Entrepreneurs are increasingly dependent on using online tools and platforms to run their businesses. From a B2C perspective, setting up shop online plays to the current consumers trends. A report conducted by Business Insider Intelligence shows the importance of e-commerce in improving sales performance.
The same goes for using enterprise tools to mange operations and internal communications. Instead of conducting face-to-face meetings, teams can communicate through email, project management tools, collaboration apps, and VoIP, to name a few. These can help speed up the collaboration process and get more things done in a more efficient manner.
Our reliance on online tools underscore the importance of being available at all times. Any hiccup, slowdown or bottleneck in any of your connected platforms can result in reduced productivity, lost sales and even a loss of trust in your brand.
High availability simplified
Ensuring business continuity in a connected environment will require high availability. This refers to the operational duration of any system. A 100% uptime means your infrastructure never experiences any unexpected outage. As this is virtually impossible, reputable service providers aim for at least 99.999% uptime, which translates to only five minutes of downtime in any given year.
From the perspective of a connected business, this approach ensures the optimized performance of a website or enterprise platform. It detects points of failure that can potentially cause the downtime and mitigates failure by distributing the load and traffic across the infrastructure. In the event of failure, a high availability infrastructure will have failover and recovery mechanisms. Even if one node or virtualized server is experiencing problems, users should still be able to access the service.
Potential causes of downtime include (but are not limited to):
- Failure to check components and hardware;
- Failure in operations;
- Failure of internal applications.
Downtime can also come as a result of external factors, such as traffic spikes, malicious traffic-based attacks, and the like. Lack of proper website monitoring can lead to unexpected downtime. This result to lost revenue and wasted resources.
Imagine if your e-commerce site experiences downtime during the holidays. Aside from loss of potential sales, customers might not trust your brand or business in future. Similarly, a business using an enterprise platform to manage its resources will compromise the integrity of internal communications. Unavailability of them collaboration tools can lead to reduced productivity for employees. All these results to monetary cost or unwanted damages.
Choosing the best possible high availability service for your site is important, and you will need to ensure you have the capability to match the service-level agreement you pass on to customers. For the most part, customers expect always-on availability, which means you need to ensure the highest possible uptime.
Failovers and redundancies
A good highly-available platform will also include failovers and redundancies. Redundancies are the extra components available in case one of your components break down. These will replace the broken components and ensures the possibility of high availability.
Failovers are the plan B when your main server goes down. It brings up a replicated, standby, version of your site so users can still access the content. Both are integral in making high availability possible for your site. “Availability is the house you’re building, redundancy and failover are the tools you use to build the house,” says Brian Heder at Network World.
This concept refers to the distribution of infrastructure to help mitigate downtime. Cheap datacenter hosting will not accommodate a surge of users or other factors that can put a heavy strain on the servers. Overload in the servers will cause an online service to go down.
What load balancing does is distribute traffic requests across different servers. This ensures traffic is fulfilled by the most available server at any given time, ensuring reliability and likewise improved performance.
Cloud platforms are perhaps the most cost-efficient solution in bringing about high availability, compared to on-premises infrastructure because your business does not have to invest in the capital expenditure required to purchase, run and maintain hardware.
Running your compute, storage and database requirements on the cloud is ideal if you prefer a scalable solution that does not require a hefty initial investment. You can run your enterprise or web platform from the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud and realize significant benefits.
Another technology that aids in high availability a content delivery network (CDN). The distance between the hosting service and user has an effect in the loading speed of a website or other online service. This is particularly useful when serving static content such as images, multimedia and the like. A CDN will point the request to the data center near the user’s current location, reducing the time spent for packets to travel through the Internet.
These tools and services are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to running a fail-proof website. However, as part of your high availability strategy, platforms that optimize your network operations will ensure the best delivery of service to users and customers regardless of any contingency.
Photo credit: Michael Schwarzenberger