Cutover recently commissioned research into IT disaster recovery testing challenges, objectives, and approaches relevant to today’s organizations. We surveyed 300 professionals and decision makers close to their companies’ IT disaster recovery processes, spanning industries such as financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications.
These are some of the insights our research revealed:
Testing is a time-consuming process
Despite the recognized importance given to disaster recovery testing among most organizations, it can be a time-consuming process. More than half of respondents in our survey (57%) said planning and testing particular scenarios took them an average of three to six weeks. Almost 10% of organizations said their testing times averaged more than three months, a figure disproportionately reported by large organizations.
Despite the lengthy amount of time associated with most organizations’ disaster recovery testing processes, and the potential challenges this could pose, most of them still run successful disaster recovery tests. Our research found that 82% of organizations achieve their Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) at least often, while only 2% reported rarely achieving their RTO.
However, only 19% of organizations achieve their RTO all of the time, a problem that’s further compounded by the fact that planned IT DR testing might not replicate the conditions of a real failure. For that reason, testing results do not necessarily reflect an organization’s actual resilience posture. More advanced testing solutions are needed to close this gap.
Manual processes hinder disaster recovery testing
For many organizations, planning and testing inefficiencies are present due to the persistence of outdated, manual processes. Just under a quarter (24%) of respondents have recovery plans that have to be manually executed, while just under a third do not have any automated recovery activities.
The operational challenges of manual disaster recovery testing seem to contribute to the relatively small number of yearly tests conducted by some organizations. Slightly more than a quarter of respondents (27%) conduct two or fewer tests per year, a figure that mirrors the number of companies lacking automated testing processes.
As the data suggests, it’s not just organizations that lack automated testing that would benefit from easier testing processes. In fact, most respondents in our survey said they would be willing to test more if it were easier to do so. Three-quarters of organizations said they would run more tests if testing processes were faster and more efficient, compared to only 4% of respondents who said they would not.
There is a strong preference for cloud storage and remote testing
ServiceNow is among the most popular disaster recovery testing software solutions. Nearly half of respondents (43%) reported using ServiceNow for technology planning and rehearsals, while 56% used the software for managing and responding to incidents. Further, 43% of organizations said they used ServiceNow to capture and store their IT services and configuration assets.
The popularity of tech solutions like ServiceNow reflects a broader trend — organizations want the ability to store IT assets in more secure, off-site locations while also executing their disaster recovery plans remotely. The overwhelming majority of survey participants (87%) said they stored their disaster recovery plans on remote servers (this figure jumped to 95% when considering only financial services companies).