Service availability is one of the most closely scrutinized metrics in offering network services. The network vendor can earn more revenue from the customers by guaranteeing higher service availability at the cost of higher operational expense. It is important to cost-effectively provision a managed and differentiated network with various service availability guarantees under a unified platform. In this paper, we establish the framework of provisioning elastic service availability through network utility maximization, and propose an optimal and distributed solution using differentiated failure recovery schemes. First, we develop a utility function with configurable parameters to represent the satisfaction perceived by a user upon service availability as well as its allowed source rate. Second, adopting Quality of Protection  and shared path protection, we transform optimal provisioning of elastic service availability into a convex optimization problem. The desirable service availability and source rate for each user can be achieved using a price-based distributed algorithm. Finally, we numerically show the tradeoff between the throughput and the service availability obtained by users in various network topologies. Several quantitative observations are made from this investigation. For example, indiscriminately provisioning service availabilities for different kinds of users within one network leads to noteworthy sub-optimality in total network utility. The profile of bandwidth usage also illustrates that provisioning high service availability exclusively for critical applications leads to significant waste in bandwidth resource.