Disaster Recovery

High Availability vs. Disaster Recovery and Where They Fit into Business Continuity Planning

In the wake of massive outages caused by such incidents as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, an organization can’t afford to falter in continuity planning. You may frequently hear the terms disaster recovery (DR) and high availability (HA) used interchangeably. On the surface, HA and DR might seem like interchangeable terms. However, there are distinctions between the two.

In many cases, you will need them both in place to ensure business continuity. If you think your organization is ready for a disaster because you perform daily backups, or that you do not need to back up as you have highly redundant servers or storage solutions in place, think again!

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is a sub-discipline of business continuity. It comprises the Information Technology processes and architecture to recover certain applications and/or technology and allows them to continue running in a location other than your main processing center.

What is High Availability?

In the world of computing, availability refers to the time required by a system to respond to clients’ requests and the period of time when a service is available. High availability means that your equipment and service can maintain a high level of operational performance for that stipulated duration. Availability is typically expressed as a percentage, e.g. 100% means that the system never fails, 99% means that there may be 1% (3.65 days) of downtime in a period of one year, etc.

High Availability vs. Disaster Recovery

So, what are the key differences between the two concepts? We’ve broken them down into four easy to digest points:

  • DR includes the processes and people necessary to execute recovery procedures while HA focuses on technology implementation and design.
  • HA usually accounts for a single predictable failure, e.g. failure of a power supply, memory, or a processor. DR addresses multiple data center failures.
  • One of the functions of DR is to aid in the re-establishment of services after an incident and prevent a complete fail-over.
  • DR doesn’t just rely on redundancy at the data center or system level. It also includes the use of geographic diversity, i.e. an alternate site.

Oftentimes, DR can and will include HA in the technology design. This type of configuration comprises having backup systems in the recovery data center and implementing highly available clustered servers in a production data center. With data from the production servers replicated or backed up to the recovery data center, your systems will be protected from potential component failures.

How do HA and DR Fit into Business Continuity Planning?

Business continuity is understood as the discipline and practice of returning business processes to full execution after a temporary disruption of service. This includes returning facilities, technology, and people to service levels that the business requires for optimal performance.

So, what can HA do for you in times of catastrophic failure? HA can help your systems continue functioning via the assurance of power reliability, cooling systems, proactive monitoring, and multi-layered security.

As for DR, you can think of it as not putting all your eggs in one basket. Agile understands that concept and that’s why we provide DR services from multiple primary locations, including Phoenix, AZ; Allentown, PA; Silver Spring, MD; and Princeton, NJ all while also leveraging our highly reliable and secure private digital network (PDN).

If your goal is achieving an optimized IT environment that ensures business continuity, you need a highly effective managed services team at your beck and call. Agile brings a combination of data centers, network and highly skilled professionals that can work with your team to develop and implement the right HA and DR solutions that will fit your organization’s unique business continuity needs.  To learn more about Agile’s HA and DR solutions and to speak with a specialist, contact us today!

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