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Hello,

If our main web site www.princeton.edu goes down at Princeton we have a failover web site with a simple "Technical difficulties" page on a virtual server at another university that will answer requests. We use a service from UltraDNS to handle the DNS failover for the www.princeton.edu IP addresses to shift from our Princeton network to the emergency site.

 

We are looking to re-architect this setup and are curious as to what other configurations people have in place in case their primary web site has a failure. For example, we are looking at the F5 global load balancing options and other hosted solutions. Any insights would be much appreciated!

 

Thank you,

 

Joe Karam

Manager, Collaboration Services Group

jkaram@princeton.edu

609-258-2774

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Comments

Message from niederhp@gmail.com

Joe,

At Georgetown our current setup is, briefly:
  • For off-campus requests, the external DNS provider (UltraDNS) directs requests to a load balancer in one of two off-campus commercial data centers, in different parts of the country
  • Behind each off-campus load balancer are a couple of Linux/Apache servers serving static web content
  • For on-campus requests, there's another web server at the main university data center and at the backup data center, so that on-campus users are served if the university's Internet connections are down, and so that on-campus users can potentially be served different content from the general public in the event of an on-campus emergency

The enterprise CMS pushes static web content out to the various web servers; there is a backup plan for SFTPing out content in case the CMS is down. Content includes the university top tier web site and various other sites that are deemed "high availability" -- that is, critical for emergency communications and basic business continuity. The university home page can be switched over to a pre-designed alternate version that prioritizes emergency communications content over regular day-to-day navigation.

Of course, only a fraction of Georgetown's total web content is included in this setup. To maximize reliability it doesn't include any server-side applications (obviously there can be client-side coding within the static content to provide some interactivity).

I haven't been involved in maintaining this since it was implemented around 2008, but I can refer you if you like.

Regards,

Piet

_________________________________________
Piet Niederhausen
Web and Data Architect
Georgetown University Information Services