How to Build a Data Protection Plan That Ensures Application Recovery

When it comes to data protection, organizations are demanding faster recovery times than ever before. Achieving rapid recovery requires a plan that focuses on applications, not just data and servers.

Tue, July 10, 2012

CIO — The availability of services and applications to employees and customers is more critical than ever before, but many organizations still focus their data protection objectives on data and servers rather than applications.

A new survey of more than 200 IT professionals in North America by Quest Software reports that 73 percent of organizations now rank restoring critical applications alongside recovering lost data as their top backup and recovery concern. But 78 percent of organizations are still creating recovery objectives focused on data, servers or a combination of both. Only five percent of respondents said they create their recover objectives based on applications.

"It's my job to ensure that our clients' mission-critical systems are protected at all times, and when it comes to backup, almost every organization I work with now has requirements to come up with faster recovery times than ever before," says John O'Brien, founder and president of J.O'B Consultants. "I tell them unequivocally that if you're concerned about meeting your recovery objectives, you better have a backup system that enables you to quickly restore your critical applications, recovering the data alone simply isn't enough anymore."

Service Level Agreements vs. Service Level Expectations

"Not only have end users become more and more dependent on the services that IT provides, but their expectations for availability and continuity are more demanding than ever before as well," adds Ken Kearley, corporate applications manager for Florida College. "When a service goes down, today's end users expect it to be restored immediately, and it's imperative that we in IT can meet that expectation."

And there may be a growing gap between user expectation and what IT can deliver. Among organizations that outsource to service providers for applications, Quest found 15 percent of respondents indicated there was a gap between their formal service level agreements (SLAs) and the actual service level expectations (SLEs) of their employees and customers.

"It's often a perception issue," says Greg Davoll, senior director of data protection marketing at Quest Software. "The five 9s may be being met for the IT SLA contract, but when the user logged in at 10:30 pm on a Friday night expecting to use the service, it wasn't available. It may even have been down for scheduled downtime. The end user may not understand that there's scheduled downtime and it's part of the contract."

Those problems can be solved with better planning and better communication, Davoll says. He suggests that organizations define their SLEs before negotiating their SLAs. But when services or applications go down unexpectedly, a plan for recovery that focuses on the applications is even more important.

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