Can you meet your Recovery Time Objectives? (RTOs)

When people talk about “Disaster Recovery” they are usually focused on one thing: getting business data back in the event of a major problem.

But what people fail to realize is the time & effort needed to reconstitute critical systems back into working order is just as important.

Here’s the Wikipedia definition of Recovery Time Objective:

“The recovery time objective (RTO) is the duration of time and a service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster (or disruption) in order to avoid unacceptable consequences associated with a break in business continuity.”

Most discussions about Disaster Recovery plans fail to discuss RTOs.  If a disaster occurs during the normal operations of the business (through a hardware/software failure, natural disaster, fire, etc.) the goal in most cases is to return the business to normal operations as quickly as possible.  In a perfect world, you’d like the business to continue uninterrupted through a disaster.  No lost sales; no lost deliverables; no missed deadlines.

When defining your RTOs, you should look at each IT service and decide how important it is to meeting commitments, and how long you can survive without it.

Traditionally, getting  a complex Windows-server based network back up and running after a disaster required a lot of manual labor, even with perfect backups.  Returning a server to full functionality would take days – even weeks – to tweak and replicate all of the services.  If your RTO is “a few hours” and your backup system only allows for a server to be fully recovered over a period of several days, you have a problem.

It’s possible to spend a lot of money on redundant systems–or even redundant locations–to minimize your recovery time.  But most smaller businesses don’t have these kinds of resources.

Fortunately, we found a shortcut several years ago with our SIRIS next-generation Data Protection systems.  They can bring a server (or complete network) back up locally or in the cloud in a matter of minutes.  And servers are spun up automatically each night to test competency–there’s no guessing whether or not the backups are going to work.

Also check out our free Recovery Time Calculator to get a quick estimate of how quickly Interplay can get you back to normal business operations.

-Brian Place, 6/2013