As the internet continues to evolve into a progressively more indispensable resource for conducting business, the ability to communicate with remote sites, customers, partners and suppliers has become a variable that is often taken for granted. Treating uptime as an assumed constant and making decisions based upon cutting costs, too many organizations choose to accept MSP promises instead of implementing solutions that ensure network redundancy and safeguard business continuity. Network performance, reliability and uptime are fundamental requirements of daily operations. Network downtime, not only costing money and causing productivity loss, adversely affects a company’s reputation among its customers and suppliers.
High Availability Networks
There are unforeseen circumstances that can cause a network or remote site to go down. Some of these circumstances may include forces of nature, security breaches, failing network infrastructure or something as haphazard as a backhoe cutting a cable. Power failures are one of the most common causes of network downtime. All critical network equipment, at either the data center or failover site, must be connected to a reliable power source with high availability through redundancy measures. This is essential in order to protect IT investments by safeguarding against data loss and ensuring critical business functions continue to operate without interruption.
In spite of these risks, few businesses plan for, or properly allocate a budget, to implement a high-availability network. Consequently, many businesses experience downtime as Managed Service Providers overstate the reliability of their primary circuit and then fail to deliver.
A carefully crafted solution is important because any type of network outage could trigger a cascade of negatively impacting events. From customer experience to sales, downtime can cripple critical business functions and can directly influence profitability. These types of events could eventually cause severe consequences that reduce an organization’s ability to pursue their strategic business interests.
Network Redundancy Measures
Investing in a full WAN solution enables the implementation of more advanced technologies and protocols. Having access to manage and monitor the primary and secondary circuit, in addition to the devices and device configurations, provides the level of management necessary in order to set up the proper safeguards. One example is the ability to leverage protocols such as Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) across different hardware platforms. Adding redundancy at the router/firewall level, along with WAN redundancy, allows for near 100% uptime to become a viable reality.
Network and device redundancy is not only important for connectivity but is also important to maintain PCI compliance throughout the different stages of a failover event. With technology like VRRP, when a router failover occurs in a restaurant there is no impact upon the end user. The failover is seamless and immediately resolves to take over support of day-to-day business operations. This uninterrupted service is crucial in support of many routine restaurant operations, such as: online ordering, seating optimization, mobile point-of-sale, public and private Wi-Fi and credit card processing in real-time.
The final component, in addition to network and device redundancy, needed to maintain a near constant level of network availability is the introduction of advanced monitoring services. Any network monitoring platform can report on whether a WAN connection is UP or DOWN. Effective monitoring grants insight into detailed performance metrics and helps keep an eye on latency, CPU and memory usage. This type of proactive monitoring, versus reactionary UP/DOWN only services, is a critical resource to stay ahead of outages.
In today’s competitive environment, no single restaurant can afford to have any downtime. Studies continually show the cost of downtime increasing by staggering percentages with average costs of un-planned downtime well into the thousands of dollars per minute. For this reason, restaurants are beginning to see the long term ROI garnered from ensuring high network availability. Driven by this realization, restaurants have begun looking to Managed Service Providers to provision powerful and reliable backup network solutions in addition to expecting stable primary circuits. With a full managed WAN solution, restaurants can begin to confidently expect four-nine uptime (99.99%) and trust that their network will serve as a reliable and stable foundation for critical business applications.
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