Forrester: IT must prove need for disaster recovery tools

IT managers should position disaster-recovery preparedness as a competitive advantage

Even though more than a quarter of companies have faced a disaster over the past five years, according to Forrester Research, IT managers must still do a better job at convincing business leaders to invest in disaster recovery systems.

Forrester analyst Stephanie Balarous said managers must work to convince corporate executives that disaster recovery is not simply an "insurance policy," but can boost operational efficiency by protecting systems against potential failures.

A Forrester survey of 250 disaster recovery professionals last October found that during the five-year period, 27 percent of companies were forced to declare at least one disaster, which the researcher defines as an event that requires activation of a disaster recovery plan.

"IT knows their [systems] are vulnerable and it keeps them up at night," Balarous said. "They want to do something about it but it's very hard to get funding for disaster recovery because you can't necessarily use models like ROI and TCO."

She suggested that companies consider disaster recovery investment as a rolling upgrade that consistently augments existing infrastructure and application investments rather than a one-time event that can be delayed.

Balarous said an egregious mistake made by businesses is to have a "false sense of security" by considering the personal risk of a disaster based upon geography and the likelihood of enduring a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, flood, or earthquake.

In the Forrester survey, respondents blamed most disasters on non-natural disruptions and incidents. For example, 42 percent of respondents said power failure was the most common cause of declared disasters and downtime, while 32 percent cited hardware failure and 21 percent network failure.

Forrester recommends that IT managers sit down with corporate department heads to map out how an outage - whether temporary or extended - would affect operations, customers and revenues. From that, the managers should build a business report quantifying the risks, and what tools are needed to meet those risks.

"It's much easier to get [disaster recovery] funding when you go to a business manager and say 'we're going to lose [US]$300,000 an hour if this application goes down,' rather than 'I need a close to US$500 million to buy replication software," remarked Balarous.

Forrester also suggested that IT managers position disaster-recovery preparedness as a competitive advantage.

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