You are currently on IBM Systems Media’s archival website. Click here to view our new website.

POWER > Systems Management > High Availability

How To Make High Availability Service Integral to Your Business

Are your IT services highly available to customers, clients and employees? If so, you know it takes a lot of hard work to achieve that high availability (HA) status. You’ve put processes and procedures in place to keep services running and you’ve reaped rewards for your business.

If, on the other hand, you’d like your business to be highly available but need some direction on how to do that, you’ve landed in the right place.

75-80% of all downtime is avoidable through processes and application improvement

Many people think HA is something that can be quantified, such as having your IT system be 99.99 percent available. But numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and that’s true with HA. Try viewing HA as a concept rather than a number. As a concept, HA embraces not just the system but also the idea of service. Consider a common definition of HA as the attribute of a system to provide service during defined periods at acceptable or agreed-upon levels, masking unplanned outages from end users.

The idea of service is central to how companies should look at HA, says Frank Rodegeb, a certified HA senior managing consultant in the High Availability Center of Competency of IBM Systems and Technology Group. “We should be thinking of high service availability, not just the system,” he says, noting, “HA is really about fast service restoration, so it goes beyond a technology solution.”

If Rodegeb had his way, he would amend the generally accepted definition to: “the attribute of a system to provide service during defined periods at acceptable or agreed-upon levels, masking unplanned system outages from end users.” This definition acknowledges service outages will occur, but it’s possible to mitigate the impact on the business.

Mitigating Risks

Putting an HA service in place is similar to instituting a good risk management strategy. Risk management identifies the risk and outlines the steps necessary to mitigate it. Risk management acknowledges two elements of risk—the probability of failure and the impact of failure. “With IT, we look at the probability of failure, but we seldom look at it from the standpoint of business impact,” Rodegeb says.

IT must work with the business to understand business requirements and identify the impact of service failures. “Many people fail to realize that HA is different for different functions,” Rodegeb says. For online processing transactions that are high volume but short duration, such as ATM transactions, the most important factor is fast recovery. “If we can recover fast enough, it just appears like a blip and it doesn’t have a major impact,” he says.

But for other business functions, such as analytical processing that has low volume and long duration, the most important factor is reliability. “If you have an eight-hour search and you have a deadline that’s five minutes after the eight hours and there’s a failure, you’re going to miss your deadline,” he says. By understanding business requirements, IT will be better able to demonstrate how an outage will impact the bottom line. That assists IT in building a business case for HA service based on the cost of downtime. “Many IT shops make bad business decisions because they only look at the cost of doing, not the cost of not doing,” Rodegeb explains.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



2019 Solutions Edition

A Comprehensive Online Buyer's Guide to Solutions, Services and Education.


Investments Offset the Costs of Data Loss

Data is Money

A recent survey explores the state of Power Systems resilience


Data Backup Options Balance Risk and Cost

IBM Systems Magazine Subscribe Box Read Now Link Subscribe Now Link iPad App Google Play Store