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Concerns about security and moving data to the cloud have often been mentioned here as one of the principal reasons enterprises are slow to take the jump. While there are legitimate concerns over how secure the cloud is, it turns out that enterprises aren’t helping themselves -- either by failing to back up data located on the cloud or in virtualized machines.

According to recent research carried out by Symantec (news, site), nearly half of all data on virtual systems is not regularly backed-up and only one in five of respondents use replicating and failover technology to protect their virtual environments.

Are Enterprises Doing Enough?

The findings, which are contained in Symantec’s sixth annual Disaster Recovery Study, confirm the nagging suspicion that one of the reasons enterprises are slow to move to the cloud is because many fail to protect themselves rather than any intrinsic weakness in the security of private or public clouds.

While cloud use and the complexity of virtualized and cloud environments have become a considerable IT management issue, the figures contained in the report show that many enterprises are not helping themselves either.

And things could be getting worse instead of better. Before identifying a number of reasons why this is so, the report looks at the current state of play.

Data Back-Up

Leaving aside the 44% of companies that don’t back up their data regularly, 60% of virtualized servers have not been included in disaster recovery (DR) plans, up from 45% reported in the same report for 2009.

This is particularly striking when you take into account that almost half of the enterprises surveyed said that they run around half of their mission critical applications from the cloud.

Running in tandem with this is a widespread lack of awareness of how long downtime caused by unplanned failure will actually take. In fact, in the majority of cases, downtime was more than twice the two hours that many enterprise managers offered as estimates.

3 Weeks Downtime?

The average downtime across the enterprises surveyed was five hours, with organizations experiencing, on average, four downtimes over the past 12 months.

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Failover outage times

The result -- system upgrades cost 51 hours of downtime in 72% of enterprises last year, power outages resulted in 11.3 hours for 70% of enterprises while cyber attacks caused 52.7 hrs in down time.

Based on a 40 hour working week, that’s nearly three weeks of downtime every year for companies that experienced all three, or a week and a day for companies that were cyber attacked or needed systems upgrades.

For companies that don’t back up -- nearly 50% -- that means anything between one and three weeks, without the benefit of backed-up data.

Managing Failovers

While security is still the principal concern for two-thirds of companies putting applications in the cloud, over half of companies said that their biggest problem with cloud computing deployments was how to control failovers and to ensure that the effected data could still be made available.

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Cloud deployment concerns

Reasons for this included the difficulty involved in using multiple tools that manage and protect applications (58%), while the lack of resources was cited as a reason in 59% of cases. Interestingly, 60% cited the lack of primary and backup storage as one of their main problems.

Symantec has a number of recommendations based on the findings of the report, many of which are just plain common sense.

While you could be very cynical and argue that Symantec has an interest in producing such findings, that would be to overlook the one absolutely outstanding fact in the research -- nearly half of enterprises do not back-up mission critical enterprise resources. Want to know more? Download the report here.