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The Case for Distributing Applications

This column is in response to a question from an NDCF reader concerning the challenges involved in linking a new or expanding data center to other sites or Internet portals. The reader also wanted to know how this affects data center costs.

In my view, these challenges can often be an opportunity in disguise an opportunity to distribute applications to other sites with the goal of not only improving service levels but also limiting communication costs.

Before I make my case for saying this, let's go back to basics and review what I mean by "service level," which can be divided into two major components. First is the reliability of the applications, and second is the response time provided to end-users of various applications required during normal operations. The way I like to think about this for an individual application is:

    1) Is the application available when users want it?

    2) Is the application useable when it is available?

Application availability/reliability has two components: how service is provided during normal operations, and how service is provided during and after a failure. Of course, there are many kinds of failure, and this is what leads us to remove dependencies on single points in the system – each of which could fail and result in a system-wide loss of service. One of these points of failure is the communications infrastructure to allow users or other applications to connect to the applications needed by the organization.

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