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Safety First - Emerging Trends in IT Disaster Recovery


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This ISG white paper examines recent developments in DR strategy development, in terms of both the impact of the broader IT market as well as evolving best practices related specifically to disaster recovery.

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Safety First - Emerging Trends in IT Disaster Recovery

  1. 1. SAFETY FIRST Emerging Trends in IT Disaster Recovery By Cindy LaChapelle, Principal Consultant
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Against a backdrop of increasingly integrated and interdependent global service delivery chains, as well as highly publicized business disruptions, an effective disaster recovery (DR) strategy is becoming a top priority for enterprises. While the risks posed by catastrophic events and natural disasters tend to dominate headlines, most business downtime is actually caused by low-profile factors such as hardware failures, data loss, power and network outages, security breaches, human error and application failures. These factors can damage an organization’s long-term performance and reputation as much as a natural disaster or malicious attack, and must be addressed in any comprehensive DR plan. Moreover, IT industry trends such as cloud computing, virtualization and social media are forcing businesses to fundamentally reevaluate how they plan, test and execute their DR strategy. This ISG white paper examines recent developments in DR strategy development, in terms of both the impact of the broader IT market as well as evolving best practices related specifically to disaster recovery. SAFETY FIRST ■ CINDY LACHAPELLE 1
  3. 3. CLOUD SERVICES As the adoption of cloud services increases, enterprises recognize that the cloud can become part of a DR plan. Rather than buying resources dedicated to disaster recovery, cloud computing allows companies to pay on a per-use basis for both long-term data storage as well as for servers needed for an actual disaster or test. Cloud-based disaster recovery gives enterprises the potential for a lower-cost, faster and more flexible recovery solution for backing up their data. Moreover, cloud-based DR solutions can provide a small- to medium-sized business (SMB) with enterprise-level DR capability at a reasonable cost. At minimum, an SMB can store critical data sets in the cloud so that in the event of a disaster critical business systems can be recovered quickly. Prior to cloud-based solutions, most DR strategies for SMB organizations were either cost prohibitive or largely ad hoc. Advances in cloud solutions allow SMBs to implement DR strategies that provide enterprise-class protection. VIRTUALIZATION Server virtualization has become a key component of DR planning as it reduces downtime and provides businesses with greater flexibility with computing resources. With virtualization, businesses can potentially create an image of an entire data center that can be quickly activated when needed, thereby speeding recovery time at a relatively low cost. As more and more companies take to virtualization, disaster recovery as a process becomes much easier and efficient to deploy, especially with fast and utilitarian replication software or regular cloud-based or physical back-ups. Server virtualization, combined with a remote copy of critical data, can ensure faster Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) aligned to business requirements. SMBs can leverage virtualized services for both data back-up and servers to create a viable DR solution for critical business systems without huge expense. MOBILE CONNECTIVITY By giving employees the ability to work remotely and stay connected in the event of a disaster or business disruption, increasingly sophisticated mobile devices are being recognized as a way to facilitate business continuity, maintain productivity and minimize downtime. However, as mobility continues to gain traction, businesses must include employees’ mobile SAFETY FIRST ■ CINDY LACHAPELLE devices in back-up plans. Indeed, many organizations lack documented back-up plans for either mobile devices or desktops and laptops. At a minimum, a cloud solution should be used to back up mobile device contacts, calendars and call logs, which allows users and corporate administrators to restore this data. SOCIAL NETWORKING As do mobile devices, social networks provide another avenue for people internal or external to the organization to stay in contact during or after a disaster. Social media can be leveraged as an alternative channel to provide effective, vital crisis management in a disaster, improving emergency communications and reducing the risk of dependency on more traditional and vulnerable methods such as email and cellular telecommunications. By incorporating social media into crisis communications plans, enterprises can take a proactive approach to rapidly disseminate information. A well-organized and prompt response is crucial, as is identifying appropriate roles and establishing the organization’s voice and tone. Failing to do so can pose both operational and public relations risks. Due to the conversational nature of social media, a lack of digital presence during a disaster can quickly create an atmosphere where questions, accusations and misinformation escalate. Without the appropriate response at hand, this atmosphere can compound the adverse situation and detract from communications and recovery efforts. MANAGED DISASTER RECOVERY Enterprises are realizing they cannot rely solely on inhouse IT staff to deliver a repeatable recovery response in a crisis. As a result, a growing consensus has emerged that disaster recovery should be managed and delivered by third-party providers focused entirely on disaster recovery. Managed solutions are emerging as an effective way to provide highly available, automated DR systems with data replication for delivering proven recovery. While businesses have traditionally viewed offsite data back-up and storage as sufficient to ensure data recovery and maintenance of operations, well-executed back-up and restore solutions in and of themselves do not guarantee a well-defined disaster recovery plan. Comprehensive disaster recovery requires alignment to business risk and regular testing, neither of which have typically been priorities in back-up solutions. In recent years, events such as the 9/11 attacks and the tsunami in 2
