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A survey of 700 IT professionals published this week by Spiceworks, a provider of IT tools distributed via an online IT community, finds that 95 percent of IT organizations have a disaster recovery (DR) plan. However, the survey data also suggests that most of those plans will go awry. In fact, the survey finds that 23 percent have never tested their DR plans.

Among those that have tested their plans, only 34 percent do so least once per quarter. More commonly, 29 percent test their plan just once a year and 14 percent test only every couple of years.

According to the survey, the primary reasons DR plans don’t get tested vary — not enough time (61 percent), inadequate resources (53 percent), DR is not a priority (34 percent), DR process is too complex (11 percent), and testing being considered too expensive (8 percent).

Not surprisingly, in the last 12 months, a total of 59 percent of respondents said they have experienced one to three outages, 11 percent have experienced four to six outages, and 7 percent have experienced seven or more. The survey also finds the bigger the business, the harder it tends to fall. All told, 71 percent of small businesses experienced one or more outage in the last 12 months, compared to 79 percent of mid-size businesses, and 87 percent of large businesses.

Among businesses that lost business revenue due to an outage in the past 12 months, 59 percent estimated losing less than $10,000 in revenue, 31 percent estimated a loss of $10,000 to $100,000, and 10 percent reported losing $100,000 or more.

A significant loss for businesses

It should quickly become apparent to managed service providers (MSPs) that most of these organizations are incurring losses that generally exceed the amount that gets invested in building and testing a DR plan. It’s also clear that what passes for a DR plan is not nearly as comprehensive as it should be.

The survey finds 81 percent of companies use UPS (uninterruptable power source) devices and 73 percent make use of disk-based backups. But only 49 percent of organizations use cloud-based backup and less than half (47 percent) have backup power sources. Other aspects of a DR plan that have been addressed unevenly include redundant internet service providers (42 percent), high availability / failover systems (41 percent), redundant network infrastructure (36 percent), hybrid cloud backup solutions (33 percent), redundant off-site server infrastructure (26 percent), and fireproof backup storage (23 percent).

That lack of a comprehensive approach to DR helps account for why when there is an outage the source of the problems gets traced back to power outages (56 percent), Internet connectivity issues (48 percent), hardware failure (32 percent), third party vendor outages (27 percent), human error (21 percent), and natural disasters (13 percent).

As Ben Franklin once observed, failing to plan is planning to fail. In the two centuries since Franklin made that observation, it’s been made clear that as far as IT is concerned there’s still a lot of planning to fail happening. The challenge and opportunity for MSPs is finding a way to insert themselves into an organization’s DR plan at a price point that comes in well below what it costs an organization to recover from downtime that is all but inevitable.

Photo:  PeterPhoto123 / Shutterstock.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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