Deep Dive: Geo-Redundancy
Learn about what geo-redundancy is, how it works, and how to accomplish geo-redundancy with Filebase.
Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are vital parts of every company’s infrastructure. When disaster strikes or data goes offline unplanned, every second that the system is inaccessible is lost money. Minimizing this downtime is the goal of every disaster recovery plan. Most business continuity plans ensure that redundant infrastructure is in place for failover and that critical data is backed up frequently to prevent as much data loss as possible.
One solution that helps minimize downtime and prevent the loss of critical data is a geo-redundant solution. In this deep dive, we’ll discuss what geo-redundancy is, how it works, and how you can implement geo-redundancy into your business continuity or disaster recovery plan.
The term ‘Geo-redundancy’ refers to the practice of distributing infrastructures and their associated components, such as servers or devices, across a variety of geographically diverse locations.
With a geo-redundant infrastructure, your system and its data can failover to another geographic location with minimal impact to your business.
Failover, in regards to computing, refers to the ability for an infrastructure to automatically switch over to utilizing a redundant or stand-by system when the primary system goes offline due to a network or hardware interruption. Failover allows for business continuity while the primary system is being brought back online.
Failover is also used for things other than disaster recovery, such as for scheduled system maintenance or system upgrades. This is referred to as planned failover. Failover that is a result of a system outage or malfunction is referred to as unplanned failover.
High availability refers to having all resources within your infrastructure available at all times regardless of failure, outage, or malfunction. Environments with high availability utilize large numbers of resources, such as multiple servers or network components, to ensure the availability of the supported workflows and applications. These resources are all part of the primary system and do not include additional resources that are part of a secondary, or failover, system. High availability systems are considered to be primary systems that are always online and always available.
Redundancy on the other hand, refers to the ability for extra resources to be ready at a moment's notice to assume the role of the primary system, should the primary system fail. Redundant infrastructures may require recovering from a recent system backup or powering on a replica server to take over. Therefore, redundancy does not equal high availability.
Backups of data are exact copies of the data so that data can be restored should data be lost or damaged. Redundancy, while important to utilize with data storage and data backups, is not limited to data restoration or reliability.
Redundancy can be applied to applications, security, network infrastructure, power, and any other technology that works within an infrastructure to provide reliability and failover.
Redundancy itself does not include data backups. For example, if data is deleted from an infrastructure that utilizes network redundancy, it may not be possible to recover the data if the data is not utilizing redundancy itself.
Geo-redundancy is an additional layer of protection against region-wide outages and hardware malfunctions and failures. Having frequent data backups and redundant on-site servers and systems is important, but should something happen to an entire site with no secondary system at a different location, the on-site redundant measures could be futile.
Geo-redundancy acts as a safety net for your primary infrastructure. Should something happen to the infrastructure, whether it be hardware, software, or network connection related, having a geo-redundant failover solution allows for failover with limited downtime or interruptions to your applications and workloads.
Outages and disasters can happen at any time and are impossible to predict or avoid entirely. Natural disasters, power outages, or hardware failure can all cause disastrous interruptions and lead to significant downtime if geo-redundant systems aren’t in place to fail over to. By utilizing geo-redundancy, systems in one region can be affected by a widespread disaster, but a secondary system across the world can take over the workload and applications immediately.
Disaster recovery plans that utilize geographic redundancy help maintain business continuity. Systems and applications that require high availability often utilize geo-redundant infrastructures for seamless failover should something happen to the primary system.
Geo-redundancy works differently depending on the infrastructure or system that is intended to be geo-redundant. Most systems operate in the same general way, though they may have some minor differences and specifications unique to different systems.
Geo-redundant infrastructures include duplicates of a primary system or infrastructure, with identical copies of equipment and data across the primary and all secondary systems. Some infrastructures only utilize geo-redundant storage, meaning only their data is duplicated and stored across the globe.
Some geo-redundant infrastructures only have one secondary system, though many utilize multiple secondary systems for additional redundancy. Each secondary system is located in a geographically different region from the primary system.
By having multiple secondary systems in a variety of locations, infrastructures are more resilient and better protected than systems that don’t utilize geo-redundancy.
As mentioned above, one of the most frequently used forms of geographic redundancy is geo-redundant storage. Having multiple copies of critical data located across the globe is vital to business continuity. Data is one of the most vital assets of a company, so making sure it has high availability should be a top priority, which can be achieved with geo-redundant storage infrastructures.
Geo-redundant network infrastructure involves having secondary network devices and communication lines to ensure that should one link go down, a secondary link can be used and traffic can still continue to the application or workflow.
Geo-redundant power includes backup power supplies such as uninterruptible power supply devices or generators as alternative sources of power for servers and other equipment.
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