Most businesses make the HUGE (and costly) error of mistaking a “backup” with data recovery and business continuity. NOT true! Simply having a copy of your data stored somewhere does not automatically guarantee you’ll be back up and running again like you were before. To you a better idea of this concept, I have included a diagram (below) explaining three key concepts: Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Maximum Tolerable Outage (MTO). In order to choose the RIGHT type of back up for your company, you need to know what these three acronyms mean.
First, the RPO or Recovery Point Objective is the point in time to where you want your data restored. So, if you can’t afford to lose a day of work, your RPO may be practically “instant,” requiring a snapshot of your workstation or server every 15 minutes. If you can afford to lose a couple of hours of work, you may need to backup every hour. On the other hand, if you can afford to lose a day of work, you only need a backup every night.
Next, the RTO or Recovery Time Objective is the length of time your business will be down after a disaster while your workstation or network is being restored. Different backups will provide different RTOs depending on what it takes to restore the data. Not all backup systems are created equal and many businesses are shocked to discover it could take 5-7 days or more to restore all their data, plus another couple of days to rebuild everything. Since most businesses cannot afford to be down that long, it is critical to match your RTO with the appropriate backup process.
And finally, MTO or Maximum Tolerable Outage is the “code red” point in time where you MUST have your data, operations, e-mail and applications back online and functioning before your company’s survival is severely threatened. In some cases, businesses cannot afford certain processes to be down for more than a couple of hours, such as online ordering during the holidays for an e-commerce company or payroll processes for a HR company. And often a company can do without their file server for a couple of days, but couldn’t afford to have their call center down that long before they would start losing business and clients.
The key is to know WHAT data and business processes are MOST critical to you so the proper backup and disaster recovery solution can be put in place now before everything goes kaput (that’s the technical term for “everything goes to hell in a handbasket”) and you have a real disaster on your hands.
Bob Milliken is the TheITGuy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com and specializes in helping businesses with their IT needs. Connect with him at 604.270.1730