Insurers are in the business of assessing and overcoming risk, so ensuring disaster recovery and business continuity in the data center ought to be second nature. Still, preliminary results coming from an ongoing survey by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council should give pause to IT executives everywhere. That is, most data centers are woefully unprepared to handle disruptions. And we're not talking about Hurricane Sandy-style takedowns; the greatest threat is small, everyday glitches.

The DRPC found, for example, that 72 percent of IT executives admit they are failing in terms of disaster readiness. A majority, 51 percent, give themselves an “F” grade, and 21 percent assign their DR preparedness efforts a “D.” No one gave themselves an “A,” and only 7 percent felt they were even worthy of a “B.”

In addition, there have been plenty of disruptions. More than one-third, 36 percent, lost critical apps, virtual machine instances, and critical data files for hours. More than one out of 10 even say they lost their IT functionality for a period of days.

Some of these disruptions, 15 percent, were caused by natural disasters or weather. The vast majority, however, were the result of everyday software or network failures, along with human error. Fifty-four percent say they had outages due to software failure and network failures, while 41 percent had issues due to human error.

Testing is another issue. Seventy percent of respondents say when they have tested their DR plans, they have not passed. Only one in four of those who fail their DR testing, actually re-test as follow up. Nearly half of those who test DR plans don’t even document the results of their tests. In addition, only one-third of those who test determine if they can achieve committed SLAs in terms of recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives.

A big obstacle to effectively testing systems and DR procedures is lack of staff and resources, the survey finds. A majority, 61 percent, say they do not have the skill sets to effectively perform DR tests. Another 37 percent do not have the time to test their DR. The average price for each DR test is between $5,000 and $50,000, the survey finds.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at

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