A survey by the Aberdeen Group found that disaster recovery and business continuance are the top two business drivers behind organizations' data protection strategies. The September 2006 report, titled "The Data Protection Benchmark Report: The Road to Recovery," also found that in addition to tight IT budgets, the primary challenges that companies face are a lack of DPM tools, the need to understand regulatory/policy requirements, and inadequate data protection technologies.

"Data protection is no longer just an afterthought; it has become a critical business practice," said Sonia Lelii, senior analyst, Aberdeen Group. "The last few years have seen a surge in data protection innovation and as a result, today's companies have a lot more options. For example, data protection management tools enable IT managers to gain greater visibility into their backup environments so they can determine where failures are taking place or where bottlenecks are likely to occur. This plays an important role in recovery management and business continuity."

The Aberdeen Group's survey of more than 100 companies revealed that disaster recovery, business continuance, and traditional backup/restore and legal discovery mandates are the top drivers behind companies' data protection strategies. The 9/11 terrorist attacks brought the issues of data protection into the mainstream within the IT industry and accelerated development of new strategies, as well as the proliferation of new storage-based software and hardware.

The survey respondents cited a lack of data protection management tools - one of the newer emerging technologies - as a key challenge in addressing their top data protection drivers. "It has only been in the last few years that several startup vendors have emerged to deliver DPM technology that enables companies to conduct performance diagnostics on their systems," said Lelii. "Without such software, companies are flying blind in trying to determine the root cause behind problems in their networks that could lead to serious problems for their business as a whole."

The report classifies survey respondents as "laggards," "industry average," or "best in class," based on their characteristics in four key categories: process, organization, knowledge and technology. Some of the characteristics of best in class organizations include a focus on improving and defining processes and standards, having a well-defined data protection plan and strategy in place, and having real-time visibility into information and data assets.

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