Disaster recovery must be board-approved, say experts

By Stuart Sumner
24 Nov 2011 View Comments
Life preserver floating on binary data

A panel of experts at a roundtable organised by information infrastructure company EMC today agreed that disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity strategies must have board-level backing to succeed.

Further reading

A survey, released today by EMC and produced by independent research company Vanson Bourne, suggests that the UK is not giving DR the business focus it arguably merits.

According to the survey, 78 per cent of UK organisations have experienced data loss or system downtime in the last 12 months.

This is higher than the European average of 54 per cent.

Neil Fisher, vice chairman of the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC), argued that a DR strategy should be a board-level issue.

"DR is about the survival of the business, so it should be a board-level issue. Without board backing, the strategy will never work," he said.

Tony Lock, analyst at research firm Freeform Dynamics, explained that companies need to understand the varying DR requirements of different data sets.

"Most companies don't understand the value of different data sets," said Lock.

"For some data, a two-day outage is acceptable. For other data sets, twenty seconds is disastrous. You need to define how your different data sets need to be looked after, and who owns them."

Chairing the meeting, Steve O'Neill, CFO of EMEA North at EMC, explained that CEOs cannot be relied upon to understand the importance of DR without persuasion.

"The CEO needs to have a more short-term view. He's in charge of keeping the lights on and stopping things going bang," he said.

Fisher agreed, and added that the CIO is best placed to understand and champion the DR requirements.

"The only person with the overall and longer-term technology view is the CIO, but invariably he's not on the board so he needs to convince the CFO," he claimed.

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