RPO vs RTO in Disaster Recovery: Understand the Difference

In India alone, the cost of data breaches to businesses rose around 18% to Rs. 16.5 crore (on average) from May 2020 through March 2021. Without sufficient data backup and recovery plans, business functions get exposed to unforeseen disasters and events. The outcome of considerable downtime or data loss can be detrimental. That’s where recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) – two crucial aspects of disaster recovery (DR) – come into the picture. When organizations better understand their RPO and RTO, they get well-armed to set up a system that can adapt and rebound quicker from a disaster. Before jumping to RPO vs RTO, let’s first understand both these DR concepts in detail.

What is RTO in Disaster Recovery?

The recovery time objective (RTO) is the duration and service level, after a disaster, within which a business operation has to be reinstated to prevent severe impact on the business and thereon its operational continuity. It indicates the amount of time that can pass post-disaster before the interruption starts to hinder the business workflow.

How does RTO Work?

Calculating RTO is a multilevel process that must be considered from various standpoints, including a DR (Disaster Recovery) plan, business impact analysis (BIA), and business continuity plan. The initial step in the RTO process is to completely stockpile all business-critical applications, systems, data, and virtual ecosystems. Without an accurate repository, you can’t accurately evaluate an RTO.

The next step is to quantify the value of each mission-critical application and service about how much it contributes to a company’s operation and business. That value should be measured as per the time duration and the level (as granular as possible). Also, the application value can be connected to any current service-level agreements (SLA), which determine the availability of service and might incorporate penalties if those service levels are not fulfilled.

By knowing what’s running and the value of all the running applications and systems, you can calculate RTO. But, keep in mind, there can be various RTO requirements depending on the application priority as estimated by the value the application adds to the company.

What is RPO in Disaster Recovery?

The recovery point objective (RPO) elaborates on the age of data or files that need to be restored from the backup storage for normal processes to restart if a system, computer, or network breaks down due to a disaster. The RPO is measured backward in time from the moment at which the failure happens. It can be expressed in minutes, hours, or even days.

How does RPO Work?

RPOs work by determining the duration that can pass before the amount of data loss surpasses what is allowed within the business continuity plan (BCP), which is known as the enterprise loss ‘tolerance’. Based on the business and the workload, loss tolerance will differ affecting what the related RPO for that workload should be. Administrators can automatically configure an RPO as a policy setting within the storage or backup software and the cloud.

RPO vs RTO in Disaster Recovery

While RPO and RTO do feature numerous similarities, both also come with some distinct differences:

  • Purpose: The RPO helps inform the creation of a data backup plan. The RTO, on the other hand, helps inform the creation of a DR plan.
  • Data Priority: The RPO focuses on the quantity of data lost due to a breakdown. Rather than a production standstill, RPO evaluates the risk and effect on overall customer transactions, while RTO just cares about system and application restoration.
  • Automation: RPOs require you to implement data backups at the appropriate intervals. Therefore, data backups can be easily automated and carried out. But, this is practically impossible for RTOs as they involve recovering all IT processes.
  • Cost: The costs vary between both objectives. The expenses to maintain a granular RPO might be smaller compared to those of a demanding RTO. It’s because RTO management entails the entire business framework and not just the aspect of data.
  • Calculation variables: Depending on the lowest count of variables, RPOs can be easier to measure owing to the consistency of data consumption. However, RTOs are a bit harder as restoration times bank on multiple factors, including analog time-frames and the day at which the event strikes.

A shorter RPO implies losing fewer data, but it requires more storage space, more backups, and more network resources and computing for backups to work. Likewise, a shorter RPO costs more money.

Furthermore, the calculation variables might vary based on the data classification. For any business, an ideal way is to group data into critical and non-critical types. That’ll predefine your RPOs and RTOs in priority order. 

Final Words

DR plans and business continuity is things that companies need to have and hope not to utilize. And in these cases, they must strike a balance between investing the minimal resources possible and having the optimal assurance that the plans will work.

To accomplish this balance, RTO and RPO are critical. Without gauging them correctly, you would just be guessing – and guessing is the best road to ensure ‘recovery disaster,’ rather than recovery from a disaster.

If you want to know more about RPO and RTO or want to speak with a Disaster Recovery expert or DRaaS provider, contact Ace Data today.