Monday, 4 November 2013

Determining the Value of Bulletproof Availability

Image this scenario; you are in a meeting room with your business. You are sitting across from each other at opposite ends of a table. The topic of service availability has come up. When you ask the customer what expectations there are they reply “Well, we need it all the time”

You then write down a number on a piece of paper which indicates the annual cost of continuous availability, fold it and slowly slide it across the table in their direction.

They look at you for a moment unfold the paper, you can see that there is a slight gasp, and their eyebrows rise, there is a brief hesitation… they reply,
“8 to 5 Monday through Friday will be just fine.”

While discussions like this are the things of satire, there is an ounce of truth in that the customers just want to have their “stuff” up all the time. The key question is how to optimize availability versus cost

How do we go about this effectively one might ask. A good place to start would be to determine what the business really needs:
·         Business hours
·         24 x 7 x 365
·         Can we allot for maintenance outages etc.

Once we know what the business needs from an overall service availability standpoint we will need to understand what risks are present from an unavailability standpoint. Depending on the capability of your other processes you may be in a better position to identify:
·         Volume of incidents which impact the service
·         Monitoring the components within the service or the service as a whole via Event Management
·         The level of architectural redundancy built into the service and it there any single points of failure or weaknesses

There are several ways to identify what can contribute the unavailability of a service; whichever you choose at the end of the day should allow you to strategize on how to mitigate those identified risks. Changes may be required at an infrastructure level if we have single points of failure. There may also need to be changes in the way that IT provides support during incident outages. These along with other factors you discover during the assessment of the service will identify the costs that are associated with the service unavailability

This price tag will be used to balance on what levels of design and support are required for the availability of service we are discussing. The fact of the matter is that nothing is unbreakable, establishing the availability requirements to manage failures for your customers where they make sense is key. This in turn will translate to value to for your customer.

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