Security System Availability: Balancing Your Needs and Your Budget
For organizations across the industry spectrum, heightened awareness of both physical and cyber threats is driving increased investment in automation systems for building security. They are deploying more access control, more cameras, more alarms, more backup power systems, more logs and databases.
Yet these and other building automation and security systems are only effective as long as the servers that support them are up and running.
Approaches to building automation and security availability generally fall into three categories:
Data backups and restores
High availability (HA)
Continuous availability (CA)
Which of these three general approaches is needed for your building security applications will depend on a range of factors.
First, however, it’s important to determine the state of your current security automation infrastructure. While your system architecture may be billed as “high availability,” this term is often used to describe a wide range of failover strategies—some more fault tolerant than others. In the event of a server failure, will there be a lapse in security? Can critical data be lost? Is failover automatic, or does it require intervention?
Assessing the potential vulnerabilities of your infrastructure can help you avoid a false sense of security that could come back to haunt you. This insight will also help you define your needs, guiding you toward the most appropriate availability strategies for your security environment.
So how much availability do you need? Obviously, deploying the highest level of fault tolerance for all of your security applications across the enterprise would be ideal. But the cost of such a strategy could be prohibitive. Moreover, not all security applications require the highest level of uptime.
For example, some applications may be deployed in a multi-tiered approach. With this arrangement, there could be a “master server” in a centralized location controlling a network of site servers, which regularly cache data back to the master server. In this scenario, you might configure the master server as FT but decide that HA is adequate for the site servers, given their workloads. It all depends on the criticality of each server’s function within the security automation architecture.
Carefully assessing your requirements for each security application and planning your infrastructure to provide the appropriate level of availability is the key to balancing your real-world needs with the realities of your budget.
Originally published in LinkedIn Pulse.