A full three-quarters of South African companies would not be able to fully recover their systems or data in the event of a disaster – and half of organisations have suffered from systems downtime and data loss within the past year.
These are among the shock findings from EMC Southern Africa’s Disaster Recovery Survey 2013: South Africa, conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne.
The survey of 250 southern African IT decision-makers looks at the state of backup and recovery in South Africa to understand how well companies are poised in case of data loss and systems downtime.
Data is a critical and growing company asset. According to a recent IDC study, over the next decade businesses will have 50 times the amount of data and 75 times the number of files they currently possess. Globally, data levels will rise to 35 zettabytes.
Valuing data as a key company asset will require a shift in thinking for many companies which still associate their key business drivers with the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ operations. They should protect electronic information as key corporate assets just as they would their brand.
But the EMC survey reveals that companies are not necessarily putting the right investment into ensuring their data and applications are protected, available and secured in an alternative location to recover from unforeseen situations.
Servaas Venter, country manager of EMC Southern Africa, says: “The results of the survey demonstrate a real need to rethink approaches to backup and recovery across South Africa.
“Increasingly, electronic information and the systems associated with that data are key assets to the health and success of most organisations, yet this survey shows that many are not fully prepared to recover either their systems or data in the event of an IT failure or a more extreme situation.”
The research indicates that disruption is more likely from an IT problem than a natural disaster. In South Africa, the three most common causes of data loss and downtime are: loss of power (56%); hardware failure (51%) and software failure (50%). This is in comparison to only 15% citing employee sabotage and 12% citing a natural disaster, for example.
Therefore, while fires, floods and earthquakes cause massive disruption and make the headlines, the research shows that mundane IT issues are more likely to cause significant systems disruption. It is not against the unexpected or the extraordinary that companies need to protect themselves; instead, organisations are suffering business impact from routine occurrences and malicious activity.
The study identified measurable business impacts from data loss and systems downtime, with the top three cited as: loss of employee productivity (42%); loss of revenue (38%); and loss in customer confidence (32%).
“We want to instil a sense of urgency for companies across Southern Africa to look proactively at disaster recovery. A disaster of epic proportions does not have to occur for your business to suffer disastrous consequences in relation to backup and recovery,” says Sumash Singh, business unit manager: EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division: EMC Southern Africa.
“We live in an economic time when investments need to be made wisely and there can be no tolerance for interruptions to the business because of an IT systems failure. By transforming backup and recovery strategies, companies can improve both recovery from day-to-day outages as well as recoveries from something more severe.”
The survey results also raised questions about how wisely organisations in South Africa are spending their backup and recovery budgets. The research found that, on average, organisations in South Africa are spending around 10% of their annual IT budgets on IT backup and recovery, and 40% of respondents did not think their organisation was spending enough on backup and recovery.
Additionally, 39% of businesses increase their spending on backup and recovery after a disruption, which raises the question whether they are proactively investing in backup solutions that truly meet business needs.
For backup and disaster recovery purposes, 44% of organisations still rely on dated, costly tape storage systems, although 82% of those are looking to move beyond it.
“Being prepared for routine disruption or more significant incidents starts with transforming the backup environment to encompass the new generation of backup and recovery solutions,” Singh explains.
“Although the survey shows that companies are willing to invest more in backup and recovery after a disaster, the damage has already been done in terms of time and money lost during a downtime.
“By raising visibility of the most common problems facing companies today and the associated economic consequences, organisations can proactively review their strategies for backup and recovery to ensure they meet business requirements.”