NZ ahead of world on virtual backup, but performance still disappointing: study

Survey by Symantec shows local firms better than global average

Symantec’s most recent disaster-recovery study shows organisations are still falling short when it comes to a consistent and effective policy for backup and recovery of data from virtual servers and the cloud as well as their real in-house servers.

More than half the data on virtual servers is not regularly backed up, security and backup specialist Symantec says.

However, Australian and New Zealand businesses seem to be performing significantly better than the global average in this respect. Sixty percent of virtualised servers are not covered in current disaster recovery (DR) plans of businesses Symantec studied; but the figure is a better though still discouraging 47 percent in Australia and New Zealand.

The survey was based on responses from 1700 organisations with 5000 employees or more from 18 countries. There were 60 responses from New Zealand.

Systems engineering director for Symantec Asia-Pacific, Paul Lancaster, agrees organisations in this region seem ahead of the global state of play, perhaps because of the smaller size of businesses here, making consistent recovery processes easier to put in place. Disaster recovery is possibly accorded a higher priority in local organisations, he says. However, a question on the greatest concerns with cloud computing shows security of offshore processing still dominates thinking in Australia and New Zealand.

Smaller users of cloud computing in particular may be tempted to leave backup for those applications entirely to the cloud provider, but this would be a mistake, Lancaster says; critical data should be backed up locally.

Comparisons with the results of Symantec’s 2009 study show some improvement. The proportion of organisations with a DR plan in place and successfully tested, for example, improved from 35% last year to 55% in the latest study, Lancaster says.

According to Symantec’s statistics, there is a significant disconnect between the time businesses think it will take to recover from a disaster and the average time it actually takes. The former has decreased since the last survey, from four to two hours, showing, Lancaster says, a greater confidence in the processes that organisations have put in place. However, those who have actually been through a disaster and recovery still report the average actual downtime to be closer to five hours – six hours for the Australian/NZ sample.

Australian and New Zealand organisations reported natural disasters, including fire, tsunami and hurricane as major causes of computer outages. However, the leading cause of outages was the mishandling of system upgrades. At least one outage from this cause was reported by 72 percent of respondents worldwide but by 93 percent of the Australian and New Zealand organisations.

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