What are RTO and RPO and what are their main differences?

What are RTO and RPO and what are their main differences?

When it comes to digital security, one of the most traditional processes is backup, which consists of backing up a company’s data. When corporations did not produce so much data, at great speed and volume, it was possible to keep these backups on HDs and small servers. With the advent of digital transformation and technology being placed as a pillar of corporate management, the demand for storage became greater and the cost of maintaining this infrastructure internally became high.

With the growth of technologies such as cloud computing and increased bandwidth capacity, remote servers have become popular and this has enabled the use of metrics such as RTO and RPO, which serve to structure how backups are performed.

In this post, we will understand what RPO and RTO are and the importance of these metrics for backup. Check out!

What is RTO — Recovery Time Objective?

The RTO metric aims to measure the maximum time required for a system to return to its operational state after an incident. It serves to assess the ability of the IT team to carry out the processes necessary to restore services, such as data downloads, updates, installations, etc.

The focus of this calculation is to identify the tolerance time that the infrastructure has to remain idle, without the company having safety and productivity problems. Based on this calculation, the IT manager will have the necessary tools at hand to make corrections promptly, in addition to being able to foresee alternatives if this time is exceeded.

To calculate RTO, it is important to take into account the company’s priority criteria, evaluating what each element of the IT infrastructure impacts on the business as a whole.

In this scenario, another word needs to be highlighted: “prioritization”. In a crisis, in which there is a need to activate backup and recovery, identifying priorities can be the threshold between resuming or not productivity with the same dynamics as before.

Therefore, it is extremely important to evaluate the impacts that the absence of the system or the impediment of access to the database can have on the business in the short term. From this, it will be possible to define the processes and data that have the greatest connection with production processes and safety, to prioritize them, with a lower RTO, to the detriment of data with less impact, which may have a longer RTO.

What is RPO — Recovery Point Objective?

Speaking of prioritization, did you know that there is a tolerable margin of data loss in a backup plan? RPO is the metric that indicates exactly the limit of data that a company can lose after a disaster, without this having a significant impact on its productivity or security.

In this scenario, we can say that the RPO is directly linked to the frequency of backups. To better understand how RPO works, let’s assume that in your company the backup is performed daily at 7 p.m. One day, at 7 a.m., an attack occurs that has consequences for the infrastructure.

Since the attack happened at 7 a.m. and its recovery point was at 7 p.m. the day before and would happen at 7 p.m. on the day of the attack, we have an RPO of 24 hours. If your company backed up twice a day, you would have an RPO of 12 hours, and so on. The RPO is exactly the amount of data that can be lost between one backup point and another.

What are the differences between RPO and RTO?

Briefly, we can define the differences between RPO and RTO as follows:

  • RPO — focuses on defining the backup cycle time, according to the amount of tolerable data loss:
  • RTO — is a more comprehensive metric, which focuses on creating a time limit after a disaster for the return of operations, with a focus on productivity and safety.

In more detail, we can say that the RPO focuses on creating a plan B, for situations in which problems are irreversible. The focus here is to have a layer of security that reduces impacts as much as possible, making losses less relevant in the long term.

The RTO focuses on prevention, acting to ensure the least damage, speeding up the resolution of the problem, focusing on data recovery, and reducing production bottlenecks.

We are talking about two extremely important metrics that must be used together to provide the basis for IT support. Without this reference, the manager begins to work with a high risk of safety and production losses, as there are no minimum deadlines or defined cycles. In this scenario, an attack on the IT infrastructure could put the business as a whole at risk.

How important are these metrics for the IT manager?

We already understand the importance of RTO and RPO for the company, but what do they deliver specifically for IT management? With companies increasingly dependent on their IT assets, the pressure on the information technology sector in search of results is increasing. In this scenario, it is up to the sector manager to work with solid metrics, based on reality, so that he can be held accountable for results, within what is feasible.

The definition of the RTO and RPO provides the basis for both parties to be supported, the IT manager and the business manager, meaning that the technology sector does not have to assume a responsibility that is not previously registered and that the management of the company can make the charges within the predefined deadlines. Without these bases, it would be normal, for the benefit of the core business, to charge for the quickest restoration possible, and this rush could make the problem even bigger.

We hope that, after reading this post, you understand what RTO and RPO are and can apply these metrics to your company. Backup is one of the most traditional security strategies in companies and with the ease that technology offers, no longer requiring the use of internal dedicated servers for this type of activity, managers can create increasingly solid strategies, based on servers scalable and secure remote networks.

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