The State of Resilience 2010: IT Resilience and Recovery in Transition

High Availability / Disaster Recovery
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As businesses adopt virtualization and cloud infrastructures to improve performance, they're shifting from tape to more efficient, flexible backup technologies including physical, virtual, and cloud.


Editor's Note: This article introduces the white paper "Research Study: New 3rd Annual Report! The State of Resilience on IBM Power Systems" available for free download from the MC White Paper Center. 


Resilience has been described as the ability of a business to maintain a continuous flow of operations under virtually any condition. Yet, it's no news that unplanned interruptions in business attributable to human error and technological failure are widespread: Downtime and disruptions in primary business processes are estimated to cost companies millions of dollars a year in lost revenue.


The statement that resilience confers greater competitive advantage on an organization is hardly arguable. But how is the IT resilience of a business assessed? One measure might be an organization's agility—its ability to explore a wide range of technologies and adopt them to effect a positive change. Another might be the capacity to acknowledge vulnerabilities and address those in a contingency plan. By these measures, companies in this year's edition of "The State of Resilience" report show their degree of resilience, with revealing results.

Central Issues for Executives


  • Server virtualization has become widespread across the enterprise. Businesses have realized significant benefits from the technology, namely expense reduction, more rapid server and application deployment, and greater capabilities for disaster recovery. Infrastructure/print server was the most commonly used application for virtual servers, yet findings suggest a trend toward running mission-critical file servers and core business applications on virtualized systems.


  • The research shows that more agile and cost-effective data protection technologies are gaining support. The trend toward using software replication, software replication plus failover, and continuous data protection increased.


  • At the same time, findings show that weaknesses in businesses' disaster recovery plans have not been effectively addressed. Businesses report that plans have not been completely or recently tested, and in fact, may not execute should they be invoked. Lack of coordination of disaster recovery plans between IT and other business units was identified as a key weakness. Disaster recovery plans must be tested and integrated across an enterprise to mitigate vulnerability and minimize loss.


  • Disaster recovery remains a thorny problem for corporations. Findings show that businesses' recovery goals and plans are in a state of flux: They have slightly less aggressive objectives for RTO and RPO, have recognized the limitations of older data protection schemes, and are actively engaging with technologies that promise greater recovery capabilities and continuous data availability. Clearly, businesses must align their data protection schemes operationally and strategically with their goals for disaster recovery and business continuity.


  • Cloud computing has the potential to transform businesses at every level—from hardware purchases to recovery strategies. The trend toward greater adoption of private clouds is evident. But several issues must be addressed: Cloud computing remains unproven for some businesses, and they are waiting to see how the technology matures in the next year. They want proof that it works, not hyperbole. Questions about the security and privacy of public cloud environments remain.


To read the complete white paper "Research Study: New 3rd Annual Report! The State of Resilience on IBM Power Systems", which explores the above HA research study in depth, download it for free from the MC White Paper Center.