We have a single dedicated web server that we pay for monthly from a hosting provider. This server runs Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition with IIS and SQL Server 2008.

We have a few websites that run on this server. The websites and databases both sit on the same machine.

We are backing up the websites and databases regularly.

I am concerned with the fact that all our websites depend on a single server.

We are considering introducing a second machine to make our sites more redundant. What is the best course of action?

  • Upgrade to Server 2008 Enterprise and use Failover Clustering?
  • Use Network Load Balancing on both machines and Replicate the SQL Server database?
  • Introduce 3 more machines: 2 for the sql server in failover cluster, and 2 IIS servers with NLB?
  • Any other suggestions?

The first thing to think about when considering redundancy and uptime is to define what it is you want to protect agenst.

Server crashing: fairly likely to crash once or twice over the course of a year, it could even be just a manual restart for security updates.

Server hardware failure: Possible, HDD's would be the most likely to go but its just as possible that the CPU or the PSU goes. You can get redundancy for these.

Server Farm Hardware failure: the farm catches on fire and all the servers are taken down. possible but very unlikely. still possible.

Server Farm network/power problem: pretty likely, not much can be done here, UPS's only last so long and if the network goes out its very rarely a quick fix, normally takes hours to fix.

Hacking: One of the most likely causes for downtime in your server environment (look at kernel.org, if it was a hardware problem it would have been fixed in hours, the Sony PlayStation network ect...)

DDOS: is your site a possible target for DDOS?

The ideal solution would be to have a server hosted elsewhere in the world and redirect DNS if there is a hardware failure, that wouldn't protect you from a server crash/hack though and takes a few hours to redirect but for people who know about the 2nd site they would only need to change IP's.

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