Any experienced entrepreneur can attest to the importance of having a contingency plan in the event of unexpected setbacks. For this reason, understanding the recovery time objective (RTO) is imperative for effectively remedying such situations.

The following will describe what an RTO is as well as whose job it is to understand and utilize it. Additionally, the essentials for creating it will also be provided. Lastly, a series of helpful tips will offer guidance in the event of a severe organizational setback.

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What Is Recovery Time Objective?

Recovery time objective refers to the maximum allowable amount of time a system can be down after a failure. Specifically, this refers to the malfunctioning of an application, network or system. Typically, the RTO is tied to a base standard of an organization’s normal operations.

Lost revenue is another key factor linked to RTO. This is due primarily to the fact that a business’ health cannot be isolated from profitability. There are numerous ways that an RTO can measure. Some of these include days, hours, minutes or even as specific as seconds of lost connection with key software.

Who Uses Recovery Time Objective?

The recovery time objective is typically used by the owner of the specific process in question. Often times, an organization’s business continuity planner will also engage directly with it.

Owners of any given process have the highest priority in overseeing fluidity of operations. Thus, the RTO is effectively used as a means of damage control during an unforeseen crisis.

The Benefits of Recovery Time Objective

A recovery time objective can have many essential benefits for the process’ owner. One of these is the identification of possible correction strategies.

Another benefit is creating a timeline within which a viable solution must be created and implemented. Having a timeline window can help include or exclude certain solutions depending on their complexity. The RTO can also provide process owners with greater objectivity and clarity when managing such crises.

How To Create a Recovery Time Objective

Creating a recovery time objective can be challenging, especially when doing so under tight deadlines. However, once the RTO is established, the benefits of having one far outweigh its absence.

RTOs depend on a variety of factors which must be considered. One of these includes the significance of the failed process in relation to company revenue. For example, an application that handles buyer transactions at the point of sale. Such a feature can massively inhibit a business’ revenue stream.

Another key step in creating an RTO is collaborating with the business continuity planner. Usually, the owner of a process should touch base with the planner. This is essential because he or she can provide a broader overview of company operations.

This can reveal key insights about how integral a failed process is to organizational integrity. Furthermore, the planner can combine data about the system as a whole with the specific needs of the failed application.

Once the recovery time objective has been established, the process owner should choose a disaster recovery technology (DRT). If, for example, the RTO is only three hours long, then a short-term solution—like backing up data on an external hard drive—could be ideal.

3 Tips for Recovery Time Objectives

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1) Solutions For Long-Term RTOs

When an RTO is finally established, and the timeframe window is quite lengthy, there are unique solutions for it. In some cases, an RTO can be as lengthy as a few days. In the event of a timeframe of 6 days, for example, there are a number of useful disaster recovery technologies.

Some of these include compact disks or remote web servers equipped with separate storage. These are in contrast to short-term solutions such as external hard drives.

2) Tape Backups

One of the more traditional forms of backing up during a disruption is the using of a tape. Timing is key when an essential process has failed. In accordance with this, creating a schedule that also takes into account the RTO is key.

A simple example of this would be if the backup plan identified is expected to take 2 hours. Also consider that the pre-scheduled backup occurs at 0500 hours, as well as at 1700 hours.

If a system disruption takes place at 1300 hours then, given these variables, there is a specific timeframe of action. One’s options for restoring the system would exist from 0500 hours. This, in turn, would create an RTA of 1 hour and an RPA of 7 hours.

3) The Benefits of The Cloud

Many of the risks associated with tape backups and process failures can be mitigated with a cloud. Today, many more organizations are relying on IT systems that are integrated into offsite servers.

By using a cloud system, the limitations of physical, in-house servers are overridden. Furthermore, data security is increased since it is backed up on a separate system by default.

Another layer of benefit provided by the cloud is the element of remote access. Timing is critical during an organizational disruption. If an IT or systems manager is unavailable or on another site during a crisis, it could be costly. The cloud can be accessed remotely and often times from numerous devices. Mobile technology is also critical, and off-site accessibility is invaluable.

Summing All Up

Having systems in place to address a system failure is absolutely critical. For this reason, having a recovery time objective can be the difference between short-term hindrances and long-term disruptions.

Preparedness is key, and the use of an RTO can prevent a number of unwanted headaches. Working alongside the business continuity planner will only further boost one’s effectiveness. Once the RTO is established, finding an effective technology to recover data is key.

Have you ever created an RTO or been in a situation where one was necessary? Share your stories!

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