Recovering at the speed of business

Nick Cavalancia

Which would your customer rather talk about: How many GB/min you can restore their data in or how much time it will take to get their SQL Server back up and running?

It’s a bit obvious the two are very related, so you’re sort of talking about the same thing. But as an outsourced CIO of sorts, it’s important that your customer knows you are on top of both. If you're talking about how the engines are running at maximum warp speed and your customer is still not operational, they just don’t care… because they think you don’t either.

Recovery needs to be thought of in terms of the speed of business. That is, the speed at which operations are running and, therefore, the amount of time the business can withstand a failure.

Speed-of-BusinessThere are a few industry terms I want to throw out there that are part buzzword / part “take them seriously” – because they are of concern to your customer (although they may not use these specific terms). They give names to concepts you already think about.

  1. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – this is the amount of time you have to recover a system (which translates to its impact on a business process) so that the business is not impacted negatively. Take a downed Exchange server – how long can your customer be without email before they are losing money. It’s a completely acceptable answer to say immediately – that just means you’ll need to figure out a solution that keeps their email running. 
  2. Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – this is the maximum allowed time for lost data. This is about how far back can you restore and lose the changes to data that occurred between the last backup and now. 

Defining their speed of business

So, the RPO dictates the frequency of backups and the RTO dictates how long you have to recover. Defining these two concepts together with your customer (most likely on a per-system basis, as values may differ from system to system) helps put amounts of time and levels of importance around each system. The output of this conversation will be how often to backup (RPO) and how quickly you need to restore (RTO).

Once you have some specifics from your customer, the challenge is how to meet the now defined service levels? You need a solution that can backup as often and quickly as desired, and can recover data and systems as quickly as is needed.

How the cloud fits in

In planning a disaster, to meet service levels, you should consider a recovery solution that can be impactful not just when you have a downed server, but a downed site. That’s where a hybrid cloud recovery solution (also known as Disk-to-Disk-to-Cloud) is a serious candidate for helping meet the need. When you have a set of data or a server that needs recovering you have both local storage and the cloud from which to restore. And when you have a complete fallout and need to recover to an alternate site, you still have the cloud in your back pocket.

Understanding the RTO and RPO for your customer won’t just improve your service levels - it shows you do care about defining the recovery of what’s important to your customer; their speed of business.

As always we welcome any thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment below!