Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

How “available” is your Software as a Service (SaaS)?

By Brivo

cloudsocial System availability, also known as uptime, is a key consideration when it comes to purchasing Software as a Service (SaaS). That consideration doesn’t lessen when considering a cloud-based security system like our Brivo OnAir solution; rather, the concern probably increases. When dealing with security systems, the issue isn’t only about data. It includes the physical space as well. In general, system availability should exceed 99.95 percent when it comes to application availability and 99.99 percent when it comes to the actual system. The disparity in figures isn’t a cause for alarm. The second number should always be higher because no data should ever be lost with today’s data replication technology.

Data replication

Data replication relates to the number of data centers used to house information and improves system availability. The more data centers, specifically telco-grade data facilities that are geographically dispersed, the more data can be replicated across various servers. Telco-grade facilities feature, at minimum, diesel-generated back-up power; multiple, independent Internet connections; 24-hour staffing; and a physical security system at each facility.

Geographic dispersion

Geographic dispersion is important; if a facility goes down due to an “act of God,” your data is still secure and available because it isn’t stored at a single location. It’s shared across multiple locations. Geographic dispersion is important, too, in regard to Internet “congestion.” When too many people are accessing the Internet, your application response time slows if you rely on a single data center. Multiple ones ensure you have a fast connection no matter what. If one data center is “congested,” you’re simply rerouted to a different one. A word of caution: not everyone replicates data across facilities. Always ask vendors about their data replication strategy. It’s essential to your ability to access and respond to data in real time.

Real-time access and response

SaaS only improves your existing system if it results in real-time access and the ability to act on that data immediately. If it doesn’t offer that, it’s not really an “available” system. It won’t improve efficiency and productivity. In fact, it could hamper your efforts and increase your total cost of ownership (TCO). Missing data typically means dollars lost one way or another. In addition, you’ll end up having to augment the SaaS with other pieces just to have a complete solution that meets all your needs. When it comes to considering a SaaS vendor, evaluate how “available” their systems are. Ask the hard questions about data replication, geographic dispersion and real-time access. You’ll end up with a solution that not only satisfies all your business’ requirements but also exceeds them. We monitor Brivo OnAir’s system availability hourly. See an example below. [caption id="attachment_3265" align="aligncenter" width="295"]Brivo OnAir system availability dashboard Brivo OnAir system availability dashboard[/caption]