Server Redundancy Can Only Go So Far

Brian St. Marie - Sr. Systems Engineer

As a rule, we only recommend servers with redundancy built in.  Typically, this means multiple hard drives, but can also include CPUS, fans, power supplies, network cards, and other components.  The benefit of this to customers is extremely high, as if a component fails, rather than having a server which is completely down, you simply have a single bad component while the rest of the server continues to function as normal.  This can turn a drastic company-wide outage into a mere inconvenience.

For the most part, this works very well.  However, there is a human element to redundancy which cannot be ignored.  If a redundant component fails, there is some kind of alert or notification generated, typically an amber or red LED on the server, an audible alarm, an email notification or some other way of indicating there is a serious hardware problem.

While Terminal offers this type of real-time 24/7 monitoring as part of our MSPlus (link) package, some customers choose to do their own hardware monitoring.  Unfortunately, this sometimes means a critical hardware failure occurs and the customer is unaware.  The server continues to run, albeit with failed components, and the customer is often completely unaware that there is anything wrong.  It isn't until the second redundant component fails and the server goes down entirely that they realize there is a serious problem.  Of course, this completely defeats the purpose of redundant components in the first place, which is why constant monitoring of all server equipment is critical.  In most cases, having more than one component fail at the same time simply means the server is down.  In the worst case, if one hard drive fails and isn't noticed, and later a second hard drive fails, the server will likely suffer from massive data loss; not a situation any company every wants to be in.

If you're concerned about how well your servers are being monitored for both hardware failures and software errors, Contact Us today and ask about our MSPlus 24/7 monitoring program.