Using RPOs and RTOs to Drive Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

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When you’re creating a disaster recovery (DR) strategy for your business, there are two main criteria that you need to consider: your Restore Point Objectives (RPOs) and your Restore Time Objectives (RTOs). Although these acronyms sound complex, the idea behind them is fairly straightforward. Let’s have a closer look at how your RPOs and RTOs affect your DR strategies.



Determining Your RPOs

To better understand what your RPO is you should ask yourself “How much data can I afford to lose if a disaster occurs?” Your RPO represents the amount of data loss that your organization is able to sustain in the event of a disaster. As you might expect, this varies greatly between different organizations as well as different applications within an organization. Some businesses, such as banking and financial organizations, have zero tolerance for data loss. Others, such as many small manufacturers, can tolerate a couple days’ worth of data loss and can therefore afford to have a much higher RPO.

Determining Your RTOs

Similarly, to understand what your RTO is you should ask yourself “How long can I can afford to be without service if a disaster occurs?” For online retailers, such as Amazon, every minute of downtime costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and they can’t afford any downtime at all if possible. For these types of businesses it’s worth the extra costs to ensure maximum ability even in the event of a disaster. Conversely, a small or medium-sized office firm might have very different requirements. They might be able to work manually for days by temporarily substituting manual paper-based actions for their normal computerized operations.

Building Your DR Strategy

To effectively address the needs of the business, the DR strategy you build needs to consider both your organization’s and applications’ RPOs and RTOs. The right answer for RPOs and RTOs depends on the nature of the business, the workload, and its value to the business. As you might expect, solutions that provide the lowest RPOs and RTOs are also typically much more costly than solutions with that allow for higher RPOs and RTOS.

To keep data loss at a minimum, businesses that have very low RPOs and RTOs should consider DR solutions that utilize WAN replication technology such as Hyper-V Replica, VMware vSphere Replication, and third-party replication products that have even more advanced data protection capabilities. At the other end of the spectrum, businesses that can sustain more data loss might be fine with just the ability to restore the last night’s backup to a warm site and then they can later absorb or redo a day’s worth of activity.

It’s important to realize that these axioms don’t just apply to large businesses and enterprises. They also apply to small and medium-sized businesses, even though the parameters and requirement can be quite different. In some ways, your DR strategy for a smaller business is even more important than for an enterprise. While a larger organization might be able to sustain a significant outage and pick back up again, a lengthy outage for a smaller organization might put it out of business permanently. Basing your DR strategy on your businesses RPOs and RTOs ensures that you can be up and running after a disaster with a minimum of cost.