43pc of firms have no disaster recovery plans

10 Jul 2009

Nearly half of organisations in Ireland have no disaster recovery (DR) in place, while a quarter store media in a location that is not fireproof, a new study has revealed.

Almost one third of respondents said they have never performed a test restore on their data, and 39pc acknowledge problems trying to retrieve and restore data from backup.

The report, which was commissioned and produced by MJ Flood Technology, looked at 117 Irish companies, primarily small and medium-sized organisations.

When compared with a similar survey in 2007, the results reveal a slight improvement in the quality of practices. However, many organisations remain exposed to the potential of significant business disruption and loss of revenue due to the absence of proper DR planning and the use of flawed backup processes.

“Data is the currency of the knowledge economy and senior executives have a corporate responsibility to ensure that it is backed up to best practice and stored securely,” said James Finglas, managing director, MJ Flood Technology.

“Companies are clearly ignoring the requirement to put in place proper DR and business continuity planning and they fail to understand the critical nature of these activities. This is starkly illustrated by the fact that a staggering 48pc said their business can tolerate a systems outage of at least one day or more.”

Some 43pc of respondents have no DR plan in place and over half of those (54pc) have no plans to develop one. Around 16pc expressed the view that their business was too small to require DR, while 12pc felt that the cost was prohibitive.

One in 10 of companies are clearly hoping that they never experience a serious outage, while 4pc lack the in-house expertise to develop a DR plan. 

In examining system outages and non-availability of data, 36pc of companies said they can tolerate an outage of one business day, while a surprising 12pc said this outage could last as long as a week.

Surprisingly, just 14pc of organisations had a zero tolerance towards outages and non-availability of data.

Fergal Hennigan, partner manager, CA, explained: “Companies are increasingly dependent on reliable and continuous access to critical business data. To promote innovation and drive competitive advantage, all business systems and applications need to be available at all times.”

While all respondents are currently using backup technologies to protect data, some are using flawed practices that could jeopardise the integrity of that information.

Some 16pc of companies store backup media onsite only, when best practice suggests that both onsite and offsite storage is preferable to avoid the potential of physical damage, fire or theft.

Some 26pc of organisations admit that backup media is stored in a location that` is not fireproof, while 27pc say there is only one person within their company who has responsibility for taking regular data backups of business-critical information. 

The survey also reveals an over-reliance on the integrity of the data backup, as almost one third (31pc) of companies have never performed a test restore. Data backups can be incorrectly performed, which compromises the ability to retrieve and restore data to its original condition, and best practice suggests that backups should be tested at least twice a year.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years