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Why equipment redundancy is important for business growth

When it comes to spending money on IT equipment and services, building redundancy into your IT system may be the least satisfying expenditure. Redundant systems do not make your staff more efficient by speeding up your order processing system, or provide room for the new employees you are hoping to hire. So why not spend the money in other areas?

The answer is that equipment redundancy ensures a strong, secure foundation for your IT systems — and that allows your business to grow without fear of data loss or equipment failures.

What is redundancy?

Redundancy means paying for duplicates of key parts of your IT system, so that if one part fails, you can quickly get back up and running.

There are two types of equipment redundancy to consider:


  • Cold-spare redundancy: This extra equipment is not powered up or plugged in. In fact, it may still be in the box from the manufacturer, though if it is a server that needs a lot of software installed on it, for example, you may decide to do the installation so it is ready to be put into service quickly if necessary. Cold-spare redundancy doesn’t require much preparation before an emergency, making it a less expensive option.
  • Hot-spare redundancy: It takes a lot of design and setup work to put hot spares in place. They are pre-configured and have access to your network’s data, and they can be ready to be put in place within minutes or even seconds of a server or other equipment failing. Some are even set up to take over automatically if a piece of equipment fails. Others cost less but will need a person to install them if they are needed.

Which type of redundancy is right for your business? It depends on the level of risk to your business in case of equipment failure. Consider issues like your environment: Is your business in a location where spare parts are easy to get, or could it take days just for a new part to arrive? And think about how your company operates: What will happen to your business if one part of your IT system is unavailable for hours or even days?

You will need to weigh these risks against the cost of purchasing insurance in the form of redundant equipment.

What are the alternatives?

As you decide what type of redundant systems would make the most sense for your business, consider these issues:

  • Cost of downtime:

    You can find online calculators to estimate how much downtime will cost your business, but you can also do your own calculation. How long can a system outage last before it starts doing serious damage to your business? For example, many manufacturing companies could tolerate a one-hour disruption of their IT system – it would be annoying but not catastrophic. However, if the outage stretched to hours or days, it could lead to missed deliveries, and employees being paid even though the manufacturing lines are not running.

You may find that the cost of downtime varies depending on what part of your overall IT system you’re considering. For example, it probably does not make sense to purchase redundant laptops for every employee, since laptops are relatively easy to replace if necessary, and having one employee without a computer will not bring the whole business to a standstill. Losing a key server for a week, however, could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.

  • Redundancy options:

    You don’t necessarily need to purchase and store all the redundant systems yourself, though keeping spare hardware on site is one way to ensure redundancy. Many small and midsize businesses find it more cost effective to migrate their key applications to the cloud. Outsourcing server operations to a company with its own data center can also be a good idea, since large data centers have redundant internet connections, generators in case of a power failure, and many other backups.

Redundant systems will help you build a strong foundation for the growth of your business. Uncertainty is one of the biggest hindrances to growth in any company because it impedes planning for the future. Having redundant systems ready to go in case of emergency will eliminate one source of uncertainty for your business and ensure that you are always able to deliver for your customers.

When you are thinking about growing your business, make sure your current assets are safe and secure. After all, all IT systems are comprised on interconnected parts and any one weak point can create risk for the entire system and affect your business. Seeking more information about how to improve your IT system, please download the eBook titled "Built to Scale: IT System Designed for Growth" to learn more about improving your IT solution for better productivity.

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