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Ask an IT Guy: What is Failover? Blog Feature
Accent Computer Solutions

By: Accent Computer Solutions on May 19th, 2017

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Ask an IT Guy: What is Failover?

Business Planning | Ask An IT Guy

The saying goes “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  The same is true in any small business scenario. Life happens, and it always happens fast. Your system could be at the mercy of natural disaster, viruses, or even a fire. That’s where failover comes into play.

Imagine a whole system that could offer you uninterrupted, seamless work continuity in an emergency state. That’s what failover is all about.  

Jonathan Barger, CIO (Chief Information Officer) at Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. spoke to us about the role failovers play in business continuity and backup plans. 

What is Failover?

Failover is a recovery system that prevents you from losing valuable work hours in case something momentous happens to your server, building, software. etc. This is a backup plan, unlike your disaster recovery plan, because it deals with the immediate need to avoid downtime or displaced work hours.  

“A true failover copies all your server(s) in a data center somewhere. Your server(s) should be synchronized in real-time, or at least several times a day continuously to ensure that the sync is perfect or as close to perfect as possible. The failovers only function is to be your server(s) if your location goes down."

The best part about your local server and your failover site is that the two systems are set up to communicate with one another. 

"If you go offline, the failover will take over. Your system is designed to know where both of those are by default. So, at most, you should experience a blip of time lapse. If you are sending an email, it may hold on for just a second. But you should be back online with the failover system nearly in real-time.”

How to Pick the Best Failover Option for Your Business

When your company is considering a failover option, there are some key strategies. Just like in business, location is EVERYTHING.

The biggest thing to consider is geographical separation. If you are in a part of the country that has natural disasters -- most places have something. You want to be geographically far enough, that whatever disaster might hit your building won’t hit the failover housing location. Outside of location, the most important things are power and Internet. Any good data center will exceed your standards on both.”

Besides natural disasters, the same rules apply: power and Internet reign supreme.  When it comes to both, everyone wants bigger, faster, stronger – work with your IT Department to figure out what you currently have, if you have other options, or need changes to support your company in a failover situation.

Failover Tiers

Failover sites come in levels that vary in price. Think of it as Goldilocks and her porridge -- you must find the right temperature for your company’s needs. 

Cold Failover

“A cold failover is a synced server that is offline. If your server blows up, it takes some work to turn the cold failover on. Some things may need to be reconfigured, and then once it’s ready, pointing devices towards this server can take some time. Of course, this option is much cheaper, than other tiers.

Hot Failover

“The hot failover is ready on standby all the time and can take over any second. It can be configured a lot of ways, but in theory, you want it to be as seamless as possible for the end users. If your company’s location goes down; a hot failover should take over, and people shouldn’t notice. This tier is a pretty high and so is the cost.”

Picking the right tier comes down to what dollar amount makes the most sense for your company, pun intended.

Working with your IT department or managed IT service provider, consider your business’s needs right now and in the future. Weigh the cost of each option and the price you pay for business being down. Your IT provider is a wealth of knowledge. They can help in picking the best failover option for your company.

Questions about failover? We'd be happy to shed some light on the subject. Give us a call at (800) 481-4369 anytime.

Related: The Difference Between Data Backup, Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity

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About Accent Computer Solutions

Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. is a managed IT services, cyber security, and IT support provider, serving businesses with 30-500 employees throughout Southern California. The company is headquartered in Rancho Cucamonga, California, with IT professionals strategically located throughout San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties, as well as Arizona and Texas.

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