Economics of High Availability for Telecommunications Systems - An Intel Primer

Several forces are at play in the move toward highly available telecommunications systems built with cost-effective off-the-shelf components (COTS). Deregulation, converging voice and data networks, the Internet, not to mention the fragile economy - all demand revenue-enhancing services that can be developed quickly, are easy to deploy, accommodate a growing subscriber base, and improve the service provider's overall return on investment (ROI). Balancing these needs presents new challenges to the service providers, system developers and component suppliers alike.

The purpose of this paper is to offer an increased understanding of the market segment and technical forces shaping this important facet of the industry. It will cover the basics of availability, including how it is measured; the most common causes for downtime and best-known methods to avoid them; the difference between network, system, and component availability; and the concept of failure groups and redundancy. It will also introduce the eight most common and most economic high availability architectures and provide insight into the pros and cons of each.

The concept of "High Availability Economics" is introduced to offer a greater understanding of the techniques and science behind determining the cost of availability for each of these architectures. This paper concludes by proposing the "10 Theorems of Availability" that every designer should keep in mind when selecting COTS components and architecting a highly available, yet cost effective telecommunications system.

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