|« Could Your Data Be Cut Off?||It Takes a Village...to Keep Wikipedia On Track »|
Ensuring Internet Availability
These days our firms are so dependant upon Internet connectivity - especially if you're moving any of your systems to the Cloud - that having fast and reliable Internet access is a necessity. And despite the claims of certain pundits and evangelists high-speed, always-on, Internet access is NOT yet ubiquitous. I don't get through a week without getting calls or messages from people telling me their Internet service is down for some period of time.
Fortunately small-scale Internet service (Cable modems, DSL and such) have come down substantially in price even as their performance has increased. And there are a lot of firewalls on the market now that support multiple WAN (Wide-Area Network; AKA "Internet") connections - NetGear's FVS336 is available from Amazon.com for just $234.99 - it'll let you connect two Internet connections (cable modem and DSL perhaps?) at the same time, and configure them for load-balancing and fail-over.
What Does That Mean?
Load-balancing means that when one Internet connection is busy or slow, the router will automatically re-route your traffic down the other connection. Whenever possible the router will use the faster connection in order to balance the traffic across both lines.
Fail-over means that if either connection goes down completely the router will seamlessly route ALL of your traffic over the other connection until the failed connection comes back. You might notice a bit of a slowdown, but otherwise you'll still be fully operational. That's important.
Selecting Your Connections
One important thing to keep in mind if you're thinking about getting multiple WAN connections; you shouldn't get them all from the same provider if you can avoid that. Having two DSL lines is o.k., but if they're both from the same vendor and that vendor has an outage...then both of your lines are down and your fail-over is worthless. Better to get one line from provider A and the other line from provider B. It's less likely both providers will go down at the same time.
Protect the Power
One other simple step I see too many firms miss...plug your firewall/router, cable or DSL modems and all key networking gear into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS; Battery Backup) so that if you have a power outage, or even just a brownout, at your office your connection will stay up. American Power Conversion makes some very good units and you can even get one like this for well under $100. The peace of mind is worth it.
For more information on this or any other topic covered in this blog, contact Ben Schorr at (928) 377-5630 or via e-mail at email@example.com.