Understanding the Fundamentals of Managed Availability

By: Business Continuity Solution Series™
March 2004 Corporate

The amount of data at our disposal can only be described as fantastic, increasing dramatically every day, as does the degree to which we depend on it. But data without applications and systems are but 1s and 0s on magnetic media. Integrate the pieces and you have information.

Information is an asset. It is powerful, transforming, crucial to business and a foundation of competitive advantage.

The successful management of information availability that empowers users will separate those who can from those who can’t in the 21st century Digital Age.

Managing information availability, though, has its challenges. The worldwide computing landscape continues to evolve as many single-server environments of a decade ago have burgeoned into sophisticated, multi-server networks coupling different hardware platforms, operating systems and software architectures across which heterogeneous data is integrated. There was a time when “recovery” and “backup” simply involved a pencil and a pad of paper, and designated personnel entered lost transactions when a server returned to health. But, now, in many instances, the vitality of an organization is measured by its ability to instantly access data and run supporting applications without interruption.

Today, nothing impacts any business more than does a lack of information, often resulting from unavailable data and applications. From automated contact-management systems to simple billing and collections to high-tech, computer-driven assembly lines, if the computers are down, business often stops. In the ever-accelerating worldwide economy – shaped and reshaped by the continuing evolution of eBusiness, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications and instantaneous demand for information – there is still one constant: system downtime is inevitable. Power outages, natural disasters, disk crashes and, above all, human error take their toll. In addition, system requirements, such as backups, upgrades and various maintenance procedures, are unavoidable While it is true that hardware and software are more reliable than ever, downtime is not a matter of if but when.

As we increasingly depend on technology, it increasingly becomes the organization’s potential Achilles’ heel. The complexity of multi-sever networks, best-of-breed applications and various databases continues to drive Managed Availability requirements to new levels and requirements. Even though we are constantly bombarded with rhetoric about how good the future will be, those strapped to the technology rocket without the discipline to implement sound Managed Availability practices may be jeopardizing the very survival of their organizations.

Clearly, Managed Availability and Business Continuity have never been more important, for they provide a means to empower the organization and leverage the stream of technology and methodology that influence how information may be acquired and advantageously utilized. In years past, trend analysts could point to the future with sometimes uncanny accuracy, but, now, with technology accelerating and effecting a dizzying rate of change, our perception of the “future” has been altered. What is the future and what will be required? Is the future one year from now, six months from now or just six days?

Of this we can be certain: The ability to manage and deliver unrestricted and instantaneous access to information will progressively differentiate the leaders of tomorrow from those who follow.

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