Why Data Redundancy Is Important for POS Systems
For most people, the word “redundancy” has a negative connotation, evoking thoughts of monotonous and sometimes needless repetition. But for retailers and restaurant operators, redundancy is a good thing—at least, when it comes to data and POS systems.
Exactly what is data redundancy? In a POS environment, data redundancy occurs when identical data is stored in two separate repositories. This identical data is used for backup and recovery purposes in the event of a server, network or internet failure. Consider, for example, a store that has multiple POS workstations and uses a master server as a database for customer transactions. The workstations’ network connection to the server fails, but there is data redundancy enabled by temporarily setting up the terminals to run independently by using current inventory and a limited backup database intrinsic to the POS software.
Now let’s take a look at why data redundancy is important and practical for POS applications.
- Achieving data redundancy necessitates only a limited financial investment. At one time, purchasing extra storage to create data redundancy was a somewhat expensive proposition. However, the cost of such storage has dropped considerably and has reached a very affordable level. In fact, your financial outlay for the additional storage you will need in order to achieve data redundancy will be minimal compared to the price you might pay in lost sales should your main POS database be inaccessible, and your POS terminals, inoperable, due to network or other failure.
- Data redundancy can help to prevent the loss of mission-critical data. One way to achieve redundancy is through a redundant array of independent disks (RAID; the acronym previously stood for “redundant array of inexpensive disks”). RAID comprises a data storage virtualization technology wherein data is distributed across multiple drives in one of several ways (referred to as RAID “levels”), depending on the data redundancy and performance required by the individual end-user. With RAID, multiple copies of all data across all connected drives are created. For retailers and restaurant operators, the end-result here is a more secure data storage solution, as well as airtight protection against the loss of mission-critical data in the event of a hard drive crash.
Admittedly, RAID can be slightly more expensive than other means of achieving data redundancy. However, it offers a big advantage in that it keeps servers operational despite, and in the midst of, hard drive failure. There is no scurrying around attempting to adjust to backup mode.
- Data redundancy facilitates seamless operation. Transaction processing efficiencies quickly disappear if a retailer or restaurant operator experiences a POS system crash and has not implemented data redundancy into its solution. Long lines form at the POS as efforts are made to rectify the problem and as store associates manually verify credit card information because the internet cannot be used to obtain issuers’ approval for credit card transactions. Conversely, when data redundancy has been built into the POS configuration, the switch to the contingency plan—for instance, the temporary transition from a master server containing POS data to a temporary backup server—happens effortlessly and with no impact on in-store operations. Similarly, if the internet is “down” and provisions for data redundancy have been made, dial-up connectivity is easily achieved via a secure back-up modem.
The concept of incorporating data redundancy into POS applications may seem daunting. However, the process is not difficult. Solution providers are ready and able to assist with this must-have technology element.