Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Clustering through Server Farms

Clustering through Server Farms

Businesses that have online global operations have to make sure that their data is available for their users 24/7. A single downtime could mean millions of losses as this could reflect not only the company’s inability to provide timely service but would ruin the company’s reputation.

Through sheer competition, any business could lose all the clients even for just a single downtime. Most businesses spend thousands or even millions of dollars just to make sure there is no single point of failure and the probable reasons for a downtime could be prevented in advance through infrastructure or application.

Although online or local network connectivity is possible through a single server, this single hardware will not have the ability to hold massive and continuous requests. A single server could even be considered as a single point of failure since an attack to the server could debilitate the entire operation. To prevent downtime from happening, businesses implement server farms.

Server farms, as the name suggest, is composed of servers connected together to serve the business interests of providing the right data or faster streaming of information. The processing power of each server is harnessed so that it could push data faster.

Challenges to Server Farms

Although server farms ensure faster data processing and prevention of single point of failure, this configuration for businesses is very costly. A single server could easily cost a business thousands of dollars which means multiple servers could cost so much more. That doesn’t even include configuration, additional infrastructure and even security.

Another challenge to server farms is the external circumstances. A single server farm could be considered a single point of failure since the servers are located in one location. Weather and other natural circumstances could easily destroy the server farm which could easily bring down the operation.

This is another challenge in implementing server farms. One server farm is never feasible since this becomes a single point of failure. Different server farms set up in various locations has become a requirement to avoid downtime. This is another financial challenge for those who are planning to set up server farms.

Routers and Network Switches

Server farms would be practically useless without the help of routers and network switches. Routers help the users connect to the servers while the network switches controls the server farms to ensure availability of data to its users.

In a server farm, routers and network switches are not just simple hardware that could also be used by consumers. These routers often have the capability of handling heavy workload and have advanced controls for network administrators.

This also holds true in network switches wherein server farms are monitored and controlled by the network administrators. In case something happens to one of the servers, the network administrator would be immediately notified and certain changes could be implemented either through available application for network control or even manual changes so that servers could be fixed and be back online without interrupting the system. A back-up server farm could be activated through network switching.

Server Farms for Small Business

Online, small businesses often have to be content with a single server or a 3rd party provider to ensure their website would be up and running anytime of the day. But oftentimes, 3rd party providers are susceptible to different conditions that cannot be controlled by small businesses. This could greatly affect a small business especially if their operations are largely based on online activities. Using a single server for network connections obviously creates a single point of failure which will still be costly.

A small business could actually make “hybrid” server farms by combining the functions of a single server and 3rd party provider. The 3rd party provider could be the primary server to provide data or process functions for customers. The local server on the other hand could be the back-up system. The network administrator would just choose which one is more cost efficient and reliable.

What’s important in this configuration though is centralized control to ensure that timely interaction with these servers could be implemented incase one of them fails to work. Although additional server configuration should be implemented in both server farms, they provide the assurance of reliable connection.

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