One in five firms has no disaster recovery plan

One in five global companies have no formalized business continuity (BC) plan, according to new research.

According to SteelEye Technology's Business Continuity Index, 19 percent of organizations have no plans whatsoever for assuring business continuity. Most of these enterprises blamed cost as the key barrier to developing BC plans.

The survey also showed that two in ten organizations spend less than $100,000 per year on their BC initiatives. However, a "startling percentage" of organizations reported that that they have needed to invoke BC plans (45 percent).

Respondents to the international survey reported that on average, they have less than 48 hours to correct outages before the downtime becomes potentially fatal, with the largest slice of organizations (32 percent) reporting anything more than four hours of outage as "disastrous."

"This research clearly demonstrates that a good business continuity plan is by no stretch reserved for organizations with huge budgets – there are many affordable options," noted Bob Williamson, vice president for SteelEye Technology. "And when you consider how many organizations actually use their BC plan, and that any company without one could be just a day or two from a 'fatal issue,' the real costs for business continuity assurance begin to look miniscule."

Among the more encouraging findings released were those that showed 87 percent of BC plans include a remote disaster recovery site as a failover option.

Yet even organizations with a plan may be slow to adopt best practices associated with continuity assurance, according to the report.

For example, although 95 percent of organizations reported testing their BC plans at least annually, organizations that have needed to invoke their BC plans test their plans more than twice as often as those who have not yet encountered a potential disaster (19 times per year vs. nine).

This suggests that many organizations seriously underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, and that only once they experience a threat do they prioritize testing as a regular practice.

As well, while a strong majority (65 percent) of organizations with BC plans have implemented an automated data-replication solution between their primary and disaster recovery sites, the majority (54 percent) have not yet implemented an automated failover cluster solution, seen by experts as another key component in a comprehensive business continuity plan.

"There is no doubt that companies are more aware than ever before about the importance of business continuity assurance," added Williamson. "But we think this survey also uncovers several areas where perceptions of the barriers for making it happen are a bit skewed and where even enlightened IT teams need to adopt better practices."

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