Disaster Preparedness: What Is a Failover?

There are many different types of solutions that IT professionals can use to ensure business continuity during the event of disasters or technical malfunctions. One type of solution is called a failover. A failover is a redundancy solution that switches over to a standby hardware component or system when the previously active operation unexpectedly terminates.

A failover should not be confused with a switchover. Although the two give the same type of protection, a switchover relies on the manual intervention of a human being, because a failover takes over operations automatically. Although failover systems are capable of operating automatically, sometimes it is best to leave the decision up to the IT personnel.  This is known as an “automated with manual approval” configuration.

A common example of a failover is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), such as the one manufactured by Cyber Power. This device will support the power via a battery backup system in the event that the main power source of the network goes out.

Failovers are usually needed for systems that tend to run continuously; therefore, they are a standard feature for servers and data centers. In these instances a second server is kept on standby and only comes online if there is a problem with the main server. This type of failover is often configured with a “heartbeat” system that provides a continual pulse between the main server and the backup server. The backup server is set to respond when the heartbeat fails.

The failover is an essential element of a disaster recovery plan. In order to keep up business continuity, it is important to understand how various types of failovers and other redundancies can keep your data communications running and available when they are needed.

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