Business Service Management (BSM) ties business processes and operations back to the underlying IT infrastructure that supports those processes. When all the components of the IT infrastructure work, business happens. But a failure in a key component can slow down or even stop the business. The duration of the failure can have a tangible negative effect on revenues and profits. This article will focus on the effects of failure in one of the key components.

One of the IT assets critical to business service is the application data. This is typically stored in a mainframe or distributed system server database. It doesn’t matter how big or fast the computer is, or how elaborate the network is configured—if the application database is unavailable or corrupted, the business processes cease to function.

IT failures can take many forms, ranging from local application logic failures to total sitewide disasters. The various types of failures can be resolved by different technologies, ranging from host-based recovery software to storage- based hardware mirroring solutions. Some technologies are better suited for Disaster Recovery (DR), while others are more effective for local application recovery situations.

Here are some common terms and classifications for the various types of failure resolution technology:

  • Business resiliency is the ability of the IT infrastructure to adapt to change and risk, providing for ongoing business operations. Data availability, security, and compliance are aspects of business resilience.
  • Business continuity is the ability of the IT infrastructure to continue providing business service during an IT failure. Database protection can be provided via replication technology.
  • Disaster restart is the ability of the IT infrastructure to quickly allow access to current (or recent) data at a remote site in the event of total local site failure, typically provided via replication technology.
  • Disaster recovery is the ability to recover the data asset from backups (and possibly logs) to resume business operations in the event of a total site failure.
  • High availability is the ability to provide local data availability while performing required IT maintenance operations such as database backup or reorganization.

Business Resiliency Saves Money

IT spending is a major line item for large corporations. Companies consider investment in IT to be a competitive advantage. Better IT means more business and more profits. As long as the IT infrastructure is available and performing well, the business is served. If the IT data asset is unavailable, the business isn’t served and losses mount.

Data must be protected from several threats, ranging from mundane database maintenance to sitewide disasters. There’s no universal solution. Technology that addresses the DR threat doesn’t protect against local outages (and sometimes can be the cause of the outage). It’s prudent to implement a combination of solutions that protect the data from local and sitewide failures. This provides more flexibility in a failure, resulting in better data availability, and ultimately improves IT delivery of business processing.

High Availability

Replication technologies work well for DR, but they don’t protect the critical business data asset from the much more likely events (planned and unplanned) that fall short of a sitewide disaster. Threats to local availability include:

  • Data corruption due to bad application logic, user errors, or a deliberate hack
  • Hardware or operating system software failures
  • Planned database maintenance.

None of these events are enough to trigger a disaster declaration, but they affect database availability and business service.

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