Internet access over the last 20 years has become crucial for so many businesses. Companies use the Internet to correspond with clients and vendors. They conduct research. Employees send files and collaborate with each other using cloud services. Data is backed up using the Internet. Many companies are now dependent on the Internet for their phone services as well.
So, what happens when a company’s Internet access goes down?
Most outages are fairly short, in our experience. There might be a power outage or hardware failure someplace that’s resolved relatively quickly, or a telco worker perhaps moves a cable mistakenly, and services are restored when the cable’s replaced. But sometimes, every now and again, a company’s Internet connection might drop for an extended period of time. While that may not have happened to your particular business… it might. Keeping that in mind, it’s best to consider now if a backup Internet connection might be worthwhile for your company.
We always ask our clients if they feel that their Internet access is mission-critical to their daily business plan. “Mission-critical” simply means that the company cannot operate without it. For some businesses, losing their Internet connection for a few hours may mean that employees just use their smartphones to check their email. No big deal. Other companies might lose their Internet connections for a few hours, and have to start sending employees home because they can’t get their job done without Internet access, or they start losing Internet-based orders immediately, leading to a potential loss in revenue. If your company falls into that second category, then yes, the Internet is ABSOLUTELY mission-critical for you!
A backup Internet connection doesn’t need to provide the same exact throughput that a company’s primary connection offers, as it’s simply there for a safety net if the primary connection goes down. For instance, a company that uses a T1 for their primary connection may benefit from having a DSL connection as a backup; a company using a cable connection would also benefit from a low cost DSL backup line as well. Companies using fiber-based services may benefit from a backup T1 line, or perhaps a DSL if budget is a concern.
Speaking of budget… for the vast majority of companies, when their Internet connection has been working perfectly, the idea of spending additional money on a backup connection usually isn’t welcomed with open arms by the finance department. It’s important to consider the costs related to a prolonged outage, though – how much monetary loss would your company be facing due to lost productivity and lost revenue if the Internet is down for an entire afternoon? If that figure is well into the five or six figures, then a backup Internet connection might make a lot more sense to investigate.
Outages don’t even necessarily need to be related to a hardware or line issue. Your Internet provider may be experiencing their own network issues or congestion, which then filters down to their users. In those instances, having a backup connection through a different carrier may provide another level of redundancy for your own services.
To make things even easier, many of today’s firewalls support multiple external connections, so having traffic switch over from a downed primary connection to a backup line is often automatic and instant. Users may notice a bit of a blip (for lack of a better word) and a bit of a reduction in performance as the backup connection kicks in, but slower performance while on a backup connection is far preferable to being completely down and out for an unknown period of time.
Disaster preparation is always done best before disaster actually strikes. While losing your Internet connectivity for a period of time might not qualify as a disaster, it may lead to company wide frustration and a loss of revenue. Protect your company’s performance (and bottom line) by deciding whether or not a backup Internet connection might be the right choice for your business.