How a Server Failover Solution Works

A server failure solution is a technology that allows operational processes to switch between primary and secondary systems during downtime. Also, the solution can also automatically enable processes between system components, such as servers, processors, networks, or databases, whenever a failure or disruption occurs.

The primary objective of a server failure solution is to create a fault-tolerant system, where mission-critical systems or applications are always available, irrespective of the type or extent of the fault. In this article, we’ll look into the importance of a server failure solution, failover testing, differences between server failure and switchover, and how hardware and cloud web server solutions differ.

Having a High Availability Server Is Important

It’s impossible to rule out the possibility of downtime in any system completely in an always-on, connected world. However, you can implement solutions that minimize the risks of business interruptions through high availability (HA servers that facilitate maximum potential uptime.

Regardless of what caused the downtime, such an eventuality can affect the business adversely in terms of lost productivity and business opportunities. For enterprises, downtime costs can be staggering, with effects going far beyond lost revenue when servers are down. For example, according to a recent report by Logic Monitor:

However, avoiding downtime and its associated costs isn’t the only reason you need a high-availability server. Other reasons include:

Active-Active vs. Active-Standby Configurations with a Server Failover Solution

For server failover to work, you need to connect the servers in a way that a secondary system can sense issues with a primary server and take over when necessary. For example, the connection can involve the use of physical cables or load balancing techniques that leverage the internet’s architecture to monitor the status of the servers.

Active-active and active-standby are the two typical configurations for HA. While each design achieves failover differently, they both enhance reliability. Take a look at these two HA clustering configurations.

Active-Active Configuration

An active-active cluster consists of at least two servers that run the same kind of service simultaneously. The primary goal of such an active-active HA cluster is to achieve load balancing, which distributes workloads across all the servers to prevent any single node from getting overloaded.

When used, the active-active HA configuration can achieve a marked improvement in response times and throughput because it runs the load balancers at near full capacity. However, this can also be problematic because the servers’ performance would be degraded severely if the configuration fails.

Active-Standby Configuration

Like the active-active HA cluster configuration, an active-standby mode consists of at least two nodes. However, as the name suggests, not all the nodes are active. If there are two nodes within the cluster, one can be active while the other is in standby or passive mode. Here, the standby (failover) server serves as a backup system ready to take over the operation of the active (primary) server whenever the active server goes down.

Server Failover Solutions Allow for Failover Testing

Like any IT solution out there, a server failure solution should be tested thoroughly to ensure that it is bug free and is doing what it’s supposed to do. Failure testing is a process that validates the secondary system’s ability to continue the day-to-day operations whenever the primary server goes down.

Failure testing can determine if the secondary system can allocate additional resources when required or whether it can recognize that a need has arisen. For example, failover testing can determine the ability of a mission-critical application to manage and power an additional processor or multiple servers based on the recovery time objective (RTO) specified by the business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

Server Failover and Switchover Are Different

The terms “server failover” and “server switchover” are sometimes used interchangeably although they carry different meanings. In a server failover, shifting to the secondary occurs automatically. The failover operation activates the redundant server and turns it into a primary server, resulting in near-zero downtime.

Server switchover, on the other hand, requires human intervention and can be used in instances where there is scheduled maintenance or planned outage on the primary server. Like server failover, the switchover allows IT administrators to switch the roles of servers so that the redundant server becomes the primary server.

Server Failover Solution: Hardware vs. Cloud Web Server Failover

Most of the server failover solutions organizations used in the past were hardware based. These were essentially physical devices connected to the internet that allowed organizations to distribute workloads across multiple servers.

Hardware-based server failovers can route traffic between servers based on randomized algorithms like the round-robin algorithm or use other factors, such as the server’s processing power, available connections, and resource utilization. In principle, you can use any computer as a server failover solution, provided it has the necessary processing and storage requirements.

However, these solutions have become not only costly but also demanding from a setup and maintenance perspective. Cloud web server failovers are alternative solutions to hardware-based servers that leverage the cloud-based infrastructure offered by cloud hosting providers providers to deliver failover solutions. Compared to their hardware counterparts, cloud-based server failover solutions provide several advantages, such as:

Parallels RAS Offers a Secure Server Failover Solution

No business is immune from disaster. Even if the organization doesn’t experience natural disasters, it is highly likely to suffer from power outages, equipment failure, or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Under these environments, you need an effective disaster recovery and business continuity strategy with a secure server failover mechanism.

Parallels® RAS is an inclusive virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provider that organizations can leverage to achieve secure server failover solutions. As a turnkey VDI solution, Parallels RAS allows IT administrators to deploy and manage virtual applications and desktops from a centralized console while allowing employees to have secure access to such workloads from heterogeneous endpoints.

With Parallels RAS, organizations can manage their RTO and recovery point objectives (RPO) by leveraging a suite of monitoring tools ideal for use in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Its reporting engine enables real-time server monitoring, offering insights about devices, users, applications, and servers that IT administrators can leverage to adjust various parameters.

The product is also secure by design. It enables users to access their workloads securely via robust security features such as transport layer security (TLS), multi-factor authentication (MFA), smart card authentication, and more. Besides security, Parallels RAS also complies with various IT standards like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Most importantly, Parallels RAS offers high availability load balancing (HALB) features, eliminating the need for multiple gateway setups by dynamically shifting traffic across healthy servers and allocating inbound connections based on workload demands. Also, organizations can run multiple HALB appliances simultaneously to minimize downtime and guarantee that workloads are always available.

Try out Parallels RAS today and see how it offers a secure server failover solution!

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