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UK disaster recovery maturing – but testing remains a concern, says report

UK organisations are not testing their IT disaster recovery plans frequently or thoroughly enough, a study finds

Companies are starting to adopt a "mix and match" approach to IT disaster recovery to tailor recovery needs to criticality of services and meet budgets, a report reveals.

While offsite backup is still the most common approach to disaster recovery, companies are increasingly adopting more sophisticated physical and virtual standby solutions.

With budget still playing a key part in disaster recovery planning, more companies are now adopting a hybrid strategy with more than one – and often multiple disaster recovery systems across the business to suit the criticality of the systems to the business.

This indicates increasing maturity among the most progressive organisations, but testing continues to be a concern, according to the latest Market research report from Plan B Disaster Recovery.

Companies are not testing their IT disaster recovery plans frequently enough, or thoroughly enough, according to the report.

The survey, based on a survey of 200 IT and business decision makers from a range of sectors and size of business, revealed only 21% of companies carry out full disaster recovery testing; while the remainder admitted carrying out only partial tests to save time and avoid disrupting the business.

Downtime impact

The report said that, with an increasing requirement for testing if a mix and match approach is used, there is a risk of systems not working together and consequently increased IT downtime.

With only 31% of companies testing their disaster recovery systems more frequently than once a year, the report said UK firms run a high risk of financial impact from IT downtime.

The UK is still experiencing too many unsuccessful disaster recovery tests, the report said, which means more resource and budget should be attributed to testing to increase the success rates and reduce the length of downtime during IT failures.

The report said disaster recovery testing and ensuring systems can be brought back up together is an important element of a fully functional disaster recovery strategy, which an in-house team will need to manage closely if a hybrid approach to IT resilience is going to work .

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Despite reports that cloud-based disaster recovery services are increasing, Plan B expects that – as companies start adopting a multiple technology approach – in-house management, maintenance and testing of disaster recovery plans will remain more popular than a fully outsourced approach.

“We are certainly seeing customers demand more flexibility and tailoring from disaster recovery suppliers,” said Tim Dunger, managing director of Plan B Disaster Recovery.

“Buyers are getting smarter, which is really good news for the business continuity world, but we still need to promote testing as an area to take more seriously to reduce IT downtime,“ he said.

The report said it was unlikely that the number of firms fully outsourcing their disaster recovery will increase significantly until disaster recovery companies can offer a “one stop shop” and build a tailored, fully managed disaster recovery service encompassing backup, replication and standby options.

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