With the increasing dependence on internet-based services at events and venues, a reliable internet connection is crucial. From cloud-based applications to VoIP communications, high performance and resilient connectivity underpins every aspect of business activity and operations. Yet far too many companies still lack confidence in the quality and resilience of their current connectivity infrastructure.
With delays becoming more common in fixed-line installations and reports of downtime impacting businesses of all sizes, the quality and reliability of internet connectivity cannot be assumed. Given the significant business costs of failure, including brand damage, it is now imperative that organisations avoid a single point of failure and embrace multiple connections in a bonded solution to ensure business continuity whilst future-proofing operations, explains Ruth van Bunnens, Commercial and Marketing Director, Comms365…
Businesses of every size and in every industry are increasingly reliant upon always-on technologies. From remote access, to cloud-based email and corporate applications, to the Internet of Things and video conferencing, operations rely on fast, reliable connectivity. Yet even the world’s largest businesses – those with deep IT investment pockets – are still experiencing unacceptable levels of downtime. According to Dunn & Bradstreet, 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week. For large enterprises, this can run into losses of millions over the course of a year. Even for a smaller business with as few as ten employees, this can cost tens of thousands of pounds and have a long-term impact on both customer and supplier relationships.
Furthermore, companies are not just struggling with connectivity downtime. Far too often there is unacceptable latency or fluctuations on the network, leading to delays in services, that should be instantaneous, or a diminished user experience.
In many cases, the demands on the connection have increased significantly since the contract was taken out due to the pace of technology change. From the introduction of bandwidth-hungry applications to increase in user numbers, the single, fixed-line connection simply isn’t delivering the quality or reliability required.
Yet for the past decade or more, infrastructure providers have been investing heavily in upgrading fixed-line connectivity in a bid to meet demands for high speed, reliable connectivity. So, what’s going wrong? Why are companies still experiencing service interruption and unacceptable latency?
One issue coming up again and again is the significant delays faced in achieving network connectivity. For companies moving premises, expanding or even setting up, these delays can last months – with a lack of communication from providers adding to the frustration. This is where a dedicated 4G or 5G connection can be extremely useful, providing an immediate alternative to the primary fixed connection. This reliable, high speed mobile technology is also a great option in rural areas where the fixed-line connections have still not been upgraded to fibre.
Once a 4G/5G solution is in place, it can also provide useful resilience even when the fixed-line connection is activated. With a failover mobile data connectivity solution alongside the fixed-line, businesses have two independently delivered internet connections and can therefore be confident operations will not be interrupted if one fails.
An even more robust approach is to maximise multiple connections simultaneously to provide the best performance and reliability at all times. With a bonded internet connection, a company combines fixed, mobile or even satellite connections into a single, secure always-on network. Typically, a bonded connection offers enhanced performance and speed, as well as lower latency, allowing companies to confidently embrace new cloud-based applications and add users as required without fears of downtime or slow user experience that could affect productivity.
This approach can also be used to provide reliable, high-performance connectivity in temporary locations such as pop-up shops and warehouses that cannot wait weeks for the installation of a fixed line, as well as rural areas plagued with intermittent connections.
The bonded model delivers the additional always-on internet connectivity required to achieve confidence in business operations: the connection will automatically default to the fastest, most reliable connection available at any time, with minimal impact on users.
A single connection is simply not good enough to support today’s always-on businesses. Organisations need to embrace multiple connections – either separately or, preferably, bonded – both to achieve the required level of resilience today and ensure business agility to meet future needs. Given the different connection quality and availability across the country, there is no single solution. The best approach will depend on the quality of fixed and mobile connections available in any location – a combination of coverage maps and a site survey will determine the optimal blend of connections.
Obviously, it is essential to ensure solutions are carrier agnostic – there is no point having two connections from the same supplier as they will both fail simultaneously. Plus, of course, rather than having to create multiple contracts with separate network companies, working with a provider that offers direct reliable internet connections with suppliers is a real bonus – especially when the company also offers the knowledge and experience to ensure a business’ specific needs and challenges are met.
The level of investment will be locality dependent but it should also reflect the specific needs of each business, including the number of users, the cost of downtime and the critical nature of cloud-based systems to the business’ productivity. In addition, it is important to ensure any investment is future-proofed to maximise return on investment – what are the options for evolving the connectivity in line with business changes?
A reliable, always-on internet connection should be a given in a business world dependent upon cloud-based applications. It should be available not only within long term business locations but also at pop-up and temporary venues. And it should be achievable quickly as and when a business needs to move or expand. Any disruption will affect business performance, reducing productivity and undermining morale, eventually even leading to brand damage. A single connection is simply not good enough –multiple connections are key to achieving the high levels of resilience and performance demanded for always-on internet connectivity.