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Educational Institutions are Among the Least Prepared When It Comes to IT Disasters

March 2, 2015 / Evolve IP

Our educational institutions prepare students for what often seems to be an uncertain future. However, they might want to take their own guidance because – at least when it comes to disaster recovery (DR) – our educational institutions are, in fact, grossly underprepared themselves.

Few if any industries are immune to the crippling infrastructural effects that can occur due to an unforeseen disaster – power outages, loss of data, and security breaches, just to name a few. Of all the organizations surveyed in Evolve IP’s Disaster Recovery Survey however, institutes of higher learning were ranked among the least prepared when it came to IT disasters and disaster recovery (DR). Even more disconcerting, 38% of schools had no DR plans whatsoever, leaving the door wide open to any number of vulnerabilities.


The Devastating Effects of Tech Disasters on Educational Institutions

While the term “disaster” may conjure images of a raging tornado or a flood rolling through your office or campus, the most common cause of disaster-related incidents and outages is actually due to technology failures, not natural phenomena. In fact, hardware issues comprise 47% of the interruptions in service and technical problems compared to 34% caused by environmental factors. For universities that are increasingly dependent upon online teaching tools and digital repositories, an IT disaster can be especially devastating.

Imagine that a university’s primary servers crash without a feasible data recovery plan in place. Student records, financial aid reports and enrollment data could be temporarily inaccessible or even irrevocably lost in the midst of an IT failure. Beyond a complete systems breakdown, legal repercussions and liability paired with a tarnished institutional reputation is an unfavorable scenario for any organization’s bottom line.

The Importance of a Well-Defined Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Process

As with any chance occurrence, IT crises can arise without rhyme or reason. The key point to hit home based on the applicable survey data is that far too many educational organizations are unable to respond effectively within a disaster situation due to a lack of preparation and an undefined recovery process. It’s estimated that 28% of educational institutions have experienced some permanent losses after an IT disaster, and more than 62% experiencing outages for more than one business day. As more functions rely upon computer storage, it’s even more important for educational institutions to formulate a plan and system for recovering valuable digital assets.

To their credit, academic establishments face a different set of challenges than traditional for-profit businesses in pursuit of developing backup systems and adequate recovery options. Our survey found that 57.5% of educational institutions indicated that budgetary restrictions negatively impacted their school’s disaster recovery preparation. Adding to the legitimacy of the fiscal handicap, half of all respondents also reported to having less than $50,000 per year to allocate toward recovery solutions.

Budgetary constraints, a decentralized computing environment and a lack of universal standards has set a troubling precedent for the educational system as a whole. These hurdles force institutions to rely on outdated and ineffective means of data backup and recovery such as onsite backup tapes and far too proximate data recovery sites, which leave systems at risk in the event of a disaster.

Despite less-than optimal disaster recovery preparedness, every educational institution can begin to tackle their preparation inadequacy by becoming familiar with a growing variety of available technology solutions. Understanding the DR solutions available is the first step toward creating a disaster recovery plan that suits your particular organization’s budgetary and functional needs.

The worst time to find out that your institution is underprepared for a disaster is after one strikes. Explore our Disaster Recovery Report for more information on how to find the perfect safety net for you and your clients.

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