Managed IT

What Is Data Availability?

Gain awareness of the importance of data availability, explore the ways to ensure it, and examine the challenges associated with securing it for a company.

Blog Post

6 minute read

Dec 18, 2023

Losing access to your computer or streaming services due to Wi-Fi disruptions can be extremely frustrating, leading to annoyance and loss of trust in the Internet service provider you pay for. Issues with data availability can result in similar repercussions for businesses.

When a company maintains round-the-clock availability, it guarantees continued access to its business-related data for the organization, partners, or customers at any time. However, when data is inaccessible to customers and employees, it leads to irritability and impedes the ability to accomplish necessary tasks.

To ensure that data inaccessibility is avoided, read through the checklist, What Businesses Need for a Successful Business Intelligence Strategy, and learn how to develop and implement a strategy to make better use of information.

Key Components of Data Availability

Data availability measures how frequently your data can be accessed by your organization, stakeholders, or customers. For a brand to operate steadily, data should be accessible 24/7. While some companies’ operations are more time-sensitive than others, every organization wants their data to be as available as possible.

Data availability requires the following two elements to be useful:

  • Data Accessibility: Unreachable data obstructs stakeholders from having accurate information. If a company faces difficulty in promptly accessing its data, it cannot run successfully.
  • Continuity of Information: Businesses also need to run a data management system that can effortlessly diminish technical interruptions and support data flow.
The average cost of downtime per minute for small businesses is $427 and $9,000 for larger enterprises. Source: Pingdom

Why Data Availability Is Important

When data is missing, compromised, or inaccessible, it can significantly impact a business’ internal reputation and its relationship with clients. Inaccessible data can provoke customer frustration and cause them to lose trust, potentially driving them toward competitors who don’t have the same problem.

Apart from financial losses, businesses can encounter legal repercussions from the inability to access data, as it may impede an organization’s ability to fulfill data security regulations or other legal requirements.

Compliance obligations demand adherence to security, storage, transfer, and data handling protocols, exemplified by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Businesses, such as PayPal, that deal with card payments, financial processing, or sensitive customer data are also regulated by stringent data laws.

In the healthcare industry, the inability to access data can even be a matter of life or death. Hospitals need to be able to access the correct, most up-to-date data to properly treat patients.

Ways to Ensure Data Availability

Safeguarding the availability of data, whenever and wherever it is needed, is an indispensable part of sustaining the operation of a business. To assure data accessibility at all points, it is important to use tools and have proper plans in place in the event of any issues.

Here are some ways to guarantee data availability: 

Use the Correct Data Loss Prevention Tools

Data loss prevention tools, which use cloud-based or third-party storage to prevent data loss, can help defend against a data breach or damage to a data storage center.  

The primary types of data loss prevention are:

  • Endpoint DLP: Enables auditing and managing the types of activities users take on sensitive items.
  • Network DLP: Monitors user behavior on the network to detect data exfiltration.  
  • Cloud DLP: Keeps an organization’s information safe from cyberattacks, insider threats, and accidental exposure.  

Features of these tools include:  

  • Monitoring: DLP software conducts continuous scans of data to identify potential risks and unauthorized access.
  • Threat Blocking: Software can thwart attackers’ attempts to compromise systems.
  • Forensic Analysis: This tool can help companies uncover what went wrong and why to fix vulnerabilities and upgrade necessary systems. 

Use Software-Based Infrastructure

Deploying a software-centric approach for hosting data, as opposed to relying on traditional hardware solutions, helps enhance data availability by facilitating easy movement.  

This shift not only mitigates the constraints associated with hardware dependencies, such as processing power and memory capacity, but also provides the flexibility to allocate computing, storage, and networking resources immediately to ensure that infrastructure always meets the company’s needs.  

Remove Unnecessary Data

It is imperative to archive old data, either by transferring it to a different, secure storage system or getting rid of it altogether. This approach facilitates the organization of information and liberates space in the primary storage center.  

