One of the most apparent holes in many organizations is not having a proper disaster recovery (DR) plan. In fact, a recent study by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council highlighted these findings, noting that about three quarters of enterprises do not have proper procedures in place to survive an emergency.

While disaster recovery planning may be second nature for businesses located in areas prone to earthquakes or hurricanes, we have found that most common disasters are local, or smaller in scale. For example, it could be a power outage or broken pipe. An organization could experience brownouts, a flood, a fire or a common software or network failure. Unfortunately, many entities are not prepared to easily absorb these types of mishaps.

In a way, experiencing a disaster could be considered similar to a data breach. Any organization that has a loss of data or a disruption to customer service will likely pay a penalty. Will an organization be in business a year from the event? That depends upon how deep the problem and how troublesome the consequences. In some cases, organizations simply do not survive a disaster.

One of the key things to an effective disaster recovery plan is to know your organization. The idea is to know what is important to the business and what’s important to your customers. In a 24/7 world, an hour of lost productivity cannot be made up over a weekend. It’s simply an hour’s worth of productivity out the door.

In the DRP Council study referred to earlier, 60 percent of survey participants noted that they did not have a documented disaster recovery plan in place. And another 40 percent of the participants said their disaster plan did not prove useful in their worst disaster recovery event.

This is an unfortunate situation that should not exist. Especially now that interest in cloud computing is building in the business world. A March 2013 survey, conducted by TechTarget and Computer Weekly, found that disaster recovery and business continuity cloud service use growing from 17.9 percent to 28.5 percent of organizations this year.

The study also found that rise in the use of the cloud for DR practices is a direct result of organizations seeking better analysis of unstructured data – Big Data – and ways to better protect business data.

Interestingly, the study confirmed organizational use of other DR practices. For example, 43 percent of respondents shipped disaster recovery data to another physical recovery site. I see this all the time. In addition, 34 percent noted that they utilize tape in their disaster recovery process.