How to secure boardroom buy-in for backup and IT disaster recovery
By David Blackman, general manager of Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Acronis.
During 2011, thousands of businesses were affected by political strife, economic turmoil and environmental disasters that shaped the year. Many of those hardest hit will never fully recover. IT managers around the world have been given a wake-up call to reassess their backup and IT disaster recovery (DR).
A recent global study of 6,000 IT managers, which was conducted by Acronis and research house Ponemon, found that the disasters of 2011 have been a catalyst for positive change. However, too many strategic-level negatives still linger.
Most disappointing is a 13 percent drop in boardroom level support. Almost half (47 percent) of IT managers feel that business executives are not supportive. When questioned, IT managers cited reasons such as: “executives prefer to focus on the good news and disaster recovery usually means bad news”, “we are embarrassed by our backup and DR” and “we operate in a silo from other departments”.
IT managers need to plan for the worst but in order to do this effectively, they must get backup and IT disaster recovery to the top of the boardroom agenda. It’s no longer acceptable for it to be purely the responsibility of the IT department, too much is at stake. A business’ livelihood depends on its data.
This article sets out a four-point framework to help IT managers secure their business executives’ support for backup and IT disaster recovery.
Number one: reducing risk
Our figures show that 86 percent of businesses experience one or more instances of system downtime, which on average equates to 2.2 days a year and costs $366,360 a year. This results in lost revenue, missed opportunities and lost productivity. Imagine what you could otherwise invest this money in. You could actually hire four more senior members of staff.
It’s also about being able to recover all the data. In certain industries including the financial, legal and public sector, organizations have to adhere to strict regulations such as the UK Freedom of Information Act, whereby data needs to be stored securely and safely for the long term. Losing data could result in penalties, including in some cases a serious monetary fine.
To avoid costly lengthy system downtime IT managers need to demonstrate how they can put the right backup and recovery strategy in place. They need to help executives see how it fits into the bigger picture and get other departments on board. For example how would the customer service team be affected by a disaster and do they have any action plan in place? A plan needs to be agreed. Position it as a long-term investment and compare the amount of money needed now versus having to pay out thousands later. This makes the extra budget sound like a cost saving.
Number two: innovation
Recent innovations in technology can help IT managers improve backup and recovery processes without breaking the bank. Cloud computing is a perfect example.
Many small and medium sized businesses can’t afford an offsite data centre for disaster recovery and, worryingly, almost a quarter don’t have an offsite backup strategy in place at all. Most are not taking advantage of the easy offsite resource that cloud computing offers. However, using the cloud for backup and recovery has many benefits including lower IT operating costs, additional or flexible storage space and improved compliance.
IT managers should think about breaking down the amount they want to spend, versus the long-term cost-savings made, to show the board the potential benefits. Calculate what extra storage you would need and how much it would cost if you didn’t have a cloud solution. Propose the additional IT projects you could focus on with the time and money saved.
Number three: vendor criteria
The first step is to collect vendor collateral and understand the different solutions. Talk to your peers and ask for sales references with demonstrable ROI. Rather than specifying exactly what you want to purchase, you may want to ask suppliers for their suggestions. Compare the suppliers in terms of what matters most to you.
IT managers should also consider the bigger picture and consider the implications of constantly adding new solutions to their IT infrastructure. Our research shows that 53 percent of businesses are using separate backup solutions for their physical and virtual environments, which is one of the reasons companies do such a poor job of backing up and why budgets are not being used wisely.
Businesses failing to consolidate their disaster recovery tools are making the management of backup unnecessarily more complicated and time-consuming, therefore more costly. A comprehensive solution linking physical, virtual and cloud protection would offer the most significant enhancements to their backup and disaster recovery operations.
Number four: budgets
There are three key criteria to bear in mind when persuading your CEO to spend more budget on backup and IT disaster recovery:
Budget and IT resources are the main barriers to successful backup and disaster recovery. When thought through logically, after its people, data is quite possibly the company’s next most valuable asset. If this is lost, a business is effectively obsolete. IT does not operate in a silo from other departments: it underpins the whole business.
Businesses face a triple whammy through 2012. They need to protect more data, fund it from a shrinking budget, and do it across more environments than ever before. This requires IT managers to get smarter.
If IT managers can put a strong case for backup and disaster recovery forward to their business executives, it shouldn’t be hard to get their support. It’s important to think about how you’re going to present your case and focus on what it means for the company as a whole. Rather than just asking for more money demonstrate what you will do with the extra cash and why a business executive should support your backup and disaster recovery plan.
Author: David Blackman, general manager of Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Acronis. http://www.acronis.co.uk/
•Date: 1st May 2012 • UK/World •Type: Article • Topic: ICT continuity