Work-from-home arrangements are, without a doubt, one of the greatest upheavals businesses are facing within the past ten years.
Companies worldwide have faced the need to make data available to geographically dispersed teams without threatening the security and stability of their databases.
In such an environment, data replication has become an essential solution for any businesses that store, process and interpret data.
To highlight this further, this article focuses on the main benefits of data replication to the work-from-home crowd.
What is the Need for Data Replication?
In the past, businesses relied on centralised databases hosted by single-site service providers.
This solution, however, is proving to be less than ideal for a number of reasons. Firstly, single-site databases are susceptible to cyber-attacks, failures and anomalous behaviours. If a glitch occurs somewhere within the hosting system, the entire database could become unavailable, essentially halting work for several hours.
Secondly, single-site data storage is, well, slow. In a single-site system, several users are attempting to access data at the same time. If the number of such users is significant, even developed systems could struggle with quickly and reliably processing their requests.
Thirdly, as single-site databases are slow, there are no guarantees that the users are actually looking at the same information. If User 1 makes changes to the database, User 2 may look at the non-updated version for minutes or even hours after changes have already been made.
Overall, single-site data storage is a metaphorical ‘dinosaur’ that has been in need of a replacement for a long time. Luckily, data replication is the perfect solution to the above issues.
In essence, data replication is an autonomous service that makes copies of databases on several hosting sites. Even if one site goes down due to traffic overload, users can still access other copies. Additionally, data replication is surprisingly quick: modern platforms can update several copies of the target database within minutes.
On paper, data replication sounds like a complex and costly solution. However, this could not be further from the truth. The creation and maintenance of data replication systems can be outsourced to third-party service providers, freeing up time and human resources.
There’s also no need to pay extra for having to create custom replication solutions for different destinations such as Azure SQL or Snowflake. Data replication tools are automatically compatible with a wide range of destinations, making sure that your business would not need to change anything in its data handling procedures.
How Does Data Replication Benefit Geographically Dispersed Teams?
In work-from-home arrangements, teams are often geographically dispersed. If such teams try to access single-site databases, the hosting system can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of traffic from different sources.
If data replication is involved, this problem simply ceases to exist. As data is copied on several servers, users can access sites that are geographically closest to them without interfering with the central hosting site.
Dispersed employees can also find themselves working from different time zones. This poses a substantial problem for centralised databases. If two users perform similar or complementary tasks, they would have to adjust to each other’s time zones to ensure that both of them access the same data without introducing conflicting amendments.
In a replicated system, workers can perform their tasks whenever they can even if their job responsibilities have a significant overlap. The majority of contemporary data replication solutions also provide backlog services, allowing for quickly and easily determining when and what changes were made by the individual users.
Another problem geographically dispersed teams face is the susceptibility of single-site databases to failure. If a database malfunctions, there’s little that can be done by regular users. The problem is made even more complicated if employees work at different times of day.
Luckily, modern data replication systems may include ‘self-healing’ tools that automatically diagnose faults and introduce the necessary repairs. As argued by Gravity Data, a provider of data replication services, the ability to run predictive maintenance algorithms on replicated systems also “reduces downtime as companies don’t have to wait for staff members to notice the problem to resolve it”.
How Does Data Replication Improve Security in Work-From-Home Arrangements?
There is little doubt that work-from-home arrangements are more susceptible to cyber-security risks compared to working from the office. When working from home, employees are exposed to a wide variety of attack types including ‘baiting’ and ‘social engineering’.
As management has little control over employees’ workstations, it can be downright impossible to pre-emptively detect cases in which an employee becomes an active security risk. Employees can freely open ‘phishing’ emails, use unprotected public Wi-Fi networks and insert suspicious hardware (e.g., flash drives) into their work computers.
Such risks can be catastrophic in a single-site system, in which a single security risk can bring a database to its knees. In some cases, precious information can become completely unrecoverable.
Fortunately, in a replicated system, if one site goes down, the remaining copies of the database will still be running without issues. Although such a solution does not fully eliminate the actual risks to security, it does give companies precious time which is essential in a crisis situation or when managing complex projects.
Presently, data replication service providers also offer effective encryption and endpoint protection services, meaning that there’s almost no risk of malicious third parties accessing sensitive information. Platforms with integrated anomalous behaviour detection features can also autonomously alert managers and users if there’s a possible breach.
Overall, data replication is absolutely essential for any business with any form of work-from-home arrangements. Such a solution is reliable, scalable and easy-to-use no matter your development pipeline or technology stack. Data replication also eliminates nearly all of the problems posed by using single-site databases, particularly when such databases are accessed by geographically dispersed teams. By implementing data replication, you will ensure that your business remains at the forefront of performance while still meeting the needs of your employees.