High Availability CDN
10 Sep 2019

Building Cost-Effective High-Availability with a CDN

High-Availability is vital for every organization competing in today’s online, interconnected world. As both business and society rely more on technology every day, the services they use are crucial to operations, collaboration, and productivity. With everything from communication to entertainment disrupted by digital transformation, every public-facing system needs to ensure it is online, all the time.

High-Availability is Vital for Online Sites and Services

The Internet has transformed the way we communicate, transact, and share information. The proliferation of online sites and services has permeated every aspect of our personal lives. From online banking and travel to music and video, everything we do utilizes the Internet in some way. At work, we leverage technology to achieve goals, share information with our peers and connect with our customers and suppliers. The failure of any of these vital systems affects our ability to operate.

Enterprises that leverage the Internet to provide services to their customers need to ensure their digital platforms are always online and available. If critical operational systems go offline unexpectedly, they lose the ability to operate and transact. In addition to the detrimental impact on productivity, downtime can also result in lost revenue and reputational harm. In the age of social media where people share their online experiences with their friends, colleagues, and peers, organizations cannot afford any public downtime publicity.

Eliminating Single Points of Failure

Careful planning and investment are vital when building high-availability architectures into online solutions. The only way to ensure high-availability for a particular system is to remove any single points of failure in its solution architecture. Achieving this goal requires enterprises to procure additional hardware and software. In addition to the required supplemental infrastructure, organizations also need to implement the appropriate processes and procedures to manage and maintain their redundant systems.

Redundancy is the key to high-availability. Having multiple instances of the appropriate solution stack that includes the underlying hardware infrastructure as well as the applicable software mitigates the risk of a single point of failure. For example, if an organization delivers its services via an online website, it needs to replicate the web server, database, and any other pertinent solution elements. Should its web server fail for whatever reason, the redundant infrastructure ensures the organization’s online service remains available.

Eliminate Environmental Risks with Geo-Redundancy

In addition to the infrastructure redundancy needed for high-availability, organizations must also take the appropriate measures to mitigate the risk of an entire environment failing. Housing all their redundant infrastructure in a single location is effectively another single point of failure. Should the site suffer an outage, whether it be network or power-related, both the primary and backup environments will not be able to service the business and their customers. Mitigating this environmental risk requires a geo-redundancy approach to high-availability. Replicating your production environment in multiple locations across the globe reduces this threat to your system uptime.

The Indirect Benefits of High-Availability

Over and above the downtime risk mitigation high-availability offers organizations, there are also other benefits enterprises can leverage when they invest in this solution architecture. These include simplified maintenance, increased flexibility, and improved resilience.

Simplified Maintenance

Maintaining systems is an essential part of good operational practice. Hardware and software need to be patched and upgraded regularly to mitigate security vulnerabilities and unlock new features. Performing this maintenance requires some form of downtime. Even though it is planned, your systems will be offline during this period if you do not have a high-availability architecture in place. By having redundancy built into your platform, you can perform maintenance while keeping services online.

Increased Flexibility

Online sites and services need to be dynamic. As demand for services increases or business models change, they need to be able to adapt rapidly and efficiently. If your site is experiencing increasing demand, taking it offline to implement changes or perform emergency maintenance may not be an option. High-Availability gives organizations the increased flexibility they need to respond to market forces. It allows them to keep their systems online while they adapt their platform to meet the changing demand from their target audience.

Improved Resilience

Disaster Recovery (DR) is an essential component in any system architecture’s operating model. Every service needs a mechanism that allows it to recover its platform should an unplanned incident result in it going down unexpectedly. However, successfully recovering from a DR event can take hours to accomplish. In most cases, DR solutions only ensure the protection of the data and not the uptime of the service. High-Availability gives an organization the resilience they need by ensuring systems remain online in the event of a DR incident. The redundancy built into high-availability architectures mitigates the risk of a single point of failure. It also gives organizations the flexibility to remedy the faulty component while continuing to service their online customers.

High-Availability Solutions Can Be Costly

While there are many benefits to building high-availability architectures, replicating multiple components across various geographic locations can be costly. In addition to the direct hardware and software costs involved with running numerous replicated environments, the indirect expenses related to managing and maintaining these locations also add to the toll. This level of expenditure is out of the reach for most smaller organizations. As a result, they often forego the benefits of high-availability to their detriment. In larger organizations that have access to the needed resources, configuring redundant systems is an option. However, it is not always the most cost-effective or efficient method to achieve the required result.

Cost-Effective High-Availability with a CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) gives organizations and individuals the option to build resilience into their online sites and services with high-availability. As a CDN replicates static content such as text, images, audio, and video across a global network, it offers you a cost-effective way to maximize the uptime of your public-facing services. In the event your origin server suffers an unplanned incident that degrades its availability, visitors that consume your services will still be able to access them. As an optimized CDN load balances Internet traffic and leverages technology for intelligent failover, it also offers customers a solution that circumvents network congestion and potential service disruption.

Staying online is vital to the success of any business operating in today’s digital economy. However, building redundancy into your infrastructure platform is an expensive undertaking. Leveraging a CDN for high-availability allows you to consume resilience as a service. Instead of investing in more hardware and software, you can host your static assets on a CDN at a lower cost. In addition to these direct financial benefits, you also get a managed service as the CDN is responsible for maintaining high-availability. By taking advantage of a CDN, you not only mitigate the risk of downtime but also unlock financial resources you can utilize to grow your services.

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