What Is Fault Tolerance And How To Implement It

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what is fault tolerance and how to implement it
what is fault tolerance and how to implement it

These days, more business operations rely heavily on internet use to maintain consistent daily operations. This being the case, IT consulting services in Houston, TX, are becoming increasingly crucial to implement contingency and disaster recovery strategies like high availability and fault tolerance. You may be wondering what these strategies are and how to utilize them for your company.

So what is fault tolerance? Below we’ll review the various components of fault-tolerant systems and provide information on how you can implement this strategy to ensure business continuity.

What Is Fault Tolerance?

Fault tolerance is an IT recovery strategy wherein internet and computer interfaces can operate despite a failure in another part of the system. Fault-tolerant systems feature backup components that should immediately kick in when there is a single point of failure within your system. For example, if your software systems crash, a successful fault-tolerant system can transition to backup systems without you even noticing.

The measure of success for fault tolerance implementation is the amount of time a system is completely down plus the amount of time recovery takes. The highest level of fault tolerance is a system that will not allow any downtime in the event of failure. These systems ensure the continual operation of mission-critical applications through backup components.

Backup Components Include:

  • Hardware Systems: Hardware systems employ fault tolerance by installing parallel systems that mirror operations. When a single-point failure occurs with the primary system, the parallel system seamlessly picks up the slack.
  • Software Systems: Cloud-based solutions protect software systems. Implementing fault tolerance in software systems ensures that all mission-critical information is readily available in case of failure.
  • Power Sources: Power source backups might include generators or external power sources separate from electrical frameworks.

Holistic Protection: Fault Tolerance vs High Availability

Comprehensively protecting continual business operations goes beyond implementing fault tolerance. While fault tolerance protects you in unforeseen circumstances, high availability is necessary for everyday occurrences. High availability quickly addresses minor infractions like wifi interruptions or data breaches. 

To understand the difference between “what is fault tolerance?” and “what is high availability?”, consider the following analogy. If a twin-engine plane loses an engine, the secondary engine immediately kicks in and sustains flight: this is a fault-tolerant system. Meanwhile, a car that pops a tire but has a spare will be able to continue driving after a slight interruption: this is high availability.

Most systems can employ either fault tolerance or high availability to ensure business continuity. However, the best designs will have both, protecting them from nearly any situation. Regardless of strategy, the “five nines” factor, meaning that a system is effective 99.999% of the time, is ideal.

Factors That Determine Effective System Continuity:

  • Downtime: Systems that are fault tolerant or highly available should have little to no downtime or interruptions. A highly available system that runs at the ideal “five nines” level would have no more than five minutes of interruption per year. A truly fault-tolerant system would have zero downtime.
  • Scope: High availability systems rely on resources and real-time IT management controls to address breakdowns and maintain operations. Fault-tolerant systems, however, employ data loss fail-safe technologies like Redundant Array of Independent Disks to make component switches automatically during failures. Combining these methods covers all bases.
  • Cost: Cost will likely be a significant factor determining your choice to install fault tolerance, high availability, or both. While fault tolerance is more expensive because it requires continual upkeep and maintenance, high availability might already be part of your current IT package. If it is, the minor expense of fault tolerance is worth it.

Regardless of what you choose to install, understanding the difference between fault tolerance and high availability will empower you to make an informed decision. Depending on the volume of IT data necessary for your business continuity, you might need to install both strategies.

More Components Of Fault Tolerance: Load Balancing And Failover

While many data storage and hard drive maintenance concerns are crucial for daily operations, web applications typically comprise the highest percentage of IT needs in day-to-day business continuity. For this purpose, fault tolerance utilizes two key components to maintain access to mission-critical applications: load balancing and failover.

Load balancing essentially spreads internet-based work in an office amongst different network nodes to provide multiple layers of protection in the case of single-point failure. In layman’s terms, employees will barely notice if one of the network nodes fails, as business operations will seamlessly continue using the others. Furthermore, even a single user’s web application activity distributes amongst multiple nodes, eliminating the concerns of single-point failures.

Load balancing will also eliminate operation delays during a partial network failure. When one network fails, fault tolerance and load balancing automatically shift work to the backup or multiple backup networks, as discussed above.

Failover solutions provide the ultimate protection in case of a complete network failure. When this occurs, the failover solution will employ a backup network to maintain operations. Note that this backup network is not part of load balancing, which only operates with primary networks.

What Comprises The Cost Of Fault Tolerance Installation

As mentioned above, fault-tolerant systems can be expensive as they require a broader scope of costs to maintain and keep up the system. 

First, since fault tolerant systems need to operate 100 percent of the time to detect failures or issues, this will add additional costs to your IT and utility bills. Because fault tolerant systems also involve multiple backup components, each of these will require consistent maintenance to ensure they are ready to handle emergencies.

While these costs can seem daunting, the positive impact of fault tolerance on your IT systems can recoup the investment over time through successful business continuity and profit.

Fault Tolerance And IT Services With Network Elites

To dive deeper into, “what is fault tolerance?” or learn about overcoming IT strategy issues, contact Network Elites. Call (972) 235-3114 or visit our website to schedule a consultation and hire managed IT services today.

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