A Deeper Look at Symantec’s 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey Results

Just about a month ago Symantec released the global findings of its 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey which, as expected, generated a good amount of attention in terms of its results. But what always piques my interest in these reports is the nuggets of information that I find when I dig deeper into them. This report did not disappoint as it provided some key insights into other key trends going on within data protection. In particular, it revealed how most companies are now using one team to manage the protection and recovery of their data.

There were three findings in Symantec’s 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey released on May 14, 2012, that grabbed the majority of the attention of the press already written about this survey. These findings included:

  1. Virtualization, cloud and mobility are gaining traction with SMBs. It found that 35% of SMBs (those companies with 99 – 1000 employees) are using mobile devices to access business information, 34% have already implemented or are engaged in server virtualization, 43 are implementing or already engaged in a private cloud and 40% are implementing or already engaged in a public cloud.
  2. Being prepared for disasters is a factor in implementing these specific technologies. SMBs recognize that they are more often being asked to recover from and/or respond to disasters as quickly as enterprises organizations but do not have the same resources to do so. This explains why over one third of SMBs cite disaster preparedness as being a moderate to large factor in their decision to deploy mobility (36%), public clouds (34%), private clouds (37%), and/or server virtualization (34%).
  3. Early adopters of these technologies better prepared for disasters. Those who leveraged mobility, private clouds, public clouds or server virtualization found that they were better prepared to respond to a disaster than before they implemented these technologies. Those who implemented server virtualization were the most satisfied with 71% of them saying it had a positive impact on their level of disaster preparedness.

So while these were the findings of the report that were generally highlighted in multiple articles in the press, there were other equally intriguing findings included in the findings that Symantec shared that did not get near the attention they deserved as they helped to confirm what DCIG also finds to be true.

For instance, DCIG has long alleged that companies are consolidating administrators (backup, servers and storage) into one team which are then collectively responsible for the administration of the organization’s entire IT infrastructure. Symantec’s findings in its survey of 2000+ organizations (2,053 to be exact) would seem to confirm that conclusion. It revealed that 74% of those who participated in the survey have decision making authority or are responsible for the management of the entire company or enterprise.

Mgt Scope DR Survey 2012.JPGSource: Symantec 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey Results

Another statistic that caught my eye was the types of natural disasters that occur from time to time at one or more of your locations. Natural disasters like tsunamis, tornados, and maybe even hurricanes seem to grab most of the attention in the national headlines and often prompt people to implement disaster preparedness measures.

However anyone who is in either an earthquake or flood zone ought to be the ones taking action. Fully 25% of those surveyed state that one or more their locations are impacted by earthquakes from time to time while 30% stated that one of their locations could be impacted by a flood.

Natural Disaster DR Survey 2012.JPGSource: Symantec 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey Results

Even the above chart of natural disasters fails to capture the most common forms of natural disasters for which companies need to be prepared to respond. Rather, it is the power company who may be the most likely one to cause a “natural” disaster in your area as fully 55% of those surveyed said they had experienced at least one (1) power outage in the past twelve months and 7% had experienced six or more such power outages.

It looks like it also behooves IT administrators to pay close attention to the weather man. A full 37% of companies experienced “storms” (I am guessing by “storms” this means “severe storms that include lightning, thunder and possibly hail“) in the prior twelve months leading up to the survey. As someone who lives in the Midwest the possibility of a storm causing an outage (possibly for an extended time such as an hour or more) certainly resonates with me as two such storms hit our section of the country in just the last month.

Natural Disasters 12 months DR Survey.JPG

Source: Symantec 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey Results


So as I look first at the high level conclusions that got the majority of the attention in the press and then take into account some of these gems included deeper in the report, there are three action items for companies.

First, if you live an area that has frequent power outages or storms, you should be at front and center in making sure your company is ready to respond to a disaster.
While power outages and storms generally do not leave behind smoking holes, they can cause brown-outs or failures of just some of the applications or systems that can be problematic to recover from, especially if it is an application that produces data upon which other systems rely.

Second, an overwhelming number of companies cited server virtualization (71%) as the most beneficial technology to implement to be prepared for a disaster. This only makes sense. Not only does server virtualization enable organizations to recover a virtual machine (VM) on another physical machine within their infrastructure, they can potentially recover the VM at another site or even in the cloud. So if you have not already implemented server virtualization, it behooves you to do so if for no reason you are better prepared for a disaster.

Finally, the days of IT administrators living in bubble and only needing to recover the applications for which they are responsible are essentially over. As this survey reveals, most are already part of a larger team (potentially a global one.) As such, they need to choose a data protection solution that enables them to first centrally manage the protection of applications (physical or virtual) and then recover these applications anywhere from anywhere.

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