Despite 2011 experiencing record levels of environmental, economic and political upheaval, a survey reveals that only 53% of respondents were confident they could recover quickly in the event of a disaster.

The global downturn is forcing manufacturers to focus on cost-reduction and to do more with less resources. This could explain why nearly half (45%) of those surveyed cited lack of budget and IT resources as the key challenges. And one in ten (11%) said they spend nothing on backup and DR, and a quarter (25%) state they don’t have the support of their senior business executives.

In an a highly competitive sector where the tolerance for any downtime is almost zero, its concerning that only 45% say they would not suffer substantial downtime in the event of a serious incident or natural disaster.

New technologies such as virtualisation and the use of cloud services, which should bring efficiencies to an organisation, are also bringing new challenges to IT departments. The vast majority (67%) of industrial firm IT managers surveyed believe their greatest challenge in a hybrid environment is moving data between physical, virtual and cloud environments.

One in four (26%) have virtualised 50% or more of their production servers and this figure is set to grow by 30% in the next 12 months. Despite this growth, many are putting their data at risk, with nearly 40% confirming they only back up virtual servers at monthly or irregular intervals.

Security and availability concerns had previously slowed the adoption of cloud for disaster recovery. However, the industry is now shifting with 94% predicting they will be using the cloud in some form in the next 12 months. 53% recognise the operational cost reductions that can be achieved but most are not embracing the cloud for their backup strategy. Nearly a third (29%) stated they have no offsite backup strategy at all.

Due to this inconsistent approach, many organisations are struggling to manage their data in hybrid physical, virtual and cloud environments. Many still use multiple, disparate tools which are likely to be spread across multiple sites, with just over a third (36%) managing three or more different solutions to protect their critical data. They may also be employed for diverse tasks, such as data backup, system imaging, patching, migrations and testing, which can lead to mistakes and inefficiencies.

The pressures on the industrial sector are escalating. It has a reputation for quality management, optimisation and automation, yet it’s clear that their backup and DR strategies are not keeping up with the rising adoption of virtualisation.

With speed being a key competitive differentiation and increasing productivity being number one priority, there is an increased intolerance for any downtime. Organisations in the industrial sector need to embrace new technology to help them consolidate and standardise their backup and DR plan. In doing so, confidence levels will rise and IT managers’ roles will become easier.