In today's marketplace, computer systems hold key functions to business profitability, and downtime of critical systems can result in a significant loss of revenue and productivity. In past times, guaranteed recovery from a system disruption was good enough for customers who wanted protection from unforeseen IT interruptions. However, today's customers are not merely concerned about recovery--they want true business continuity. One very important aspect of business continuity is high availability (HA).

The definition of HA varies depending on how the user defines it, as well as the business need. For instance, a financial institution application may need to operate 24x7x365. The need, in this case, would be to have 100 percent system uptime, with no outages. However, less critical applications may only need to remain up during business hours and would, therefore, have less stringent high- availability needs. Either way, the basic concepts of high availability and preparing applications and systems for this growing need are important.

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