by Joseph Alvarez, Content and Copywriting Specialist

 

As Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standards revisions pertaining to the alarm services industry come into effect October 2020, you can trust Bold with ensuring your compliance and enhancing your profitability. One recent UL revision is a requirement to implement high availability computer systems.

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What is high availability?

UL 1981 and UL 827 both specify that computer systems shall be designated by the manufacturer as “high availability” systems. Each standard defines “High-available clusters or Failover clusters” as:

“A group of two or more computers that are connected to form redundant nodes which are used to provide service when system components fail. Such high-availability or failover clusters are designed to use redundancy of cluster components to eliminate single points of failure.” -UL 1981 and UL 827, §5 (Glossary)

Though this doesn’t define high availability per se (it defines high-available clusters), it does reveal the overall goal: system redundancy through the elimination of single points of failure.

Redundancy minimizes downtime and service interruptions and helps save lives in our industry. If a server crashes due to hardware failure or a natural disaster, your reputation – and your bottom line – depend on your ability to provide continued life-saving services.

Availability describes system accessibility. Mathematically, availability is the percentage of uptime, i.e.:

Therefore, if your system is down for one day in a year, your availability is:

UL 827 defines high availability as:

“A computer system that has been designed and implemented to ensure the system will be operational 99.9% of every 12 month period. This performance shall include both operational time and any downtime for scheduled maintenance that may occur in the 12 month period.” – UL 827, §5 (Glossary)

That’s just over 364 days and 15 hours. In a whole 24/7/365 year, you can only be down for nine hours.

Redundancy cannot guarantee availability. Your system needs to be able to detect and rectify failures. Erika Heidi’s 2016 piece on high availability goes into spectacular depth on optimizing availability with an example of a high-available system that relies on a floating IP and an automated “health check:”

Source: What is High Availability?

Observe the redundancy: multiple load balancers and multiple application servers. If the primary load balancer fails, traffic routes through the secondary load balancer. If one application server is down, traffic routes to the other. The user is all but guaranteed access to system services even if one load balancer and one application server fail simultaneously. The “health check” communication between load balancers automatically routes traffic through operable paths in the event of a failure.

What can Bold do for me?

The diagram above relies on a collection of load balancers and servers, but the crux of the system is the floating IP. Bold’s floating IP service, ipDirector™, automatically seeks the most efficient (“healthy”) route. This ensures your redundancy is effective. ipDirector™ has exceeded 99.999% (5 nines) availability since its 2009 inception. Can your ISP claim that?

Without ipDirector™:

  • An ISP provides an IP address;
  • You use that address without any assurance that you can control routing if the ISP is off-line or if you wish to change to a new carrier;
  • Adding a second ISP is more of a complication and not a viable solution.

The Bold ipDirector™ is the answer to quality IP signal handling at a reasonable cost. Easy to implement, ipDirector™ provides high availability (read: UL 827 compliance) with multiple endpoint delivery, real-time switching, no port restrictions, and optional IP address range blocking. Reduced troubleshooting and 24/7/365 Bold NOC support round out the package to provide you with best-in-class floating IP service.

We have been working diligently on this product offering based on your input of the features you need most for your business. Bold ipDirector™ was developed based on your feedback to ensure UL 827 compliance and increase profit. Watch for an announcement of its availability in Q3!

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