In recent years, considerable attention has been paid to data retention in both corporations and businesses. Most businesses right now have on-premises storage, off-site/cloud storage, or perhaps a hybrid.
What I find fascinating is that many of these same companies do not support the one thing that leads them to that data, and that is the internet/network. What is even more amazing is the relatively low cost to create a backup network.
The vast majority of companies use VOIP over Ethernet or PRI in business and corporate environments. Some companies will run VOIP over cable, particularly in small/remote/home office environments.
Most “next generation” firewalls or “unified threat management” appliances contain features that allow not only the ability to failover from one circuit (the primary) to a secondary circuit, but many can load balance . This provides additional benefits to a company for bandwidth maximization.
To get started, let’s look at ways to back up a network:
1. If your business has an Ethernet circuit for Internet (10Mbps-100Mbps, etc…) from a provider, you can order a cable modem from your local cable company for less than $400/month on average. In fact (using Atlanta as an example), one of the local cable companies will provide a 100/7mbps cable modem for $180/month.
As long as your firewall can provide automatic failover and load balancing, you can get the additional bandwidth of the secondary connection, as well as the benefits of redundancy.
2. If your business is smaller and uses a cable modem as its primary circuit, backup options include DSL (even if it will be phased out in the next few years) and 3G/4G wireless solutions. Both are very cheap, usually less than $100/month.
A smaller business may think they can’t afford the type of equipment to do failover and load balancing, but this is often a false belief. I’ve configured several customers with low-cost firewall solutions, such as Fortinet’s Wi-Fi 60D*, which provides both the standard advanced features offered by security vendors.
*Full Disclaimer: I am a Fortinet reseller.
3. If your business is using basic analog phone lines, it’s only a matter of time until the established phone provider phases out traditional phone service. Both AT&T and Verizon have stated that they will be leaving the local copper network by 2020, and that’s not that far off. Most likely, a local AT&T or Verizon representative will contact you and offer you a new package (U-Verse or FIOS, respectively).
In fact, I recently did some freelance work for a friend of mine who runs a telecom agency, and AT&T provided him with a list of his customers on traditional PRI, 1FB, and other digital services. The initiative is to convert all clients to Ethernet. So the story is, even if you’re on traditional POTS (Old Telephone Service), you’ll soon be using VOIP.
The main advantages of backing up your network are as follows:
1. The data you have worked to protect and recover would not be accessible without a secondary circuit in case the primary circuit failed.
Gartner estimates the cost to a business to range from $140K/hr and up. http://blogs.gartner.com/andrew-lerner/2014/07/16/the-cost-of-downtime/
What would be the cost to your organization if your network was down for an hour?
There are several “Outage Calculators” from consulting firms like Deloitte and Gartner, but as a business owner or CIO, you should already have a pretty good idea of what the cost would be.
What would be the lost revenue per hour if your call center is down?
What would be the lost revenue per hour if your ERP or card processing system were not available?
Would it be worth implementing the marginal costs described above to avoid that?
2. With load balancing, the network can run much faster by using a low-cost secondary circuit for additional bandwidth. Therefore, expenses will be reduced.
For example, a 10mbps ethernet circuit may cost $500/month. To add additional bandwidth, an upgrade to a 20 Mbps Ethernet circuit could cost an additional $300, or $800 per month. The same company could stick with 10 Mbps Ethernet as its primary, add a lower-cost cable modem (like a 100/7 circuit) for $200 a month, and actually save money. Not only would this setup be $100/month less expensive, it would also provide redundancy and much higher bandwidth than simply upgrading the primary.
3. The reputation of the company and the brand is at stake. Anytime there is a known outage (or a breach of company data), it reflects negatively on the company and leads to a loss of consumer confidence, potential financial repercussions due to service level agreements (if applicable). Loss of productivity and possible loss of employment.
Backing up their network allows a business the peace of mind that all major components are backed up, at minimal cost.
4. Last but not least, cloud applications continue to grow in popularity. Considering that an internet pipe is the only place to access core hosted applications, a backup plan is vital. Core operations are compromised if the Internet’s backbone goes down, effectively crippling a business. This may be the most important reason of all to back up a network.
So what are the keys to achieving this?
Evaluate the current situation:
What provider do you use for internet?
What type of service do you have? Is it PRI, Ethernet, cable modem?
What is your contractual situation?
How much are you currently paying for the network?
What type of firewall does your network use?
What are the technical limitations of that Firewall?
What options are available for network backup? (Cable/DSL/Fixed Wireless)
What is the cost of upgrading the Firewall if it does not provide failover?
What is the cost to update the Firewall if it does not load balance (if desired)?
What is the cost of your downtime per hour in relation to these costs?
Implement the solution:
Who will do the implementation?
Usually this is my customer’s data provider. When I have installed new offices, I use my own installer.
What is the cost of implementation?
Typical data provider charges range from $100/hour to $200/hour and typical time is approximately 4 hours.
I hope this article has been informative for you and gives you some guidance on the various ways your organization can improve its infrastructure at low cost and high performance. If you are interested in discussing your particular business needs, please email me at [email protected]
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.