The Value of Availability in VS .NET

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The Value of Availability
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directly monetary. In an academic environment, for example, the return may be educational. A computer science department at a university or high school buys computers with the noble goal of teaching their students how to use those computers. Of course, in the long run, a computer science department that develops a good reputation gets a financial return in increased attendance in classes and tuition.
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During one of my high-availability tutorials, I was explaining the basics of the financial aspects of availability to my audience. A gentleman in the front row raised his hand and complained that the enterprise he was concerned about was a university, and so he didn t have to be concerned about finances. I did my best to respectfully disagree with his position, explaining that the money to purchase the computers and the software and all the other system components still had to come from somewhere. I explained that choices have to be made, and if his department bought a computer, that may translate to one less teaching assistant or professor they can hire. He was adamant that this material did not apply to him, and during the first break, he left and did not return. What he failed to realize, I fear, is that money spent now is money he can t spend later. There are always going to be trade-offs, no matter how much or how little money an organization has. Money and budgets are always finite. Evan
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The educational computers at a university would not be considered critical by most commercial enterprises, but if those computers are down for so much of the time during a semester that students are unable to complete their assignments, then the computers are not able to generate an appropriate return on the financial investment placed in them. If these outages occur often enough, and last long enough, the department may develop a reputation for having lousy computers, or lousy computer administration, which, in either case, reflects very poorly on the department and could, over time, affect enrollment. The same is true for any computers at any enterprise; computers that are down are not doing the job for which they were implemented. Consider, then, that a system is highly available when it is available enough of the time to generate the return for which it was implemented in the first place. To be fair, it requires a clear vision of the future to know whether a system is adequately protected against all possible events, and that is plainly
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impossible. So, we consider high availability to be a design goal rather than an actual design. When a system is designed, it should be clear to its designers what requirements it has for availability. If the system is truly designed to those requirements, then the system is highly available. Our definition of high availability, therefore, is as follows: High availability, n. A level of system availability implied by a design that is expected to meet or exceed the business requirements for which the system is implemented. High availability, then, is a trade-off between the cost of downtime and the cost of the protective measures that are available to avoid or reduce downtime.
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The Costs of Downtime
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The only way to convince the people who control the purse strings that there is value in protecting uptime is to approach the problem from a dollars-andcents perspective. In this section, we provide some ammunition that should help make the case to even the most stubborn manager.
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Direct Costs of Downtime
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The most obvious cost of downtime is probably not the most expensive one: lost user productivity. The actual cost of that downtime is dependent upon what work your users perform on the affected systems. If your users are developers, then perhaps the cost seems to be nothing more than the time and carrying cost for the idled developers. Of course, for a large development organization, those costs can be quite significant. A developer may be paid $800 to $1,500 a day, though that figure may vary significantly, depending upon innumerable factors. It is quite reasonable to assume that idling a group of 50 developers for a week could cost $400,000 or more. But even the $400,000 is nothing more than the direct cost of the developers idle time. Not taken into account is the overtime required to make up for the lost time to ensure that delivery deadlines do not slip. If your developers are consultants, or other hourly employees, then at time-and-a-half, the overtime costs could exceed an additional $600,000. These figures do not take into account factors such as fatigue from working all that overtime or the impact on morale. On the other hand, rather than pay the overtime, you might elect to slip your project deadlines a week to make up for the outage. (Does that ever actually happen ) The costs of slipping deadlines are not as obvious or as easily stated as employee carrying costs, but they are just as real. For production users, costs will obviously vary depending on the line of work performed on the affected servers. For equities traders in large trading
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