Wednesday, 8 Mar 2023 | 4 min read
What is network redundancy and why does it matter?
We all rely on our tech, all day every day. We also understand that sometimes things go wrong. It’s important that, in those instances, we are prepared with alternatives to be able to continue providing you with smooth service – increasing the overall reliability of our network. That’s where network redundancy comes in.
What is redundancy?
In simple terms, it’s a network having different options and backups for when things go wrong.
This could be anything from having multiple cables from point A to B, to having spare hardware ready to be called into action when another piece of hardware forgets to have its morning coffee – because, let’s be honest, we’ve all been there.
Within our network, an example of redundancy can be seen between Melbourne and Sydney, where we have 2 different cables linking the cities. If someone was to accidentally cut the cable (please remember to dial before you dig) we still have another cable to use.
Think about it like your Maps app giving you different options to get to your destination. If option A has roadworks on it, then Maps will reroute you to option B or C, avoiding the closed road and getting you to your destination without you noticing a difference.
The same goes with routing on a network: there are multiple cables – or paths – and if something were to happen to one cable, data centre, or piece of hardware, the network would reroute the data to another option. Hey presto, redundancy!
Why is it important?
Putting it simply, you don’t want interruptions to your service and neither do we.
Redundancy accounts for things going wrong and gives us an avenue to continue providing you with your service, while we work on resolving the issues.
We want to be able to adapt to any issues that arise, and have backups in place so you either won’t notice there’s an issue or we can switch over to one of our backups relatively quickly.
How does redundancy work?
Contrary to popular TV shows that portray the internet as a little black box, the internet is a series of linked data centres.
Data centres are large buildings that connect the fibre cables running underground with all the equipment and routers housed inside.
Our first line of redundancy is connecting to multiple data centres in each state.
Our second line of redundancy is having multiple fibre cables on different paths that get from data centre A to data centre B. Refer back to the Maps reference to imagine how that looks.
Within the data centres, we have lots of hardware and routers that help deliver your internet service.
The third line of redundancy is having hot and cold hardware ready to go if one of our routers decides to take the day off. Hot routers are ones that are connected into the network but are not used – they are always ready to go if one of the used routers fails. Cold routers are spare routers that have not been connected to the network, but they are there if needed.
Our fourth line of redundancy is having multiple connections between the lines of hardware.
This is how that looks:
Each box in the graphic above is a piece of hardware – a physical box – in any of our data centres, and they are all interconnected.
The LSRs are our core network routers that connect you to the rest of the country and the world.
The LEAFs are aggregation equipment that help with data flow management and scalability of the network.
The BNGs (Broadband Network Gate) are what give you access to and create sessions on our network.
You’ll notice that each physical box connects to another two physical boxes. BNG1 connects to LEAF1 and LEAF2. If one of the LEAFs goes down, the BNGs connected to it can continue as normal through the other LEAF.
This is the fourth line of redundancy we mentioned above.
Combined, these four lines of redundancy work together to help keep you connected when things go wrong from our end.
Redundancy won’t solve everything, and things may still go wrong, but every little bit helps to continue providing you with the best experience we can.
We are always looking to improve our network and our redundancy. Recently, we purchased 2 x 400Gps network links between Melbourne and Sydney – where previously we only had 6 x 100Gbps links. This improves our capacity as a network and also improves our capacity management capability – which is particularly important when one line fails or someone cuts through a cable.
Who can purchase extra redundancy?
As we’ve shown, we’ve built a lot of redundancy measures into our network.
However, our business customers do have the option to purchase a secondary service to help with their network redundancy and keep their business online.
Or, you can chat with our Australian-based team for more info on how we keep your business connected.