When you buy a service, it’s crucial to be able to access it any time of day or night. In the world of enterprise IT, however, you can’t always guarantee these levels of quality. Organizations have to evaluate the service levels necessary for running their business smoothly. And when there are IT outages, they know what will work best for them without much disruption.

When evaluating your services, there are two meaningful metrics that you need to know – Reliability and Availability, although they are often used interchangeably. But there are differences.

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Simply put, availability is a measure of how often a system or component is operational and ready for use. On the other hand, reliability is about how well a system or component performs its intended function over some time. We will explore the differences between availability and reliability in greater detail. We will also discuss the importance of these concepts in the context of business and how they can be used as key factors in forming your IT strategy.

What is Reliability, and how do you measure Reliability?

Reliability is measured by how well a system performs its required functions under specified conditions. The reliability of a system is usually expressed as a percentage or a fraction of uptime. For example, if a system is operational 99% of the time, it is said to have a reliability of 0.99.
There are several ways to calculate the reliability of a system. One standard method is the mean time between failures (MTBF). MTBF is the average time that elapses between two failures of a system.

You can calculate it by dividing the total operating time of a system by the number of failures that occur during that time. For example, if a system has 99% uptime and an MTBF of 1,000 hours, its reliability would be calculated as follows:
Reliability = (99% x 1,000 hours) / (1 failure)
Reliability = 990 hours / 1 failure
Reliability = 990 hours

What are the steps to improve Reliability?

You can improve the reliability of your systems with the following steps:

  • Implement redundancy wherever possible. It means having multiple copies of critical data and components so that if one fails, there is a backup available.
  • Make sure all software and firmware are up to date. Outdated software can be a major source of errors and instability.
  • Perform regular maintenance on all hardware components. It includes things like cleaning dust out of fans and making sure all cables are firmly connected.
  • Use high-quality components. Cheap components are more likely to fail than those built to last.
  • Test your system regularly. It includes functional testing to ensure everything is working as it should and stress testing to see how your system behaves under extreme conditions.

To improve Reliability, you need to know the life expectancy of each asset and the time each one will last. It’s one of the best ways to enhance reliability because life expectancy reduces the risk of breakdowns. The second step is to collect data about equipment performance and health. Naturally, when health is good, then performance is increased. Furthermore, you can make a decision based on that information based on automated software reports, meter readings, and even monitoring assets.

Occasionally your maintenance team may be busy with tasks that don’t need to be completed immediately. When this happens, they focus on the work they have to do instead of prioritizing their work as per asset category. Your enterprise needs to ensure that it carries out regular audits and checks on its assets to prioritize them in a manner that will improve productivity and reliability. Organizations also need to ensure that their maintenance crew uses new inventory for essential tasks so that it won’t hinder the productivity or reliability of the organization.

You may note that increasing reliability is a continuous process requiring up to six months of work before achieving any results. Your organization needs to schedule maintenance proactively, eliminate issues, and perform regular audits. Proactively improving reliability will yield benefits like reduced maintenance costs and increased asset reliability in the long term.

What is Availability?

Availability measures the proportion of time that a system, service, or component is operational and accessible when required. It is usually expressed as a percentage or a ratio and can be measured over various periods.

What is the formula for finding Availability?

The most common way to calculate availability is by using the following formula:
Availability = (Total operating time – Total downtime) / Total operating time

This formula can calculate availability for any period, whether it’s an hour, a day, or a week.
For example, let’s say you want to calculate the availability of a website over one week. The website was operational for 168 hours during that week (24 hours x 7 days). However, the website was down for 2 hours due to scheduled maintenance and 4 hours due to unscheduled downtime. It means the website’s total downtime for the week was 6 hours. Using the availability formula above, we can calculate that the website’s availability for that week was 97.6% ((168-6) / 168).

Steps for improving Availability

● Understand your current availability measurement. Once you know where you are and where you want to reach, you can improve in terms of availability.
● Set an achievable target. It’s important to decide on an attainable target. You should benchmark yourself against comparable offices in your industry. Once you know how well others are doing in your industry, you can change your current plan requirements.
● Ensure that systems are designed for availability. That involves incorporating features such as failover and redundancy into the system design.
● Monitor systems closely and identify potential problems before they cause downtime.
● Have a good incident response plan in place so that issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently when problems do occur.

Improving availability with better gear can be challenging as many factors, such as the current plan of your office framework, can take time to process purchase orders. Another factor is that most resistance to gear accessibility comes from operational procedures, not maintenance practices. Thus, you should be focused on ensuring any operating procedure doesn’t hinder your assets and performance.

Finally, you should increase availability through proactive maintenance. Ensure that assets are dependable and available by engaging in proactive maintenance. Reactive maintenance is done when an asset has crashed, which decreases the availability of the asset. To improve reliability, it’s crucial to implement proactive maintenance practices. Whenever a breakdown occurs, it impacts the availability as they cannot work on schedule. Additionally, downtime increases because of this broken state.



How do you measure Reliability and Availability?

Reliability is a measure of how consistently a system performs its required functions. Availability measures how often the system can perform its required functions. There are several ways to measure reliability and availability. The simplest way to calculate reliability and availability is to use the formulas mentioned in this article.

Another common method is to use a reliability block diagram, which shows all the possible failure states for a system and calculates the probability of each state occurring. The system’s reliability can then be calculated by summing the probabilities of all the failure states.

Another way to measure reliability and availability is to use a Markov model. This model tracks the movement of a system between different states over time. The states can represent different levels of functionality, such as working, failing, or repairing. The transition probabilities between these states are used to calculate the long-term availability and reliability of the system.

What is Reliability in maintenance?

The term “reliability” in maintenance refers to the probability that an item will perform its required function under stated conditions for a defined period. For many organizations, reliability is synonymous with quality. A high-quality product can be relied upon to perform its intended function for its intended lifetime with minimum maintenance.

To achieve high levels of reliability, products must be designed for reliability, manufactured using reliable processes, and supported by an effective maintenance program. Design for reliability includes specifying materials, component tolerances, and operational requirements that will ensure the desired level of performance over the product’s expected lifetime. Good manufacturing practices help ensure that products are built to meet their design specifications. An effective maintenance program includes preventive and predictive maintenance strategies that identify and correct problems before they cause failures.

Reliability is often quantified by measuring the mean time between failures (MTBF) or the rate of failures per unit of time (e.g., failures per hour). These measures provide a means of comparing different products or versions of the same product. However, they do not necessarily indicate how well a product will perform its intended function; they only demonstrate how often it fails. For this reason, other measures such as mean time to repair (MTTR) and availability are also used to assess reliability.

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Final note

Availability and reliability are essential factors to consider when determining the maintenance needs of a system or component. Availability is a measure of how often a system or part is able to perform its required function, while reliability is a measure of how often a system or component performs its required function correctly. Both measures are essential when planning maintenance activities, as they can help to identify potential problem areas and determine the best course of action to take to prevent or mitigate problems.

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