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Survey Says Companies Struggle With Cloud In Disaster Recovery

An annual survey from Symantec Corp. on disaster recovery shows that trends such as virtualization and the cloud continue to have an impact on organizations' disaster recovery plans. In fact, 84 percent of survey respondents say that virtualization led them to reevaluate their disaster recovery plans in 2010, compared with 64 percent in 2009. Technologies such as virtualization and the cloud make disaster recovery more complex. Respondents cited several factors, most notably a lack of tools or having to use multiple tools, as challenges they had encountered while protecting mission-critical applications in virtual and physical environments.

The survey also found some surprising information, such as that up to half of both mission-critical and non-mission-critical applications are now in the cloud. "One company put their financial systems in the cloud," says Peter Elliman, senior manager of product marketing for the Mountain View, Calif., company . "You wouldn't have expected it 24 months ago. Obviously, this has an impact from a disaster recovery perspective."

The survey found that 66 percent of respondents say that security is their major concern, but 55 percent say that the biggest challenge they face is the ability to control fail-overs and make resources available. In addition, up to a quarter of a company's IT budget now goes to disaster recovery-related initiatives, including backups. "Disaster recovery is part of the cost of doing business," Elliman says.

The survey also found 44 percent of data on virtual systems is not regularly backed up, and only 20 percent of respondents use replication and fail-over technologies to protect virtual environments. Up to 60 percent of virtualized servers are not covered in current disaster recovery plans - an increase from 45 percent from the previous year. However, this isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds, Elliman says. "Perhaps they have testbed data in the virtual environment that doesn't need to be protected," he says.

There was some good news. For example, 82 percent of survey respondents reported that they tested their disaster recovery plans more often than once a year, compared with 66 percent last year, Elliman says, recommending that every organization should be testing its disaster recovery more than once a year.

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