The Stack Archive

The five most common attitudes towards disaster recovery – and most are incredible

Tue 29 Apr 2014


There is a wide range of attitudes to risk when it comes to protecting IT systems and data according to some new research. Jules Taplin examines the different categories and finds that most are just not credible positions

My day job is all about disaster recovery (DR), so I spend a lot of my time talking to IT and business decision makers. It’s quite clear, though, that people fall into categories based on their attitude to risk. I see 5 main categories of approach to disaster recovery:

“Risk Taker” Around 10% of our clients will need help from us each year. With those kinds of odds, it’s probably not surprising that some people will decide that having no credible provision at all is acceptable. And, of course, if your business is so small that it’s not worth anything yet, then why would you protect it? Our most recent survey puts about 9% of the businesses we spoke to in this category.

“Cost minimiser” Cost Minimisers recognise that they need to protect their business, but their focus remains very tightly not on their requirement, but on the amount of money that they’re prepared to spend. This is the most common attitude with 37% of companies prioritising cost when choosing a DR solution*. Typically, this leads to customers adopting extensions to a backup solution, and leaves a lot of risk untreated. The advice for these guys is that regular end-to-end testing of their solution is essential to both understand the risk they’re taking, and the effectiveness of their solution (19% of our survey respondents reported that they were unable to completely recover on their last test).

“Leave it to the IT team” 62%* of companies run their disaster recovery solution in-house. It’s often seen as cost-efficient (largely by organisations failing to account properly for the total cost of ownership of the strategy), and in my experience, is nearly always a poor plan, if for no other reason that planning, testing, and maintaining the systems you require will inevitably become a low priority for a busy IT department.

“This should be somebody else’s problem” With 38% of disaster recovery now being outsourced*, this reflects the fact that there are now more cost-effective solutions available. Just because it’s outsourced, though, doesn’t mean that what you’ve bought is any good. Buyers should be involved with tests, receive certification and engage with suppliers regularly. If companies practice their DR strategy regularly, then they’ll cope much better in the event of a disaster.

“This actually has to work” Believe it or not, this isn’t a universally held belief! These decision makers understand the value of their businesses, and are conscious of the reputational damage that will undoubtedly ensue from a poorly managed incident. Some of them have even lived through enough trauma to understand that their capabilities will be very seriously degraded. The good news for these decision makers is that they can now achieve maximum functionality at a lower cost through automated Pre-recovery solutions which reduce the need for higher costs associated with more traditional server mirroring solutions.

For all of that, the cost of a credible DR provision is a drop in the ocean compared to the costs of getting through a disaster without one. The latest technology recovers your IT system in advance every night, just in case you need it, and with the use of cloud and automation this is becoming more and more cost effective.

In my upcoming blogs I’ll be sharing ways to help you improve your disaster recovery solution; covering scalability, testing, improving availability, reducing management time, and building in zero tolerance for failure.

Jules Taplin is Technical Director with Plan B Disaster Recovery

*Plan B DR survey report 2014 


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