SMBs and Disaster Recovery Planning

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ben Kepes

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Recently ReadWriteWeb posted about a recent Symantec survey that showed some unsurprising, but still pretty scary statistics for small businesses.

The survey found that 57% of SMBs have no disaster recovery plan and even 47% of midsize companies (those with between 100 and 1000 employees) similarly leave themselves unprepared.

Living, as I do, in a city that suffered a fairly significant natural disaster a few months ago, I realize just how risky this is. As it happens after the Canterbury earthquake the building in which I work was declared off-limits – the ability to work from anywhere became very important, very fast.

What was really interesting in the results for me, was the statistic that 52% of respondents felt that computer systems were not critical to their businesses – one can only imagine what these businesses do that don’t need email, e-commerce, office productivity applications or POS.

It’s cool to see then that as part of FEMA preparedness month, some data backup companies have become involved in the project, hopefully as part of a broader preparedness process, they can encourage businesses to think a little more about being ready in terms of IT disaster recovery.

I had a dialog with Vance Checketts, the COO of Mozy who are part of this initiative, to get his take on the survey results. First some context about Mozy’s growth and from that, an inference about SMB DR growth generally.

Mozy reports that they get 2000 businesses signing up very month but that the majority only do so after they, or one of their peers, actually loses some data. Mozy actually estimated that more than 50% of SMBs that suffer a major data loss will be out of business within 12 months.

If one accepts these assumptions, then clearly some education (beyond simply creating a pseudo data loss situation) will go a long way to encourage SMBs to think about disaster recovery.

As Checketts said:

"Few people care about data loss until it happens. Imagine if your dentist lost all of your contact information and data about your last visit? Your dentist tells you to brush your teeth even though you’d think they’d make more money if your teeth rotted."

"They do that because it is the right thing to do. And you’re happier as a result. In the same way, we say online backup is the right thing for the dentist to do. Online backup is simple, automatic, and secure. There is no IT department required."

Of course this somewhat glosses over the fact that online backup costs, requires at least some degree of technical knowledge and is yet another thing for struggling SMBs to do. Which is why online backup, as part of a much broader SMB offering, makes sense.

The Symantec survey results are summarized here: 2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Global Survey

Cross-posted from Diversity

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