How to Calculate Uptime in the IT Environment

EOL, Managed IT Services, And Uptime: A Cord Of Three Strands

Windows 7 hits EOL (End Of Life) on January 14, 2020. This poses an extreme risk to many businesses, and the transition may result in uptime reduction, which in turn increases operational cost.

There’s a threefold relationship between EOL cycles, uptime, and how your tech systems are managed, whether internally or externally. To understand this, it’s worthwhile to answer a few basic questions about uptime:

  • What Is Network Uptime?
  • What Does “99.999%” Uptime Mean And How Is It Calculated?
  • How Do You Define Uptime?
  • How Many Hours Is 99.999% Uptime?
  • What Is The Difference Between Uptime And Availability?

What Is Network Uptime?

Essentially, uptime refers to when a computer or a computer network is operational, and downtime refers to when it isn’t. There’s often a percentage ranking used to determine levels of uptime referred to as the five nines, which we’ll cover shortly.

Things like software upgrades, hardware maintenance, operator error, or disaster can all affect uptime. If, for example, you don’t upgrade operational software (such as Windows 7) in time, you’ll lose uptime as you make the transition. Additionally, as software ages, it becomes more vulnerable to cybercriminal intrusion, which also reduces uptime.

What Does “99.999%” Uptime Mean And How Is it Calculated?

At Veritas Software, Principal Engineer Evan Marcus has determined 99.999% availability to be defined by 5.39 total minutes of downtime, whether or not this is planned, in a given year. Planned downtime might be a system upgrade in terms of hardware or software.

As you may expect, even an SMB in startup phase probably can’t get an entire system’s upgrade done in less than six minutes–not unless the software is managed continuously either through internal or external IT management. Going the external route usually provides better overall management at lesser cost for most SMBs.

Calculating uptime is a simple matter of determining how much a given system is supposed to be available in a given year, and subtracting the time it isn’t. Some systems operate all day every day, throughout the year, sometimes SMBs have systems that are only operational a few hours a day out of the work week. There are a few ways 99.999% availability may be achieved, including systems designed specifically for high availability, and systems which share components.

How Do You Define Uptime?

How businesses define uptime will depend on how tech is used–the basic definition is one end user portal being able to access a server or server array perpetually. Here’s where the misconception is: what if you’re using old software that lags? Well, then, though your system is “up” and “available”, productivity doesn’t match with uptime.

You would see a metric lag in productivity over time as software approached EOL. The quicker you made a transition, the more productive available uptime for your business would be. If your computers can’t access the server because of software issues, you’ve got uptime, but availability diminishes. Both need to be operating harmoniously for optimal operations.

How Many Hours Is 99.9% Uptime?

Specific uptime lengths will depend on specific business needs. For example, if you operated a business where networks had to be up ten hours a day, five days a week, that’s fifty hours multiplied by fifty-two weeks in a year (assuming no holidays). In this case, 99.999% uptime would be 2,599.974 hours out of 2,600.00. However if IT systems needed to operate around the clock through the year, then 99.999% uptime would be 8,759.9124 hours out of 8760 (the number of hours in a year).

What Is The Difference Between Uptime And Availability?

Availability is essentially how many locations are able to reach your system’s server–or the server network you’re using. Meanwhile, uptime is whether or not there is any existing server availability at all.

If one location–one end-user portal like a laptop–can reach the server, that’s 100% uptime. But if you had 100 computers and only one could reach the server, though you have 100% uptime, you may only have 1% availability.

To capitalize on both uptime and availability, it’s important to use software options that enable your tech to function at its best. Running systems past EOL reduces available support, meaning though you could have great uptime, server access is unnecessarily hampered by antiquated software. Windows 7 support is, as mentioned, approaching EOL; many SMBs should definitely anticipate this and act appropriately while the time is right.

Maintaining Uptime Against EOL And Factor-X

Working with an IT Managed Services Provider to assess your present software infrastructure and determine what sort of transitions are necessary will facilitate maximum uptime and reduce transition lag.

The more uptime and availability you’re able to acquire, the more effectively you can utilize IT systems, retaining competitive edge and secure operations even in the face of unexpected “Factor-X” situations.

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