many IT leaders are not aware of the availability levels and recovery times of cloud-based DR, as it is possible to get the on-premise levels of uptime with DRaaS without the big budget spend. 

With Gartner predicting there will be 6.8 billion connected devices in use this year, jumping to 20 billion connected devices in 2020 and as reliance on digital devices grows, businesses need to safeguard critical data against potential site-wide disasters that could threaten both the primary and backup data.

After all its not a question of if but when an organisation will face an IT outage as 95 per cent of those companies surveyed will testify. 

Monica Brink, Director of EMEA marketing, iland

Photo Credit: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock