Two Internet Pipes are Definitely Better than One

Does your organization have a robust second connection to the Internet? Today it’s more important than ever.

You know your organization uses the Internet in its work constantly. Even internal applications are increasingly accessed across the Internet, from project management sites to outsourced email to constituent management systems.

The Internet connection has become just as important for applications that run on-premise. Home users, travelers, and branch offices all depend on reliable access to in-house systems, and they want 24/7 availability. That depends on a solid Internet  connection.

The clear way to get a reliable Internet connection is redundancy. Like a disc array for storage, or a UPS for power, clients need an always-on backup for Internet connectivity. Each major office should have two Internet links, configured so that one will automatically cover for the other. Within CGNET’s experience we have many examples:

  • At CGNET’s in?house data center, an underground fiber optic cable is our primary link, while a wireless link from our roof goes to a second Internet provider.
  • A local client uses one Internet provider over two distinct lines, connecting to two different points in the provider’s network.
  • A research station in Africa has a particularly challenging environment. It uses a microwave link to a local Internet provider, with a satellite link to an international provider.
  • Small offices in the U.S. employ both a cable link and a DSL link.
 There are a few technical details to keep in mind when you implement redundant Internet links. First, the Internet routers should use a protocol for automatic failure. The hot stand?by router protocol (HSRP) works for simple set ups. Where there is incoming traffic to in?house servers, boundary gateway protocol (BGP) fits the bill, sometimes with changes to your domain name service (DNS).
Second it’s important that your technical staff receive alerts whenever one link goes down. It will often require action by your staff to get that link repaired, which should start as soon as a failure is detected. Third, even if your backup link is of a much lower capacity than your primary link, that’s still much better than nothing. In that situation, however, you may want to fine tune your routing so that non?critical traffic cannot pass over the smaller link, to prevent congestion and poor performance. Finally, if your servers move email through CGNET, we have prepared procedures and information on how to configure mail servers to minimize disruption and to alert our staff when failures occur.
We expect that most locations will need redundant Internet connections within a few years. It’s an important part of any technology plan.
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