With all the reports of companies suffering downtime due to system failures, even social media giants Instagram, it’s no wonder that more and more business owners are turning to their IT teams to build a Business Continuity plan.
When discussing or researching solutions to downtime, you may encounter acronyms such as RPO and RTO; let’s break these down, look at what they mean and explore why they are a key aspect to an IT Strategy.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity often gets confused with Backup and Disaster Recovery. It is however, much more than just having a plan for backing up your data and recovering your systems. The art of building a Business Continuity Plan looks at your business operations, not just your systems. It will consider how downtime will impact your services, which services are critical to your teams, how this affects clients and what steps you need to take to ensure the cost to your businesses bottom line is minimised.
What is RTO and RPO?
RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and RTO (Recovery Time Objective) are time scales that you set out as a business that are unique to your plan. They consider how often you need ensure your data is backed up and how long your business can operate during downtime before the associated costs severely impact your business.
RPO measures your critical data: more specifically the maximum amount of data you can lose, and the time between backups. This is important to understand, as in the event of a failure there will almost certainly be some lost data. By understanding how much data your business can tolerate losing, you can determine how often a data backup will need to be actioned. You can achieve this by calculating the amount of time between backups and the amount of data that could be lost. If your business is data heavy - typical of financial services - then you’re unlikely to tolerate much data loss and will want to ensure your backups are captured regularly.
RTO, by comparison, is the end game of a disaster and measures time. In fact, calculating your RTO provides the measurement of time by which your business needs to restore critical systems and data. These systems are the applications and business functions that allow you to deliver your services and keep trading. For example, if you’re a venue hosting regular events, ensuring your WIFI is continuously available could be considered critical. Visitors will expect to be able to get online. If a promised service is not delivered, you can expect to receive complaints and most probably be issuing refunds. In comparison, the internal intranet may not have such a dramatic impact if it’s down for a period.
Why do you need RTO & RPO in your Business Continuity Plan?
The plan you create to maintain continuity across your business in the event of a disaster will need context. Both measurements allow you to understand how impactful a disaster can be, what your business can realistically tolerate and which areas of your business you will need to focus on returning to a functioning state.
Simply put: Setting out your RPO and RTO will help you minimise the risks associated with downtime.
Thus, it can help to move a business forwards.
Would You Like to Know if You'd Recover From a Disaster?
In collaboration with our partners Datto, our Backup and Business Continuity eBook, provides concise information.