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// 15 Sep 2021

RTO vs. RPO: Data Protection Essentials

Suhas Nayak, Sr. Director, Cloud and Data Center Marketing

Business continuity plans are more important than ever in today’s risk-filled environment. The government imposes certain requirements. Mainly, with the rise of threats like malware and ransomware, businesses should seek measures that prioritize safety. Determining your organization’s tolerance for data loss and recovery time can minimize or even fully mitigate the repercussion of a potential disruption to its project or 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 condition of a disruption. But let’s look at RTO vs. RPO more closely.

What’s the Difference Between RTO vs. RPO?

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) are two of the most important parameters of an effective disaster recovery strategy. In order for businesses to safeguard their projects and meet government requirements for safety, it’s crucial to understand what each means, how they are calculated, and tools you can leverage to ensure you meet or exceed each one.

Understanding Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (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 a government-regulated 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 and/or projects.

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 set by governments’ safety requirements 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 backups 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. This is crucial for businesses to meet the safety requirements set and for the smooth running of their projects.

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, projects and applications, and how long it can function during downtime before its operations, including project work, 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, applications and projects involved. However, there are common factors tied to government safety requirements 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, be it government or private, 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, ensuring safety and continuity in any given condition.

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? This ongoing debate is central to businesses aiming to maintain their safety protocols while meeting the stringent requirements set forth by the government.There is no objective answer, as each organization’s unique needs—both in terms of internal process and end user experience—are always determined by the services they offer, the industry they operate within, and the network or community they cater to. Each of these categories requires a different application of technology, and the intricate details of each process vary accordingly.

Meet or Exceed RTOs and RPOs with Clumio

Having an effective disaster recovery plan in place is always crucial to maintaining business continuity. This is especially significant in a technologically powered community where the details of hardware and software functioning are intertwined and critical to operations.

These plans aim to ensure your organization’s continued operation in case of downtime caused by attackers, accidental deletions, faulty hardware, or periodic issues with cloud hosting. This preparation, facilitated by the latest technology, 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 the data recovery process to either meet or minimize your existing RTOs. This technology allows a seamless network recovery, diminishing the impact of business disruptions.

With Clumio Protect, you can implement global policies across your entire AWS environment to back up your applications at the right frequency, meeting your recovery SLAs and 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 technology gives organizations the ability to decipher the suitable amount of snapshots needed to meet their RPO while avoiding wasted costs that can come from excessive, unnecessary snapshot creation and storage. Such detailed insights are a valuable resource to the community of AWS users.

Let us show you how Clumio, a leader in recovery technology, 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. Embrace this opportunity to network with our community of satisfied users.