U.S. SMBs Lag In Disaster Recovery Readiness

Study finds that legacy equipment and lack of executive buy-in lead American firms to trail global counterparts in their ability to bounce back from an IT disaster.
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Budget and resource allocations were also a key factor. SMBs in Norway earmark 17% of their IT spending for backup and disaster recovery, tops in the survey. Swedish firms set aside 16%, the second largest slice of the resource pie. The top overall countries in the study -- Germany and the Netherlands -- spend roughly 13 to 14% of their IT budget on backup and recovery, compared with 10% in the United States. Donahue noted that while Asian regions fared fairly well in the overall rankings, they did so with modest budget allocations.

The report, "The Acronis Global Disaster Recovery Index: 2011," included 3,000 SMBs across a range of industries. Each had fewer than 1,000 seats in their organization. The inaugural study was commissioned by backup and recovery vendor Acronis and performed by independent firm Ponemon Institute, and will be conducted annually going forward.

The study's statistics generally jive with a recent Symantec survey, which found that half of SMBs have no disaster recovery plan in place.

Though disaster plans certainly vary around the world, SMBs everywhere appeared to agree that hybrid IT environments create one of the biggest backup and recovery challenges: 68% of all respondents said that managing data across physical, cloud, and virtual environments was the toughest test in disaster preparedness.

"The hybrid world is a complicated one," Donahue said, adding that firms with more multifaceted environments generally had lower levels of confidence in their disaster preparedness. On average, SMBs in the study were using between two and three different options for backup and recovery operations -- three-quarters of respondents said they would prefer to deploy a single solution across all environments.

That challenge appears set to grow in the year ahead: Respondents across all regions reported that 16% of their IT infrastructure was cloud-based at the end of 2010, but they expect that to nearly double -- to 30% -- in 2011.

Donahue said backup redundancy -- "backups of your backups" -- is a key catalyst for cloud adoption. While some SMBs prefer to keep their primary backup onsite to reduce recovery time, Donahue said they often don't have the multiple data centers -- more common in larger enterprises -- necessary for redundancy.

"We're seeing that as, by far, the main driver," Donahue said.