Implementing RPO and RTO through Vibrant Backup Technologies

By CIOReview | Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Looking back into the history of storage devices; a few decades ago the first hard disk to store gigabytes of data was as huge as a refrigerator. However, over the years, the technology has shrunk the size of storage devices to bare minimum, stapled with resilient data backup features. The increasing amount of data has created the need for stringent backup storage tools. And with the increasing number of data storage platforms, came an imperative need for having recovery standards to retrieve loss or misplaced data.

Recovery in terms of data refers to restoring deleted or damaged data files if the files are not overwritten. The files may be recovered by using common ‘undelete’ programs, whereas the damaged file requires custom-written software and sophisticated equipment.

What is Recovery time objective?

The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the duration of time and a service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster occurs. The interruption adversely disrupts normal operations and even affects the revenue at large. An RTO is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, or days and plays a vital role in disaster recovery planning (DRP).

The cost of downtime for various applications in enterprise operations depends on both long term and intangible effects as well as on immediate, short term, or tangible factors. RTO also provides robust suggestions to the administrators in choosing the best suited disaster recovery technologies based on the infrastructure environments.

Recovery Point objective

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) includes files that must be recovered from backup storage during hardware miscarriages as well as program or communications failure for the normal operations to resume. It is calculated from the time when failure occurs and is further specified in seconds, minutes, hours or even days.

The RPO determines the minimum backup frequency through defining the particular computer, system on network. It also collides with RTO to choose adequate disaster recovery technology and procedures for the administrators. For example: for an hour of RPO, backup should be simultaneously made once per hour.

Impact of Business Impact Analysis on RPO and RTO

The RPO and RTO can be denominated as ‘lost data’ and ‘downtime’ as they increase system availability. Organizations storing millions of files instantly can take up to two days in backing up these files. Any interruption caused in the process can further lead to downtime and eventually causing loss of data. Minimizing downtime and loss of data in the organization varies across applications.

The RPO and RTO are the result of Business Impact Analysis and it has provided the basis for analyzing strategies in the business continuity plan. Gathering information from various business units helps in drawing conclusions on the potential loses and the time frame at which it was incurred. The robust Business Impact Analysis determines the cause for the loss of data and addresses the need for RTO and RPO.

Business Impact Analysis addresses the following:

The Business Impact Analysis creates a list of functions and processes including revenue generating activities to tackle any halt in the business process. Looking at the financial front, BIA also should address the financial losses including lost revenue, salaries to the idle workers, extra expenses, and fines. The intangible loses of damaged reputation, negative public opinion and deprecated stock should also be taken care off.

Data growth and its impact on RTO and RPO

The ever-expanding data storage has rendered its tape restore process inadequate in meeting its RTO. The proprietary form of tape restore had to be replaced with modern replicated storage in order to meet the growing needs. The replacement from linear tapes further required the need for huge capital and technology. In order to eliminate the need for expensive solution to meet RTO, here is the list of technologies that provides a vibrant data backup.

1. Data deduplication:

Data deduplication involves higher form of compression through eliminating the duplicate files within a file system allowing only unique instances of the data to retain in the storage device. The redundant data from the storage volume is replaced with a pointer to the unique data copy. The data deduplication stores only one instance of the attachment thus lowering storage requirements and disk expenditures.

2. Storage tiering:

Storage tiering includes moving or shifting of older data to secondary tiers of storage. The process mainly involves data categorization into two tiers by giving preference to the primary tier data and the RTO mainly applies on it. The primary data comprises of all the essential data required for day-to-day operations. The secondary data is not given much importance and can be recovered later when necessary. Maintaining 20 percent on the primary tier and 80 percent in the secondary tier helps in increasing restore times of the primary data up to five times.

3. Data management policies:

Maintaining robust data management policy helps in managing RTOs and RPOs. The process involves archiving data to offline media and then deleting old data in turn keeping active data volumes in check. In addition, data management policy keeps track of the dates and deletes files that are older than a particular date.


Recovery protocols should consider factors such as situational assessment and procurement delays before initiating the recovery effort. Businesses should enforce a strong decision making in order to identify potential loses and in considering acceptable loss to dictate maximum outage, the business can tolerate for each specific function. In addition, it helps RTO to identify the threshold of maximum tolerable outage.