Disaster recovery is a priority again, ABI says

While the improving global economy will help the US$24-billion business continuity and disaster recovery market reach $39 billion in 2015, the primary driver could be the emergence of cloud computing, according to a new report from ABI Research Inc.


The New York-based research firm said the global BC/DR market will grow at a little more than eight per cent annually, which means that enterprises are back to their pre-recession buying habits for back-up and storage technologies.


“(The market) was doing very well up until the recent global economic downturn, when it really took a hit as companies became cash strapped,” said Larry Fisher, research director for ABI Research’s NextGen emerging technology division. “A lot of companies seemed to move business continuity and disaster recovery from the ‘must have’ column to the ‘nice to have’ column.”


Typically, this meant cash strapped companies would avoid expanding or upgrading their BC/DR technologies, he added.


Fisher said this trend is now starting to change as BC/DR solutions are becoming less expensive and easier to use for IT shops. He said that while increased operating budgets have helped with this, emerging technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization should also play a key role moving forward.


“The cloud means that companies don’t have to make as extensive a commitment to owning hardware and solutions because they can easily connect to them,” he said. “They don’t have to have their own server farms, for example. There are solutions in the cloud that can be almost as simultaneous as having something on your site.”


“It also gives you the capability that if something happens to your main centre of business, you can set-up shop in a secondary shop and still access all the same information.”


James Quin, lead research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., agreed, saying that the economic recession forced companies to move away from building their own dedicated infrastructure and toward co-location services and virtualization.


Another driving factor, according to ABI Research, is the integration of BC/DR features into larger IT systems. This is a trend that has also played out in the form of vendor partnerships, such as the recent collaboration between Cisco Systems Inc., VMware Inc. and NetApp Inc.


A recent example of this type of integration, as well as the impact of cloud computing on the BC/DR space, comes from Google Inc.’s Apps suite.


The company said its Web-based communications and office productivity service now contains highly advanced and sophisticated data backup and recovery features traditionally only available to the largest vendors or service providers.


“Anytime you change any data in Apps, whether writing a sentence in a document or changing a cell in a spreadsheet, in the background we go and write that data to multiple servers within one data centre and also in other data centres,” said Rajen Sheth, Google Apps’ senior product manager.


But even with BC/DR technologies back on the rise, Quin said, it’s unlikely that IT departments will ever look at hiring specialized “disaster recovery administrators” similar to those seen in the virtualization or security space.


“Specialization occurs in those areas because they involve tools that are used all day, everyday,” he said.


Quin added that while DR planning and testing occurs, organizations will not have the luxury of designating an IT worker exclusively to this area. This means that IT administrators will handle DR as a secondary responsibility rather than a primary one.


– With files from Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service (Miami Bureau)

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