Availability and uptime are the essential concepts for effective IT management. But what exactly do these concepts mean? Elizabeth Harrin discusses the issue.
"You have to define availability," said Imad Mouline, CTO of Compuware's APM Solution. "What are the tasks and services that customers need? A service does not only have to be accessible, but working. Can an entire task be completed? That's how you should define service level agreements."
Mickey Zandi, managing principal, Consulting Services, at SunGard Availability Services, agreed. "Uptime is always driven by the business and supported by IT," he said. "To determine availability metrics, we first interview the business and then the IT team. We identify the core business measures for success, which typically revolve around revenue, cost and profit. Next, we identify what are the infrastructure components that drive those mission-critical applications and measure the business impact of downtime."
This focus on what the end user wants hasn't always been the defining factor in calculating system availability. Mouline explained that, in the past, service availability concentrated on specific areas of infrastructure. If a server was pingable, it was working. "Whether a server is up is interesting," he said, "but not necessarily relevant from a business perspective."
Steve Shalita, VP Marketing at NetScout, has also seen a shift in the perception of availability.
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