It seems obvious that planners should have better test scores than the control group ' they are, of course, BCP professionals. Moreover, planners recognize that continuing BCP education at seminars and symposiums, such as DRJ's Fall World '99, the Prove It Web site and rigorous industry certification programs helps their effectiveness.
One scorecard question demonstrates how planners make a difference in securing appropriate disaster readiness resources. Sixty-six percent of BCP professionals report that management approved an appropriate disaster readiness budget, compared to 45 percent of the control group. Planners have successfully educated management and are securing appropriate BCP resources.
More than 75 percent of planners say they have a disaster readiness plan, compared to less than 50 percent of the control group (Figure 2). BCP professionals performed well, as this question generated one of the higher percentages on the disaster readiness scorecard. However, the disparity between the planner group and the control group is illuminating. Many executives believe they are ready for potential disasters because their IS/IT staff said so. After all, the IS/IT staff probably knows whether they have a workable backup scheme. However, many times the IS/IT staff does not realize that executives need to know about the company's overall readiness. This is where BCP professionals come in; they bridge this communication gap between executives and IS/IT staff.
The Prove It survey data on backup and recovery practices supports a mixed set of interesting conclusions. One of the highest scoring answers was, "Does your company backup all mission critical data at least daily?" Eighty-six percent of planners indicated "yes." It is clear those individuals charged with disaster recovery, whether they are executives, IS/IT managers, or BCP professionals, understand the importance of backup processes.
However, when asked about successful recovery relative to uptime requirements, the scorecard results reported one of the lowest scores from both groups. Only about 50 percent of the BCP professionals fall into the "yes" category. Among all respondents, more than 75 percent report they backup, but 50 percent or less report successful timely recovery. These results underscore a false sense of security. Companies are faithfully performing backup procedures, but the data shows that more than 50 percent cannot recover quickly enough to meet uptime needs.
Almost 75 percent of planners indicated "yes" when asked about sending backups to an off-site archive within 24 hours. Companies with BCP professionals came out ahead. However, this question generated one of the control group's lowest scores ' just over 25 percent responded positively. Recovery depends on having restorable data, as well as being able to access that data, so off-site archives allow companies to recover if facility access is lost. If the control group doesn't archive, they don't have recovery. And, if a company doesn't have recovery, they are out of business if a disaster strikes!
Other test questions about backup procedures reveal corresponding high scores from both the control group and BCP professionals. Survey data reveals that planners are doing a good job relative to using a thorough backup rotation scheme, thus providing a good depth of file versions. Properly caring for backup tapes during shipping, handling, and storage helps stop media damage that prevents adequate restoration, and both the planners and control group report a high positive response to this question.
The planning group collectively showed unexpected results. Four of the five lowest scores related to backup procedures; the remaining low score related to whether a planner's company had performed business impact analysts (Figure 3). Planners can better prepare their companies for systems failure by focusing their efforts on improving these low score areas.
3rd Bar: Performed a BIA
4th Bar: Uniform Solution for Backup/Recovery
5th Bar: Recovery Meet Business Uptime
BCP professionals scored lowest in the areas relating to data growth and scaleable backup and recovery solutions. Less than 50 percent of the planners, as well as 50 percent of the control group, report their companies took data growth into account when designing backup and recovery. Since research shows data doubly on an annual basis, the control group is missing the mark, but so are planners. If BCP professionals are not managing data growth and associated recovery solutions, their systems are at risk.
About 50 percent of the planners' companies use scaleable backup and recovery solutions. Because this question and the data growth question have identical responses, it appears that planners do not fully understand the serious implications of exploding data growth, and are not implementing appropriate backup and recovery schemes that take this growth into account. Interestingly, these two disaster readiness scorecard questions also generated the highest "don't know" responses. This suggests that more than 50 percent of the BCP professionals do not understand the status of the data they must be able to recover.
Additional disaster readiness scorecard questions highlight another unusual disparity. More than 50 percent of the planners stated their companies perform a business impact analysis, but nearly 50 percent give "no" or "don't know" responses. The control group performs even more poorly ' over 75 percent answer "no" or "don't know."
