File Servers – The Business Case for High Availability

Introduction

You have probably heard of high availability transaction processing servers. You have most likely read about the sophisticated systems used by the airlines to sell tickets online. They have to be non-stop because downtime translates to lost orders and revenue. In this article I will discuss the economics of using non-stop technologies for everyday applications. I will show that even ordinary file sharing applications can benefit from inexpensive Linux based Pacemaker clustering technology.
Availability Goal

What is our availability goal? Our goal should be to take prudent and cost effective measures to reduce computer downtime to nil in the required service window. I’m not talking about 99.999 % (five 9s) up time. This is the popular (and very expensive) claim made by high availability vendors. I’m talking about maintaining enough up time to service the application. Take a simple example, for office document preparation the service time window is office hours (9-5). The rest of the time the desktop PCs can be turned off, nobody is there to operate them anyway. You only need the PCs for 5 days a week for 8 hours a day or for 2080 hours per desktop PC per year. This translates into an up time requirement of 24 percent.

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