Maximizing Server Uptime: Best Practices


If you are a hosting provider or someone who operates and manages a shared hosting server, chances are that you either already have server monitoring services in place or that you are considering the utilization of a server monitoring service provider in the near future. Whether you already have server monitoring in place or you are considering putting such a safeguard into place in the near future, there are some rules you will want to keep in mind to ensure that your server monitoring efforts are successful and do not do more harm than good to your uptime percentages.


Plan carefully: Aggressively enforce life-cycle management, and double-check the work, including system configurations and maintenance schedules. Server acquisitions and upgrades should be scheduled and coordinated with an eye toward system availability as well as performance.


Consider potential growth: Data centers are currently seeing a significant rise in demand, which places more pressure on the servers and generates more heat in the process. According to Infiniti Research, the global colocation and managed hosting services market is expected to grow 16.57 percent annually over the next three years. Companies increasingly outsource their data needs to reduce expenditures and plan for future computing and storage needs. Virtualization is also rising in popularity as businesses seek managed servers and better utilization of space in current equipment. Virtualization creates room for necessary functions without the need to invest in additional hardware. Organizations also need to invest in reliable temperature monitoring solutions to ensure all hardware receives enough air to function appropriately.


Overestimate Server Capacity Limits: One of the worst things an API developer can do is to set server capacity limits too low. A great real-world example of why is called the “Reddit Hug of Death.” Anyone who frequents Reddit knows how this works — a website with an awesome picture, a great game, or even a passing blog post attracts the attention of hundreds of thousands of users who turn the content viral. Before long, the site hosting this content is brought to its knees, first with slow traffic, and then failure to connect.

This is exactly what happens when a projected user base isn’t matched with the resources on hand. This sort of failure contributes to low uptime, and is something that must be considered for any “X-as-a-service” on the web, where high-traffic is always a potential. To avoid a dreaded HTTP 503 error, make your limitations scalable from the start — adopt cloud servers or API management solutions that offer flexible scaling plans that automatically respond to increased traffic.


Define cooling needs: One of the biggest tools needed to keep servers in optimal conditions is a data center cooling system. Through real-time environmental analysis, IT support can better monitor hardware and control the temperature for maximum functionality. Many organizations utilize cold and hot aisle designs in order to better focus air conditioners and cooling efforts on the servers rather than on the entire area. This will help the data center realize significant cost savings and follow more environmentally friendly practices. The temperature and humidity settings must also be taken into account as the maximum recommended temperature has been extended to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, giving data centers a little more leeway to their conditions. The levels can be regulated through environmental control systems, ensuring that the servers will have maximum uptime in an optimal space.


Enhance server monitoring: Keeping a close eye on servers can be difficult without the appropriate tools for the job. Data center infrastructure management will add to temperature monitoring solutions by giving real-time data on rack performance and utilization as well as the power and cooling levels, according to Datacenter Dynamics analyst Chris Drake. With this and server surveillance services, management can generate reports to make more informed decisions about energy saving strategies and efficient equipment utilization.


Never Ignore Downtime Alerts: Always remember that every hour of downtime is 0.1 percent off your uptime percentage. If you ignore any downtime alert and do not fix the issue causing the alert, for example, if the alert notifies you of something that doesn’t directly affect the usability of your server, leaving that alert unattended will still affect your uptime percentage. When server monitoring is in place on your servers and you receive an alert, no matter how inconsequential the matter may seem to be, be sure to address it as you would any other downtime issue to keep your uptime percentage as high as possible.


If You Do Offer DNS Services, proceed with Caution When Making Changes: As mentioned above, the only time you want to monitor domain name servers is if you offer DNS services or have your own domain name server. If this is the case, when you make DNS changes, you have to proceed with caution each and every time to prevent unnecessary downtime. It can take a while for DNS changes to propagate, meaning you could get hit with a rolling outage or other downtime issue if the DNS changes are not handled properly. This means changing the TTL of your DNS to 60 seconds without changing the rest of the entry to avoid downtime caused by TTL issues.


Always Set Up Multiple Contacts and Plan Properly for Server Downtime: If your server does go down, you want to make sure it is handled immediately. If you are the only person on the contact list and you are unavailable when the alert of downtime comes in, then the downtime is going to be drawn out, decreasing your server’s uptime percentage. This means you should always have multiple contacts in place for your server monitoring service, and a proper plan of action that can be followed even in your absence to maintain your server’s uptime percentage. By following these five rules you can be sure that your server monitoring provides you with the uptime percentage increase that you are looking for without causing problems that could be avoided with proper planning. Server monitoring is a very powerful tool when it comes to the war against downtime, but you need to manage it properly if you want to reap as many benefits as possible and maintain the highest uptime percentage you possibly can.

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