My question was to determine if there is an precise definition of how much availability constitutes High Availability
There is no official definition of how much availability constitues "high availability". Thus, there are several more or less established definitions around the world. I don't want to be more precise as I don't really know if there is any widely accepted standard. So I am listing those I know.
The Harvard Research Group defined several so-called Availability Environments Classifications and that is maybe as close as you can get in terms of precise definition.
AE4 Business functions that demand continuous computing and where any failure is transparent to the user.
This means no interruption of work;
no transactions lost; no degradation in performance; and continuous 24x7
AE3 Business functions that require uninterrupted computing services, either during essential time periods, or during most hours of the day and most days of the week throughout the year. This means that the user stays on-line. However, the current transaction may need restarting and users may experience some performance degradation.
AE2 Business functions that allow minimally interrupted computing services, either during essential time periods, or during most hours of the day and most days of the week throughout the year. This means the user will be interrupted but can quickly relog on. However, they may have to rerun some transactions from journal files and they may experience some performance degradation.
AE1 Business functions that can be interrupted as long as the availability of the data is insured. To the user work stops and an uncontrolled shutdown occurs. However, data availability is ensured. A
backupcopy of data is available on a redundant disk and a log-based or journal file system is being used for identification and recovery of incomplete transactions.
AE0 Business functions that can be interrupted and where the availability of the data is not essential. To the user work stops and uncontrolled shutdown occurs. Data may be lost or corrupted.
* Disaster Recovery capability is a horizontal availability feature that is applicable to any of the Availability Environments (AEs). It provides for remote backup of the information system and makes it safe from disasters such as an earthquake fire, flood, hurricane, power failure, vandalism, or an act of terrorism.
However, there are unofficial terms bound to the AEs in certain parts of the world as well. Take this with a grain of salt.
- AE0 Conventional
- AE1 Highly Reliable
- AE2 High Availability
- AE3 Fault Resilient
- AE4 Fault Tolerant
There are also so-called availability classes in some parts of the world. And if you look at the definition, you can see that there is an orientation towards the list above. (Salt please)
Availability class 1 (90%)
- Availability class 2 Highly Reliable (99%)
- Availability class 3 High Availability (99,9%)
- Availability class 4 Fault Resilient (99,99%)
- Availability class 5 Fault Tolerant (99,999%)
- Availability class 5 Disaster Tolerant (99,999%)
Availability class 1 with 90% is removed from that list as 90% is considered conventional and with that outside the scope of that list. A system is considered "highly available" if there is a guaranteed downtime of less than an hour, which is also reflected in that list by 99,99% (~ 53 minutes).