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Availability gap stymies digital transformation efforts

Gap between users demand for uninterrupted access to IT services and what businesses and IT can deliver widens

Availability gap stymies digital transformation efforts
Doing nothing will almost assuredly cost more than any solution, warns Petersen.

The latest CIO research by Veeam Software shows that an availability gap inhibits digital transformation and costs enterprises in the Middle East $21.8m each year

A full 96% of organisations in the Middle East have Digital Transformation initiatives on their roadmap and more than half of those initiatives are in process now. There is obviously a huge appetite across enterprises to utilise innovation for competitive advantage, and this places a huge burden on businesses to deliver access to IT services, data and apps, at any time and from anywhere 24.7.365.

However, according to the research released by Veeam, there is a major disconnect between user expectations and what IT can deliver, and it is hindering innovation. In fact, 82 percent of regional enterprises admit to suffering an ‘Availability Gap’ (the gap between users demand for uninterrupted access to IT services and what businesses and IT can deliver), which is impacting the bottom line to the tune of $21.8 million per year, and almost two thirds of respondents admit that this is holding back innovation.

Now in its sixth year, the 2017 Veeam Availability Report surveyed more than 1,000 senior IT leaders from 24 countries including Saudi Arabia and UAE, the two biggest IT markets in the Middle East. The survey shows that 74% of enterprises in the Middle East feel that Availability, that is continuous access to IT services, is a requirement for Digital Transformation; however, the majority of senior IT leaders (72 percent) feel these initiatives are being held back by unplanned downtime of services caused by cyber-attacks, infrastructure failures, network outages, and natural disasters (an average of 90 minutes per server each year).  While many regional organisations are still “planning” or “just beginning” their transformational journeys, 72% of respondents agree that these initiatives are critical or very important to their C-suite and lines of business.

Gregg Petersen, regional director, Middle East, Africa and SAARC at Veeam Software says, “Moving forward, reducing downtime and data loss will require business decision makers (BDMs) to acknowledge that downtime and data loss have costs, so doing nothing will almost assuredly cost more than any solution. Meanwhile, technical decision makers will need to reimagine that Availability and protection really are attainable, if they first stop using legacy approaches and embrace an IT strategy that is underpinned by agile virtualisation and complemented with cloud-services wherever possible, with reliable protection and rapid recovery as foundational elements of the design. Only with those elements accomplished can the organisation transform its digital strategy to accomplish its greater goals.”

The business cost of an outage: more than lost revenue

The 2017 Veeam Availability Report reveals once more the true impact of downtime on businesses. While downtime costs vary, the data shows that the average annual cost of downtime for an organisation in the Middle East in this study amounts to $21.8 million.

Downtime and data loss now cause enterprises to face public scrutiny, in ways that cannot be measured by a balance sheet. This year’s study shows that more than half (57%) of regional enterprises see a loss of customer confidence, and 48 percent experienced damage to brand integrity, which affect both brand reputation and customer retention. Looking at internal implications, nearly half of respondents (43%) see diminished employee confidence and 30 percent have experienced a diversion of project resources to ‘clean up’ the mess. 48% say impact is reduced stock price, which along with loss in customer confidence is their biggest concern.

 Unsurprisingly, cloud and its various consumption models are changing the way businesses approach data protection. The report shows that more and more companies in the region are considering cloud as a viable springboard to their digital agenda, with software as a service investment expected to increase by 78% percent in the next 12 months. Indeed, almost half of IT Leaders (46 percent) believe cloud providers can deliver better service levels for mission-critical data that their internal IT process.  Investments in Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) are expected to rise similarly as organisations combine them with cloud.

In addition, 83% percent of enterprises in the Middle East are seeing what Veeam has identified as a ‘Protection Gap’ (an organisation's tolerance for lost data being exceeded by IT’s inability to protect that data frequently enough), with their expectations for uptime consistently being unmet due to insufficient protection mechanisms and policies. Although companies state that they can only tolerate 34 minutes per year of data loss within ‘high priority’ applications, Veeam’s findings show that respondents actually experience 191 minutes of data loss, a discrepancy of over two and a half hours.  This poses a major risk for all companies and impacts business success in many ways.

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