Backup Plan for Website Outages?

I have a client that is using to host both their website and their hosted Exchange mail. Client's website is very heavily trafficked and it's really important that it have close to 100% uptime. A couple of weeks ago (due to some problems experienced by Rackspace) the website went down for a few hours. And thanks to Murphy's Law this happened right while they were doing an important pitch to a large prospective client!

So now my client wants to know if there is some way to implement a Plan B if Rackspace experiences this kind of problem again in the future.

They were suggesting setting up a backup webserver in their office they could be brought online in the event of a future outage, but this doesn't sound like a good strategy given that there would be no way to fully test it out until the next outage.

What do other companies do to guard against this sort of problem?
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having a backup site in your office , its not a bad idea .. i totally agree on that.

or may be you might hire another host just to have backup.

if you have control over zone record, then you can use script , or some paid service , as soon as it will see host A is down it will change A record to your backup host

or you can use round robin way so that both host will serve at a time

but it needs more work as replication of database .. if database does not change too much then having 2 host on 2 different provider is a good solve

You mention Rackspace, but not which service, for instance they have their cloudsites offering

Going beyond that level of hands free replication & reliability starts to become a technical challenge of eliminating points of failure in a cluster.

Things to think about if you decide to do your own solution

Hosted DNS with failover
Minimum 2 data centers

What you have in each datacenter really depends on the load you are looking at

Load balancer
1+n webservers
1+n database servers

If you want to guarantee uptime then 2 locations is the primary factor, as last year I ended up with over 24hrs downtime on a primary site due to a DDOS attack and being null routed.

That might not have happend if I was with Rackspace who might have more upstream providers or better routing, but 2 locations ensures you are not subject to sod's/murphy's law.

When you have 2 locations, you have replication to worry about for any kind of dynamic site, and that requires a a server management tech who knows what they are doing.

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