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Planning for High Availability and Site Resilience : It’s How Professionals Do It

Planning for High Availability and Site Resilience : It’s How Professionals Do It

Planning for High Availability and Site Resilience

On 23rd May the digital world got swapped with the news of eBay’s data breach which estimated to affect nearly 145 million users. Consider a situation where the site would have faced a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service attack), it’d have been a huge loss to the site as to the various sellers there. We have many examples from the recent past where the entire operation had to be taken down due to such attacks/attempts/outages.

Such situations indeed run chills through the spines for businesses having a high volume of traffic for their websites. But, what if I say that there are ways to avoid downtime to your website….. Yes, that’s how professionals prepare themselves for the adverse conditions.

In this article, we are going to take a look at how we can organize ourselves and ensure maximum availability of our website(s) – even during odd conditions.

Most SMBs do have a plan in place, but in situations such as an outage or an attack, plus not-having a data center which is redundant and capable of handling pressure to a good degree, can often prove fatal. 100% avoidance of outages if next to impossible due to various reasons, though appropriate strategies, careful selection of technology and vendors can help decreasing the impact of an unexpected situation and help restore service with the minimal downtime.

In situations where a business is competing in a tight niche, ensuring each aspect of business closely becomes a must. Determining the critical online operations and getting them into hierarchy is how professionals do. They have every calculation in place, they know just how much a certain period of downtime may impact their business. If you’ve introspected it already, good, if not, it’s time you start thinking on those lines. Professionals, irrespective of the situation, would ensure they communicate a situation with its customers.

And, a simplest yet effective ways is by having a static page across affected sections of the site, which guides its users telling them what to do. While amateurs would usually let the error pages be displayed, making the users hang-up in mid-air not knowing what’s happened and what’s needed to be done next.

So, what would be an effective strategy of dealing with adverse situations?

Preparing to dealing with Web outages
Running through the checklist when things are going fine.

Let’s consider you have a website that runs a blog, basically to build a contact list or something of that sort. Then it probably won’t be called a disaster if the site goes unresponsive and unavailable for a couple of hours. But, if it’s a site that runs a business wherein you accept transactions – that’s something really serious. Every minute of downtime would be loss of business in terms of revenue/customers/bad branding. Getting such a site back online is irrespective of how much you’d need to spend to get things back on track.Following are a few simple strategies that surely are easily achievable when things are going smooth, you reap what you sow after all :

1. Backups.

This is one of the things that professionals take very seriously. They understand the importance of having regular backups of their systems. Your hosting partner would usually backup your data at an offsite location. This helps them ensure that in adverse conditions, this data is quickly restored and your system could be brought back online with minimum downtime.

Despite that, you can add another layer to it by also securing a fresh copy of your system onto your local machines. This further helps with reducing the risk of data loss. In situations of an outage/attack etc. using a simple FTP service to upload this backup can save you precious time.

You can opt for our highly trusted R1Soft CDP3.0 backup service for that reason and ensure that your data is kept safe at offsite locations – away from attacks.

2. Choice of a Hosting Partner.

 Do not be fooled by commonly used terms like ‘100% uptime guarantee’, that next to impossible unless you have a complex infrastructure set-up for your website. Choose a hosting partner who doesn’t misdirect you by using these nice to hear words. Instead, choose a partner who work closely with you and has a clear strategy of their own to handle adverse situations.

Hosting platform also determines performance, if it’s a shared infrastructure, your business website would be hosted alongside number of other sites – big and small, the higher package you choose the lesser the number of sites using the same infrastructure.

If you have a website that asks and stores crucial customer data – shared hosting ideally shouldn’t be the platform you must choose. Instead opt for a little more secure platform such as a VPS or Cloud infrastructure. If you have the budget, there’s no better choice that hosting a website over a dedicated hosting server, there’d be no-one using your infrastructure, hence supposed to be more secure. AND because you are the only one using it, you can have customized security settings depending upon the needs of your website.

Though, that’d only cover the security of your site, but for availability there are further choices – such as load balancing, server mirroring, CDN (if your customers are scattered globally). That indeed involves some extra bucks too.

3. Website Monitoring. 

You are equally responsible for the smooth functioning of your business website as the hosting partner is, hence don’t sit-back and relax thinking that you’ve left everything to your host. Professionals would usually set-up a monitoring service for their website to ensure the availability of their site. You’d find a lot of tools online that can help you with it, out of which one of the widely used is pingdom.

Though don’t be misunderstood thinking you’d have to keep monitoring the tool manually, infact, once you configure your site, it’d only send you an alert via. email if it isn’t able to reach entire/part(s) of your website.

4. The Mayday.

Now, after you’ve followed the above points well, you don’t really have to worry about any outage or an unresponsive website too much. Unfortunately if you do encounter the mayday, don’t worry, just follow this checklist:

Contact your host and inform them about the situation and try to seek information about what’s the matter.

Inform your customers about the situation and approximate time it’d take to recover

Keep your fresh copy of back-up ready, just in case your host has a slightly older copy, restoring your system from this should help.

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