SMBs Prepare for Disasters
By Samuel Greengard
Organizations of all sizes are struggling to keep up with a growing need for sophisticated disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) systems. However, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face additional challenges—particularly relating to system costs and possessing the IT expertise to manage disaster preparedness.
However, Symantec's 2012 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, based on responses from more than 2,000 SMB IT decision-makers, indicates that these firms are doing a relatively good job of moving forward with DR and BC plans. Increasingly, "These companies are adopting strategic technologies," notes Monica Girolami, director of the SMB Product Marketing Group at Symantec.
Symantec found that virtualization, clouds and mobility tools are rapidly entering the mainstream and becoming key DR and BC tools for SMBs. Overall, 35 percent of the firm's surveyed reported using mobile devices to access business information; 34 percent are implementing or already engaged in server virtualization; 43 percent are implementing or have already moved into a private cloud; and 40 percent are implementing or have already turned to a public cloud. Respondents also indicated that disaster preparedness played a significant role in selecting systems.
"Companies are clearly moving beyond the investigative phase and into the adoption phase," Girolami notes. What's more, rapid adoption of clouds is reshaping DR and BC.
"Both private and public clouds are rapidly moving down market,” she adds. “SMBs are eyeing the technology for server consolidation and high availability. They recognize that they're able to achieve many of the gains that were previously restricted to larger enterprise."
SMBs adopting these technologies are reporting immediate and ongoing benefits. Nearly three quarters (71 percent) reported that the impact of server virtualization was positive; 43 percent found a private cloud beneficial; 41 percent felt a public cloud aided in DR and BC; and 36 percent reported that mobility led to gains. "The high percentage of respondents using server virtualization demonstrates that SMBs are becoming more comfortable and conversant with the technology," Girolami explains.
Lower costs associated with these technologies, combined with marked improvements in the quality and simplicity of systems, have ignited demand among SMBs, Girolami says. Increasingly, "We're seeing SMBs using virtualization and cloud solutions offered through a managed service provider," she adds. As a result, "There is a diminished need for SMBs to devote IT resources to disaster preparedness.”
The report recommends that all SMBs begin planning for disaster preparedness immediately and implement strategic technologies that provide maximum results—often through greater automation and more streamlined performance. For example, "There is an opportunity to move away from tapes that are slow and must be physically carried offsite to virtual images that can be stored anywhere and accessed from anywhere."
It also is critical to protect information completely, and review and test disaster preparedness systems to ensure that they work as billed. Girolami recommends reviewing a plan quarterly or whenever infrastructure and systems change. With downtime costing SMBs an average of around $12,500 per day, "Business leaders are recognizing that disaster preparedness is an important part of an overall business strategy," she says.