The cloud is proving a boon to enterprise disaster recovery efforts by reducing cost and improving flexibility, but most business IT departments aren't taking advantage of the new possibilities and are leaving themselves vulnerable to costly disruptions, a new survey conducted by NTT shows.
Ninety percent of executives surveyed agreed they need a disaster recovery/business continuity plan that covers data outages and breaches, but only 50% have such a plan and less than half test those plans regularly to see if they are valid.
Because of cloud computing and storage and the emergence of on-demand network services, it is easier than ever for businesses to have failover options for natural disasters, manmade attacks or simple service outages, notes Indranil Sengupta, NTT America Inc. senior director of cloud services development. Instead of investing capex dollars in extra hardware that sits idle until something happens, companies can tailor disaster recovery efforts in the cloud, using and paying for those resources only when they are needed.
"Cloud-based recovery has changed things around from a hardware-based model to a software-based model," he notes. "There is no longer a need for long-term contracts, maintenance, etc., of hardware. You can buy cloud-based services on a fee basis, and have the flexibility to locate them where you want."
NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT) is also making it possible for customers to conduct tests of their disaster recovery/business continuity plans through its customer service portal, transforming what once was a tedious process that could take months to complete into something that can be done on demand in a much shorter time frame, without disrupting existing operations.
That's important, Sengupta notes, because even companies that put DR/BC plans in place often fail to test to make sure they are working. Twenty-three percent of the companies in NTT's survey that had disaster plans failed to ever test them and 55% didn't test on a regular basis. Of those that did test regularly, 74% admitted the tests often didn't meet their company's recovery objectives.
Given the fast pace of change in today's enterprise IT operations, it is very common for DR/BC plans to be outdated, a reality that can lead to costly data center outages or other problems. According to NTT's research, even one minute of data center downtime costs, on average, $7,900.
"Cloud-based disaster recovery with the portal makes it very simple for them to carry out disaster recovery tests," he says. "They can generate reports, and prove to anyone who wants to look at it the status of the plan. It's possible to fail over, run service on the failover site, and then fail it back, all without disrupting end customers. That saves companies a lot of time and money as well."
There is increased awareness of disaster recovery efforts, Sengupta notes, but there may well be a lag in movement by enterprises because they are locked into long-term contracts for DR/BC, and are waiting for those to expire.
One of the things NTT is doing now is showing enterprises that even if they write off the existing long-term investment in capex for the hardware-based solutions they have been using, the overall total cost of ownership for disaster recovery/business continuity can still go down, while providing a better level of protection.
"We have the business justification around this in terms of cost savings," he says. "And we can also show, from the IT standpoint, a much greater ease of use."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading