How To Implement And Maintain Data Center Environment With High-Availability

If you are a System or Server Administrator, High-Availability or Business Continuity is the word you constantly hear from the management.

In this article, we will learn how we can implement and maintain server room or data center environment with the standard practice of high-availability.

One of the most standard questions coming to our mind when we talk about High-Availability is what this High-Availability is? What is the percentage need to achieve that?

The word itself conveys you the answer that system or application needs to be available for all users and stakeholders at all time. But in the practical scenario, it is hard to maintain 100% uptime for many applications or servers at some points. That’s the reason SLA comes to the picture for hosting or co-location service providers. This means all the systems need to be thoroughly tested and carefully maintain with redundant components to ensure continued operations.

Availability % with downtime calculation

 

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability
Credit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_availability

Let’s look for the major challenges System/Server administrator face in Server Room or Datacenter which can interrupt the operations or service.

  • Power Outage
  • Equipment Failure
  • Human Interaction/Error
  • Natural Disaster (Fire, Flood etc.)
As a System/Server Administrator, it is your duty to come up with the plan and process to provide continued operations in all scenarios. When we talk about business continuity planning, it also comes with the price tag and some time it is uneasy for IT personnel to arrange the required budget to implement all scenarios in Server Room. But they can still implement such scenario in Phase manner to achieve the desired uptime.

To achieve High-Availability in Server Room or Datacenter follows the lifecycle of IT Infrastructure Management.

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability

Four Major system components which can help achieve high-Availability or Business Continuity.

  1. Reliable or Redundant systems and components 
  2. Backup and Recovery Implementation with Disaster Recovery Solutions.
  3. Define process management like Automation, Access right management, and change management.
  4. Advance monitoring and detection system.
Reliable or Redundant Systems and components

 

As we speak about IT infrastructure many factors come in the picture. Most of them are physical components like Power, Network Connectivity, Servers, cooling systems, Fire Protections, moisture detections. Redundant system implementation helps you prevent a single point of failure. 

Power

Reliable power source with generators and advanced UPS backup systems for load balancing. This helps you to maintain uptime even power failure at a source and also help save production data in critical time.

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability 

Network Connectivity

Best practice Two Different providers if not Available then one provider with two different physical connectivity till your end. To avoid connectivity problems like cable damage due to weather or some accident events.

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability

Servers

Carefully maintained servers and following service lifecycle for upgrade and replacement. This process helps to maintain system configuration at its best and help prevent physical failure of servers.

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability

Cooling System

one of the critical challenges for the infrastructure person to maintain Cooling as per best practice as Server Room or Data Center temperature perform a critical role in the performance of servers. To prevent such scenarios considers discussing the same with cooling industry expert for size and load requirement with your current load, number, size of the server in your server room or Datacenter.

 

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability

 

Fire Protection

it is as critical as cooling systems as we all know Computer system, Servers generate lots of heat in case of cooling system failure at some point you require this system to avoid catastrophic data loss event. If you are working in Manufacturing or Production Company you might already have Fire and safety professional working. You can ask help from experts when implementing Fire detection and protection system. Or you can hire outsource the firm which provides such solutions.

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability


Implementing such a system for 100 % redundancies comes with a cost. So effective planning help reduce cost, as well as help, maintain High-Availability.
 
Backup and Recovery Implementation with Disaster Recovery Solutions

How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability

Backup and recovery planning and implementation remain the key point to support the high-availability event if any failure occurs. For example, in case of a power outage, if you have, power generation system in place it helps to maintain your usage. Same way advance and smart UPS also help maintain load and power usage so in case of emergency or power failure it helps to prevent major data loss.

Backup solutions for systems and software carry out a leading role here. This helps in the event of data or system failure or accidental human interactions with production systems. If you maintain Backup policy and restore process in place, it helps to restore data at its previous stage. This helps the recovery of data at major data loss event for many critical business applications.

You can use any of enterprise backup solutions to backup system configuration and production data like Symantec net backup, Veritas or IBM Tivoli. If you are working with small or medium industry and cost or budget is an issue. You can always use Veeam Free backup solutions. Which help you to take windows system and server backup to USB or Shared network drive.

Disaster and Recovery Solutions: Disaster and Recovery planning required input from corporate management as well because of the cost and operations factor. Implementation cost will vary with the type of disaster and recovery with availability scenario. You can always use an in-house backup off-loading system to near site storage and by putting replication server to near or far operational site as a recovery plan.

Process Management

One of the critical scenarios in Server and Datacenter Management is Process. This helps define 5 W’s of Datacenter Management what who why when where. So to define this process, you need implementing Access Management and Change Management.

Access management covers Access and Rights for the stakeholder or developer to physical as well as system access rights. Change Management help to identify the root cause for error in time of failure events.

Automation will help a completing task faster and safer as it minimizes human interaction in defining the process. As in IT, there are tons of examples where due to human error production data or file server data got deleted. This might help to avoid such incidents.

Advance monitoring and detection system
 
How to Implement and Maintain Data center Environment with High-Availability

Advance Monitoring system help to prevent major system failure by giving alert in many ways. A monitoring system for power, network, system, temperature, humidity, smoke/fire detection will alert in before a time that helps to control failure event. Smart and advanced UPS and PDU come with smart monitoring tools. If any power failure or overload occurs, the system will notify the support person by email or text. Datacenter management tools can be integrated with temperature and humidity control sensors which detect any issue and report it to the system manager.

For system and network monitoring, many applications and tools are available in the market. System/Server Administrator can define the monitoring threshold for notification like Storage drive or Memory utilization. Many enterprise software and Open source available in the market to support monitoring systems. Few examples Microsoft SCCM, Wireshark, PRTG are paid software system admin can use. Nagios, Cacti is one of the best open source tools available in market system admin can use.

To maintain desired uptime placing the best equipment available in the market can’t guarantee High-Availability. To achieve High-Availability in the server room or data center requires redundant designs, right configuration of backup and disaster recovery solutions, process management and advanced monitoring systems.

In this article, we included the points System /Server Administrator has to consider while implementing or maintaining Server Room or Datacenter.

Hope this will help to discover critical factors of data center infrastructure.

Thank you for reading.