Most businesses these days would be hit pretty hard if they had to go without Internet connectivity for any period of time. It’s not just about maintaining access to emails. You might be supporting remote workers and secondary sites using a Virtual Private Network, or you might be one of the many firms now relying on Internet based telephony systems and Cloud applications. Or your staff might be relying on the latest social networking and collaboration tools for business.
So losing Internet bandwidth could mean lost productivity and even lost customers. And the truth is that connectivity can be disrupted in a number of ways – including mechanical faults, accidents, natural disasters or even terror tactics. Some of these incidents like cables being damaged by building works, power failures and flooding of underground conduits are more common than many people think
But while most business people understand the risks of relying on a single point of failure, many do not address this issue when it comes to connectivity. In theory, introducing resilience into your Internet or VPN architecture is very straightforward: you must ensure you have secondary links that can come into play should primary connections fail. But in a survey of 110 IT executives, 56 per cent admitted they didn’t have any secondary systems to maintain connectivity if there was a problem.
There are network appliances available that can automatically configure multiple Internet links to automatically failover to one another to maintain continuity if one connection ‘goes down’. And almost any type of link can be supported and made more resilient in this way, from ADSL business broadband, to dedicated high bandwidth, private leased lines.
Obviously it helps if the different links come from distinct service providers. ‘Diverse routing’ such as this means if one provider has a problem on its infrastructure, the other(s) will hopefully not be affected by the same issues.
But this idea of having secondary links sitting around just in case there is a problem might seem a bit wasteful. And the way round this is to install an appliance that will allow you to use all your connections in parallel, all the time. The traffic is load balanced across all the links to ensure it moves optimally. So the organisation no longer has expensive ‘dormant’ links that are only used when there is a failure. And because secondary connections are constantly in use, you know they will be in full working order in the event of a disaster.
If you want to take things a step further, you might consider using a fixed link wireless connection service as the back-up to your primary, cable based links. Services that offer fixed wireless bandwidth, which involve regional wireless radio masts delivering an Internet signal to firms in the vicinity via rooftop antennas, are springing up around the country, offered by a growing number of UK ISPs. And by allowing you to use a mix of cable running under the ground and wireless bandwidth beamed through the air – two completely separate channels – they let you build in even greater resilience.
But however you do it, the message is still the same – ensure you maintain multiple connections so that you are no longer relying on a single point of failure.