What Is Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?

Do you know your business’ RTOs?

I have been talking to clients about their computing needs for many years and I have found that most businesses don’t pay enough attention to the simple question:

“How long can our business operate without our Computer Systems?”

As your business grows and relies more and more on electronic information, you must have a recovery time objective (RTO) in place. If you don’t know what I am talking about you really should pay particular attention to this post. I have come across too many businesses that find out about RTOs after a disaster.

What is the definition of RTO?

The RTO is the maximum length of time that a computer, system, network, or application can be unavailable after a failure that is acceptable to the business. The IT department will have the RTOs in their disaster recovery (DR) plan but they must be formulated and agreed by management in the business continuity (BC) plan.

Why do you need to know your RTO?

The different components of a business system and network will have different RTOs, for instance, the servers will have a short RTO because most of the other processes rely on their successful functioning. Specific applications will have RTOs that relate to their operational purpose. For instance the RTO for payroll may be two weeks compared to sales where the RTO may be two days. Applications that manage commodities or exchange rates may have RTO of only seconds!

Different functions within the same business will have different recovery time objectives so it is important to base your overall RTO on the most “mission critical” functions.

How do you work out your RTO?

The RTO can only be determined as a function of the business operations. If an interruption disrupts normal operations it will have a business and cost impact. The impact of the interruption (or disaster) may be estimated as the maximum amount of revenue that can be lost without affecting the short and medium term viability of the business. However, the real cost to the business will be determined by long-term and intangible effects (such as reputational damage) as well as on immediate, short-term, or tangible factors.

In business continuity planning the RTO is established during the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) stage by the manager or owner of the operational process. They are then presented to management for approval.

What does your RTO mean for you?

Once the RTO for an computer, system, network, or application has been defined, your system administrators will decide the best disaster recovery technologies to use. If you need more information about determining your RTO and in the current best solutions for safe and reliable backup systems or rapid disaster recovery please contact us.