Wednesday, 11 Oct 2023 | 6 min read
How to build redundancy into your business connectivity
Your business is almost as dependent on connectivity as electricity.
Internet outages can easily grind business operations to a halt. Depending on the nature and size of your business, and the length of the outage, your businesses can potentially lose thousands of dollars in revenue and lost productivity. Not to mention the potential negative impact an outage can have on your reputation.
No business can afford downtime. If your business relies on your internet connection to function (which, in today's world, is almost every business), it’s vital to build redundancy into your business connectivity. With redundancy, your business can continue to function as normal in the event of an unexpected outage.
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What is network redundancy?
Network redundancy essentially means having additional components in your business network that act as backups to the main components. These backup components are set up to always be on standby in case the equivalent main component stops working. It acts similarly to an understudy in theatre – if the lead actor is injured and can’t perform, the understudy takes over, and the audience is none-the-wiser.
Common network redundancy measures include:
Internet failover, such as 4G backup. This ensures your internet will continue to work if your main business internet connection goes down.
Technology diversity. This involves having multiple internet connection technologies (such as fibre and copper) in your network. So, if one connection technology isn't working, you can still rely on the other.
Secondary devices. Such as laptops in case the main office computers stop working or mobile phones to back up your phone system.
It may be tempting to think that building redundancy into your business systems is not essential. After all, you probably wouldn't buy a second car that sits in your garage on standby in case of unexpected car trouble (unless you're really into cars, that is). However, when it comes to connectivity, redundancy could be far cheaper than the alternative. According to an often-cited 2014 Gartner study, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. In 2021, businesses are even more dependent on functioning internet and IT services – as such, if the study were conducted again, it could produce a much higher figure.
You see this in your own business, whether you realise it or not. If you're a retail store or hospitality venue, internet issues might leave you unable to accept card payments or run efficiently through your online systems. If you're a professional services firm, your internet going down means you're effectively paying your staff not to work.
What are the different types of network redundancy?
If your business is critically reliant on connectivity, the best way to prevent outages and disruption is to build a diverse range of redundancy measures into your network. In this section, we’ll take a look at some different types of redundancy measures your business could consider implementing.
Internet failover is an additional internet connection that will kick in if your primary connection stops working. In today's connected world, internet failover is arguably the most essential redundancy measure.
There are a number of different failover options your business can implement to increase your system's redundancy, which we’ll explore in this article. However, if you’re considering redundancy options for your business, a key idea to keep in mind is ‘diversity’.
The more diverse your failover internet connections are, the more effective they will be against outages or other disruptions. From carrier diversity to medium diversity, we’ve compiled some ways you could build redundancy into your business network with internet failover.
Carrier diversity is a common practice where businesses select a different Internet Service Provider (ISP) for their secondary internet link. Different ISP's generally operate on different infrastructure. So, if one provider experiences an outage, it’s unlikely the alternative provider will also experience an outage at the same time. The downside of carrier diversity is that you’ll get two bills from different providers. Also, carrier diversity just offers a backup if your primary internet connection goes down - it doesn’t actually protect your network from failure.
Another way to build redundancy into your business connectivity is to utilise different forms of internet infrastructure. For example, if your primary link is fibre or a TC-4 connection, you could consider having a secondary microwave link installed. That way, if something happened to your fibre line, your connectivity would default to the secondary microwave link. Another option is 4G failover or 4G backup, which will trigger a switch to the 4G network should your fixed-line connection experience disruptions.
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Another failover method is to locate your internet infrastructure in geographically diverse locations. For example, you may achieve last-mile technology diversity by running a fibre line next to a copper line in the ground to your premises. However, if an excavator were to dig in the wrong spot and accidentally hit your lines, both your primary link and secondary link would be damaged in one hit. If the two links were located in separate places, you won't run the risk of this happening.
Internal network redundancy
Internal networks can be complex, so there can be a lot to consider in terms of network redundancy. An obvious place to start is with layer one – or physical hardware – elements. Switches and routers, for example, are generally reliable. However, should one fail – which does happen – it can cause major disruptions. If your business is critically reliant on your network, integrating backup routers and switches into your system is a wise move. Other things to consider include network protocols, power and cooling. For example, would your building need an additional source of power, such as a generator or battery backup, if your mains power was disrupted?
A simple and cost-effective way to increase the redundancy of your network is to select an ISP that has its own redundancies in place. Some key things to look out for in terms of good network management include:
1 – Customer reviews and industry awards – do your research. Does the ISP have their reviews switched ‘on’ on Google and Facebook? What do other businesses have to say about the ISP? Has the ISP won many industry awards?
2 – Is the ISP transparent about its network? – Does the ISP publish how much network capacity it purchases from the nbn®? Does the ISP communicate any outages quickly?
3 – Is link geographic diversity offered? – Does the ISP offer dual last-mile links? Dual last-mile links give you the option for dual automated active/backup and active/active links.
4 – What support does the ISP offer? – Does the ISP offer business-grade support, uptime guarantees or eSLA (enhanced level service agreement)? Does the ISP have an established communications protocol for outages or disruptions?
Simplify redundancy with Aussie Broadband
We believe every business deserves reliable connectivity. So, we've designed our network to ensure optimum capacity for all our business customers.
Plus, we’ve built a level of redundancy into our network as a standard for customers. From redundant fibre links at a POI level down to rack-level redundancy in our data centres, we take active steps to ensure you get the best service possible. Business-grade support comes automatically with all of our business services. And we offer up to 99.95% uptime guarantee and nbn® 4hr enhanced Service Level Agreement (eSLA) 24/7 on our nbn® services.
If you want to learn more about how to integrate redundancy into your business connectivity, give our expert Australian-based team a call. If you’re a small to medium business, call 1300 480 905. If you’re an enterprise or large government organisation, call 1300 161 625. For more information about our range of business services, click here.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on 27 July, 2021, and has since been updated.
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