Data availability is a term used by some computer storage manufacturers and storage service providers (SSPs) to describe products and services that ensure that data continues to be available at a required level of performance in situations ranging from normal through "disastrous." In general, data availability is achieved through redundancy involving where the data is stored and how it can be reached. Some vendors describe the need to have a data center and a storage-centric rather than a server-centric philosophy and environment.
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In large enterprise computer systems, computers typically access data over high-speed optical fiber connection to storage devices. Among the best-known systems for access are ESCON and Fibre Channel. Storage devices often are controlled as a redundant array of independent disks (RAID). Flexibility for adding and reconfiguring a storage system as well as automatically switching to a backup or failover environment is provided by a programmable or manually-controlled switch generally known as a director.
Two increasingly popular approaches to providing data availability are the storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS). Data availability can be measured in terms of how often the data is available (one vendor promises 99.999 per cent availability) and how much data can flow at a time (the same vendor promises 3200 megabytes per second).