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High availability servers, are they right for your business?

Computers are becoming more and more integral to human life. People use computers for just about everything – from meeting new people to shopping, banking and so on. Businesses rely on computers to process and store data. A server is a special type of computer that responds to requests from other computers in a network. It receives information from computers, processes it and then replies back to it.

When you access the internet, you are basically requesting a server to grant access to a certain website. Think of a server are an enormous machine that pumps data through a large computer network. Just as a heart pumps blood to various parts of the body; similarly, a server acts as the heart of a network.

When a server becomes overloaded with requests for information, it goes 'down’ and the entire network crashes. You’ve probably experienced this at some point or at least heard about it. It is not uncommon for a website to experience a sudden, massive surge of traffic. When this happens, the website becomes unresponsive or loads very slowly. This is bad for business. People get frustrated and move on to competitors’ websites.

Information is critical to any type of business. Imagine any type of business – be it banking, insurance, manufacturing, hospitality, food, e-commerce stores etc. All of them store important information digitally. This information should be made readily available whenever required.

Without it, the businesses cannot function. For example: A simple departmental store has a special sort of beeping machine that reads the price tag and then updates inventory. If this machine is not able to access information quickly and efficiently, the entire operation shuts down. People get irritated with such issues and go to other stores. This is precisely why a high availability server is crucial for a thriving business!

A high availability server is configured to deliver optimal performance even under high pressure.

How exactly is availability measured?

In computing, availability refers to the time period when a server is available to process data requests. It also refers to the time taken by the server to respond to a request. In simple terms, a server’s availability is a measure of its quality and capability. This type of server can process multiple requests from multiple clients and that too within a very short period of time.

From a mathematical perspective, availability is the percentage of time when a server is available or able to take requests, in a given frame of time. Ideally, a server should have an availability of 99.999. This magic number is called 'five nines’ by techies. However, this is just a hypothetical number and such performance is very hard to achieve in the real world.

Why is a high availability server important for business?

There will be times when your servers will be affected due to an abrupt increase in requests. This can lead to a power outage or worse, it can cripple the entire network. Sometimes, these situations are unavoidable. However, instead of praying and hoping that this does not happen to you, you should take measures to avoid it all costs. High availability servers can help to minimize risks and ensure smooth and fast operations at all times.

Let’s examine the concept of downtime.

The time for which the server remains unavailable is known as downtime. There are two types of downtimes – scheduled and unscheduled.

Unscheduled downtimes occur due to some kind of negative event – such as hardware or software malfunction. This can totally disrupt operations and lead to financial damages. Scheduled downtime is usually for maintenance purposes – such as carrying out software updates or making changes to the physical components. Maintenance is unavoidable and companies plan their schedule after carefully studying the times when the number of requests is already very low. They also inform other computers on the network that the server will be down due to maintenance. This gives users the chance to plan their tasks accordingly.

In 2013, Amazon’s website became unresponsive for only 40 minutes (mobile site was also down). However, it caused the company over FIVE million dollars in losses! Amazon lost more than 66,000 dollars per minute – and that was way back in 2013. Losing over five million dollars in 40 minutes is a giant setback, even for a behemoth like Amazon.

Since, then the company has expanded to more countries and achieved exponential growth. If Amazon crashes today, the losses will be far greater. Amazon employs thousands of high skilled workers who work day and night to ensure that everything is in order. They were able to rectify the matter within minutes. Smaller businesses do not have such a work-force. They simply do not possess the gravitas to tackle such emergencies. Which is why they must be doubly diligent about the availability of their servers!

Are high availability servers right for YOUR business?

This largely depends upon the nature of your business and how you store and process data. If your business is a part-time venture and it’s really more of a hobby than a business. For example: Making and selling cup-cakes in your free time. Such businesses do not need a this type of server. However, any business that is serious about growth and aspires to stay relevant and competitive can benefit immensely from having one (or more).

It’s important to remember that HA servers do come at an extra cost. However, if you’re going to invest in data processing and storage, then you might as well do it the right way. Information technology progresses very rapidly and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Server failures can cause loss of data and this can mean 'game over’ for certain applications and businesses. Needless to say, a high speed server setup is very much worth the extra money for some businesses.

So are they right for you?  In order to determine whether they are the right fit for you, calculate how much loss will you incur if your servers become unresponsive for a certain. Now compare this cost with the cost of upgrading to a high availability system. The results will speak for themselves.

If you want more in-depth information regarding this subject, then give us a call or send us an email and find out why so many choose us over our competition!