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Business Management

Bill Taylor-Mountford (Asia) - Reaching for the Gold Standard in Global Disaster Recovery

 Reaching for the Gold Standard in Global Disaster Recovery

Being fit for business is imperative for organisations participating in a highly competitive global economy. This means being able to continue to operate in the event of IT failure or major disaster, whether man-made or natural. But with the global adoption of virtualisation, and the ongoing shift towards the cloud, DR strategies are becoming more complex worldwide. IT managers are no longer tasked with just protecting their physical infrastructure but have to manage backups across virtual and cloud environments too.

Despite universal complexities, there is no global standard for DR. A recent global study of 3000 IT managers in SMBs, conducted by Acronis and industry think-tank The Ponemon Institute, set out to create a global index that identified the attributes required for a business to have confidence in excelling at backup and DR.

Findings in Asia-Pacific

Asia is by no means immune to the global recession that rocked the world, but it has certainly proven to be more buoyant and robust than the US and Europe. In fact, by 2013, China will overtake Japan as the second largest IT market worldwide (behind the US) according to analyst house IDC. With the spotlight of the global recovery firmly placed on APAC, how is it fairing in terms of technology adoption and best practices with regards to backup and DR?

The results revealed Asia Pacific (APAC) on the whole scored well apart from Australia which lagged behind the rest of the region. Singapore and Hong Kong scored consistently high mark, ranking among the best countries globally for backup and DR. They are the most confident countries when it comes to the belief that their operations will work in the event of a serious incident such as a natural disaster or cyber attack (68%/71% respectively are confident). And they claim to have the best-qualified staff globally to execute DR operations.

The Germans (13%) and Dutch (14%) who appeared at the top of the index allocate more than twice as much of their overall IT budget to backup and DR than Singapore (6%) and Hong Kong (5%). This comparative lack of budget for backup and DR seems to conflict with high confidence in recovering quickly from a serious incident. It could be that this region is better at driving cost efficiencies than its counterparts around the world or it could be that they are employing the right policies, procedures and technologies to make DR work.

Lagging behind

Australia, on the other hand, is the least confident worldwide. Just 22% of Australian businesses felt that they would be able to recover quickly in the event of downtime, compared to a global average of 50%.

Approximately a third of businesses in Australia (36%) do not have an offsite backup and DR strategy in place. Australia was generally the most likely to claim backup and DR was not being made enough of a priority, citing lack of budget and resources as the primary reasons behind this. But this theory plays out only partially. As a proportion of all IT spend, Australia spent consistently less on backup and DR (11%) than Germany (13%) and the Netherlands (14%) but not by a wide mark. It's clear that Australia is underperforming. The tragic floods in Australia are sure to push backup and disaster recovery to the forefront of IT.

Racing ahead of the cloud  

According to the latest "Cloud Computing in Asia Pacific 2010 - End-user Adoption Trends'' report from SpringBoard, cloud adoption has accelerated sharply across all countries in Asia Pacific during 2010. 45% of organizations in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan (APEJ) are either currently using or planning cloud initiatives, up from 22% in 2009. SMBs are the most aggressive adopters, with 54% currently using or actively planning to adopt cloud-based solutions.

A $430 million high bandwidth underwater cable system will soon link Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore, echoing the sentiments of Julia Gillard's ambitious plan for a national broadband network that will link 93% of homes and businesses across Australia. Utilising the cloud is clearly on the boardroom agenda in this part of the world.

Acronis' survey indicated similar adoption rates of cloud technology. It also unveiled that Asia Pacific countries are the most likely to use separate backup solutions for physical, virtual and cloud environments worldwide. Close to half of the businesses use more than three different solutions and between a fifth and a third use more than five. This is perhaps why IT managers in the region state that complexity of workloads as one of the main inhibitors to backing up in the cloud. Using one solution to reduce management complexities might be beneficial for these IT managers.

What the index teaches us

In today's world backup and disaster recovery is still a subject which many SMB organisations still struggle with. It seems that having the right staff and policies and procedures in place are vital components to being confident in the ability to recovery systems. However, every region cited moving data between physical, virtual and cloud environments as their greatest challenge (68%).

The success of any company's backup and DR is based on the availability of its systems regardless of the environment that its data and systems are held in. For most SMBs, a service's success is underpinned by its ability to deliver ease of use, cost effectiveness and flexibility. Both cloud services and virtualisation can do this, so the outlook is confident. Managed in the right way they can offer businesses the ultimate backup and disaster recovery protection, helping all businesses in Asia Pacific region to achieve the gold medal in terms of backup and DR solutions.  

By Bill Taylor-Mountford, President of Acronis Asia-Pacific, Acronis 

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