Cloud services company Evolve IP conducted its “2015 Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Survey” with more than 2,000 executive and IT professionals, and, in the end, learned that less than half feel very prepared to recover their IT and related assets following a disaster or other incident.

The survey explores disaster preparedness and disaster recovery trends in North American organizations – 53 percent of the 2,084 respondents work for companies with 100 to 2,000 employees, 16.5 percent work for businesses with more than 2,000 employees, and the remainder come from groups with between one and 99 staffers.

Nearly 35 percent of respondents said that their organization has experienced an incident or outage that required disaster recovery, and roughly 44 percent of those have experienced multiple incidents, according to the survey.

At 47 percent, hardware failure and server issues was the top cause of incidents and outages. Environmental disasters came in at 34 percent, other miscellaneous power outages at 27.5 percent, human error at 18.5 percent, software failure at 15 percent, backup failure at 8.5 percent, and deliberate attack at 6.5 percent.

When asked how ready they are to recover their IT and related assets in the event of a disaster or other incident, 50.5 percent of respondents said they feel somewhat prepared, 45.5 percent said very prepared, and four percent said not prepared, the survey shows.

In a Wednesday email correspondence, Scott Kinka, CTO of Evolve IP, told SCMagazine.com that it is not very surprising that more than half of respondents felt somewhat prepared, but he said that executives should find it concerning.

“To be prepared organizations must have a [disaster recovery] plan in place and test it at least once per year,” Kinka said. “It sounds simple, but most of the organizations we talk to daily simply can’t produce a plan at all. Business executives don’t know if a plan exists. To be very prepared the plan needs to be integrated with all departments and groups and cover not just core IT items, but communications, call center, [human resources], finance [and more].”

According to the survey, 74 percent of respondents said that their organization has implemented a disaster recovery plan, and 17.5 percent of those respondents said their company implemented a plan due to a previous disaster.

45 percent of respondents said their organization is using backup tapes as their disaster recovery implementation. 41.5 percent said their group is using additional servers and devices at their primary site, and 41 percent said their business has a secondary site that mirrors its primary site.

“A not so great solution today is tape back-up and it was still noted as a primary [disaster recovery] solution for 45 [percent] of those in the survey,” Kinka said. “The manual requirements with this solution are cumbersome and allow for too much human error. Additionally, any sort of large-scale environmental disaster makes tape backup even riskier and recoveries run longer.”

Only six percent of respondents said their organization has a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) implementation.

“Hosting with a third party vendor in a different geographic region is a great start – as we saw in the survey results, those with a cloud-based DRaaS solutions are the most confident in their ability to recover from a major incident,” Kinka said.

So, which industry is the least prepared when it comes to disaster recovery?

Educational institutions, according to the survey. Only 25.5 percent of respondents indicated that their institution is very prepared to recover from a disaster. Additionally, only 62 percent of educational institutions have implemented a disaster recovery plan.

“It is likely due to a combination of budget constraints coupled with a higher threshold for risk,” Kinka said, going on to add, “About 6 in 10 of those surveyed who worked in education felt that their [disaster recovery] budget was underfunded, so in terms of re-budgeting they should look to cloud solutions which provide greater flexibility and cost less than a DIY overhaul.”

Kinka outlined major areas organizations should consider in the disaster recovery process, including having a formal plan of what qualifies as a disaster, notifying all members of a disaster recovery team, sending out key communications, establishing what physical work environments are available, verifying if the network is operational, and rerouting phones to mobile devices. Also, all activities and outcomes should be documented, he added.