Interest in disaster planning is waning

After a surge in demand for disaster planning services post-9/11, interest in advanced planning services seems to be slackening says Gartner

While overall demand for disaster planning services surged after the atrocities of 9/11 and then again with the rush to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, it is now cooling according to analyst firm Gartner.

Although the number of companies aiming to put in place disaster recovery plans will continue to rise, the analysts report, the number of companies aiming to implement the most advanced levels of disaster and recovery planning is shrinking.

Fewer than 20 percent of enterprises will operate at Gartner's highest level of disaster recovery management (Stage 3) by 2010, the analysts predict. At Stage 3, companies aim to have the business, partners and business processes fully integrated with the planning process for disasters, to have adopted a process of continuous improvement and to have implemented rigorous, regular testing of the plan.

Many companies, 45 percent, have a disaster recovery plan in place that qualifies as Stage 2, undertaking regular testing of a well-defined disaster recovery plan, said Gartner analyst Will Cappelli.  Between 60 and 70 percent are likely to reach that stage by 2010.

As companies are implementing disaster recovery plans they will need to decide which applications are most critical to the business and the number of applications that fall into that category will continue to rise, Cappelli said. Currently, 10 percent of applications are considered critical and these tend to be applications that are business-facing and customer-driven. The proportion of applications in this category will rise to 25 percent by 2010. "The rise in the proportion of applications considered critical is one of the significant trends of the next few years," he said.

While there is considerable room for improvement in disaster recovery planning, one of the key issues is a lack of resources. "Disaster recovery infrastructure is simply under-invested. The business case has to be properly prepared," Capelli said. In too many instances the business case was the weak link, he suggested, with the result that management was unsure of where to prioritise and allocate resources.

Cappelli was speaking at the Gartner Datacentre Technology Summit, which is being held on Monday and Tuesday this week at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.