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INFO TECHNOLOGY

Are your systems reliable, available?

Reliability and availability are especially interesting themes at the moment, with the intense proliferation of the Internet and applications like intranet and e-commerce, as well as the introduction of groupware and other critical technologies.
Critical technologies vary from company to company, but in the IT industry everything is usually centred on servers and devices which provide connectivity between local or remote users and their respective servers. Failure of one of these elements usually means the inability to provide necessary information on time, leading to failure in conducting business and administrative activities. In practice, this often leads to the loss of important commercial deals, failure to perform necessary service or maintenance activities, interrupted e-mail delivery, inability to issue invoices or place orders through Web pages, and/or loss of Internet banking possibilities.


Peter Krošlák

Reliability and availability are especially interesting themes at the moment, with the intense proliferation of the Internet and applications like intranet and e-commerce, as well as the introduction of groupware and other critical technologies.

Critical technologies vary from company to company, but in the IT industry everything is usually centred on servers and devices which provide connectivity between local or remote users and their respective servers. Failure of one of these elements usually means the inability to provide necessary information on time, leading to failure in conducting business and administrative activities. In practice, this often leads to the loss of important commercial deals, failure to perform necessary service or maintenance activities, interrupted e-mail delivery, inability to issue invoices or place orders through Web pages, and/or loss of Internet banking possibilities.

Another area in which highly reliable technologies should be used is safe data storage. According to certain sources, catastrophic data loss has been experienced by 6% of companies, of whom 43% were forced to close their business immediately and 51% went down within two years.

Demand for increased reliability represents a real challenge for the IT branch. The services required for operation of critical applications can also bring other side-effects like higher productivity, more efficient management as well as savings in time and resources. The way to achieve this aim is through 'pro-active' monitoring and diagnostics.

How do we define a 'highly available system'? According to the IDC, a system is considered to be 'highly available' if there is no data loss in case of system failure, and if the system can recover in a reasonable time. The lowest level is occupied by 'reliable systems', while on the higher levels we can find a hierarchy of systems with fast recovery capabilities, high availability and permanent availability.

The final objective is to achieve permanent availability of the service to its final users or customers, an aim which requires IT suppliers to have a mixture of knowledge about their customers' industries in order to provide the required operations.

The main driving forces behind the high availability requirements are: rapid growth of transactions, further demand for saving big volumes of data, ever-changing commercial alliances, the Internet and electronic commerce.

If your company is struggling with any of the above-mentioned issues, it's time to do an inventory of reliability and availability of your critical devices, i.e. servers, routers, local networks and Internet connections. Changing IT requirements also calls for changing approaches to resources allocations.

This also answers the question of why companies should calculate losses which could be caused by a failure of any critical device in their IT infrastructures. After making such calculations, companies are at the best moment to approach a firm providing reliable and highly available IT systems.

Peter Krošlák is responsible for Hardware Solutions at PosAm Bratislava. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to kroslak@posam.sk.

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