Behold a Buzzword is Born: High Recoverability

In a recent blog post, I collated all of my writings on High Availability that Simple-Talk has published. I always try to solicit my readers’ advice since I know that my own understanding is likely well below many of yours. I’ve only been in this industry for a relatively short amount of time (I count 2004 to be when I first considered working with computers as a profession) and many of you were seasoned veterans while I still thought that TCP/IP was a Mac OS 7.6 extension that made dial-up better (or something like that).

My readership never disappoints and several comments on my articles opugning high availability (and the misconceptions that surround it) caused me to think even deeper into the subject. Thanks in large part to Steve the Hedgehog, Greg “Tsykoduk” Nokes and Barry Morrison I engaged Deep Thought Mode and considered the notion that high availability could be replaced by something that I termed “High Recoverability.” Furthermore, high recoverability would be more of a boon to virtually all IT systems and the organization as a whole than high recoverability would be. Check the article out over at Simple Talk.

High Recoverability Summarized

If you had a business that would lose $10,000 if its systems were down for one full business day, would you spend $20,000 to prevent it? $30,000? Perhaps a CEO would sign off on that. But what will $30,000 get you? Likely it will gain you less than you think. You may be able to implement high availability for one or two key components in the business. Certainly part of that pricetag will be in recurring support fees for whatever is implemented, unless you like to try and be a subject matter expert on those systems on top of your regular duties.

Once the HA systems are implemented though, what do you have? A service that sits silently and waits for the worst to happen. Likely there isn’t much of any value that’s been added to the business or the IT infrastructure. What if you could take the budget for a high availability project and spend it on making your key systems “highly recoverable?” Which brings me to the most obvious question: “What exactly is “high recoverability?”

Simply put: High recoverability is implementing and annealing a series of services that will enable you to bring specific systems and their services back online and handling tasks in the shortest amount of time possible (preferably in under one business day).

It starts with considering the hardware (or virtual hardware), moving to the operating system, then configuration, application data and finally vetting. In some cases you could go from total hardware failure to having the service(s) on the server back online in mere minutes.

The real value lies in the reality that the systems used to achieve so-called “High Recoverability” will benefit the entire IT infrastructure well beyond any disaster recover scenarios. Standardized images, automated software deployment, patch management, standardized hardware or virtualization, automated service testing and many, many more things serve to make everything from the CIO’s blackberry to the building crew’s ticketing system work better.

Check out the article “High Availability or High Recoverability?” for a more detailed exposition of the concept. Discard the needless buzzword at will, but keep the idea firmly in your mind.

High Availability vs High Recoverability Article List

Here’s the updated list of articles that have been conjured up on the topic (in order):

  1. 7 reasons why High Availability will help you fail in even more spectacular ways than ever!
  2. 7 Career Pitfalls that High Availability Systems Will Not Help a SysAdmin Avoid
  3. 7 Things that High Availability is Not
  4. The One Way That High Availability Will Help You
  5. High Availability or High Recoverability?

Is there anything left to address in the series? Does the high availability horse finally deserve a proper state burial? Is the concept of high recoverability a boon or a bane? Let me know in the comments below if you think anything has been improperly addressed. Even better, let me know if you have what you would consider a “highly recoverable” environment. If so, I’d be thrilled to interview you or have you write about the topic.

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