Sep 15, 2021

Data Protection Essentials: RTO and RPO

Authors
Suhas Nayak
Data Protection Essentials: RTO and RPO

Business continuity plans are more important than ever in today’s risk-filled environment, especially with the rise of threats like malware and ransomware. Determining your organization’s tolerance for data loss and recovery time can minimize or even fully mitigate the impact of a potential disruption to its mission-critical applications and databases. This should also include periodic reevaluations that account for new and emerging threats to your data and infrastructure—so you can stay prepared and ensure that your organization remains functional in the event of a disruption.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) are two of the most important parameters of an effective disaster recovery plan, so it’s crucial to understand what each means and how they are calculated—and tools you can leverage to ensure you meet or exceed each one.

Defining RTO and RPO

Although RPO and RTO are somewhat intertwined, each one refers to entirely different aspects of disaster recovery within a business continuity plan. Here’s how they are defined:

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

RTO is the acceptable amount of time an organization has designated to recover from a disaster before the downtime causes severe consequences due to a break in business continuity.

For example, suppose an organization has determined an RTO of five hours and experiences an event that causes its infrastructure to go down. In that case, it will need to have its infrastructure back up and running within the five hours before the downtime causes severe problems with its operations.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RPO refers to the time period that can pass during a disaster event until the amount of data lost surpasses the maximum threshold of the business continuity plan. In other words, what is the allowable amount of data that can be lost before the data loss effectively disrupts operations or end-users?

Typically, an organization’s data is backed up automatically according to the backup schedule it has set. For example, let’s say an organization automatically backs up its data every 10 hours and later experiences an outage that lasts for eight hours. Since the outage’s duration did not exceed the last data backup point, the organization has met its RPO and can recover enough data to resume operations in a tolerable manner without significant disruptions and losses.

Differences between RTO and RPO

Although RTO and RPO are both essential aspects of a business continuity plan, the main differences center on their respective purposes within the plan.

RTO concerns a much larger scale within disaster recovery, as it involves the entirety of the organization’s operations and applications, and how long it can function during downtime before its operations are impeded. Comparatively, RPO focuses solely on data and the organization’s resilience to the loss of that data.

How to Calculate RTO

An organization’s RTO is dependent on several different factors, from the nature of its business to the full scope of its infrastructure.

Here are some general steps that are often used by organizations to help pinpoint an RTO:

  • Compile a list of all the systems and applications the organization utilizes during normal business operations, then account for all the teams and end users that would be hindered if these systems and applications experienced an outage.
  • Calculate what the losses would be if these systems and applications went down, such as lost revenue and any added expenses from the loss of access to them.
  • If your organization oversees the data of its customers, you will also need to consider the service agreements you have with your constituents, which may factor into the amount of time you have to recover their data.
  • Identify any applications that would be affected if a database crashed.
  • Note any customer-facing services that would become unavailable and result in negative backlash and possible financial loss.

After accounting for every application, consider which one would cause the most loss if it were unavailable, then use its recovery time as your organization’s baseline RTO. If every application is equally important, you can create an average from each RTO and use it as your baseline.

How to Calculate RPO

Every organization’s RPO will be unique and based on several variables, especially when there are multiple systems and applications involved. However, there are common factors that should be considered when determining what the actual recovery point is, such as:

  • The maximum data loss amount your organization can handle while still functioning
  • The anticipated costs associated with this data loss and any services rendered unavailable from it
  • The cost of software recovery solutions
  • Adherence to service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Implications for customers and end users
  • Industry and vertical-specific needs

Weighing these factors together can help an organization identify the acceptable amount of data loss that is also in line with its allotted budget for backing up the data. This will help determine how often the data should be backed up and identify a concrete RPO.

What’s More Important, RTO or RPO?

RTO and RPO are both essential components of any business continuity plan, but is one really more important than the other? There is no objective answer, as each organization’s needs—both in terms of internal process and end user experience—are always unique and determined by the services they offer and the industry they operate within.

Meet or Exceed RTOs and RPOs with Clumio

Having an effective disaster recovery plan in place is always crucial to maintaining business continuity. Such plans are designed to keep your organization functioning in the unfortunate event of downtime, whether caused by attackers, accidental deletions, faulty hardware, or periodic issues with cloud hosting. This preparation will always include having a viable RTO and RPO in place.

Clumio’s rapid recovery capabilities ensure swift data restores from its cloud-native data protection platform. By providing capabilities to restore an entire instance as well as granularly recovering individual files, records, or mailboxes, Clumio optimizes data recovery to either meet or minimize your existing RTOs.

As for RPOs, Clumio Protect enables implementing global policies across your entire AWS environment to ensure your applications are backed up at the right frequency to meet your recovery SLAs as well as compliance needs. Additionally, Clumio Discover’s backup optimization engine provides enhanced reporting and deeper visibility into the current and historical status of AWS backups. This enables organizations to identify the suitable amount of snapshots needed to meet their RPO while avoiding wasted costs that can come from excessive, unnecessary snapshot creation and storage.

Let us show you how Clumio enables faster data recovery of AWS workloads such as EC2, EBS, RDS, DynamoDB, etc., by scheduling a demo.

Or see for yourself with a free trial, and learn how you can get $200 worth of free AWS credits when you take Clumio for a test drive.