Companies in multiple industries continue to utilize colocation for their mission-critical IT infrastructure and data due to the scalability, reliability, resiliency and security it provides. It enables them to enjoy increased bandwidth, higher network speed and connectivity, carrier diversity, remote and on-site support services and meet compliance regulations while freeing IT staff to focus on initiatives that can help grow their business. Through colocation, companies also benefit from secure disaster recovery capabilities that allow them to mitigate various business risks and ensure business continuity.

Having disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place is especially important because of the high costs of downtime for a business. Two options often used in disaster recovery strategies are an active-active data center architecture and its active-passive counterpart. In an active-active data center architecture with synchronous replication, data centers are located near each other (within approximately 65 miles) and require high resiliency. In an active-passive architecture with asynchronous replication, data centers are located farther apart but usually no more than 500 miles and also require high resiliency. In this two-part blog, I’ll go into more detail about each option and outline some challenges and benefits for each one.

Active-active data center architectures serve application traffic simultaneously and are used to achieve load balancing and high availability with a focus on uptime, not recovery. Combining active-active data centers with active-active applications provides the ability to deliver continuous availability, meaning recovery from an outage is swift and isn’t noticed by customers. According to a study by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal, 44 percent of the responding organizations adopted an active-active architecture.

Following are some benefits of utilizing an active-active data center architecture:

  • Enables enhanced system availability
  • Provides true continuous availability for increased customer satisfaction
  • Increases capacity and application performance
  • Focuses on disaster avoidance instead of disaster recovery
  • Provides an insurance policy against failures
  • Enables a data center to pick up data traffic when another one experiences downtime due to a disaster
  • Serves applications in real-time through multiple data center locations
  • Reduces or eliminates disruptions in service
  • Improves cluster performance through load balancing
  • Enables business continuity during maintenance and migrations
  • Provides quick and reliable failover in case of an outage due to a disaster

Though the benefits of the active-active approach are many, it does encompass some challenges. For example, it requires capacity testing to be done on a regular basis and data sets to be synchronized between multiple data centers. In addition, an active-active architecture is more difficult to implement than its active-passive counterpart and necessitates detailed planning.

In part two of this blog, I’ll expand on the active-passive data center approach. In the meantime, to find out more about maintaining uptime and mitigating disasters, please view our white paper, “Superstorm-Proof Your IT Infrastructure: How To Achieve 100% Resiliency.”

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