Many of you have recovery time objectives within your business continuity and disaster recovery plans. It’s the desired time for which you will be deemed to have been “recovered”. But following a conversation with peers just recently, I have discovered that the point at which an IT system is seen as “recovered” is rarely agreed between them.

To just over 50% of the people who joined in the debate, recovery time is the time it takes to get a system up to a minimum business continuity objective (MCBO).

Surprisingly, less than 50% of people take “recovery time” for the business to be operating and profitable as it was prior to the disaster.

So what’s the difference?

Well MCBO was described in the following ways:

  1. A point where IT systems are up “to some level of capability”.
  2. When IT turns over a system to QA.
  3. The point when service is returned, regardless of quality or status.
  4. The time for a business to be in a position to continue viability.

I found this really interesting, and disagree with all of these being an acceptable point of “recovery”. Someone mentioned that there should be further recovery objectives e.g. restoring 30% productivity within 3 days, 50% productivity within 2 weeks etc.

My question is why are we happy for these to be acceptable recovery times? Lack of productivity means loss of revenue, so are we really happy to only be 50% productive 2 weeks after an incident – that can cost millions!

I see the only acceptable recovery time to be the point when the business is operational and profitable as it was prior to the disaster, with 100% productivity having been resumed. In this day and age, with the technology we have  – cloud, automation, virtualisation, Pre-recovery, daily testing; it’s possible to have very fast recovery times to 100% productivity  without it being priced out of the market. With less than half of the experts in the industry believing this is possible it demonstrates that more education is needed.

For you today, it’s important therefore that when you’re discussing recovery time and recovery time objectives you have a clear definition of what it means to be “recovered” by your suppliers. Go and talk to them, check you contracts and find out if you’re really recovered as well as you think you are.

by Tim Dunger