EMC Releases Global Data Protection Index Findings

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  December 10, 2014

The findings of EMC’s Global Data Protection Index, the company’s new global data protection study, were staggering: the cost of data loss and downtime during the past 12 months was estimated at $1.7 trillion, or the equivalent of nearly 50% of Germany’s gross domestic product (GDP). Moreover, though data losses have increased by 400% since 2012, nearly three quarters (71%) of organizations are not fully confident in their ability to recover after a disruption.

Though some might question whether these findings represent outliers rather than commonplace business occurrences, Vanson Bourne, which conducted the study, stuck closely to the mainstream. The company surveyed 3,300 IT decision makers, from mid-size to enterprise-class businesses (with 250+ employees) across 24 countries.

There were 200 respondents each from businesses in the USA, UK, France and Germany, and 125 respondents each from companies in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, UAE, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia, Japan, China, Korea, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

Along with questions about specific backup and recovery experiences, strategies and infrastructures, Vanson Bourne also developed a “maturity curve” to compare the relative preparedness of survey participants’ organizations. The resulting scores were divided into four even segments from low to high scores; Laggards (scoring 1–25), Evaluators (scoring 26-50), Adopters (scoring 51-75) and Leaders (scoring 76-100).

What were some of the most striking findings?

  • That despite a lowering in the overall number of data loss incidents, nearly two thirds of enterprises (64%) suffered data loss or downtime in the last 12 months, with the average experiencing more than three working days (25 hours) of unexpected downtime
  • That enterprises that have not deployed a continuous availability strategy were twice as likely to suffer data loss as those that had.
  • That businesses using three or more vendors to supply data protection solutions lost three times as much data as those who unified their data protection strategy around a single vendor
  • Adding insult to injury, those same enterprises with three or more vendors spent an average of $3 million more on their data protection infrastructures than businesses with just one vendor
  • That despite the high interest in and penetration of emerging technologies like big data, mobile and hybrid cloud, over half (51%) lack a disaster recovery plan for any of these environments and just 6% have a plan for all three
  • Along with these shortcomings, 30% of all respondents’ primary data is located in some form of cloud storage, compounding their exposure to risk
  • Only 2% of survey participants qualified as “Leaders” in the Vanson Bourne “maturity curve.” Just 11% were classified as Adopters, while a notable 87% were mired in the bottom two categories
  • That said, enterprises with 5,000+ employees were twice as likely to be ahead of the maturity curve as smaller enterprises (250-449 employees)

The pitch

EMC’s Global Data Protection Index aims to quantify the business cost of data loss and downtime.

Final analysis

The concepts and practices of consumer protection are deeply ingrained in many or most developed countries. In fact, how well and proactively a country protects consumers can fundamentally impact its efforts and success in global markets. The pervasiveness of the Internet and global communications has also aided in these pursuits, making news about consumer safety, product recalls and hazards to children and adults widely and easily available.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are commonly, let alone always well-protected. Problem spotting tends to be reactive rather than proactive. Not surprisingly, manufacturers seldom welcome the cost and complexity of recalls, leaving wide open windows for problems and injuries. Plus, consumers themselves bear at least some responsibility in staying informed since vigilance is too often a retrospective exercise. In other words, “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware – remains consumers’ most abiding lesson.

Which is why the results of EMC’s Global Data Protection Index survey are so surprising. It isn’t like the concepts of data protection and recovery from downtime or disaster aren’t well-known. In fact, they have been common parlance in corporate data centers for decades, and are often developed in strict accordance with the legalities and regulatory requirements of data compliance. Businesses understand these points (or at least their legal representatives do), but the message seems to be falling short in IT.

That’s especially perplexing given the growing threats to business data. It wasn’t so long ago that data protection and recovery primarily focused on unforeseen natural events and related infrastructure outages, like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods that can hobble or even bring down electrical grids. That’s still the case, though it also appears to be growing in complexity due to climate change.

But modern businesses also have to deal with a host of other factors, including organized hacker attacks and the theft of IP and other data sponsored by rogue states. Toss in the increasing porosity of corporate networks due to poorly secured smart phones and tablets, and you have the stuff of data center professionals’ worst nightmares. However, whistling past the graveyard or covering your ears and chanting “Na-na-na-na-na” are hardly steps in creating an effective action plan.

Many IT organizations are under budgetary pressure (some would say under siege) from cost-sensitive management. That said, given the implicit challenges of big data, mobile and hybrid cloud workloads and the growing dangers of increasingly organized, often state-supported criminal attacks, it’s time for IT and management to face the reality of what slipshod data protection and resulting downtime is costing their business year-over-year.

As EMC’s new Global Protection Index suggests, the situation is already bad and likely to get worse without serious change from within.

© 2014 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.