Reliability, Availability, Dependability and Performability: A User-centered View
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Reliability and availability have long been considered twin system properties that could be enhanced by distribution. Paradoxically, the traditional definitions of these properties do not recognize the positive impact of recovery as distinct from simple repair and restart on reliability, nor the negative effect of recovery, and of internetworking of clients and servers, on availability. As a result of employing the standard definitions, reliability would tend to be underestimated, and availability overestimated. We offer revised definitions of these two critical metrics, which we call service reliability and service availability, that improve the match between their formal expression, and intuitive meaning. A fortuitous advantage of our approach is that the product of our two metrics yields a highly meaningful figure of merit for the overall dependability of a system. But techniques that enhance system dependability exact a performance cost, so we conclude with a cohesive definition of performability that rewards the system for performance that is delivered to its client applications, after discounting the following consequences of failure: service denial and interruption, lost work, and recovery cost.