A new survey of IT professionals reveals that disaster recovery performance has moved to the top of their priority list, with more emphasis being placed on achieving recovery objectives than on simple data protection. The survey reports that remote (asynchronous) replication will be deployed more than any other solution over the next 12 months, with more than half of respondents saying they intend to implement a disaster recovery program in-house.

Additional survey findings indicate that CDP (Continuous Data Protection), while viewed as a beneficial enabler, is seen by the majority of respondents as lacking clarity of the value proposition. Also, respondents resoundingly indicated they expect CDP to be available as an integrated feature within one of their current tools, rather than as an additional piece of software, which could create additional integration challenges.

The online survey was conducted from mid-September to early October 2005 by the Data Management Institute and Toigo Partners International in conjunction with Topio, a leading provider of enterprise software for data replication and recovery. The results were released at the Storage Networking World conference, where Topio is a contributing sponsor.

The survey shows that companies have come to appreciate the vital importance of being able to access the full range of their data; the ability to recover mission-critical data is a good start, but only a start, said Chris Hyrne, Topios vice president of marketing. The good news is that the vast majority have grown to understand the importance of disaster planning and recovery to help them get back all their information as quickly as possible, and have implemented plans in that direction. Increasingly, they also realise the business value of moving data from the production site to offsite protection in a compact time frame as a key component in being able to implement a full recovery when the need arises.

The survey reveals a clear shift in thinking among respondents away from a traditional backup/restore mentality toward effective disaster recovery, with top emphasis placed on recovery performance. More than half of the respondents said their top priority was to either implement or improve on the time needed to recover key applications and data in the event of a disaster, with almost two-thirds (64%) saying they have clearly defined recovery policies and objectives for that information.

The survey queried customers about their data protection and recovery challenges, and reported that a majority (51%) said for CDP to make inroads in the data protection and recovery market, its benefits must be integrated into solutions they already own, and not as a standalone product.

The survey also found that other existing technologies appear to be gaining greater traction with customers; 59% reported they are either using asynchronous replication or will implement it by the end of 2006 for offsite data protection and disaster recovery, reflecting more than twice the number for CDP during the same time period.

The survey also reported that:

While the boardroom is increasingly influencing disaster recovery plans (22%), IT staffs are still more likely to be the primary driver behind implementation (30%) of a corporate disaster recovery plan.

61% of all respondents said their companies already have implemented their own remote site as part of a disaster recovery strategy; 24% said they are using a third-party provider of such services. Only 10% said they have no plans to implement offsite disaster recovery.

Disk-to-disk backup is rivalling tape backup as the preferred method of local data backup and restore; 83% of all respondents said they would back up data to disk by the end of next year, while 92% said they are still using tape.

Finding cost-effective technology remains the biggest barrier in successfully implementing a disaster recovery plan. (21% sighted cost-effectiveness as their top challenge, with another 18% saying their largest challenge is understanding which technologies best meet their requirements.)

The survey findings are consistent with Topios corporate focus; Topios flagship solution, TDPS (Topio Data Protection Suite), maintains a 100% consistent, replica of source data; the recovery-ready image enables recovery in minuteswhile providing data currency up to-the millisecond. As data is replicated, TDPS allows customers to freeze point-in-time copies for any session, whenever they like. These CDP features provide the most essential recovery options available on the market today.

We are excited about working with customers to help define and clarify their perspectives, Hyrne said. They face the continuing challenge of how to implement data recovery across multiple operating platforms and what solutions are needed to meet these challenges. Topios no-nonsense approach to CDP is designed to help them quickly understand the benefits of such software, and to rapidly implement it in an open systems environment for maximum advantage.

Hyrne said additional, vendor-neutral surveys are planned, addressing critical issues facing todays CIOs and IT professionals. The surveys, he said, will offer insight to guide product development as part of an ongoing commitment to customers.

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