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Survey: Backup failures hit a high as pandemic working hits home

Veeam survey finds distributed working plus operations that span on-prem and the cloud the background to high numbers of failures in backup and restore, with 40% of SLAs not met

Backup is more difficult than ever at the moment, but that will be resolved at least in part by a move to the cloud. That’s one conclusion it is possible to draw from Veeam’s 2021 data protection report, which questioned around 3,000 IT decision-makers worldwide.

With a background of increasing cloud operations, digital transformation and the effects of the pandemic, organisations find themselves with a variety of new and legacy systems, on-site, out to remote sites and in the cloud.

In this context, the key trends seem to be that backup and disaster recovery will increasingly migrate to cloud and as-a-service provision in the next couple of years.

The number of respondents that reported inadequate backup or failure to meet service level agreements (SLAs) rose to 40% in 2021 from a pre-pandemic 31% in 2019.

Digging down into that, backup failure rates are quite staggering, with 37% of all jobs failing and 34% of restores failing.

Meanwhile, the average duration of downtime was 79 minutes and at an average cost of $84,650 per hour.

In terms of less tangible downsides, downtime is perceived by respondents to damage customer confidence (52%), brand integrity (47%) and employee confidence (36%), as well as to divert resources from longer-term plans (33%) and reduce the company stock price (30%).

Backup moving to the cloud

The survey asked respondents about their backup now, both on-premise and in the cloud. Of the 40% that said they currently back up with on-premise tools, that figure was projected to decline to 19% by 2023.

Meanwhile, the use of cloud-based backup was expected to increase, from 30% of those questioned using self-managed services now to 35% expecting to do so in 2023. The numbers that use backup-as-a-service to the cloud are expected to rise from 29% now to 46% in 2023.

Likewise, disaster recovery (DR) is also set for a shift to the cloud and to as-a-service provision. While 44% use disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) now, 61% expect to do so in 2023.

There’s also likely to be a big shift in the protection of cloud applications. Currently, 69% of those asked use the in-built data protection in Microsoft Office 365, but that’s set to decline to 47% this year. Meanwhile, while only 27% currently use a third-party backup product or service for Office 365, 45% intend to switch to one in 2021.

Data protection wishlist

The Veeam survey asked respondents what they would like from data protection products and services, as well as in cloud and multicloud working.

Cloud DR (DRaaS) came out top (38%), with the ability to automate recovery workflows next (35%). That was followed by the ability to integrate data protection within data security (35%) and to embed backup and recovery tasks into systems management application programming interfaces (34%).

To be able to move data from one cloud to another was seen as desirable by 36% of those questioned, while 34% wanted the ability to move workloads from on-premise to the cloud.

The pandemic and digital transformation

The effects of the pandemic – with economic uncertainty in the background – are key drivers for digital transformation and the way it is being implemented, in particular towards increased use of the cloud.

Digital transformation is almost ubiquitous. This year, 98% of respondents indicated they had embarked on it, compared with 80% in 2019. This has been hampered, or perhaps in some cases amplified, by the need to focus on maintaining operations during the pandemic, as reported by 53%.

Just more than half (51%) of those questioned said the pandemic had accelerated digital transformation efforts. For a small minority (5%), the pandemic halted digital transformation projects. It slowed them down for a further 25%.

If there’s one major effect the pandemic has brought, it is a shift to the cloud.

In the first months of the pandemic, 91% said they increased their use of the cloud. And nearly two-thirds (60%) said they would add more cloud services in 2021, while 48% planned to accelerate the use of software as a service (SaaS).

Dependence on legacy systems, perhaps exacerbated by the pandemic, was reported by 51%, compared with 40% in 2020. Lack of IT staff skills (49%), senior management buy-in (38%), and a lack of money (36%) and time (35%) were all up significantly on pre-Covid survey results.

While cyber threats were a driving concern for 34% of respondents in 2020, that receded to 28% in this survey.

The biggest worry now is economic uncertainty, which 40% of those questioned ticked as the biggest background driver. Also up was the need to meet changing customer needs (32%, up from 30%). This is possibly affected by the need to change business and working models due to the pandemic.

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