How much data are you willing to lose? : Determining your Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

recovery_point_objective_disaster_recovery_solution_data_protectionIn my last post, we discussed the importance of having a disaster recovery strategy for your organization’s IT infrastructure. This month, I would like to build upon that theme by exploring one of the very first steps in designing a disaster recovery solution.

In the event of a disaster, we must ask ourselves this difficult question: how much data am I willing to lose? The answer to this question – expressed in a period of time – is what is known as a recovery point objective (RPO).

The scenario looks something like this . . . if our production servers experienced a catastrophic failure tonight, and all of our applications and data were suddenly inaccessible at the production site, how fresh would I want the data to be once we recover at an alternate site? Is it okay for it to be 24 hours old? Or just 1 hour old? Or 30 seconds old? All of those values are achievable with today’s technologies, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what is the best fit for the organization being protected.

When considering an RPO value we must weigh the business needs against the project budget and find a good compromise. Generally speaking, the lower the RPO the higher the cost of the solution – but we’re finding that the costs of even the lowest of RPO timeframes are becoming affordable and in fact relatively inexpensive when weighed up against the cost of an unexpected and undesirable data loss.

In some cases, we might find varying degrees of RPO tolerance for different sets of data within an organization – in that case the solution can be tailored appropriately. For example, it may be acceptable for one particular set of data to be protected sometime within the last week, while another set of data needs to be protected in a near-real-time manner. These are all variables to be considered in the planning of business continuity.

In next month’s post, we will look at another important variable in disaster recovery planning… the recovery time objective (RTO). In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of any assistance to you and your organization as you prepare for disaster and protect your technology investment.

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