Explaining 2 N Vs N+1 Data Center Redundancy

Data Center Managed Services
Data Center Managed Services

Unfortunately, even the most complex and well-designed systems can sometimes suffer unexpected downtime. Whether there’s a power outage that comes with no warning, or a serious weather event causes problems for your data center, the consequences can be serious. Particularly if you don’t have a plan for redundant systems. Thankfully, data center redundancy plans offer a way out of the troublesome effects of downtime, helping to get businesses back online in a matter of moments. But to get the most out of your redundancy plan, you’ll need to understand data center redundancy and how it works. 

What is data center redundancy?

The term data center redundancy refers to a system that is designed in such a way that downtime doesn’t necessarily result from unexpected events. These systems are built to withstand problems without interrupting performance, with the aim of eliminating downtime and keeping companies online at all times. The best redundancy plans do this very effectively, despite circumstances that would prove catastrophic for ill-prepared systems. 

Why does data center redundancy matter?

Users are increasingly intolerant of downtime. Today’s businesses rely hugely on digital systems, for a wide range of different tasks and processes. So when downtime happens, it can significantly hamper the service that customers receive, leaving them dissatisfied and potentially moving them onto a competitor business. 

Companies have long estimated their own maximum tolerable period of disruption (MTPD), and this figure has always played a role in redundancy planning. But the time frames involved are growing shorter, and companies are now having to do more to limit their downtime in order to succeed. 

Data is a key consideration in all redundancy planning. With businesses now handling more and more data, and customers increasingly aware of the data that they hand over and how this is looked after, the security and safety of data is enormously important. Redundancy planning is vital in ensuring that this data is secure, and that the risk of a serious data leak is minimal. 

Downtime isn’t just a problem in terms of customer service. It’s also incredibly costly for the business as a whole. While staff are distracted by system outages, they’ll be left unable to fulfill their responsibilities. Organizations may also be fined for serious data leaks, and these events can have a longstanding effect on a company’s reputation, affecting its profitability long term. 

2N vs. N+1: What’s the Difference? 

To gain a full understanding of data center redundancy, you’ll need to know about terms such as 2N and N+1, and how they differ. So let’s take a look at what these terms mean. 

What does N mean? 

The term ‘N’ in the context of data center redundancy refers to any units that must be duplicated as part of the redundancy plans. Typically, these units include cooling units and generators, both of which are an important part of data center redundancy planning. The ‘N’ in question will be equal to the power, backup, and cooling requirements of a facility if it is working at its full capacity. 

What does N+1 mean? 

A simple ‘N’ means the amount of capacity required to keep a facility up and running. So, N+1 is the term given to extra components, which can be used to avoid catastrophic problems when the unexpected happens. With N+1, the system will stay up and running even if something fails, or there is maintenance required on a single component within the system.

What does 2N mean? 

If a system is 2N, this means that it is fully redundant. The term 2N is given to mirrored systems, which use a pair of different distribution systems that aren’t connected to each other. This setup means that the systems will not be relying on one another to work, and therefore if one goes down, the other can take the weight and help a business avoid downtime. Systems referred to as 2N will not fail, even if there’s a loss of power or an error within a component. 

Redundancy configuration: What’s best for your business? 

Redundancy configuration is something that all businesses need to think about, particularly as our reliance on digital processes grows. While the best options tend to come with a high price tag, more affordable redundancy plans usually offer all that smaller companies will need. 

To find the right redundancy configuration for your company, you’ll need to think about your own IT environment, as well as your budget and your goals for the future. Then, you can make an informed decision on the best possible redundancy configuration for your needs. 


If you’d like to learn more about redundancy configuration and how it works, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’re always here to help talk you through the different options, and we’ll be able to advise you on the best redundancy configuration for your business. Get in touch to find out more. 

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