It's all over the press now - 24x7. You can't turn a page, even in a top publication like Computer Weekly! Everyone thinks they need it. Why?
Running a 24-hour operation means all and every day, with no interruptions. In other words, it is 100% availability.
How do you achieve it? Multiple redundancy (duplicate hardware/software) with failure monitoring is the answer.
You'll also need redundancy when things "go down". You still need it to handle back-ups, upgrades and maintenance. You need to have enough redundancy left for maintainance. You'll need to monitor all standby systems and applications as well. Failure to do this is like going into a football match with injured subs on the bench.
If putting it like that makes it sounds expensive, here's another one. I'll call it "23x7": it's available when "open," seven days a week. Banks only open from 9:00- 5:30. But when they say they are open, they are. You don't get to the bank, rattle the door and find it's shut.
In the 23x7 scenario, we accept it when a store is closed. In this world, if a user accessed services "outside hours", they would find a message saying, "sorry we're closed for maintenance every day between a certain time".
How many insomniacs would we irritate? How would their lost business compare business with extra availability costs?
What's the gain in running 23x7? Less hardware and software, easier to maintain, upgrade and backup. And also better chance of providing service during open hours.
You may need 24x7. But with advantages in 23x7, most don't. It would be foolish not to consider it.
Frank Puranik is the technical director of Heroix Corporation