3 min read

Mirrored Sites Keep Systems Up

System restoration can take up to 10 hours after a disaster; companies should consider data-replication option.
For many companies, disaster recovery means minimizing downtime as they restore systems and get them back online. A Harris Poll survey released last week of 52 C-level executives at large companies indicates that it usually takes nine or 10 hours to restore various IT systems after a disaster or attack.

A better approach, experts say, is to develop a plan that prevents a disaster from taking systems down in the first place. But creating mirrored sites, where a company's data, applications, and IT infrastructure are replicated, costs money, and some businesses would rather pay the cost of downtime.

Recovery Time
The time it takes to restore IT systems after a disaster or attack (in hours)
E-mail 9.1
Order entry 9.2
CRM 10.8
Financial management 10.8
Supply chain 10.9
Base: Survey of 52 C-level executives at large companies
Data: Harris Poll
Two in three companies surveyed say they're more prepared for possible loss of information than they were before 9/11. But fewer than one in five think they're completely prepared, and fewer than three in five have business-continuity training for employees or backup facilities where they'd work in case of a disaster, according to the survey, which was sponsored by disaster-recovery service vendor SunGard Availability Services. The survey asked, among other things, how long it would take to restore various IT applications after a disaster (see chart). SunGard has 35 data centers around the country that businesses can use as backup facilities.

Nick Voutsakis, chief technology officer at the Glenmede Trust Co., a wealth-management company, took advantage of such a locale on July 7 when power was accidentally cut to all of 1 Liberty Place, the tallest building in Philadelphia. About 50 designated people from Glenmede's headquarters went to either the company's Wilmington, Del., campus or a nearby SunGard facility.

Power was out at 7:30 a.m., and an uninterruptible power supply backup system let Voutsakis' staff conduct a "graceful shutdown," with some core apps routed to a location 45 miles away. All necessary apps were up and running at the SunGard center at 11:30, after phone access was established.

"SunGard can bring resources to bear and is at my beck and call," Voutsakis says. "It's well worth whatever we spend."

Businesses rely too much on recovery, Standish Group analyst Jim Johnson says. "If you have to recover, you've lost time and money," he says. "The goal still needs to be an infrastructure so automatic that the time to recover is zero."

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Carlo Massimo, Contributing Writer
Salvatore Salamone, Managing Editor, Network Computing