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The Availability Digest Welcomes Its First Guest Author
Up until now, the hundreds of articles published in the Availability Digest over the last several years have been written by our internal staff. However, a wealth of interesting and useful information known to our readers is not readily available to us. In addition, among our subscribers is expertise that would be tremendously useful to us all.
We tap this large database of knowledge with our first article written by one of our subscribers. Damian Ward, Solutions Architect at VocaLink Limited, describes in his article the design and deployment of VocaLink’s Faster Payment Service (FPS). FPS provides for the first time real-time interbank transfers for Internet and telephone-banking payments for the UK retail industry. It uses an active/active configuration to provide reliable 24x7 service.
We would like this to be the start of valuable information sharing among the Availability Digest community. If you have something about which you would like to write – a case study, best practices, availability insights, and even horror stories, let us know. We will gladly work with you to get it published. We also welcome product reviews, so long as they are factual and without marketing hype.
So warm up your word processors, and get some professional exposure.
Dr. Bill Highleyman, Managing Editor
Faster Payments is the first new payments service to be introduced in the UK for more than twenty years. For the very first time, it has enabled phone, Internet and standing-order payments to move in near real time - almost at the touch of a button.
On 27 May, 2008, VocaLink implemented the hub of the Faster Payments Service (FPS). The Faster Payments Service is revolutionary and is the first application of the VocaLink Real-Time Payments Platform.
The Faster Payments Service operates on a 24x7 basis, providing near real-time interbank transfers for Internet and telephone-banking payments. The delivery of this unique service has changed the dynamics of consumer banking behaviour and the payments industry.
This paper presents a brief overview of the development, implementation and operation of the UK Faster Payments Service and how it is able to operate at 100% service availability through the use of active/active technology.
The U.S. Air Force is deploying a new GPS satellite system to replace the aging system now in service. In anticipation of this deployment, the Air Force upgraded the software in its GPS ground-control systems in early 2010 to be able to handle signals not only from the current GPS satellites but also from the new satellites. The software in the 800,000 military GPS receivers currently in service were also upgraded to be compatible with both satellite systems.
To everyone’s dismay, when the new ground-control systems were brought into operation, 10,000 of the Air Force’s GPS receivers wouldn’t work. The systems they supported were effectively down. It took two weeks to come up with a temporary fix and months to test and deploy a permanent fix.
The capabilities of GPS have become a backbone technology for the U.S. military. How could such a critical system fail so miserably? By inadequate testing, that’s how.
Andy Bailey, Stratus’ Availability Architect, started a very active thread entitled “What does fault tolerant mean to you?” on our LinkedIn Continuous Availability Forum. The range of responses support the general feeling that terms such as ‘fault-tolerant,’ ‘high availability,’ ‘continuous availability,’ ‘mission critical,’ and others serve the purpose of the writer, not the industry.
Shimon Peres made the observation that
“if a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact, not to be solved, but to be coped with.”
Failure is a fact. Recovery is how we cope with it.
In this article, we suggest a simple method to quantify system reliability by focusing on recovery, eliminating any ambiguity or marketing intent in the above terms. Our result is a table that compares different highly-reliable technologies for IT systems. We encourage you to challenge and to comment about our suggestion on the Continuous Availability Forum by adding to Andy’s thread.
Neverfail ensures continuity of user services provided by Microsoft Windows applications via data replication and automated failover procedures. Using asynchronous data replication, Neverfail maintains a local or remote standby system in complete application synchronization with its primary companion. It monitors the health of an entire application ecosystem at the business level. If it cannot resolve a potential availability issue detected on the primary system, Neverfail will fail over the application to the standby system.
Application monitoring and failover polices are determined by rules configured into Neverfail. For many common applications, such as Exchange, SQL Server, File Server, SharePoint, IIS, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), rules are preconfigured into plug-ins available from Neverfail. Users may modify these rules if desired and may establish rules for applications not supported by Neverfail plug-ins.
Consequently, Neverfail is positioned to protect many critical Windows environments substantially “out-of-the-box.”
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