By relocating data, businesses can streamline their storage infrastructure, ensuring that users only access necessary information, making the data that users actually need available more easily. 

Erasure Coding

Erasure coding is like cutting up an old credit card. The information is broken down into separate pieces and encoded with redundant data to store at various locations. In the case of corruption or loss, data can be reconstructed using the segments stored elsewhere.

This process also protects data from cyberattackers because, even if malware accesses the information, putting it back together is difficult.  

Establish Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

RTO is the time in which a business can function after a disruption to data availability. Depending on RTO, an organization may be able to continue functioning for days or may have to immediately halt operations after data availability failure.  

Whether the application, computer, network, or system is down, data becomes unavailable to the user. If RTO is not met, the organization is unable to function as the essential information is inaccessible. 

Have a Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery Plan

Having a plan in place is never a bad idea, especially for a business. The key feature of a business continuity or disaster recovery plan should be sustaining data availability. By defining what and when data needs to be stored, operations can easily resume in case of a disruption.

A business continuity plan is an organization’s strategy to continue operations after a disruption has occurred in the service. The plan allows the company to continue functioning during a disaster and saves critical business data.

Discover more about business continuity plans by watching the comprehensive video below: 

Back Up Data

In the event of a memory drive or storage failure, the practice of backing up your data serves as a safeguard, assuring that the invaluable information is not irretrievably lost. By maintaining duplicate copies in an alternative location, this measure acts as a fail-safe against unforeseen technological malfunctions and establishes a defense mechanism against the potential ramifications of data loss.  

Multiple Access Routes

If your house is on fire, having multiple routes of exit is the best way to prevent disaster. Businesses operate similarly and must avoid relying on singular points of entry when confronted with access route or network component failures. Implementing a diversified infrastructure is imperative to ensure that the network's structural integrity is not compromised by vulnerabilities.  

Diversification of access routes and network components not only mitigates the risk of disruptions but also fortifies the overall reliability of the system, guaranteeing seamless operations even in the face of unforeseen challenges.  

“Backup processes are put in place to protect organizational data.” -Patrick Layton

Difficulties in Securing Data Availability

Securing data availability presents numerous challenges, including various system failures, data quality, and transfer speed. Being aware of the complications regarding data availability is the best way to prepare your business for any issues.

Difficulties to take into consideration:  

  • Failure of Host Server or Storage: When the server that hosts the data or the physical storage devices fail, data is inaccessible.  
  • Network Failure or Crash: These disruptions occur within a computer’s network and can result in the loss of connectivity, performance, and communication.
  • Bad Data Quality: Instances of inaccurate, missing, or unreliable data can negatively affect a business’ operations.
  • Security Alerts: Organizations without strict security processes, like an alert system that acts quickly when a breach occurs, have a higher risk of malware attacking data storage undetected. Companies should be aware that an application may run perfectly while same time data is being stolen.
  • Compatibility Problems: Although data may be readily available on one platform, its compatibility with another is not guaranteed. Make sure to conduct testing of data across various platforms.
  • Slow Data Retrieval or Exchange: Slow data transfer can congest the network, deplete resources, and result in time losses for both businesses and clients. Additionally, it indicates poor system health. To combat these issues, consistently monitor memory usage to track available space, pinpoint inadequately sized systems, understand loads, and identify any leaks.

Pulling the Plug on Data Availability

Ensuring uninterrupted access to critical information is vital for organizations, partners, and customers. The potential repercussions of inaccessible data extend beyond operational challenges to encompass reputational damage and strained client relationships, as well as legal compliance ramifications.

The awareness and preparation for challenges tied to data availability emerge as pivotal elements for safeguarding effective business continuity. Organizations must recognize the nature of these challenges to navigate potential disruptions successfully.

Make sure your business is covered by reviewing the checklist, What Businesses Need for a Successful Business Intelligence Strategy. Explore the key elements necessary for a company to formulate and execute a strategy that optimizes data. 


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