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What Data Availability Means and How Your Business Can Achieve It

What Data Availability Means and How Your Business Can Achieve It

Maintaining data availability is essential for most modern organizations today. Luckily, by following data availability best practices, your modern business can take advantage of all the benefits sufficient data availability delivers. Learn more here about what data availability is, why it’s important, and how modern businesses can achieve it to align with consumer demands and stay secure.

What is Data Availability?

Data availability is the process of ensuring that data is available to end-users and applications, when and where they need it. Availability has to do with the accessibility and continuity of information, thus accessibility is a key component. It defines the degree or extent to which data is readily usable along with the necessary IT and management procedures, tools, and technologies required to enable, manage and continue to make data available.

Why is Data Availability Important?

Data availability is critical to your business and its reputation with customers. If consumers can’t access your online presence due to a deficit of data availability, they’ll likely go to a competitor’s site.

Ensuring sufficient data availability is also a smart financial move. Every moment that you’re down, not only are the obvious costs to your business there (customer loss, reputation damage, etc..) but it also costs your employees time since they can’t get their work done. In fact, studies point to the cost of data center outages being as much as almost $8,000 per minute!

Data Availability in Cloud Computing

It might seem odd to think critically about availability in a cloud scenario as we might presume the cloud has endless capacity. After all, isn’t cloud computing a solution to availability problems?

Yes and no. Virtually all cloud providers use effective data backup and restore solutions, but backing up and restoring data is only part of what you really need. Availability is a different area of focus, as this is needed before storage can happen.

When you’re selecting a cloud provider and service package, you must first define the value of service availability to your business. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is it better to lose the data permanently or have it fall into the wrong hands? This is a balance between availability and confidentiality.
  • Is keeping the data tamper-free more important than unplanned data loss? The answer helps you decide whether to focus on integrity or availability, or to balance between them.
  • Are all of these decisions unacceptable, and I need absolute confidentiality, integrity, and availability? If so, plan on spending time and money to make that happen. Such comprehensive no-compromise solutions are rarely cost-effective, even in a cloud scenario.
  • How long can my company operate without access to cloud data and services? This question gets right to the point. If the cloud is down, does that result in a minor inconvenience or a profit-shaking catastrophe? Would you gladly risk your data going public in order to get access restored?

Top Tips for Achieving Data Availability in Your Business

To help achieve sufficient data availability in your business, follow these best practices below:

Have a Plan

Maintaining data availability should be a central element in your company’s disaster recovery and business continuity plan. This should include RPO (recovery point objective) and RTO (recovery time objective) targets that define, respectively, exactly which data must be restored, and when it must be accessible, for operations to resume after a disruption.

Utilize Redundancy

Having backup copies of your data ensures that the failure of a storage component, or the deterioration of stored data over time, won’t result in permanent loss of the information.

Eliminate Single Points of Failure

You should not only have multiple copies of your data, but also multiple access routes to it so that the failure of any one network component, storage device, or even server won’t make the data wholly inaccessible.

Institute Automatic Failover

When an operational disruption occurs, automatic failover can ensure continuous data availability by instantly swapping in a backup to replace the affected component.

Take Advantage of Virtualization

Since storage system functionality is accessed through software and is independent of the underlying hardware, you are less vulnerable to component failures or operational disruptions in a local facility.

Use the Right Tools

Rather than attempting to increase data availability in your IT infrastructure through home-grown initiatives, employ tools specifically designed for that purpose.

Data Availability Metrics You Should Be Monitoring

There are a few essential metrics to monitor when evaluating the data availability of your operations:

1.  Security Alerts

Availability isn’t just about application monitoring and recovery – it’s also about ensuring your information is protected. If you aren’t monitoring security alerts and warnings, your applications may be running perfectly while your intellectual property is being stolen.

2. Idle Connections

Idle connections suck up resources and threaten to fill database pools, congest networks, and stymie performance. Furthermore, idle connections can indicate a problem in the application layer or database configuration.

3. Long-running Queries, Commands, or Jobs

This applies not just to database queries or jobs, but also to commands and backups. These types of digital actions can be an indicator of poor system health, slow disk speeds, CPU or other resource contention, or even deeper systematic problems.

4. Disk Input/Output

Disk IO typically refers to the input/output operations of the system related to disk activity. Tracking disk I/O can help identify bottlenecks, poor hardware configurations, improperly sized disk or poorly tuned disk layouts for a given workload.

5. Memory

Memory monitoring goes beyond measuring and looking at space that’s either free or used.  Monitoring memory helps you look into traffic jams or leaks, identify improperly sized systems, understand loads, and spikes. In addition, knowing about memory-intensive patterns can help you anticipate availability demands.

6. Disk Space

Disk space monitoring is available in many forms, and utilizing it as a metric can prevent unnecessary problems and costly last-minute scrambles to add more space.

7. Errors and Alerts

Errors, alerts, and recovery messages in the logs are another good metric to consider. Adding log monitoring for FATAL, PANIC, and key ERROR messages can help you identify issues that your availability solution is frequently recovering from, such as database crashes, application panics or core dumps, or fatal errors requiring a cold restart.

8. Recovery Numbers

Similar to monitoring errors and alerts, the recovery numbers can tell you a lot about the quality and status of your system’s availability. If you are averaging more than one application recovery per week, you’re likely experiencing something more than your normal availability protection.  And while the recovery was successful in restarting your application or system, too many of these false or even real recoveries aren’t normal and should be investigated.

Ensure Data Availability With Help From Thrive!

Ample data availability can have a direct impact on your business’s bottom line. To ensure your data is consistently available at the required level of performance, during the typical business day or a disaster, you need a cloud solution that’s a perfect fit for your unique organization.

For all your data availability needs, turn to the experts at Thrive! Whether you need a safe and affordable journey to the cloud, or looking to migrate your data to a CJIS-compliant data center, look no further than Thrive. Contact us today!