Symantec: Virtualization, Cloud Creating Disaster Recovery Challenges

That's one of the central findings from Symantec's sixth annual Disaster Recovery Study, which includes data from a telephone survey of some 1,700 enterprises with 5,000 or more employees in 18 countries. The survey points to the added complexity that virtualization and cloud bring to IT environments, and how that creates vulnerabilities for data in worst-case scenarios.

Currently, between one-quarter and one-third of survey respondents' applications are being virtualized. However, only 40 percent of virtual servers are accounted for in respondents' disaster recovery plans, and only 56 percent of the data running on these virtual machines is backed up on a regular basis. Of these backups, 82 percent are happening weekly or less often, according to the study.

The survey results are similarly eye-opening when it comes to crucial disaster recovery technologies like replication, high availability failover and global/wide area failover. Just 20 percent of respondents' virtualized applications and data are being protected with these technologies, and that suggests that companies are leaving gaps in their disaster recovery strategies, according to the study.

"Symantec believes that the growth of virtual servers, server sprawl and lack of tools may be responsible for these changes," the security vendor opines in the study.

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Meanwhile, although companies are using the cloud for both mission critical and non-mission critical applications, they're grappling with control issues in the cloud storage environment. According to the study, 55 percent identified the inability to control failover and making resources available as the most significant challenge they face in building their disaster recovery plans with the cloud in mind.

Sixty-six percent of survey respondents said security is their biggest concern when it comes to moving mission critical applications to the cloud, followed by accessibility (14 percent), control (12 percent) and management (6 percent).

"Keeping up with the different tools that manage and protect these applications is a challenge for organizations, especially with the increase of applications and data that reside in virtual and cloud environments," Symantec says in the report.