Mind the gap
It's quite shocking to learn how wide the gap is between what business expects in terms of uptime and data availability, and what IT is genuinely able to deliver.
Businesses today are facing an increasing range of demands from end users, including 24/7 access to data and applications, severe lack of patience when it comes to downtime or data loss, and exponential data growth of around 30% to 50% per year.
This opens up a gap, suggests Jason Buffington, senior director, product strategy at Veeam, between the requirements demanded by the always-on business and IT's ability to effectively deliver the necessary availability, or as we are beginning to see, the demand for hyper-availability. This is the latest expectation on modern businesses.
"Basically this availability gap is the difference between what the business expects in respect of uptime and protection, and the capability of IT to deliver this. Worryingly, many businesses don't properly understand the cost of downtime, viewing it as a period of inconvenience, rather than seeing it in actual monetary terms," he says.
"Ultimately, time that is lost due to this needs to be measured in terms of the revenue impact, the loss of confidence in the business from both customers and employees and the potential damage to your brand. Depending on your industry, of course, downtime may literally be the difference between life and death, something that goes for the healthcare, police and military sectors, to name just three."
Buffington points out that a recent ESG study indicated that unplanned downtime costs enterprises an average of nearly $22 million each per year, while two thirds of organisations admitted that digital transformation initiatives were being held back by unplanned downtime.
"The real challenge of the availability gap is demonstrated by research that suggests that 75% of businesses actually have higher expectations of uptime than their IT department can deliver on. That means expected uptimes are achieved only once in every four."
"Alongside the availability gap is the protection gap, which is predicated on the question: once you do get the business operational again, how much data have you lost? In other words, if your company restores once a day, you could potentially have lost close to 24 hours of data, and in this respect, four out of every five companies feel they lose more data than the business can actually tolerate."
Despite this, he adds, there is always a cost factor related to backups and restores, and even though they are concerned about these gaps, many enterprises say they simply cannot afford better solutions. Of course, points out, Buffington, the real question is not 'can we afford better backups', but rather 'can we afford to be down at all'?
"A good start for any availability strategy is to be certain to follow the '3-2-1 rule', which we describe as having at least three copies of data, two of which are local but on different mediums, and at least one that is an off-site copy. Businesses with a multi-cloud strategy are ideally positioned to take advantage of the cloud to help execute this approach and to optimise any legacy backup systems with the cloud."
The cloud, he continues, is becoming an increasingly attractive option for companies looking to drive digital transformation. In fact, he explains that nearly half of those surveyed believe that the cloud can deliver better service levels for mission-critical data that their internal IT process. Perhaps this is why investments in software as a service (SAAS), backup-as-a-service (BAAS) and disaster recovery as a service (DRAAS) are expected to rise in the coming years.
"With the momentum to multi-cloud adoption in full swing, having an availability strategy and plan is more important than ever. It is critical to understand not only how the gap forms and what its impacts may be, but also the best possible approaches to use to overcome it. Striking the balance between the expenses related to backup and recovery and the cost of downtime and loss of data is critical if your business hopes to confidently accelerate innovation, without worrying about disruption to the organisation," concludes Buffington.