  4. 4. Japan have caused many organizations to reassess their overall data protection strategies for data back-up and recovery, disaster recovery and business continuity as well as long-term retention and security of their data. ELECTRONIC-BASED VAULTING Many organizations are redesigning their DR solutions to leverage data replication and reduce dependency on back-ups as the primary DR strategy for recovery. The higher latency associated with some traditional recovery solutions such as tape back-up has resulted in the adoption of more flexible and cost-effective technologies such as software replication. As part of this trend, many organizations have migrated from tape-based DR solutions to disk-based ones and from tape-based vaulting to electronic-based vaulting such as software replication, continuous data protection, back-up to remote libraries, etc. RECOVERY POINT OBJECTIVES (RPO) A Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the point in time to which data must be recovered as defined by the business. The RPO represents the target elapsed time between occurrence of the major incident or failure and the restoration of the last completed copy being used. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) refers to the time required to recover data after a major incident. These targets should align to targets defined in the DR plan, and need to be defined based on business need and criticality. Zero data loss scenarios may be some combination of the data protection strategies described earlier. The DR plan should also define what systems need to be in place (and where they should be located) to get key business applications up and running again. Often, critical system and application RTOs are shorter than the typical 24-hour interval associated with daily back-ups, so other data protection technologies and strategies such as remote replication or mirroring, snapshots or point in time copies, or continuous data protection technologies may need to be implemented. BALANCING COST AND RISK continuity of business operations remaining high for organizations worldwide, ISG expects these disaster recovery trends to accelerate over the next few years. Businesses should leverage multiple storage technologies to provide the right level of flexibility and responsiveness, while balancing cost and complexity. Virtual Tape Libraries (VTL) and disk-based solutions provide faster back-ups and faster recovery times for key systems and applications and frequently used data. To control costs, while still addressing responsiveness and compliance requirements, disk-based data can be migrated to lower-cost tape storage over time. Disk and VTL solutions also offer deduplication capability, which can significantly reduce overall storage requirements by limiting the total amount of data stored. New advances in tape technologies, such as Linear Tape File System (LTFS), may provide reasonable alternative approaches to disk-based technologies for both faster access to back-up data and for lower performance storage tiers for archive solutions. LTFS is a self-describing file system that makes files on tape directly host-readable, enabling tape to be used in the same fashion as a USB drive. ONGOING TESTING AND REFRESH Another imperative is to establish a regular program for testing and validating back-ups by performing random restores of files and data sets. Integrating this testing with DR planning and testing ensures that data can be recovered from back-ups within the required time frames. The worst time to discover that back-ups are failing or are unrecoverable due to media failures or other corruptions is in the middle of a disaster. Back-up and disaster recovery solutions should be revisited and redesigned as the business evolves and requirements change. Once implemented, these solutions should not be considered static and expected to run unmodified forever. Factors such as exponential growth of structured and unstructured data, new and changing regulatory and compliance requirements, and a greater need for faster and more effective disaster readiness are driving IT organizations to embrace more complex and adaptable data recovery solutions to address business needs. The cost of DR solutions needs to be carefully balanced against the business risk and cost of downtime. To address this challenge, many businesses are reviewing cloud-based back-up and storage options for disaster recovery. With the need to protect data and maintain SAFETY FIRST ■ CINDY LACHAPELLE 3
  5. 5. LOOKING FOR A STRATEGIC PARTNER? Additional Resources (Log in may be required) White Papers, Research Reports and ISG Data in the AccessISG™ Research Library For further information, please contact Alex Kozlov, Director of Marketing, Americas, at or +1 617 558 3377 Information Services Group (ISG) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading technology insights, market intelligence and advisory services company, serving more than 500 clients around the world to help them achieve operational excellence. ISG supports private and public sector organizations to transform and optimize their operational environments through research, benchmarking, consulting and managed services, with a focus on information technology, business process transformation, program management services and enterprise resource planning. Clients look to ISG for unique insights and innovative solutions for leveraging technology, the deepest data source in the industry, and more than five decades of experience of global leadership in information and advisory services. Based in Stamford, Conn., the company has more than 800 employees and operates in 21 countries. For additional information, visit 010814 © Copyright 2014 Information Services Group – All Rights Reserved