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Preserving business continuity in the digital age is all about protecting key IT assets from unplanned outages.
For organizations which use SQL Server, this means taking steps to ensure uptime is optimized and that the causes of downtime are factored into how the infrastructure operates.
Let’s get to grips with how SQL Server uptime is preserved, and what this can mean from a business continuity perspective.
Native options for disaster survival & recovery
The ability to cope with database disasters both in the short and long term has been part and parcel of the SQL Server ecosystem for some time now.
At the heart of this are AlwaysOn Availability Groups, which are designed to allow secondary server clusters to kick in and take the strain if the primary database goes offline for whatever reason.
Checking out the AlwaysOnGuidance from SentryOne is sensible to get a more in-depth explanation of how high availability (HA) is achieved in the latest iterations of SQL Server. Suffice it to say that if you are concerned with how resilient this is as a database platform, you needn’t be.
The general idea is that as well as being able to switch to a backup server on the fly, you can also use your always-on AGs to recover any data which might have been lost, and thus guarantee continuity.
Minor differences in availability have a major effect
If you are planning to outsource some aspect of your SQL Server deployment, the question of availability will always emerge in the decision-making stage of procurement.
A plethora of packages are offered to modern companies, and unless you think a little more deeply about how these are advertised, you could seriously compromise your server’s uptime potential, and hamper your continuity efforts as a result.
The difference between the promised availability of hosting products may be just a few fractions of a single percentage point. But when stretched over the course of a year, the amount of downtime this equates to can go from being manageable to unacceptable.
Even with a proclaimed 99.9% availability, this will leave you with almost nine hours of likely downtime annually. And if uptime is compromised at an inopportune moment, the cost of recovery could be massive.
A break in business continuity has wide-ranging implications
It is worth providing a little more detail on the downsides of your SQL Server resources suffering an outage, regardless of how long this problem persists for.
Say, for example, it serves as the database for a customer-facing website or application. Downtime in this scenario might mean that prospective customers don’t convert, existing customers become disgruntled, and the reputation of your brand is tarnished as a result.
Even if the services the database supports are internal, and the disruption only impacts employees, then this is far from ideal. Productivity will plummet, projects will stall, and deadlines might be missed.
Smaller businesses will clearly suffer less than larger firms, at least in the short term. But while big organizations may be equipped to recover from downtime, companies with more limited resources and budgets at their disposal might be pushed beyond the brink of a realistically recoverable situation.
Thus, SQL Server uptime is more than just something which matters for day-to-day business continuity; it could be the thing that holds the whole future of your company in the balance.
Planning ahead is the best form of protection
The main way to avoid unnecessary risks in terms of business continuity is to recognize the potential for problems with SQL Server uptime to arise and take preventative steps to stop them stifling your operations.
From monitoring server performance to leveraging high availability strategies and systems so that continuity is preserved, there are lots of options available to you. On the other hand, procrastinating on these points, or having a defeatist attitude because of the inevitability of unplanned downtime, is not helpful.
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