Why multisourcing disaster recovery opens up new risks to IT resilience
Plan B’s latest disaster recovery report highlights a new trend emerging in the disaster recovery market place. Fuelled by a desire to meet the recovery time and recovery point objectives of the business, and with the need to maintain budgets, outsourcing to one supplier is becoming superseded by multisourcing. A ‘mix and match’ approach to disaster recovery is helping IT decision-makers to achieve the perfect fit to their business continuity plans, outsourcing a range of disaster recovery solutions to meet the criticality of their services.
The report, which analyses the results from interviewing 200 decision-makers, shows that the gap between offsite backup, offsite images, virtual standby and physical standby is reducing as the market evens out. With the rise of a hybrid approach to disaster recovery, fully outsourcing the service to a single supplier is becoming difficult. Instead, more progressive companies are opting for an in-house resource to define the disaster recovery strategy, source the correct solutions and maintain and manage these solutions to ensure that they work seamlessly together. More critical services such as email and communications, operational systems, and customer-facing systems often have the lowest recovery time objectives and therefore require a standby option (whether this is physical or virtual), whereas developmental servers which aren’t as critical may just be protected by backup.
New risks emerging
With this new approach to tailoring disaster recovery however, comes new risks. The report highlights that that only 21% of disaster recovery tests are full end-to-end tests. This means that in 79% of cases the individual elements of the disaster recovery strategy are being tested, rather than the business testing the whole strategy. When a multisourcing approach to disaster recovery is on the rise, companies should be placing more importance on testing the full disaster recovery strategy, ensuring that in a recovery situation the different services can be brought back to work together, rather than individually.
The risks come because disaster recovery is a bit like a jigsaw: the more pieces you have to put together, the longer it takes and the more difficult it becomes. Servers need to be brought up in the right order; it’s only by bringing them up all together and testing they are all working correctly together that you can be confident your disaster recovery solution is working, and your business is protected.
Disaster recovery testing linked to success rate
The quality and quantity of testing has a direct link to the success rate of IT recoveries. The increased risk to businesses of multisourcing is confirmed by the results in the report. Over the past two years we have seen the success rate of disaster recovery tests rise from 52% (when 24% of tests were full end-to-end tests) to 73% (when 50% of tests were full end-to-end tests) and now fall back to 62% (when only 21% of tests were full end-to-end tests).The challenge of running full disaster recovery tests with a multisourcing approach is apparent, and one which decision-makers need to address.
What does the future of disaster recovery look like?
We expect to see a continuation in the trend for multisourcing disaster recovery, with in-house management, but in the short term we expect that an increase in IT downtime will result. Financial, operational and reputational risk will increase until a solution to testing can be found.
Suppliers may be driven to offer a full range of disaster recovery solutions, enabling them to become a one-stop shop so a fully outsourced model is available, which will include regular and full testing and management. We may also see companies emerging who will specialise in integrating, managing and testing disaster recovery solutions to improve resilience. An opportunity is arising and providers need to adapt to keep up.
About the Author
Beth Baxter is Marketing Manager at Plan B Disaster Recovery Ltd, a specialist UK cloud disaster recovery provider that has pioneered pre-recovery to recover and test IT systems in advance of a failure.