On the downside, the popularity of virtualization has led to virtual machine sprawl at many organizations, which can make DR more complex. "Companies have the [virtualization] structure in place that gives them the ability to create many more images, including some they do not even know about or plan for," Silverstone says. "And they can do so very quickly."
Another potential negative is that virtualization might give organizations a false sense of security. "People may fail to plan properly for disaster recovery, assuming that everything will be handled by virtualization," Silverstone says. "There are certain machines that for various reasons are not likely to be virtualized, so using virtualization does not replace the need for proper disaster recovery planning and testing."
Mobile Devices in the Workforce
From a disaster recovery standpoint the growing use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets facilitates the continuation of IT operations and business processes even after a disaster strikes.
"People will carry their mobile devices with them," says George Muller, vice president, sales planning, supply chain & IT at Imperial Sugar Co, Sugar Land, Texas, a processor and marketer of refined sugar.
"I might not carry my laptop wherever I go, but if all of a sudden we've got a disaster I've probably got my Blackberry in my shirt pocket. Anything that facilitates connectivity in a ubiquitous way is a plus."
One of the positive impacts of the prevalence of mobile devices is that it gives people a greater ability to work remotely and communicate using their devices in an emergency, says Malcolm Harkins, vice president of the IT group and CISO at microprocessor manufacturer Intel Corp. in Santa Clara, Calif.
But mobile device proliferation has also made disaster recovery slightly more complex, Dines says. "Along with mobile devices comes more data center infrastructure, such as mobile device management and [products] such as the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which are often very critical," she says. "This becomes one more system that must be planned for and properly protected."
Another possible negative with mobility in a disaster recovery scenario is that some critical enterprise applications, such as payroll, might not be available for mobile devices, Silverstone says.
Harkins notes that there are potential security risks, such as non-encrypted mobile devices being lost or stolen, and unauthorized access to corporate networks from these devices. But these risks can be overcome by the ability to wipe out data on devices remotely over the internet.