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IT resilience vs. disaster recovery: What's better for your business?

DR may be dying. The term DR, that is, not the actual process of disaster recovery. There is a move in the industry to replace the phrase with “IT resilience.”

At last week’s ZertoCON business continuity conference, analysts from Gartner and Forrester both threw their support behind using the term resilience over disaster recovery.

Stephanie Balaouras, vice president and research director at Forrester, said she dislikes the term “disaster recovery” because it tends to focus on catastrophic events, which can cause management to think it’s too expensive and rare.

Organizations need to move beyond disaster recovery and embrace resiliency, which is more concentrated on continuous availability and continuous improvement, Balaouras said. Customers don’t care what happened to cause an outage, they just want “always-on.”

Balaouras outlined three actions to improve IT resilience.

  • Calculate the cost of downtime. 57 percent of companies have told Forrester that they haven’t calculated that expense. And downtime is more than lost revenue — it’s loss of employee productivity and morale, as well as lost business opportunities. Organizations should calculate revenue and productivity losses plus customer impact, and present several loss scenarios.
  • Measure availability end-to-end. Availability is not about individual components, it’s the whole service, Balaouras said. When making your business case, take everything into account. As an example, Balaouras noted that the recent New York Stock Exchange outage was human error.
  • Match business objectives to the right mix of technologies. Balaouras suggests planning an evolution to active-active sites, which takes some time. Businesses should maximize virtualization investments for resiliency. And rethink failover and replication options, as the technologies are not “one size fits all.”

In his keynote address, John Morency, a research vice president at Gartner, said that IT resilience is becoming the new disaster recovery.

Most Gartner clients don’t use the term “disaster recovery” anymore — they want to focus more on IT resiliency, Morency said.

Newer technologies, such as replication, continuous data protection and snapshotting, are helping organizations enhance resiliency and proactively avoid recovery situations. While recovery time objectives used to be six to 18 hours for many, they’ve dropped to four hours or below, Morency said.

In her presentation, Balaouras also stressed the importance of time. With disaster recovery, downtime is measured in hours to days, while with IT resiliency, downtime is measured in minutes to hours.

Investments in disaster recovery are seen as expensive insurance policies and there isn’t enough emphasis in DR on the everyday events that cause the majority of business disruptions, Balaouras said. IT resilience investments, on the other hand, are driven by the need to serve customers and stay competitive, and resiliency is focused on all likely business disruptions.

Which term do you prefer?

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