In the first part of this blog series, we gave some insight into sourcing internet
connectivity How to avoid the headaches of sourcing internet connectivity
(telstra.co.uk). Here we take a step further and explain the pivotal components of enterprise-grade internet access.
Enterprises increasingly turn to the Internet for their WAN connectivity as they replace legacy equipment with SD-WAN. According to Gartner, 45% of enterprise locations will utilise the Internet exclusively for WAN connectivity by 2026 . This is pushing service providers to evaluate their own Internet offerings as well as the extent they peer with local ISPs to provide greater geographic reach and differentiation.
Many enterprises are migrating from private networks to hybrid networks encompassing several connectivity options, including the Internet. Hybrid network benefits include resilience, scalability, and flexibility.
When migrating to enterprise-grade Internet and selecting the right partner to support business outcomes, it is imperative to understand the technology.
Types of Internet connectivity
When we discuss connectivity from a location to a destination on the Internet, it comes in two parts. The first part is the connectivity from the site to the edge of the Internet or local connectivity, and the second part is the wider Internet itself.
For local connectivity, the underlying technology used is the biggest differentiator between products, and it governs the overall quality and features of the connection. The Internet can be delivered using various technologies, including fixed-line direct Internet access (DIA) and broadband and wireless technologies such as satellite, cellular mobile, and radio.
DIA provides the best quality as it is similar to a leased line, giving an uncontended bidirectional path to the Internet - akin to having a completely clear highway in both directions.
Broadband covers a range of products based on contended service. These range from copper-based ADSL to fibre-based gigabit services. The contended aspect is often where multiple broadband connections aggregate together on the path toward the Internet with the potential for disrupted performance during busy periods.
Satellite, cellular, and radio have no dependency on fixed lines in a site. The flip side, however, is that these technologies come with performance limitations related to the nature of wireless connections. These limitations include latency, local availability, and an upper limit to the bandwidth capability.
Last mile delivery
The last mile delivery is defined as the infrastructure providing the final site connection. As outlined above, for fixed and wireless-based services this is the key difference.
The last mile can be fixed lines via copper lines (legacy telephone lines) or fibre lines. Copper lines have been a highly effective solution for decades, and FTTC products have run up to 80Mb/s download for broadband and around 10Mb/s for DIA. More extensive DIA links and next-generation broadband is exclusively fibre and, if available in a location, are the definite choice. If fibre is unavailable at a site, it can usually be fed in through existing ducts or, failing that, dug in with a new installation. The latter adds to cost and deployment times.
Wireless-based services can be the go-to products if fixed lines are unavailable. They typically require skilled installation in placing of dishes or antennae to ensure the strongest signal.
Time to repair
Connectivity does have the potential to fail, due to due to issues with the customer hardware, network hardware, damaged last-mile lines and so on. How quickly the provider rectifies this will have an impact on the user’s business.
DIA-based services are more enterprise-focused and come with 4 or 8-hour fixed times, often 24/7. Broadband, however, can be the next business day fix, meaning that if a connection goes down on a Friday afternoon, it might not be restored until Tuesday.
Time to repair and fix hours will vary depending on the product and country, so it is imperative to check these. Wireless-based services can also suffer failures if towers go down.
Some organisations can cope with an outage, but most businesses need resilience, serviced by having multiple connections to an SD-WAN device. There are two approaches to this. One is to use two connections with differing technology, such as fibre DIA and cellular. This is a cost-effective approach. The second line, however, is often a lower specification than the first link, which could mean lower performance.
The other approach is to purchase two similar fixed-line services and then ensure they are diverse. Diverse means using different last-mile delivery and onward infrastructure up to the Internet. Confirming diversity can be a lengthy design activity, but it is vital where a location’s internet connectivity is vital.
What is peering?
All the above has been related to connecting the site through providers to the edge of the Internet with a known availability. The connectivity then passes into the Internet itself, specifically into an autonomous area (AS) either directly owned and managed by the provider or their partner who provides access to the Internet to them. This peering is how two adjacent areas of the Internet connect and exchange data traffic.
How well connected (peered) that AS is to other areas and key services will determine the quality of the end-to-end user connectivity. Typically, there is no or low contention at peering points, but if there is, then connectivity through it can be impacted and affect the end-to-end performance.
For crucial services such as AWS, Azure, Microsoft 365, and Google Cloud Platform, direct peering to them from within the provider AS provides the best experience for enterprise users.
Selecting the right internet connection
As you can see, there are many considerations and various options for connecting an organisation to the Internet and ensuring it performs in line with expectations.
Internet connectivity is now pivotal to the day-to-day running of organisations. It is therefore paramount that the right due diligence is carried out when choosing a solution. Don’t just be drawn in on speed and price. Resilience and suitability are just as important to factor in.
Our team of experts at Telstra can help you choose the best internet connectivity package for your organisation. We can help with bandwidth sizing and walk you through bearer requirements and international pricing structures to build a connection that fits business goals. We can assist with availability via published SLAs and a deeper analysis of availability on mixed access types alongside your usage needs. For further details contact us: Request a Callback from Telstra Enterprise
 Gartner Magic Quadrant for network
services global 2023 https://www.gartner.com/doc/reprints?id=1-2CNG1Y00&ct=230222&st=sb