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Virtualisation poses challenges to disaster recovery plans: study


Bangalore: Indian enterprises face challenges in protecting and recovering data as they increasingly adopt virtualisation and cloud computing, a study by global security solutions provider Symantec Corporation revealed.

“Virtualisation is having a big impact on the disaster recovery plans of Indian enterprises due to the complexity of managing disparate virtual, physical and cloud resources simultaneously,” Symantec India director Anand Naik told IANS citing the findings of the sixth annual disaster recovery study.

In a bid to reduce the cost of ownership and operations, enterprises are increasingly adopting to utility computing in which clients pay as per use for processing without affecting their scalability and work loads.

Virtualisation is a creation of virtual version of an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources.

Third party data centres and disaster recovery facilities offer end-to-end managed IT services on virtual systems to enable enterprises save investments on setting up IT infrastructure and focus on their core competency.

“Though Indian enterprises are adopting virtualisation and the cloud to reduce costs, they are adding complexity to their IT environments, leaving mission critical applications and data unprotected,” Naik said.

The study found that about 50 percent of data on virtual systems is not backed up and only 10 percent of the mission-critical applications are protected by replication in virtual environments.

“To address the complexity, enterprises have to adopt tools that provide a holistic solution and data centres should standardise to focus on best practices for reducing downtime,” Naik observed.

During the survey conducted in October, 70 percent of enterprises became wary of losing data in a disaster and increasing virtualisation made them re-evaluate their disaster recovery plans.

Similarly, majority of respondents admitted facing problems protecting mission-critical applications in virtual and physical environments just as multiple tools can cause difficulties in managing data in virtual environments.

In case of cloud computing, 41 percent of the enterprises surveyed reported that security was their main concern for hosting applications in cloud though only 29 percent of their mission-critical applications run in cloud environment.

In the internet-based cloud computing, shared servers provide resources, software and data to computers and other devices as in case of power grid.

Cloud computing providers use virtualisation, service-oriented architecture and utility computing to deliver business applications online by accessing them through a web browser, while the software and data are stored on servers.

“The challenges faced by enterprises in cloud computing are ability to backup daily than weekly, lack of storage capacity and resource constraints in terms of people, budget and space,” Naik pointed out.

As the study found that the time required for recovering from an outage was twice than perceived it to be, organisations expect the downtime per outage to be less than hour to be up and running.

“Outages are mainly from system upgrades, power outages and cyber attacks. In comparison to the global data, Indian enterprises take the longest to recover from cyber attacks and most of them suffer outages due to system upgrades resulting in 18.5 hours of downtime,” the study noted.

To address the challenges and problems faced in assessing disaster recovery systems, the study recommended that enterprises should treat mission-critical data and applications equally across platforms, be they virtual, cloud or physical.

“Enterprises should use integrated tools sets for managing physical, virtual and cloud environments to save time, training costs and help better automate processes,” Naik added.

The study also recommended enterprises to prioritise planning activities and tools that automate and perform processes which minimise downtime during system upgrades and implement solutions that detect issues, reduce downtime and recover faster in line with expectations.

The disaster recovery study is an annual global survey commissioned by the $6.6 billion Symantec to highlight business trends regarding disaster recovery planning and preparedness.