News

Critical Facilities Balance Sheet
September 15, 2002

By Staff
Appeared in Facilities Design & Management

Reliability Target Expected Downtime

(Percentage of time business wants to stay online)

99.9999 99.999 99.99 99.9 99.0 (Corresponding minutes business will be offline) 31.5 seconds/year 5.25 minutes/year 52 minutes/year 8.76 hours/year 87.6 hours/year " style="width: 400px" rows="12">

If a balance sheet is the best way to gauge a company's financial strength and vulnerability, what is the best way to size up its online reliability? Syska Hennessy Group's OnlinEnvironments answered that question by creating a new tool for companies to examine and calibrate the components of operational reliability: the Critical Facilities Balance Sheet.

The Critical Facilities Balance Sheet takes all the design and operational elements of a new critical facility and compares them to industry benchmarks for achieving targeted reliability. "What's unique is that it helps a company examine all the factors that comprise reliability—IT, power, HVAC, testing, operations, security, maintenance, controls and disaster recovery—and prioritize their investment accordingly," says Banning-Wright. "It's easy for a company to be oversold on reliability in IT equipment and power, yet remain critically vulnerable in areas like maintenance and testing. A weakness in any area means operations may be far less reliable than a company thinks."

Banning-Wright says a Critical Facilities Balance Sheet helps a company achieve True Reliability, or functional reliability in real-world conditions, by identifying where they are deficient, where they are overspending, and how to correct the imbalance. The result can be much higher True Reliability with extraordinary cost savings.

She cited the case of one client company that was about to spend $250,000 on "dual-cording," or connecting all critical equipment to two separate electrical sources, a common tactic to improve reliability. Because the facility had only one electrical source and not two diverse routes of power, the client still faced the same single point of failure within their power system. Dual-cording would not have done any good.

"Most companies today are fully sensitized to the need for utmost reliability," she says. "They just need expert guidance on how to prioritize spending and keep making progress."

By balancing the sometimes-competing needs of corporate real estate, planning and design, construction, risk management, information technology, and operations, a company can identify the best strategies to reach its targeted level of reliability and avoid costly downtime. The highest benchmark of reliability allows for only half a minute a year in downtime—typically where the top-of-the-line Wall Street trading firms, banks, and cable operators are aiming, but cost-prohibitive to achieve.

The following chart compares reliability targets with average lengths of downtime:

Reliability Target Expected Downtime

(Percentage of time business wants to stay online)

99.9999 99.999 99.99 99.9 99.0
(Corresponding minutes business will be offline) 31.5 seconds/year 5.25 minutes/year 52 minutes/year 8.76 hours/year 87.6 hours/year