Addressing a large gathering of big-company CIOs in the US late last year, one of our senior executives invited a show of hands from those in the audience who considered it important to include all levels of storage in a full-scale disaster recovery plan.
Virtually every hand in the room went up, but when those present were asked how many had already done this, most hands went down. As we know too well, CIOs have spent the past few years working to very tight budgets. Where boards of directors were prepared to fund new applications and processes that promised a quick return, they were slow to approve projects and headcount increases that were thought non-essential to the wellbeing of the business.
So while critical data was being backed up as usual, implementing a disaster recovery plan that recognised that not all data is created equal was not high on the list of priorities.
But with a world economy now seemingly on the upswing, falling hardware costs and ever-smarter software for managing multiple types and levels of data, attitudes are changing.
And there is another, very significant, factor at work here. The much tighter compliance requirements recently imposed in many countries, including Australia, have meant that data has to be kept longer and more carefully than in the past. All data.
That factor, together with the fall from grace in recent times of some high-profile business leaders, has meant that companies must not only keep more information on record for longer, but senior executives must be confident that it can be recovered quickly, securely and easily when the regulators demand it.
Destroyed reputations - not to mention steep fines, the risk of business failure and even prison terms - are high prices to pay for not ensuring that even 'dust-covered' old transactions are available when called for.
The commonsense rules for disaster recovery planning haven't changed. All that has happened is that those parts of it that could be left aside without much risk have now become important. The unavoidable need for compliance has subsumed the previously grey areas of disaster recovery. It is no longer a case of getting around to DR at all levels in due course - it is now a must.
Simon Green is Australia and New Zealand managing director of Network Appliance.