The number of negative responses from planners is startling because, in a special preparedness question, BIA information was the number one requested tool for selling management on disaster recovery (sidebar). You would think that planners who recognize BIA as a key tool for funding disaster readiness would also be performing BIA. Check the Prove It site for a self-paced BIA tutorial designed to help planners jump-start the BIA process.
The second lowest scoring disaster readiness scorecard question asked, "Has your company standardized on uniform tape and software solutions for backup and recovery?" Interestingly, more than 50 percent of the planners say "yes," but in our special survey question, planners third most requested tool to help sell management on disaster readiness was an enterprise backup and recovery solution (sidebar). Backup and especially recovery processes are key areas planners can work on, as it is the foundation for any successful disaster readiness plan.
The low scores highlight the best areas where BCP professionals can focus on improving methods to mitigate risk and loss. Furthermore, the overall number of "not sure" or "don't know" control group responses is alarming. If IS/IT managers are unaware of the company's disaster readiness practices, the practices and plan is not effective. Even among planners, 15 percent overall say they are "not sure." If they are not sure, is it happening anywhere in the company?
As an active partner in the Prove It education initiative, DRJ assisted in funding the disaster readiness scorecard survey at its fall conference to provide feedback on best practices for the BCP industry. By comparing planners' test results to those of the control group, Prove It clearly points out that BCP professionals are having a positive impact on their companies.
On the other hand, even companies with planners are failing in many areas where they would logically be expected to perform well. The Prove It data shows that even BCP professionals recognize that an adequate and well designed BCP program is difficult to achieve, and many companies still find themselves in the disaster preparedness danger zone. It is clear that education is helping, as BCP professionals' scores demonstrate when compared to the control group ' but it is also clear that whatever the causes, 80 to 95 percent of all companies fall outside the best practices area. To take your own disaster readiness scorecard and see how prepared your company is for disaster, visit http://www.DLTtape.com/ProveIt.
Survey Question on Prove It Scorecard
Disaster Recovery Journal's Fall World '99 11th International
Disaster Recovery Symposium & Exhibition
What single tool would help you sell computer systems disaster recovery to your management?
Of the 239 scorecards completed by business continuity planning (BCP) professionals attending the DRJ conference, 33 percent suggested tools to help sell management on disaster readiness. When responses were grouped into categories, the most requested type of tool was information gained in a business impact analysis (BIA) and shared with management. It is noteworthy, and reflects well upon business continuity professionals, that BIA information was ahead of the "have a disaster to make them a believer" category. The smoke-and-rubble or "fear" sales approach usually leads the list for the uninformed, but planners know that BIA information justifies BCP resources.
The third highest hitter was "enterprise backup/recovery solutions," which is a foundation for BCP. In a close group were the fourth through seventh requested tools. A novel way to get management's attention ' mock disaster or business failure test simulator ' a blend of facts and fear that allows "what if" scenarios on company survival.
The Prove It scorecard results on "what tool can best help you sell management on disaster recovery planning" reinforce the need for continuing education to bridge the information gap between BCP professionals and senior management. Fortunately, publications and symposiums like DRJ and education initiatives like Prove It provide information, tools, research, and industry resources to help both beginners and experts. If you want more information on disaster recovery best practices, or want to take the disaster readiness scorecard, visit the Prove It web site hosted by Quantum DLTtape' and supported by more than 45 industry leaders at www.DLTtape.com/ProveIt.
Information Gained/Shared in a BIA
Have a disaster
Enterprise Backup/Recovery Solution
Executives Are Committed to DRP
Misc. DR Software or Plan Advantages
Don't Know Yet - Just Starting DRP
Mock Disaster Business Failure Simulator
Founded in 1980, Quantum is the world's leading storage supplier in four of the six markets it serves. It is also the second largest supplier of mid-range tape automation systems and a leading supplier of the high capacity hard disk drives.
This article Printed in Volume 13, Issue 1