Study finds overconfidence in disaster recovery, continuity plans

Businesses that experienced a network outage suffered more than $1.7 billiion in profit loss, despite having business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place.

Many businesses are overconfident in the ability of their IT resources to sustain operations in the event of a

major disruption, according to a new survey that looked at disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

The survey of 200 IT managers at large and medium-sized businesses that experienced a significant network disruption was conducted by Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW Corp., a reseller of computer equipment, services and supplies. CDW found that 82% of those surveyed indicating they thought they were confident in their business continuity and disaster recovery plans and IT resources could support business operations in the event of a network outage. Yet 97% said they suffered detrimental effects from the disruptions.

Firooz Ghanbarzadeh, director of technology services and solutions for CDW, said this is a result of overconfidence and the mentality of, "it's not going to happen to me, it's going to happen to the other guy."

Twenty-five percent of these businesses experienced a network outage of four or more hours, resulting in a profit loss of approximately $1.7 billion. The study shows that 82% of these disruptions could have been avoided if the businesses had an updated business continuity/disaster recovery plan.

Many IT managers think they are prepared for a network disruption caused by power outages or cybersecurity attacks, but the truth is there is always more they can do to protect themselves, Ghanbarzadeh said. Businesses may go through all the necessary steps in creating a solid disaster recovery business continuity plan, but it should be tested regularly and be updated to incorporate business or technology changes.

"When the time comes," Ghanbarzadeh said, "Either the business or the infrastructure has changed, or the equipment that was in place and working at one time hasn't been maintained properly and now they're stuck with something that they thought was planned well, but now it's not functional"

Ghanbarzadeh said the most important piece of protecting against a network outage isplanning. .

The worst-case scenario after a network outage is that the business is paralyzed, and it can no longer operate. About 30% of those surveyed indicated that the businesses lost all data and productivity and their location shut down completely after a network disruption.

The most common cause for a disruption is a power outage, which accounted for 32%of disruptions, followed by hardware failure, which caused 29% of network troubles. This could easily be prevented by regularly testing the company's generator and keeping all hardware up to date, Ghanbarzadeh said. While time and money is a concern, it's better to be safe than to take a gamble that could paralyze the business, he said.

"Once you go through the rigors and putting it all together, the last step, which is just as important, is regularly putting that plan through the test and the rigors," said Ghanbarzadeh. "Because if you don't do that, when the power goes out that's when you find out your generator is not working and hasn't been working for over a year."

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