Thought Leadership

What are High Availability Servers?

April 5, 2021
May 14, 2021
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The ideal situation for data centers is to ensure they are functional at all times. However, that is not the case for most businesses that rely on standard web server availability. 

Server availability is an important consideration to make when planning your IT system. Research shows that the industry average cost of network downtime is around $5,600 per minute or over $300,000 per hour.

Of course, smaller businesses won’t incur costs of this magnitude, but there will be costs all the same. Companies with multiple servers must understand the limitations of their IT systems and how better web server architecture can help protect their enterprises.

When it comes to making decisions about improving servers, high availability (HA) architecture is the safest and most reliable path forward.

There are several ways that businesses can avoid the costs of downtime. 

For example, careful planning of system maintenance schedules ensures that users won’t be unduly affected. 

However, you cannot always account for or predict downtime. What happens when unexpected issues such as power outages or natural disasters take systems offline?

In these cases, having high availability web servers can be the ideal solution. 

“High availability” describes the server’s ability to remain continuously functional, even when issues occur. 

Generally speaking, high availability servers use built-in redundancies and virtualization configurations to create a system that stays online, no matter what issues may occur.

Should an incident occur, a high availability server automatically shifts workloads and configurations away from the affected nodes. 

Examples of potential incidents include:

  • Power surges
  • Technology failures
  • Natural disasters
  • Security breaches

Essentially, these systems take over when issues occur to ensure that end-user functions are not interrupted.

The defining feature of highly available systems is the ability to maintain this availability at all times. 

To fully understand the functions and benefits of high availability web servers, we must first review the concept of system availability in general.

What is System Availability?

System availability is an operational metric that determines the probability of a computer system being active and functional. 

A system is “available” if:

  1. It functions as intended during scheduled operations;
  2. It works at a rate capable of producing desirable outcomes under optimal conditions; 
  3. It does not experience any maintenance or unexpected repairs.

When a server meets these criteria, it is “available” to perform its functions.

How Servers With High Availability are Different

High availability servers help maintain uptime, and a single server usually isn’t enough to do the job. 

High availability clusters (otherwise known as an HA cluster) remedy this issue with failover processing. They eliminate single points of failure, guaranteeing that component failure won’t affect the entire system. These are essential features for business servers running mission-critical functions.

An HA system also has reliable crossover features to transfer functions from the failed system or node to the redundant system. This crossover ability ensures that any necessary workloads move to active system components during the incident.

HA servers also have redundant crossover features to ensure that this essential safeguard doesn’t fail to activate. Most importantly, HA systems must have real-time detection features to identify system failures. 

Manual management is not the best approach for high availability systems. Continuous operations must include automated features that detect issues the instant they occur to respond accordingly.

Built-in redundancies are a critical part of this high availability architecture. Typically, high availability systems will need redundancies across the following areas:

  • Hardware or software
  • Data centers
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data storage
  • Power

Again, this relates to avoiding any single point of system failure and creating architecture that can stay up and running at all times. 

The unique architecture makes it possible and offers significant benefits to companies that can’t afford downtime.

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The Benefits of High Availability Servers

Servers high availability continuous


High availability servers are reliable and able to operate continuously without human intervention. 

They allow businesses to maintain their operations with built-in redundancies while avoiding issues with a single point of failure. 

High availability web hosting is ideal for network applications where uptime is a must, such as healthcare functions. 

Of course, any business network can benefit from a reliable high available server, particularly those who rely on their websites to generate revenue.

While it might seem like an excessive failsafe system for small businesses, few companies are immune to downtime risks.

In one survey of shared web hosting providers, websites spend an average of three hours offline per month due to web hosting downtime. As noted above, even an hour of downtime can incur costs for a business.

Servers with high availability and continuous functionality protect businesses from the unexpected, helping them mitigate risk and control IT costs simultaneously.

What a High Availability System Needs

High availability systems require physically secure data centers, usually hosted through Tier 3+ or Tier 4 centers.

They also need high availability hardware with HA clusters that include multiple nodes that add capacity as needed. 

A crucial component of this is virtualization through virtual machines that deploy a specific operating system (such as Windows or Linux) across the clusters.

Another essential part of this process is achieving high availability storage by leveraging automatic replication. In this process, data points get stored in multiple disks at once. 

This strategy distributes storage in real-time and can proactively identify data loss as a result of a failure.

Upon identifying a failure, the replicated storage notes how many copies of the lost data points find available space on the other disks in the cluster and automatically copies the data to ensure viability. 

This aspect is essential to data recovery plans, as it protects data from getting lost in the first place. 

Identify Your Network’s Most Significant Risks

High availability systems are among the best ways to manage fault tolerance across your organization and ensure applications running function as intended.

This type of system used to be prohibitively expensive for many businesses as they require complex data center configurations and specific hardware to set up. 

But these days, companies can find service providers who offer cloud-based high availability hosting at a fraction of the cost of in-house builds.

For most companies, this approach is the easiest way to achieve high availability infrastructure. However, not just any solution will do the job. 

Partner With a Leading Data Center Expert

Companies need an experienced integrator who can help establish the necessary controls in their infrastructure and train employees on system usage. That’s where Quadbridge comes in.

For over 13 years, Quadbridge has worked to become a trusted entity in IT solutions, earning a spot on Canada’s Growth 500 list four years running. 

We’re a solutions-focused integrator driven by our customer relationships. If you need help assessing or reviewing your IT infrastructure for issues, we’re here to help.

Contact us today to learn more about what Quadbridge brings to businesses like yours.

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