We understand the importance and confidentiality of the data being generated in the auction, and for this reason we have designed a 3-tiered redundancy system to ensure that the auction data is preserved in any adverse situation, and that the auction can recover quickly and efficiently to any disruption with minimal side- effects. It is our goal to be over prepared, and to have our redundancy systems in place to prevent "the worst of the worst", because it is our feeling that to be prepared for the worst will leave you well prepared for any situation.
Tier 1 Redundancy Level
The Tier 1 Redundancy Level assumes that a database table becomes damaged. This tier consists of the audit trail tables in our databases. Every action that can be undertaken by a bidder or an auction manager is recorded in these audit trail tables, giving us the ability to reconstruct the entire auction from start to finish, including reconstructing every mouse click from every bidder throughout the auction. These log files provide the information that can be used to examine any bidder during any time frame. Because these log files are stored in a database, in tabular form, it makes searching and filtering the data incredibly easy. It is therefore quick and efficient to reconstruct a bidder's actions during any time frame, providing an invaluable tool in observing the actions during an auction. This Tier 1 Redundancy Level serves as the first level of defense, by giving the auction manager the ability to audit any and all bids placed in the auction as well. Though each bid is stored in a separate database table, this first tier level provides a 2nd look at the bids, ensuring that should one bid table become damaged or corrupted, or should a discussion arise with a bidder about bid submission times, this Tier 1 can be used to trace that bidder's steps minute by minute, and allowing the auction manager to determine once and for all the exact information about the bids.
Tier 2 Redundancy Level
The Tier 2 Redundancy Level assumes that the entire database becomes damaged. This tier consists of the automatic backups of the entire database that occurs after each round. In fact, this backup occurs twice each round, once before the results of the round are calculated, and once right after the results are calculated, so that the auction can be picked up at any point should the database become damaged. During this action, a script in the software makes a physical copy of the entire database and stores it elsewhere on the server. In this case, twice every round, we copy the entire database contents. This ensures that no matter the stage of the auction we are currently in, there is an entire copy of the latest standings being stored. The physical copying of the database is transparent to the auction managers, and occurs automatically in the back-end without user interaction. In the case of damage to the entire database, this tier would allow us to replace the entire database with the latest copy we made of the database, and pick up the auction from that point, continuing to move the auction forward with minimal disruption.
Tier 3 Redundancy Level
The Tier 3 Redundancy Level assumes that the entire server becomes damaged. This tier consists of the automatic backups of the entire database to a different physical server, different physical location (different city), after each round. Just like the steps taken in Tier 2, this tier will copy the entire contents of the database to a remote computer for storage. This ensures that should physical damage occur to the entire server (hardware failure, electricity outage at the server location), the contents of the database will be stored in a secure remote location, at a server in a different physical location entirely. In the case of damage to the entire server, this tier of redundancy will allow us to restart the auction with the latest copy of the database, moving the auction forward with minimal disruption.
Restarting from an Error
As time and results are important in any auction, it is our own requirement that we are able to restart an auction from the latest point in the auction after any disruption, and against any level of redundancy. In a Tier 1 redundancy break, we will be able to restart the auction within 30 minutes of detection of the problem. With a Tier 2 redundancy break, we will be able to restart the auction within 30 minutes of detection of the problem. With a Tier 3 redundancy break, we will be able to restart the auction with 30 minutes of detection of the problem. In a Tier 3 break, though, the bidders and auction managers must know the alternative IP address of the backup system ahead of time, and the auction manager must relay the message to use the alternative server's IP address during the down time.