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IT Data Loss - The Corporate Threat

Information technology risk has become one of the most significant corporate threats according to many CEOs, CFOs, chief risk officers and other IT personnel responsible for managing risk. These managers indicate that almost sixty percent of companies incurred significant financial damage as a result of a computer systems failure in the past twelve months, while one-third suffered financial damage as a result of cyber-crime such as hacking over the same period. Many executives and managers now see IT risk as a high or very high risk to their business.

At a minimum, IT systems outages can cost huge amounts in lost revenue, lost productivity, and legal issues. At the extreme, a sustained outage can threaten the viability and reputation of an organisation. Recovering a lost file -- or an entire application -- can be difficult and massively expensive. Restoring a crashed hard drive or server can easily take days before the needed information is fully restored (that is, if it's possible to fully restore at all) and such attempt may cost many thousands of pounds, with no guarantee at all that the lost data can be recovered from the failed disk.

Some key issues:
• A recent International Data Corporation (USA) study found that fewer than half of all mid-sized organisations have a business continuity plan in place.
• Another study revealed that 58% of all respondents ranked the potential of data centre hardware or software failure as an “extreme” threat to their firms.

These same studies point to human error and equipment failure as the leading causes for hardware and/or software disasters:
• 45% of data is never backed up and less than 27% is backed up (a minimum of) once a week.
• Of the companies that do backup, 25% have experienced an error during restore.
• The average failure rate of tape drives is 100%. In other words, all drives eventually fail.

In most instances, business continuity has incorporated a myriad of solutions, including hot standby data centres, data backup and protection software, continuous data protection schemes and technologies, Bare Metal recovery schemes, and manual system re-installations as well as duplicate or hot standby data centres. Until now, traditional solutions either duplicated a data centre — roughly doubling an organisation’s data centre costs and complexity — or relied upon tape and/or disk-to-disk backup schemes.
For SMEs, neither of these options is desirable. Duplicating a data centre requires expensive failover systems, continuous monitoring, costly testing and maintenance. The alternative is largely a manual process, starting with Operating System installation followed by reinstallation of software Applications, patches and updates, and system settings and passwords before User Data can be reloaded from tape or disk. Furthermore, when a data centre consists of multiple operating systems (e.g., Windows Server 2003 running alongside Red Hat Linux) or off-site electronic data storage (i.e., electronic vaulting) is utilised, multiple data protection systems and software are required, causing additional complexity. These options seldom, if ever, allow a business to get “back to business” in a predictable or acceptable time frame.

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