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What is a Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?

What is a Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?

RTO Basics

Following a data disaster, a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) states the maximum acceptable length of time that you have to recover your IT infrastructure and services and restore normal business operations.

Determining your RTO is an exercise that encourages your business to fully evaluate and appreciate the impact of downtime and determine a set of priorities between IT and executive leadership. IT teams can then use the RTO to select and gain approval for the most cost effective, rapid and comprehensive disaster recovery solution that meets their business needs.

The RTO is determined by evaluating the monetary value of downtime to your business, which includes disrupted services and transactions, customer and partner attrition, additional IT and customer service staffing costs, and potentially hardware replacement expenses. Another factor may include legal costs to address liabilities such as data regulation infractions or customer claims. Keep in mind that downtime costs per hour tend to escalate over time as issues cascade and cause further indirect impacts.

Once the downtime value is determined, businesses next need to grade the criticality of their applications, systems, and data and identify any related inter-dependencies. This will help to prioritize what to restore first (and subsequently), and identify the length of time required to get the business back online.

RTO Key Considerations:

  • Determine maximum acceptable monetary loss from downtime
  • Determine downtime hourly monetary loss value
  • Divide acceptable monetary loss by the hourly monetary loss for the RTO
  • Determine hours needed to restore apps, systems, and data
  • Compare the RTO to the current recovery time
    • If RTO > current recovery time, your RTO is achievable
    • If RTO < current recovery time, your RTO is not achievable

Meeting Your RTO Example:

If your backup and recovery capabilities can restore your systems and data within your RTO timeframe, your business will be able to mitigate risks around data disasters.

  • $50,000 maximum acceptable loss
  • $10,000 per hour losses
  • $50,000 / $10,000 per hour = RTO is 5 hours for a maximum financial loss of $50,000
  • Current recovery time is evaluated at 4 hours
  • The current recovery time of 4 hours is under the Recovery Time Objective of 5 hours and is therefore achievable; the business should avoid major losses from data disasters

Failing to Meet Your RTO Example:

If your current services and solutions are unable to recover and restore your data quickly enough to meet your RTO, the business stands to suffer unacceptable damage and consequences.

  • $50,000 maximum acceptable loss
  • $10,000 per hour losses
  • $50,000 / $10,000 per hour = RTO is 5 hours for a maximum financial loss of $50,000
  • Current recovery time is evaluated at 24 hours
  • The current recovery time of 24 hours is more than the Recovery Time Objective of 5 hours and is therefore not being met; the business continuity is at high risk

Other Considerations

While the monetary calculation can give you a good metric to base your RTO, it’s also important to consider the “soft” factors of what downtime can mean to your business.

How will customers react and how will you be perceived? Will your competitors use this as an opportunity to steal business? Will customers go elsewhere, and you not only lose an immediate sale but the lifetime value of a customer? Are you going to be answering questions on social media about this downtime?

Some of these factors may be quantifiable in your assessment, while others may need to be considered in a broader context of reputational and other risks.

What About Backup Timing?

The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is a measurement of the business’s maximum acceptable data loss (i.e. 15 minutes worth of data) as expressed by a correlating target backup interval (i.e. backups running every 15 minutes).

You should also establish your RPO and apply the same criticality, interdependency, and prioritization as you do with your RTO. RPO helps you decide what to backup and when, to ensure that you are capturing the right data at the right frequency to support a successful recovery. Read more about RPOs here.

RTO Services and Solutions

There are a range of services and solutions that support different RTOs. The chosen RTO can affect the price, configuration, and IT resources required. Working with a flexible, customer-centric backup and disaster recovery service provider can help you to determine the most cost-effective and responsive solution for your business.

Backup as a Service (BaaS)

Backup as a Service (BaaS) offers fully configurable online backup and recovery processes, supported by Thrive’s support services. These services are scaled for your organization so that you get the control you need with the support that you want.

Backups can be performed automatically according to flexible backup schedules, allowing for businesses of all sizes and needs to meet their specific RPOs. Communication is initiated by your systems, and your information is encrypted using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), before being pushed via a secure SSL/TLS connection to Thrive’s datacenters. All of the backups are also incremental and only move new or changed data.

Thrive’s Network Operating Centre (NOC) proactively monitors the data centers, operations and customer data transfers to ensure optimal backup and recovery with BaaS services to support your Recovery Time Objectives (RTO).

For environment failover and replication services, see our Disaster Recovery as a Service offerings.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables your company to replicate data and deploy a Disaster Recovery (DR) environment without needing to construct a second physical data center.

DRaaS extends recovery capabilities to allow for full recovery directly into cloud infrastructure in just minutes, giving your organization the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) that you need for true business continuity.

DRaaS replication ensures that your production site and DR site are in sync, allowing you to meet demanding Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs). Learn more about RPOs here.

The Thrive DRaaS solution offers both Warm Site Failover, and Hot Site High Availability Replication and Full Failover. These Thrive services enable businesses to achieve RTOs that range from seconds to 48 hours from the time of a declared data disaster. Speak to our disaster recovery experts to find the right services to meet your RTO.

Thrive to the Rescue

Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Heroes

Thrive is a trusted global provider of comprehensive cloud, data protection, and security services.

Since 2001, Thrive has provided these robust and secure managed cloud and disaster recovery solutions from a scalable multi-tenant infrastructure, supported by our first-class in-house technical team. Thrive delivers highly flexible and responsive solutions with outstanding value and service, using state-of-the-art technology to offer ultimate protection and peace of mind.

We are driven to be your trusted partner and to ensure that we deliver a Thrive Experience that meets your business requirements with the reliability, scalability and support that your business demands.

Contact us today to learn more about how Thrive can help you to meet your operational demands while protecting and recovering your most valuable asset – your data.