27 October 2009

Recession remedies cause IT crisis

Kroll Ontrack warns that history is repeating itself as organisations see rise in data loss due to human error

Kroll Ontrack, through its Ontrack® Data Recovery services, has seen a 100 per cent increase in the demand for critical application data recoveries in the UK since the recession began.

Essential IT application systems, such as those that manage email and relational databases, are amongst those experiencing data corruption during maintenance or upgrades. This can put organisations in a precarious situation because such systems are essential for business continuity.

The surge in data loss coincides with shrinking IT departments and budgets. According to Ontrack Data Recovery engineers, the result is due to companies cutting corners with fewer specially trained staff to carry out the work.

his trend was evident in many markets during the last recession, which was almost a decade ago. During this time, and also when the economy started to recover, Kroll Ontrack processed an increased amount of potentially avoidable data recovery cases, many of which were due to human error and a lack of precise IT system knowledge.

Kroll Ontrack has put together a guide to help IT managers prevent critical application data loss, as well as advice on what to do if the worst happens and critical application data is damaged or destroyed.

1. Achieve more with less: With IT departments shrinking, it’s all too easy for internal service levels to be negatively impacted. This needn’t be the case; careful planning and investment in training staff, when they are required to take on more responsibilities, is important to ensure efficient and effective working practices. Organisations should also keep up-to-date records of responsibilities, procedures and passwords as part of their knowledge management strategy.

2. Don’t cut corners on data security: Whilst the current necessity for budgetary tightening is acknowledged, the risks of data theft should not be ignored. Crime typically rises in a recession, so companies need to remain vigilant and evaluate potential threats from both inside and outside of the organisation.

3. Identify core applications and implement support plans: Make sure that critical applications are identified, service level agreements are set and support plans are put in place to ensure these are delivered. This way, critical applications will receive the focus they need. This applies across a raft of applications - Kroll Ontrack has seen a ten-fold increase in the number of requests to restore data from virtual environments and enterprise level database systems in the last 12 months, demonstrating that some companies may not have the correct procedures in place.

4. Have a recovery plan in place – If a critical application fails, make sure that staff know what to do and don’t make the situation worse by panicking and attempting to fix the problem themselves. DIY may appear to be the cheaper option but is in fact a false economy. Always plan for the worst-case scenario to cover all bases. For example, what would you do if your back-ups failed? Having business continuity processes in place, and an established relationship with a data recovery provider will maximise the likelihood of a successful recovery. Plans need to be updated every time a new critical application is added.

5. Don’t panic – The first hour after critical application loss is the most important as this is potentially when most damage is done by well-meaning employees. Prevent this by having a simple policy in place, turn off the machine and speak to a company with expertise in data recovery.

“We seem to be witnessing history repeating itself. As we saw in many markets during the last recession, there is a correlation between tighter budgets, a reduced number of IT staff and an increase in the number of critical application data recovery requests that we are getting through our doors,” said Phil Bridge, managing director, Kroll Ontrack UK.

“Our objective is to let IT staff know that there are simple steps that they can take which will help reduce the chance of data loss. Now is the time to protect the lifeblood of the company by looking after the critical IT applications, as they are essential in order to remain competitive in a difficult market,” he added.