EMC Corporation has announced results of The Disaster Recovery Survey 2012: Middle East, Turkey and Morocco, which found that 82% of companies surveyed in the region are not very confident that they can fully recover systems or data in the event of a disaster, and that 64% of all organisations lost data or suffered systems downtime in the last 12 months.

Additionally, 37% of organisations claim they need at least one day or more to become fully operational again, and on average organisations suffered from two days of downtime. These findings highlight the need for backup transformation from antiquated technologies that are not suited for today’s data growth or availability expectations. A move to next-generation backup and recovery solutions ensures continued business operations in the event of a natural disaster, malicious activity or more routine and common disruptions to IT systems.

Commissioned by EMC and conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne, The Disaster Recovery Survey 2012: Middle East, Turkey and Morocco looks at the maturity of backup and disaster recovery strategies in the region, in order to understand how backup transformation can help companies to prevent data loss and systems downtime from a variety of causes, including ordinary IT failures to more extraordinary incidents.

Survey findings

Disruption happens: downtime and data loss more likely from an IT problem than a natural disaster

The research shows that the main causes of data loss and systems downtime are the failure of internal IT systems and disruptions caused by malicious activity. The three most common causes of data loss and downtime are:

1.      Hardware failure: 55%

2.     Software failure: 40%

3.     Security breach: 36%

This compares to just 13% of respondents citing natural disasters as a cause of systems downtime or data loss.  In response to such incidents, improving security is seen as key with 44% of businesses having improved physical security and 43% digital security, this despite the fact that security breaches were the third most common cause of data loss and downtime.

Meanwhile, 37% of respondents stated that they have reviewed and changed procedures for IT systems backup and disaster recovery following an incident.

Furthermore, 29% of organisations increased their spending in backup and recovery after a disruption.  This is against a backdrop where 34% of organisations surveyed did not feel they were spending enough on backup and recovery. On average, the research found that businesses across the region are spending on average 7.48% of their IT budgets on backup and recovery.

Economic impacts: Lost revenue attributed to systems downtime 

The study identified that there are measureable business impacts from systems downtime, with the top three cited as:

1.      Loss of employee productivity: 43%

2.     Loss of customer confidence/loyalty: 37%

3.     Loss of revenue: 28%

Systems failure resulted in, on average, nearly two lost working days for each of the businesses in the survey. Based on an average eight hour working day, this is the equivalent of 32,000 man-hours lost for a company employing approximately 2,000 employees. Additionally, each organisation lost an average of 133GB of data during a 12 month period. Given that one MB of data is approximately the equivalent of 25 email documents in size, losing 133GB of data would be the equivalent of losing 3.325 million emails.

The research has also highlighted that businesses are not protecting valuable customer data, with only 23% having a disaster recovery plan in place for CRM applications. Only 22% of organisations who have a disaster recovery plan stated that they would need CRM applications to be up and running immediately following a downtime scenario, despite the fact that customer confidence was ranked as the second most important impact of downtime.

Businesses in the Middle East, Turkey and Morocco are also failing to take advantage of insurance premium benefits that a comprehensive disaster recovery plan can engender. 44% of companies across the region are obliged by either insurance policies or regulatory requirements to have a disaster recovery plan in place. More importantly, however, 25% of the organizations surveyed, are offered reduced premiums by their insurance provider according to the strength of their IT systems backup/disaster recovery strategy.

However, 57% of the organisations surveyed did not know if their insurance provider offered such reduced premiums – or they had never considered it at all – highlighting a missed opportunity for many businesses.

Outdated solutions: 52% still depend on tape for backup and recovery, but the majority of businesses want to get away from tape

For backup and disaster recovery purposes, 52% of companies surveyed still rely on tape. Looking at the operational cost associated with tape, organisations in the region spend on average more than USD 84,400 per annum including transportation, storage, test and replacement of tape for the purposes of offsite disaster recovery. Yet, the trend indicated in the survey is that 73% of companies are looking to move beyond tape.

The top three reasons cited for this planned move are:

1. Faster backups : 55%

2.Increased security: 39%

3.Speed of data recovery and system restores: 36%

Beyond tape, 48% of companies still rely on the outdated CD-ROM for backup storage for disaster recovery purposes. Currently, only 41% of businesses in the region are using modern, disk-based backup and recovery solutions.

Preparedness for routine disruption or more significant incidents starts with a next-generation backup approach that leverages disk with data deduplication and network based replication technologies. The survey shows the reaction after disruption is to spend more on backup and recovery, but the damage is done in terms of time and money during a downtime as well as longer term damage to customer loyalty.

By raising the visibility of the most common problems facing companies today and the associated economic consequences, organisations can proactively review  their own strategies for backup and recovery to ensure they can meet business requirements.

“It is clear from these results that businesses need to be just as aware of the disruption that can be caused by everyday failures as well as by malicious activities and larger scale disasters. Regardless of the causes of IT disruption, businesses need to be certain they have the right systems in place to react quickly and ensure their operations are not affected for long,” said Said Akar, District Manager for South Gulf, EMC.

Focusing on the UAE, the research revealed that 78% of companies surveyed in the region are not very confident they can fully recover their systems or data following downtime.  Additionally, 63% of businesses in the UAE reported having experienced data loss or systems downtime in the last 12 months, with 43% citing hardware failure as the leading cause.

The major impact of data loss or systems downtime on UAE businesses was given as a loss of employee productivity by 37% of respondents. While only 36% of businesses in the UAE are using disk-based storage, 46% are still using tape. However, 75% of organisations would like to move away from using tapes for backup, with 59% citing faster backups as the key reason for doing so.

Industry focus summaries

Public sector

Within the public sector, 64% of organisations reported experiencing systems downtime or data loss over the past 12 months. While only 37% of public sector organisations who have lost data have done so due to a security breach, the sector is the most likely to have seen a loss of employee productivity as a result of data loss or systems downtime, with 59% of organizations recording this. Additionally, the public sector is most likely to lose customer confidence or loyalty as a result of data loss, with 48% of public sector respondents admitting to such incidents.

Finance sector

Within the finance sector, it is notable that only 22% of businesses surveyed believe they are currently not spending enough on backup and recovery. While 69% of businesses to have experienced data loss within the sector stated that they had experienced it due to security breaches, the financial sector also reported hardware failure as a major cause of systems downtime, with 68% of respondents having had experience of this.

Survey Methodology

For The Disaster Recovery Survey 2012: Middle East, Turkey and Morocco commissioned by EMC, Vanson Bourne interviewed 1,000 IT decision-makers in private and public sector organisations across the UAE, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Each organisation ranged between 250 and 3000-plus employees and represented a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, financial services and telecoms, among others.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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