State of Resilience? Not So Great, Vision Says
January 30, 2017 Alex Woodie
More than eight out of 10 companies don’t have a disaster recovery plan or lack total confidence in their plans, according to the 2017 State of Resilience report recently published by Vision Solutions. The main culprit appears to be increasing IT complexity, the high availability software provider says.
For the past decade, Vision has conducted an in-depth survey to explore the state of resilience among its customer base and prospects. In addition to exploring HA and DR topics, this year’s report, which is based on responses from about 1,500 technology professionals, examines company activities in the areas of migrations, data sharing, and cloud adoption.
The state of resilience is obviously of great interest to Vision, which sells HA solutions for IBM i Windows, Linux, and other platforms. According to its report–which included data from IBM i customers as well as customers on open systems–only a small percentage of companies are doing HA or DR the right way.
“For HA and DR, the thing that we found that was most concerning was 84 percent of the respondents didn’t have complete confidence in their DR plan, or didn’t have a DR plan,” says Vision Solutions’ director of product marketing, Becky Hjellming.
Only 16 percent of survey respondents said they were completely confident in their DR plans, according to Vision, while 9 percent had no DR plan whatsoever. When sliced by operating system, about 18 percent of IBM i shops were totally confident in their DR plans, while about 7 percent of IBM i shops had no DR plans. Windows shops fared worse in both categories.
One of the interesting things that Vision did with the 2017 report was to show the different ways that IBM i and Windows shops go about protecting their data and their applications, and the different expectations that companies have in DR and HA solutions. See below:
In the IBM i world, tape and virtual tape solutions are quite prevalent. Tape and VTL solutions can be found in about 81 percent and 39 percent of IBM i shops, respectively, compared to about 65 percent (tape) and 27 percent (VTL) in Windows shops. However, in the IBM i world, the general year-to-year trend shows fewer companies are relying on tape, while VTLs are becoming more popular.
HA based on logical replication, such as the MIMIX and iTera HA products that Vision sells, are more prevalent in the IBM i space than in Windows. About 61 percent of the IBM i shops polled by Vision report using logical replication, compared to about 51 percent of Windows shops. (Vision sells a version of its DoubleTake logical replication software that runs on Windows.)
By contrast, hardware-based HA solutions (sometimes called storage replication solutions or switched-disk solutions) are more prevalent in Windows shops, where it’s used about 49 percent of the time, according to Vision’s 2017 report. Among IBM i shops, storage-based HA solutions, such as the IBM PowerHA offerings, are used by only 34 percent of the customers.
(This data must be taken with a small grain of salt, since the survey is based on Vision customers and prospects, and Vision sells logical-based HA software, not hardware-based HA. Nonetheless, it does roughly jibe with general trends IT Jungle has observed, which is that PowerHA is a relative newcomer to the market and is building its share, but still trails in market share behind logical replication solution from providers like Vision, Maxava, Trader’s, and HelpSytems, among others.)
Vision also found the differences in HA and DR technologies used by IBM i and Windows shops also translates into different expectations that companies have with regards to recovery point objective (RPO), or how much data you can afford to lose, and recovery time objective (RTO), or how much time you can afford to be offline.
“IBM i users will tend to have a more aggressive RPO than a Windows user, and when you flip that around, a Windows user will have more aggressive RTO objective,” Hjellming tells IT Jungle. “They have different expectations for what they actually accomplished when they experience an outage.”
This makes sense when you consider that IBM i servers tend to be transactional systems, whereas Windows servers tend to run less mission-critical workloads. Companies using the IBM i server generally are less willing to lose transactions, whereas the broader file, email, print, and Web serving roles of Windows servers are not as critical, which points to the more stringent RPO expectations of IBM i shops.
Just the same, companies that run IBM i servers acknowledge that it generally takes more time to recover an IBM i server (i.e. they have a higher RTO), whereas it’s generally easier and faster to recover a Windows server. “It wasn’t a huge difference there,” Hjellming says. “People are used to be able to get a Windows box up faster than an i box. I think it’s just an expectation that IBM i is going to take longer.”
About half of the survey respondents say they have lost data at some point in time. Most of the outages cost the companies an hour to a few hours’ worth of data (see above). However, about 35 percent of respondents say they’ve had outages that have cost them a day’s worth of data or more.
When sliced by operating system, nearly 80 percent of the IBM i shops report their outages resulting in data loss measured in the minutes to an hour, whereas only about 21 percent of IBM i shops said they lost a few hours or more. Those numbers are reversed for Windows shops (i.e. few report losing a little data, whereas many report losing hours’ worth of it). Storage failures is the most likely cause of data loss, followed by not having a suitable backup, according to the report.
In terms of downtime, slightly less than 50 percent of shops reported having between 31 minutes and 5 hours of downtime, which more or less fits the RTO expectations the shops have. Most shops reported losing $50,000 or less as a result of the downtime. However, there were a handful that reported having more than $500,000 in losses attributable to downtime.
Vision also looked at cloud adoption in respect to company’s DR and HA plans. While DR and HA are perceived as being among the most popular uses of the cloud for IBM i shops, the overall adoption is still quite low, according to Vision.
The company found that while 60 percent of survey respondents report doing something in the cloud–such as running Salesforce apps or Dropbox–only 22 percent report being disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) subscribers, as shown below:
“That’s very low compared to the total adoption,” Hjellming says. “That’s something we’re going to watch, because if you look at industry analyst, they’re still predicting very strong growth in DRaaS over the next three years.”
Vision, she notes, has been onboarding partners to offer DRaaS for the last three years for its DoubleTake and MIMIX businesses. “It will continue to grow,” she predicts. “We continue to have a lot of conversations with partners. They’re actively switching business models and out there looking for infrastructure as a service and expanding that to DR as a service. I do think we’ll continue to see people looking to that model, particular people who have never been the cloud before.”
Vision included some other interesting data points in its report. For example, the company found that 70 percent of respondents were replicating data in their organization, yet about 25 percent had no automated process to synchronize the data sources. “It’s very slow transition for them to go from old manual extract, transform, and load [ETL] process that have bene in place for a period of time, to solution that would give them more real-time synchronization of data to decision-making systems,” Hjellming says.
Shadow IT is another concern. About 45 percent of survey respondents say the IT organization is not fully aware of what other departments are doing in the cloud, such as with Salesforce or Dropbox. Slightly less than a quarter of the IT pros say they’re worried about it.
This was Vision’s 10th annual State of Resilience study. If there’s one major trend that stands out over that time, it’s that the cloud looms large over many of the changes that are taking place in the data centers.
“Cloud is the thing that really entered in the last 10 years and made a big change in the landscape and technology and availability, and introduced a whole new element to the data center, and where key data and applications are going to be stored and run,” Hjellming says. “All in all, complexity has increased in all areas across the data center.”
Vision executives recently discussed the 2017 State of Resilience findings in a webinar, which you can access at www.visionsolutions.com/resources/upcoming-events. You can download a copy of the 59-page report at www.visionsolutions.com/Resources/Resource/Details/2017-state-of-resilience-report.