The word redundant is not commonly associated with something important. In fact, by its very definition it’s something that is “no longer needed or useful”. However, in network engineering, redundancy is a critical component of disaster management and business planning.
When planning the IT infrastructure of your company there are several external factors to consider if you want smooth operability. The provision of reliable redundancy services is one of these and is paramount in a world where online services require constant remote access. These days, businesses are expected to provide IT services that are available 24/7 without interruption.
In order to achieve this goal, you need more than just a robust network and powerful Data Centre. Redundancy is a vital aspect of the wider IT infrastructure model that should never be overlooked or undervalued.
What is redundancy?
Many people tend to confuse redundancy services with backup services and while both have similar elements, there are significant differences. Backups are passive, incremental file stores that are put in place to protect against data loss. Redundancy, on the other hand, maintains a live copy of all your services running in real-time and available instantly to ensure 100% server uptime.
In retail, hospitality, or financial services, downtime can be devastating to a business. In mission-critical services like emergency or medical, it can mean the difference between life and death. These operations require a separate ‘redundant site’ that is ready and waiting to provide instant network services in the event of an outage.
A redundant site should be entirely separate from your on-site server room and typically operates on a different network and service provider. This ensures that in the event of any single point of failure there is no interruption of services. The site would usually house an exact copy of any critical services and should be updated as frequently as possible.
Why you need redundancy:
1. Company Reputation
Downtime is no longer tolerated in the professional business world. If customers can’t access your services they will switch to another provider without hesitation. Potential business clients will also be deterred by any delays in the provision of online services.
In some cases, downtime can also affect staff performance and result in a high turnover rate if employees are unable to do their jobs effectively.
2. Business Continuity
Network outages not only affect reputation but can result in significant data loss. Any service interruptions that affect the operation of backup services can have dire consequences for your company and client data.
Redundancy ensures that backups are secure and always available so that business can continue as usual. The inclusion of a redundant site for your data is a key aspect of any good Business Continuity Plan (BCP).
3. Efficient Productivity
For a business to be successful it needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Lack of redundancy could result in backlogs due to a single point of failure that has a domino effect on productivity. If a certain department is unable to process requests or complete tasks, it can impact the entire business further down the line.
With a well-implemented redundant data site, each and every staff member should be able to continue operations unhindered.
These days it is a requirement of many businesses to have sufficient protection in place to ensure the safety of client data. In the U.S, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) Act is one such compliance requirement set out to protect sensitive medical information. In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) oversees the storage and transfer of private data.
Depending on the nature of your business, the lack of a functional redundant site for data could result in non-compliance for your company. This includes proper management and disposal of data in compliance with legal requirements.
Redundant Site Elements
While static backups are a vital part of any IT infrastructure, additional active backups are required for data redundancy. Ideally, you want to ensure that there is an up-to-date replica of all critical data stored at a redundant site with instant accessibility
To maintain connectivity, it’s important to keep a backup network on standby in the event of failure. This involves redundant network devices and infrastructure onsite and a secondary service provider linked to your offsite redundant Data Centre.
Onsite services should be configured to automatically failover to the backup network in the event of an outage. If done correctly, network users should barely notice the changeover.
Backup power is another vital part of ensuring that your redundancy plan is effective. All devices at both live and redundant sites should remain permanently connected to Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) units. In this way, all services will continue operating in the event of a power outage.
How to plan a redundant data site
A typical data redundancy plan involves identifying what services are critical and assessing how they can be replicated. Some companies will simply create replicas of their entire server farm but in most cases this would incur unnecessary costs.
Locate a suitable Data Centre
Once you know the level of data storage required you can locate a suitable Data Centre to host your redundant site. The redundant site should be as far as possible from your live Data Centre. This helps to mitigate loss and downtime in the event of natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Virtual Servers (VM)
Once your redundant site is active, your IT department can create replica virtual servers (VMs) of your live servers. These should synchronize with your live servers as often as network bandwidth allows. These synchronizations should only include changes to server configurations as the backups will take care of the bulk of your data.
Telin HK, a subsidiary of PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), offers off-site redundant data site services.
Telin HK can provide SMB’s with high-quality redundant network services to ensure your company remains online 24/7 without interruption. For more information, click here to find out how Telin HK can help ensure that your business maintains 99.99% uptime and never loses connections, or customers, again.