Home Enterprise Solutions Downtime holding back digital transformation, says survey

Downtime holding back digital transformation, says survey

The digital transformation efforts of two thirds of enterprises surveyed for Veeam are being held back by unplanned downtime.

The 2017 Veeam Availability Report surveyed more than 1000 senior IT leaders from organisations in 24 countries with at least 1000 employees.

Fifty of these organisations were in Australia, which makes it "a good representation", according to Veeam's ANZ head of systems engineering Nathan Steiner. (The overwhelming majority of Australian businesses have fewer than 20 employees.)

A total of 69% of respondents said availability (continuous access to services) was required for digital transformation (we are surprised the number was so small – if your processes rely on IT systems, how can you get work done when those systems are down?), while 66% said their digital transformation initiatives were being held back by unplanned downtime caused by cyber attacks, infrastructure failures, network outages, and natural disasters.

According to Veeam's research, the average annual cost of downtime for each organisation in the study was US$21.8 million, up from US$16 million in last year’s report.

That doesn't include the reputational damage caused by downtime and data loss. Almost half of enterprises mentioned a loss of customer confidence, and 40% experienced damage to brand integrity.

Such issues also had internal effects: one third of respondents reported diminished employee confidence and 28% experienced a diversion of project resources to clean-up efforts.

Increasing numbers of companies see the cloud as a way to achieve their digital agenda, and SaaS spending is expected to grow by at least 50% in the next 12 months. Fortunately for Veeam, 43% of respondents believe cloud providers can deliver better service levels for mission-critical data than their internal IT process. Consequently, spending on backup-as-a-service (BaaS) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) are expected to rise at similar rates.

But the research also found that 77% of organisations surveyed were experiencing a "protection gap" between the tolerance for lost data and IT's ability to protect data. Specifically, organisations said they could only tolerate 72 minutes per year of data loss within high-priority applications, while they actually experienced 127 minutes of data loss.

Australia is relatively well placed, Steiner said, as more than 80% of local data centre infrastructure was virtualised, and there was strong awareness of the benefits of hybrid cloud. Organisations were therefore able to use BaaS and DRaaS to improve availability and reduce the protection gap.

The use of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS means "data that's core to your organisation's IP [intellectual property] does not necessarily reside within your data centre," Steiner told iTWire, so Veeam offered products such as Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, which provides a local backup of Office 365 email, calendars and contacts that can be restored to Office 365 or on-premises Exchange, or used for compliance and e-discovery purposes.

Veeam was focusing on putting control of data back in the hands of the organisation, he said, as there was value in decoupling data from SaaS.

Furthermore, digital transformation projects often relied on distributed and disparate back-end systems that were loosely coupled, yet highly integrated. "You might have an ecosystem of services... brokered through a single connection." he said. The various services might be spread across AWS, Azure, SoftLayer, in-house data centres and (for public sector organisations) government service repositories.

End users expected continuous availability: "zero downtime is obviously the target," but "at the back end it becomes quite complex" as the failure of any of the systems can mean that is not achieved. If provision was made for very rapid failover between primary and secondary copies of each of these systems, users may be unaware that a problem occurred.

"We are very focused... on addressing the gaps between what business is demanding and what IT is currently able to provide within the data centre as part of an organisations DX," said Steiner. "Platforms such as Veeam are focused on providing a comprehensive, yet flexible platform that ensures enterprise continuity, cloud data management, visibility and compliance across hybrid cloud services"

The other countries surveyed for the 2017 Veeam Availability Report were Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, the UAE, the UK,  the US and the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.