Site/App Performance

Are Hardware Failures a Thing of the Past?

If you’ve managed online applications or websites for any length of time, you’ve almost certainly dealt with hardware failures. VPS technology mitigates some of the more common types of failures, and Cloud has mitigated others. But the fact remains, hardware failures — failures of the machines housing and crunching your data — can still happen at any time.

There are many hardware and software solutions to limit the damage from hardware failures: RAID arrays, hot-swappable drives, dual power supplies, multi-core computers, and multi-stick RAM all work to introduce redundancy into the hardware; while backup solutions, load balancing and CDNs introduce redundancy into the data.

Most hosted content, however — whether it’s hosted on a dedicated server, VPS server or “in the Cloud” — still exists on one single physical computer. So if there is a catastrophic failure of that computer, your site goes away until the data can be recovered and rewritten to the drives on a new computer.

SANs (Storage Area Networks) remove the data storage function from the host machine and give it to remote servers with big drive arrays. Divorcing the storage from the “brains” (CPU and RAM) of the server takes away half of this problem. If a host server crashes and is out of commission and the data is stored remotely on another server as part of a SAN, the SAN can simply point the data to a new host machine and remount the application.

But what if the server housing the data in the SAN dies? Then it’s time to start recovering data from backups and we’re back into downtime.

ServInt has teamed up with SolidFire to finally fix this problem. We do this in two ways: one, our SolidFire VPS and dedicated servers take your data off your host machine and park it on a giant, all-SSD SAN, offering literally millions of input/output operations per second (IOPS). Two, the data on that SAN is not only duplicated — it’s also massively distributed across all the drives in the SAN. Furthermore, no single server is responsible for the reading and writing of the primary and duplicate sets of your data. The net result is that while hardware failures are not literally “eliminated,” in the rare event that they happen, the massive distribution of your data across potentially hundreds of SSD drives means that any data affected by a drive or server failure can be found and mounted again in a matter of seconds.

In later posts, we’ll examine how this technology impacts your need to keep private backups of your data. (Hint: it depends.) For now, know this: ServInt’s SolidFire-powered hosting platform offers real, true enterprise-grade QoS, at a price point even small businesses can afford — and only ServInt has it.

Photo by Hussein Abdallah.

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  1. RT @servint: Are you doing everything you can to prevent hardware failures from causing downtime? #SolidFire
    AlexPuldySF /
  2. Are you doing everything you can to prevent hardware failures from causing downtime? #SolidFire
  3. True hosting #QoS is never having to worry about hardware failures affecting your service. #SolidFire
  4. All hardware can fail. The question is not how to prevent failures, but how to ensure failures won't affect service.
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