The recovery time objective (RTO) is the targeted time period within which a business process must be restored from an outage event in order to avoid any unacceptable consequences. When significant amounts of revenue are being lost due to system downtime, the RTO target may be measured in seconds. When the value is that short, it indicates that a significant investment needs to be made in duplicate systems, uninterruptible power supplies, and robust backup systems. When the RTO spans a longer period of time, it indicates that a significantly smaller investment can be made. Thus, the establishment of RTO values for various processes can be used as the basis for the creation of a formal recovery plan.
Customer-facing systems typically call for a short RTO, while a longer RTO can be tolerated for internal systems that are unrelated to a firm’s core functionality.