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CIOs in Europe and the US say their organisations are failing to gain the full benefits of virtualised architectures, according to research which showed companies are suffering from poor data backup and recovery strategies, and inadequate data protection.

Research among the 500 CIOs found that, among their larger enterprises, virtual infrastructure accounted for 51% of enterprise servers, with this expected to grow to 63% in 2014.

But 68% felt their backup and recovery tools will become less effective as the amount of data and servers in their organisation grows.

The survey found that recovery of virtual servers is only a little faster than that of physical servers, at five and six hours respectively. This is actually worse than a similar survey in 2011, when recovery took four and five hours.

The survey, conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne, found that every hour of downtime costs an enterprise $324,793 (£215,470), equating to average downtime periods costing organisations at least $1.6 million (£1.06 million) per incident, Vanson Bourne said.

Recovering individual files and application items can take even longer. For example, recovering individual emails takes on average 14 hours. And regardless of recovery times, enterprises experience problems with more than one in six recoveries.

In addition, 88% of CIOs experience "capability-related challenges" with backup and recovery, along with 84% with complexity and 87% with cost difficulties.

Maybe it's not surprising therefore that 58% of CIOs are planning to change their backup tool for virtual environments by 2014.

The survey was commissioned by data back-up and recovery systems supplier Veeam, which operates in the virtualisation market.

“The fears of CIOs look to be correct - despite the potential for faster, more efficient data protection that virtualisation offers, recovery times have increased since 2011,” said Ratmir Timashev, CEO of Veeam.

Timashev said that as virtual infrastructure formed the majority of IT infrastructure now organisations had to "stop using a physical-world mind-set to view the technology or they will never be able to unlock its full potential".

He said: "For example, the majority of enterprises still deploy agents for backup and recovery. This approach works for physical environments but is unnecessary and ill-suited to the virtual infrastructure."