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Can Your Business Afford Downtime?

Can Your Business Afford Downtime?

Hardware failures, software failures or user error can all cause system downtime. Downtime causes customer dissatisfaction, additional customer support, lost revenue and impacts your reputation. When your web site goes down, you're losing potential customers and risking existing ones.

The problem is, the majority of web hosting companies have no redundancy in place, with one server handling all requests. A hard disk failure, power supply failure or software issue will bring all websites on that server off line. It may take hours to repair the problem, leaving customers stranded. Carefully read the fine print when choosing a web hosting company. Most provide uptime guarantees that only cover network uptime, not service availability. That way, They guarantee this because as long as the network is functioning, regardless of whether or notif your web site is up, the uptime guarantee is being met.

High Availability refers to an architecture designed for very high uptime. A High Availability solution greatly reduces the risk of downtime by integrating spare devices that will take the place of any resource that becomes unavailable. A High Availability infrastructure has redundancy starting at the network level all the way to the server level.

A High Availability network will connect to multiple backbone carriers and have fully redundant routers /and switches. A provider, router or switch failure should not affect your website. Power systems should be fully redundant including auto transfer to a backup generator in the event thatof grid power failures. Power distribution units should be redundant and never overloaded.

Temperature and humidity should be controlled by multiple air conditioning units, with enough additional capacity to maintain the environment in the event of an AC unit failure.

Servers designed for High Availability include dual power supplies and a RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID).) If a power supply fails, a backup will instantly take its place. The failed power supply can be replaced without bringing the server down. RAID refers to using multiple hard disks which appear as one. If one of the hard drives in a RAID fails, no data is lost and only a small performance penalty occurs while the array is rebuilt using a spare hard disk.

Redundant power supplies and RAID are key components in a High Availability infrastructure, although it can be taken a step further. Clustering is a term you may have heard before. Fail over is a type of clustering that dramatically increases service availability. In a fail over cluster, two servers are linked together. One is actively handling requests, while the other stands by. If the primary server should fail, the secondary server will detect this and automatically take over. The switch should take place within seconds, with little noticeable effect to your sites’ visitors. Fail over clustering can protect against total server failure, including file system corruption or critical hardware failure (such as the processor or motherboard.) It can take hours to re-build or provision a new server after a failure, clustering eliminates this possibility.

Monitoring the state of a High Availability infrastructure is equally important as the redundant hardware itself. The network, server and application layer need to be closely monitored on a continual, 24x7 basis. Technicians trained in High Availability need to be available around the clock to instantly respond to any issues that arise. Monitoring should be performed from an off site and off network location, to ensure a true perspective on service availability.

A hosting environment designed for maximum uptime includes redundant network, power, cooling, data storage, server hardware and proactive monitoring. If you have a mission critical web site that you depend on, make sure your next host has an infrastructure designed for High Availability.


About the Author

Grant Supp is the owner of Inthrive (, a web hosting company founded in 2003 with the mission of providing High Availability clustered web hosting at affordable prices. Experience the rock solid stability of Inthrive's’ High Availability web hosting.


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