The data center has one seemingly unavoidable issue: downtime. Data centers are full of resilient and redundant hardware, but it’s impossible to avoid maintenance. Maintenance downtime, while in pre-scheduled windows, still means services and data are unavailable for some time. But, Microsoft’s Azure uses a unique solution to eliminate downtime and ensure redundancy through availability groups. Azure does this through a focus on availability groups instead of ensuring each server maintains 99.99% uptime or better.
Microsoft pairs regions of Azure services together. Sometimes, these are in the same country, such as the West US and East US region pair. When one region goes down for maintenance, Azure-based services stay online, relying on the other data center in the region pair. Microsoft also ensures that when one region undergoes maintenance, the other region in its availability pair stays up. There is no practical interruption for clients. Most regions have a two-way relationship pair, but not in all cases. Only Azure customers doing business in specific international regions have to be concerned about this.
Azure’s strategy puts the focus on the workload, not the availability of any individual data center. Azure’s method offers failover in case of hardware issues. Additionally, if a natural disaster takes services offline, the strategic geographic spread ensures no catastrophic failure or loss of data. Downtime is theoretically zero.
This helps reduce the overall hardware cost for Microsoft. The company can afford to not worry as much about uptime for individual servers and can make different hardware decisions. It can also focus resources on expanding and improving services. Maintenance and repair isn’t rushed, either, as the geographic pair ensures continued uptime. Azure customers also have the security of knowing that their Azure-based services will suffer theoretically zero downtime, ever.
With cloud-based services increasing in popularity, Microsoft is finding a way with Azure to ensure that they solve the downtime problem, and keep customers’ hardware and service up 100% of the time, by attacking it from the application and work. Sikich has a dedicated Azure team answering questions and helping clients optimize their IT strategy. Check out our Azure offers currently in market or contact us to talk about your specific needs.