How does system downtime and data loss affect your organization? Organizations I talk to tell me it affects their sales, service, support and operations, as well as employee productivity and company reputation – all impacting their top and bottom lines. A recent study commissioned by CA Technologies revealed that small-sized North American companies lose an average of $55,000 in revenue annually due to IT downtime, while medium-sized companies lose $91,000. So what can SMBs do?


Most already run backup to tape or disk, but for mission-critical applications and data, that’s just not good enough. How long does it take you to restore data from tape, especially if the tape is kept offsite for disaster recovery? How do you protect critical data and databases between periodic backups or snapshots? And how long does it take you to restore a server or application after an unexpected crash?

In the past, complex and costly technologies like clustering and mirroring were the only solutions available, but today, high availability software solutions are cost-effective, easy to install and as simple to use as backup.

To get started, you install a server and storage on your network (LAN or WAN) to act as a “failover” server. I recommend a virtual server like Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware to save cost, but any traditional physical server will do. Next, install the high availability software on your production and failover servers and then select the files, applications and databases you want to protect, and the system automatically synchronizes the production system and failover system. From that point on, the system captures all changes to data made on the production server and keeps the failover server synchronized.

The high availability software continuously monitors your production server and applications, and if any outage occurs, it will automatically bring up the failover server and applications and transparently redirect users. Alternatively, you can set the system to alert you in case of trouble, and then you can manually fail over once you investigate the outage and are sure that’s the best solution. Some high availability software solutions also include a data rewind capability for continuous data protection (CDP) that complements any periodic backup or snapshot solution. A good solution will also include automated, non-disruptive scheduled testing for your peace of mind.

Typically, high availability software is much less complex and costly than failover clustering. SAN and other storage-based replication solutions only protect data—not servers or applications. A high availability software solution also enables you to maintain a failover system at any remote location for both business continuity and disaster recovery. If you don’t have a remote site, consider a Managed Service Provider (MSP) that offers hosting facilities and services. But remember, a high availability solution is typically deployed right on the LAN, at your headquarters or data center.

So why risk business downtime, dissatisfied customers and unproductive employees? Check out a high availability software solution today and avoid those frantic end-user and executive management calls–especially those that come at night or on weekends.