What Is Network Redundancy?

Network redundancy is a high priority for any business, because it aims to eliminate the risk of downtime – no matter what. 

Reducing downtime is of course enormously beneficial for any company that relies on online systems to run the processes its work relies on. And in today’s increasingly digital world, almost every company falls into this criteria. 

If a small amount of downtime would have a significant impact on a company’s profitability, or seriously damage the customer experience it aims to offer, then network redundancy is well worth investing in. 

In this article, we’ll explain what network redundancy is and why it matters. Read on for all the information you need on network redundancy, along with instructions on how to reduce the risk of downtime for your own business. 

How do we define network redundancy? 

Network redundancy is defined as the process of ensuring availability in a network. This is usually managed through the addition of numerous new network devices, along with extra equipment and mediums designed to improve communication. 

If a system encounters a failure at any point, whether it be down to a device in the network or a failure of a specific path, network redundancy can be used to avoid the issues that any resultant unavailability would ordinarily produce. Additional equipment can be used to keep systems available, therefore reducing the risk of any noticeable downtime. 

The two main types of network redundancy 

There are two commonly used forms of network redundancy, both of which are widely used for companies of all sizes. These are known as fault tolerance and high availability. But what do these terms mean, and which option would be best for your company? Let’s take a look. 

Fault tolerance is a type of network redundancy using hardware redundancy. This means that there is a copy of the system’s hardware which runs simultaneously alongside the main system. The idea is that a failure in the primary system won’t cause any outages, because if it’s needed, the back-up system will quickly take over and keep everything running smoothly. 

High availability network redundancy is another commonly used option. This sees a number of different servers run in unison. Each server is then responsible for monitoring the other servers. Each one will also have the capability to take over should another server encounter an issue. This is an effective way of achieving network redundancy without the need for additional hardware. 

High availability is the more affordable option of the two, as it doesn’t require the physical hardware that fault tolerance does. By comparison, fault tolerance requires significant investment, but it tends to be money well spent, because the resulting setup is almost completely failsafe. 

In terms of performance, fault tolerance is the preferred option. However, if cost is a concern, high availability still provides excellent protection. The level of reliability achieved through high availability network redundancy is more than enough to suit the requirements of most businesses. 

Are there any downsides to network redundancy? 

Network redundancy is universally understood to be a good thing, because it can really make a difference to businesses that might otherwise have suffered from downtime. However, like most good things it does come with an element of risk, so it’s worth considering this if you are thinking of investing in network redundancy improvements. 

The main risk of network redundancy is the fact that it will inevitably increase complexity. While this, in itself, isn’t always a problem, it can mean an increased chance of something going wrong elsewhere in the system. Because the more complex the system is, the more likely it is that something could go awry. 

Human error is the main concern in very complex systems. There are other potential problems, though, such as the probability of a software bug affecting availability or causing a complete system failure. 

While concerns about complexity shouldn’t be a reason to avoid network redundancy completely, it’s still worth bearing this in mind. When improving redundancy, changes should always be weighed up against the increased complexity that they will result in. 

The limitations of network redundancy 

Network redundancy is often talked about alongside network diversity. And in an ideal world, systems would be fully protected by both methods. 

Network redundancy can massively reduce the risk of downtime when we look at issues within the system itself, but often systems are affected by situations that are completely out of our control. That’s where network diversity comes in. 

Some of the main causes of outages include incidents in the real world, that even the safest and most secure systems could never be immune from. 

Natural disasters, floods, fires and other weather events can easily cause system outages. While we can always insure against such occurrences, it’s very difficult to provide a system with total protection from incidents like these. 

There are things we can do to provide even more protection for systems, however. In addition to network redundancy processes, systems can be protected using a process known as network diversity. 

Network diversity involves designing duplicates which can be located in a number of different geographic locations. Usually companies will choose to house these duplicates in different data centres, but the cloud can also be used for safety measures like these. 

The most resilient networks are those that are housed in different locations that are unlikely to be affected by the same weather events. But use of the cloud takes that resilience to the next level, so this is another option that’s well worth considering as you create your disaster recovery plan. 

If you’d like to learn more about network redundancy, or you’re simply looking for new ways of increasing reliability for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. 
At TRG Datacenters, we’re proud to build the very best data center experiences. Our consultative approach has been designed to help customers find the right size and tier for any deployment. With numerous different options available, our team can find the right fit for your specific requirements. Give us a call to find out more.

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