Working in the Cloud? You need a WAN failover connection

 In advice, planning, technical

Cloud services and cloud computing are no longer just industry buzzwords.  Small to midsize businesses have begun to adopt cloud or hosted services,  and they’re migrating some or all of their on-premise IT infrastructure to cloud providers.  These businesses are turning to cloud-based systems to reduce infrastructure costs, increase flexibility and maximize productivity.

Conventional computing requires any applications or software to be installed on physical hardware to be able to run – meaning that the more users your company has, the bigger the infrastructure required, not to mention more software licenses for each of the computers or users.

The downside? Definitely the cost. You have to invest in a complex IT infrastructure, have more system administrators to look after it and so on.  And, let’s not forget the inevitable software and hardware upgrades looming on the horizon every few years.

What cloud hosted services offer is truly exceptional: any user that wishes to use some application can connect directly to the server from anywhere in the world.  All that is required is an Internet connection and your users are able to access work from anywhere.  That’s truly powerful.

You may already have shifted your whole IT infrastructure to the cloud to benefit from the many benefits of cloud computing.  Perhaps you’ve just moved the critical components of your system, such as email or backup services.

To access the cloud, your business depends on your ISP to provide you with an Internet connection.  Now, let’s analyze a critical situation which has probably already happened at least once during your time in business.

From a downed telephone pole, to an upstream router failure, to an internal issue with the cloud provider, there is no doubt that Internet connectivity loss will happen occasionally, regardless of which ISP you use.   A good cloud services provider will experience much fewer incidents of downtime that most on-premise servers, but they aren’t responsible for your company’s ability to reach the Internet. Downtime for businesses is a loss, both in time and in profits.

There are two groups of businesses out there: those that have experienced significant Internet downtime of some sort, and those that will. If you are among the latter group, then you are lucky. However, luck can run out, and that’s why you should consider some connectivity redundancy measures.

If your IT infrastructure is partially or completely based on cloud computing and hosted services, then all of your work could grind to a halt if you happen to lose Internet connectivity. You would want to avoid that at all costs.

The best way to ensure continuous uptime is to employ two or more Internet connections from different ISPs.  If cable modem, DSL or wireless broadband are available in your area, then you ought to choose one or more of each of the technologies.   Try to choose services that are carrier diverse, meaning that you wouldn’t want two different types of WAN connections from your local phone company, for example.  Even if the two products use different physical infrastructure (i.e. copper vs. fiberoptic), they most likely use the same routers and switches on the core network.  If a router has an issue at that provider, both connections could go down.

A WAN failover solution usually works within your company’s firewall or router. If the firewall or router detects that your primary ISP link fails, all the traffic is automatically switched to the backup Internet connection until the previous line is restored.

A dual ISP set-up is a relatively simple redundancy measure that your company can take to ensure your business can reach critical services hosted in the Cloud.  You may even opt for a cheaper (and comparatively slower) secondary Internet connection, just in case the primary one fails.  No doubt, slow progress is better than no progress when it comes to your business.

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