Thursday, September 04, 2014
A balanced approach prevents data centers from overspending on risk mitigation
Facebook suffered a major outage on Sept. 3, preventing millions of frustrated Facebook users from updating their photos and statuses, reports Data Center Knowledge. The outage lasted only 10 minutes, though this data center failure is Facebook's third in the past four months. A statement released by Facebook on Wednesday attributed the shutdown to an "infrastructure configuration change," and the outage occurred despite the social media giant's comprehensive, in-house redundancy fail safes. This incident suggests that no amount of redundancy makes a data center immune from failure, so companies must take a pragmatic approach towards data protection and recovery strategies.
There are several strategies that companies can implement to make their data center more resilient. One of the most widespread strategies is the N+1 approach, which refers to maintaining independent backup devices for critical components. Computer Weekly notes that many facilities also utilize RAID storage devices for temporary data recovery while compromised components are replaced.
These resiliency strategies are important, but aren't suited to deal with every risk scenario that threatens a data center. Even data centers that invest in N+1 redundancy for the entire system can be compromised by weather phenomena, like earthquakes or fires, and blackouts in the local community. In cases like these, off-site mirroring and implementation of remote console servers are necessary to sustain reliable redundancy.
Data Center Dynamics warns that 95 percent of data centers experience failures, and experts recommend that data centers prepare for at least one unexpected outage per year. Data center failures are a reality for every facility, from mid-sized colocation centers to industry giants like Facebook. IT professionals must then assess the risk of their own center, consider their budget and prioritize their redundancy strategy accordingly. Research from IBM reveals that the cost of redundancy strategies like N+1 jump significantly as companies add new layers of protection. However, adding extra contingencies produced diminishing returns when compared to the large investment required to back components across a full-sized data center.
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