Network Redundancy

By Joe Melancon, Smart City‘s General Manager at the Washington State Convention Center

Many businesses and organizations believe a reliable network is vital for operations; however, what will happen if there is a failure within the network? How much will it cost the company if financial transactions fail to transmit? How much productivity will be lost if time sensitive files on the server cannot be accessed?

Network Redundancy is an industry best practice to prevent critical network failure and improve stability. For example, if a point-of-failure occurs within the network infrastructure, the network redundancy will redirect data traffic to maintain a functional network and prevent widespread interruption of service.

The first step in developing network redundancy is to understand your organization’s needs and plan the overall infrastructure design. After a plan is developed, each piece of the network needs to be addressed, from physical hardware and software compatibility, to personnel operating procedures.

Each network’s design, demand, and processing applications are unique. It is up to the enterprise to determine the complexity of the network topology based on the organization’s need.

After the planning phase is finalized, the next step is network testing. Testing the network helps identify overlooked weak points and exposes critical areas that will need the most attention in case of an emergency.

The final step in developing a reliable redundant network is analysis of test data followed by implementation. The testing phase should provide an overall health report of the network under normal conditions, stress and failure. Analyzing this data helps the enterprise determine if additional equipment or manpower is necessary.

There are many different tools and hardware available to help create a redundant network. Hardware that has “hot-swappable” components is especially helpful, as the network can be kept online while replacing failed components. Redundant hardware, such as battery backup systems, extra routers, switches and servers are also essential in the event of power failures or complete failure of essential devices. Beyond hardware, there are also protocols and software programs that can maintain a stable network by autonomously detecting, addressing and alerting technicians of problems.

Redundancy is a goal that any network operator and enterprise should strive to achieve. With a good plan, minor problems can be addressed before they develop into major problems and major disasters can be minimized in a timely manner. Development of a reliable network redundancy requires proper planning and as well as synergetic hardware, software, and human components.

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