If money were no object, all large organizations would have fully developed hot sites, dual or triple-cored data centers and the latest technology enhancements to ensure instantaneous failovers are imperceptible to the end customer. The reality is that IT budgets are shrinking, and we are all faced with doing more with less. Understanding the basics of DR and BC planning arms IT directors and CTOs with the confidence that allows for a good night sleep.
How do you begin the process of planning the continuity of your business or a DR plan that is affordable and attainable? It all begins with understanding the parameters under which your business unit must operate in order to reduce the risk of unacceptable failure.
Step one begins with understanding your Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective. RTO is your maximum allowable or maximum tolerable outage. RPO describes the acceptable amount of data loss measured in time.
These concepts are key elements in the proper design of a BC/DR plan. More importantly, they define a parameter that ultimately drives cost. By understanding RTO and RPO and setting achievable and affordable limits, IT managers can write and test a plan that is appropriate for the business unit.
A small accounting firm can probably survive the loss of a days worth of data entry. Would it be a fun and happy experience to recreate all those key punches? No. However, a day’s worth of data entry is not an insurmountable task to reenter into a system. An RPO of 24 hours may be acceptable to an accounting firm
For any bank or financial institution, an RPO of 24 hours could mean many millions of dollars in lost transaction revenue. Therein lies the cost driver. A suitable BC plan for an accounting firm may involve an offsite backup every 24 hours, while a bank needs real-time transactional replication across multiple sites. The cost difference in these scenarios is astronomical.
Determine your RTO and RPO and don’t buy more business continuity than you need…and don’t buy less than you need either.