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Business continuity unwrapped...

During the spring of 2006, Continuity Central, in partnership with SteelEye, conducted a detailed survey into business continuity practices across the world. The full results are now available.

Overall, 184 people took part in the survey, with respondents broken down as follows:

  Response Percent
CEO/COO/CIO/CFO
21.7%
Head of Engineering/Development
4.3%
Head of IT
14.1%
Member of Engineering staff
6.5%
Member of IT staff
53.3%

Of the above, 47.8 percent were based in North America and 28.8 percent were located in Europe.

Respondents were first asked to identify the operating systems on which their company runs business critical applications. As expected, Windows systems came top by a long way: see below.

  Response Percent
AIX
21.7%
HP-UX
21.2%
Linux
39.7%
Netware
6.5%
Solaris
26.1%
Windows
78.8%
Other
21.2%

However, when Europe and US results are compared, it can be seen that Windows and Solaris usage is significantly higher in Europe, with an increased use of other, less common, operating systems in the US.

EUROPE RESPONSES Response Percent
AIX
20.8%
HP-UX
20.8%
Linux
41.5%
Netware
11.3%
Solaris
34%
Windows
86.8%
Other
18.9%


NORTH AMERICA RESPONSES Response Percent
AIX
21.6%
HP-UX
25%
Linux
43.2%
Netware
4.5%
Solaris
20.5%
Windows
77.3%
Other
27.3%

Respondents were asked whether their organization had a business continuity plan. Overall, 73.4 percent said that their organization did have a plan. Europeans and North Americans seem to be better protected than organizations in some other areas of the world, with 79.2 percent of the former and 79.5 percent of the latter having business continuity plans.

Having identified a broad brush picture of how seriously organizations take business continuity, respondents were then asked to rank various common internal business services in terms of how important it was they they were covered by their organization's business continuity plan.

The worldwide results (below) show that the majority of organizations give top business continuity priority to customer support systems, which is a sensible approach, ensuring that customers - those who supply the company's revenue - can be serviced through a problem period. Corporate financial systems are also clearly of high importance, since these are crucial to the organization's revenue and cash-flow.

Communications systems are given a high business continuity priority, but some discrepancies show up here: while telecoms and e-mail systems are given a high priority by many, Instant Messaging and, even more surprisingly, the corporate website are much lower down the pecking order.

  Very important Less Important
Corporate Financials (Accts Payable / Receivable)  
54% 2%
Corporate Website  
26% 7%
Customer Support  
62% 2%
E-mail  
49% 2%
File and Print  
20% 4%
Instant Messaging  
6% 43%
Manufacturing or Product Development  
20% 29%
Order Acceptance or Delivery  
37% 14%
Phone System  
51% 6%

When Europe and North America responses are compared, it appears that North American organizations give a higher priority to the protection of customer support services than European organizations do, while Europeans make telecommunications their top priority. See below:

EUROPE More Important Less Important
Corporate Financials (Accts Payable / Receivable)  
47% 0%
Corporate Website  
23% 10%
Customer Support  
47% 4%
E-mail  
48% 2%
File and Print  
25% 0%
Instant Messaging  
2% 50%
Manufacturing or Product Development  
10% 31%
Order Acceptance or Delivery  
35% 8%
Phone System  
56% 4%


NORTH AMERICA More Important Less Important
Corporate Financials (Accts Payable / Receivable)  
56% 1%
Corporate Website  
30% 6%
Customer Support  
64% 2%
E-mail  
52% 1%
File and Print  
16% 3%
Instant Messaging  
8% 47%
Manufacturing or Product Development  
21% 32%
Order Acceptance or Delivery  
33% 22%
Phone System  
51% 7%


DOWNTIME TOLERANCE
For the services which had been ranked as important to protect in business continuity plans, respondents were asked how long these services could be unavailable before the downtime becomes a potentially fatal issue for their organization. For many respondents downtime would become a critical problem very quickly, with 32 percent of all respondents saying that just four hours downtime, or less, could be fatal for their organization. The vast majority, 72.9 percent, said that 24 hours of downtime could result in the demise of their organization. Results for this section were very similar when Europe and North America were compared.

