What Is High Availability in Computing and Why Is It Important?

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For any company that relies heavily on IT or computing services and infrastructure to keep its operations going smoothly and efficiently, having contingencies in place to mitigate the effects of downtime is crucial. Such interruptions to normal operations can happen for a multitude of reasons, some of which can be unavoidable or can come as a complete surprise to an organization—incidents such as power outages, natural disasters, equipment breakdowns, and even devastating human errors.

 

Whatever the cause,system downtimestend to cost companies money due to lost productivity—on an average, roughly US$5,600 per minute, according to research firm Gartner. Moreover, downtime can cause  customers significant inconvenience—a huge challenge to organizations,which may find their customer retention endeavors being negatively affected as a result. Combine all of these with other potential business opportunities that can be lost during any outage period, and it can be safely said that downtime is a very serious matter that should not be underestimated.

Thankfully, there are ways to address downtime, and one of them is by implementing solutions that ensure the high availability of your computing services even in scenarios that would result in downtime. In this article, we’ll discuss what high availability in computing is, and why is it so important to companies today.

The Meaning of High Availability in the Computing World

In the computing world, availability is just what it sounds like—it describes how available or accessible a particular service is to a user in a given period of time. When a system or service is described as one that has high availability, it means there is a guarantee that a user or a customer will have no issues in using a service for most, if not all of the time.

High availability solutions therefore refer to specific failure response systems and mechanisms that guarantee a high degree of availability of services to users, even if situations or scenarios that normally result in costly downtime do take place. They do this by removing any single point of failure in a system—i.e. any single element that can bring the whole system down if it fails.

For example, high availability softwaresolutions work by replicatingenterprise data,  into standby environments. This ensures that the data is never lost, and the company hasbackup databases to fall back to should anything happen to their original databases, allowing them to resume business as normal immediately.

By introducing working redundancies in a system or service infrastructure through high availability solutions, a company can greatly reduce the impact of potential downtime, or even eliminate it outright.

The Importance of High Availability

While eliminating downtime and preserving business continuitygo a long way in explaining why high availability is important, there are other equally significant reasons that make investing in high availability solutions not only a sound business strategy but also essential. Here are those reasons:

  • Company reputation and perception is improved. By having high availability solutions in place to ensure continuing productivity and operations, you send the message that your company is a reliable one. This can help set you apart from your competitors.
  • Risk of data loss is reduced. Losing business-critical data can be very disadvantageous to organizations, especially those that deal heavily in information. These include banks, retail organizations, transport agencies, airline companies, law enforcement agencies, military organizations, and more. High availability solutions that employ standby and backupenvironments can mitigate the risk of data loss.
  • Impact of maintenance activities to customers is reduced. While maintenance periods are essential in keeping any computing system healthy and functional, they can still cause downtime, which can then affect customer experience. High availability implementations can help with the high-volume data movement required when replicating data between primary and standby environments, allowing organizations to avoid disruptions in their operations or services.
  • Impact of backup events is eliminated. Backup events are also essential in the maintenance of computing systems, but they can also cause downtime on the backend. Again, high availability solutions can help mitigate this and preserve productivity by allowing redundant mechanisms to bear the brunt of operational requirements until the backup process is completed.

Companies require high availability solutions to survive and prosper

Downtime can happen at any moment and can strike at any business that relies heavily on IT or computing services and infrastructure. As such, companies should invest in and implement specific solutions to lessen downtime’s impact on their business operations. High availability solutions can do exactly just that, preserving business continuity by ensuring that employees and customers can continue with their day-to-day activities and transactions no matter the challenge.