How much does your business depend on connectivity? 80%, 90%, higher? It is virtually impossible to do business these days without connectivity to the outside world. Even businesses with only the slightest amount of technology need to be connected to the Internet to conduct business. Information Week estimated that IT outages cost roughly $26.5 Billion in lost revenue in 2011. It’s only getting worse. Add Cloud services, Voice over IP, & web services to your list and the dependency approaches 100%
The good news is that a resilient network is not the work of genius tech gurus who sit on mountain tops and come at a price that would make a Fortune 500 cringe. Creating a resilient, worry-free network is much easier than it used to be.
Internet connectivity is now so cheap, that it’s affordable to have a redundant Internet connection from a secondary provider. With even a low-cost, commercial security appliance, a secondary Internet connection can sit in a passive, stand-by state waiting for an outage on the primary line. Once this outage occurs, the secondary connection is made active and traffic flows seamlessly.
Cost of a solutions like this can run from $500 – $1,200 for a commercial appliance and an extra $60-$200 per month for a secondary Internet service (depending a lot on the size and scope of your company). Since this is a fail-over service, it doesn’t need to be as fast or reliable as your main connection, just enough to get you by until the primary service comes back on line.
Eliminating Single Points of Failure
While it it not 100% possible to eliminate all points of failure, the more redundancy that is put in place, the more resilient your network will be. A majority of the major players in small business network equipment offer “HA pricing” (high-availability) at a fraction of the cost of the primary device so you can double up on firewalls, routers or switches without doubling your cost.
Making educated decisions about utilizing Cloud solutions can add to your resiliency. Many cloud providers replicate services to various locations so your services are up as much as possible. Did you know that Microsoft’s Office 365 services are replicated to data centers across the nation?
Good cloud providers offer guaranteed up-time measured in 9’s. For example, they might offer “three 9’s” or 99.9% up time. This means they can only be down for around 4 hours a year. Common guarantees are in the three – four 9 range, but some of the big players are even higher. Amazon Web Services guarantees eleven 9’s of up time, or 99.999999999%!
Monitoring – The forgotten necessity
One of the biggest mistakes commonly made when designing a fault-tolerant network is the lack of good monitoring. A good monitoring solution involves a 3rd party service, off your network that monitors up-time remotely. This way, if a redundant service kicks in, someone can be alerted so they troubleshoot the issue or call the appropriate vendor.
Without proper monitoring, you may not know you’re running in a crippled state.
Designing for Fault Tolerance
No matter what solutions you put in place, a fault-tolerant network is more than just a redundant service or device. Specific practices need to be put in place to ensure that devices are configured, proper services are ordered, systems are tested and proper monitoring & alerting is in place.
This takes a designer who can help you decide two metrics which will help budget for such a design. Return to Operation -time required to fail over to the redundant solution and Recovery Point Objective -specific services that need to fail over for business to run smoothly.
Designing a fault-tolerant network can take the worry out of service outages and equipment failure, but it needs to be designed properly. A good network architect will setup a recovery testing plan and simulate failures to make sure the system is redundant. These systems should be reviewed often to ensure they’re still functioning properly.
CBC Solutions offers Fault-Tolerant Network Design as a service. We perform a business analysis to help you decide the right budget. Then we provide best in industry solutions to take away the worry of your connectivity to the outside world so you can stay focused on your business.