How long could your most important services be unavailable before the downtime becomes a potentially fatal issue for your organization? Response Percent
Less than 4 hours
32%
Between 4 and 8 hours
17.1%
Between 8 and 24 hours
23.8%
Between 1 day and 1 week
21%
Between 1 week and 1 month
4.4%
More than 1 month
0%
Don't Know or Not Applicable
1.7%

Respondents were asked to consider application downtime and to rank various causes of unscheduled application downtime, based on which would have the greatest impact on their organization's ability to function. The overall results show that general network and IT failures are considered of more importance than external events, such as natural disasters and terrorism. However North American organizations seem to be more concerned about external factors than their European counterparts, especially when it comes to terrorism and the impacts of natural disasters. See the tables below.

Rank these causes of unscheduled application downtime based on which would have the greatest impact on your organization's ability to function. More Impact Less Impact
Application Failure  
46% 1%
OS Failure  
33% 2%
Hardware Failure  
36% 3%
Network Outage  
53% 1%
Power Outage  
38% 5%
Natural Disaster  
32% 13%
Denial of Service Attack  
21% 16%
Terrorism  
32% 23%


EUROPE More Impact Less Impact
Application Failure  
49% 2%
OS Failure  
37% 2%
Hardware Failure  
37% 4%
Network Outage  
42% 2%
Power Outage  
29% 8%
Natural Disaster  
22% 18%
Denial of Service Attack  
14% 20%
Terrorism  
23% 27%


NORTH AMERICA More Impact Less Impact
Application Failure  
36% 0%
OS Failure  
24% 4%
Hardware Failure  
31% 4%
Network Outage  
58% 0%
Power Outage  
43% 5%
Natural Disaster  
33% 11%
Denial of Service Attack  
21% 17%
Terrorism  
34% 27%


BUSINESS CONTINUITY TESTING
The vast majority of organizations (46.3 percent) test their business continuity plans annually, with 23.1 percent conducting tests quarterly and 9 percent weekly. Encouragingly, only 5.2 percent of respondents said that their organization never tested its business continuity plans.

The results for North America and for Europe showed that 45 percent of European and 47.1 percent of North American organizations tested annually and 12.5 percent of Europeans and 24.3 percent of North Americas tested quarterly. 4.3 percent of North American respondents tested weekly, but no Europeans did this.

INVOCATIONS
Overall, 44.8 percent of respondents said that their organization had invoked its business continuity plan due to an unplanned outage. This rose to 47.5 percent of European organizations and 47.1 percent of North American organizations.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY BUDGETS
Respondents were asked to identify the amount that their organization spends annually on business continuity planning. These were given in US dollars to enable easy comparison. Overall the results were as follows:

  Response Percent
Less than $100,000
40.3%
Between $100,000 and $250,000
20.1%
Between $250,000 and $500,000
8.2%
Between $500,000 and $1,000,000
11.2%
Over $1,000,000
11.2%
Don't Know
9%

Differences between North America and Europe were as follows:

NORTH AMERICA Response Percent
Less than $100,000
35.7%
Between $100,000 and $250,000
18.6%
Between $250,000 and $500,000
7.1%
Between $500,000 and $1,000,000
11.4%
Over $1,000,000
14.3%
Don't Know
12.9%


EUROPE Response Percent
Less than $100,000
42.5%
Between $100,000 and $250,000
17.5%
Between $250,000 and $500,000
7.5%
Between $500,000 and $1,000,000
15%
Over $1,000,000
10%
Don't Know
7.5%

The remainder of the survey looked at disaster recovery site usage, location and technologies. The results can be read here

Date: 14th June 2006 • Region: UK/N.America/World Type: Article •Topic: BC stats
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