Survey of IT Execs: Virtualization No Panacea for Data Recovery

Many companies are not able to deploy separate backup data center locations to provide the complete data recovery system, relying instead on failover to separate storage arrays and servers within the same physical building. This is the Achilles heel of many virtualized IT environments, experts say.

Three-quarters of IT executives surveyed believe virtualization by itself can play a major role in an enterprise disaster recovery plan, but it in no way represents a complete answer to a DR strategy, according to a "State of Disaster Recovery" survey released June 25 by market researcher Harris Interactive.
While many IT decision makers say they have deployed virtualization in a production setting, survey data indicated that most had not yet utilized it in a disaster recovery situation.
A full-fledged disaster recovery system using virtualization replicates the system and all its data to an off-site location away from the main enterprise data center. In the event of the main data center going offline and out of action, virtual machines replicated at the backup location continue to keep the workloads running smoothly, with little or no latency in daily production.
However, many companies are not able to deploy separate backup data center locations to provide the complete data recovery system, relying instead on failover to separate storage arrays and servers within the same physical building.
"The Achilles heel of many virtualized IT environments is they depend on a single data center to execute system failover should an outage occur," said Don Norbeck, technology officer at SunGard Availability Services. "A recovery strategy with no off-site data center can result in no recovery."
Seventy-four percent of survey respondents indicated that virtualization can play a major role but is not a total solution for disaster recovery plans. One-quarter of IT respondents said they would never include virtualization technologies in their disaster recovery plans.
Virtualization: only nominal success in DR thus far
Sixty percent of respondents said they have virtualization in place now as a recovery tool from unplanned outages; only 29 percent said they have used it successfully. Eight percent said they used virtualization, but that it didn't work to their satisfaction.
Another 29 percent of IT decision makers say they have deployed virtualization but not yet used it as a tool for disaster recovery.
Over the next two years, the survey said, half of IT decision makers say they will be looking into virtualization as an option for managing unplanned outages and disaster recovery. About a quarter of IT executives say they will be looking into cloud computing and grid networking as potential options.
This survey was conducted online within the United States in March 2009 with 497 qualified respondents, including 277 business and 220 IT participants.
The survey was commissioned by SunGard Availability Services, which provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software to more than 10,000 customers in North America and Europe.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...