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Internet Failover for Business Continuity

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Connectivity is a crucial component of modern business continuity. On average, a business will experience at least two unplanned outages each year. These outages can mean significant revenue loss for your business – Gartner estimates the average business loses $5,600 per minute of Internet downtime. 

Having a holistic continuity plan is fundamental to business growth. As more and more business moves online, continuity plans have to include your internet. Having a failover connection for your internet is critical in mitigating the effects of unplanned outages.

What is Failover Connectivity?

At its most basic, internet failover is a backup connection that’s ready and waiting in the event your primary connection fails.

Say you’re working through video training at work and suddenly the network cuts out – your clip stops loading and your learning is interrupted. Suddenly, your failover service automatically connects, the video resumes, and you can continue working.

In most offices, there’s a good chance that more than just your video was interrupted. During this outage, your files stopped syncing, your phone call dropped, and draft emails weren’t saved. If you’re lucky enough to have a failover solution in place, this was just a temporary blip in your day. In some cases, you might not even know until your IT Team reports the outage later.

Hot vs. Cold Failover Systems

You may hear these systems referred to as being “hot,” “warm,” or “cold” – but what does that mean? The basic difference is in how the backup service  activates:

  • Hot Failover: When the primary connection is disrupted, a hot failover system automatically transfers to a live secondary connection. As both are running, your users may not even notice the transition has happened. These are more suitable for operations with mission-critical tasks that rely on the internet, as they will ensure data continues to flow uninterrupted.
  • Warm Failover: When your main circuit goes down, warm failover means that the backup comes online automatically with only a brief interruption, typically no more than a minute or two. This option can be adequate for keeping your operations running with only minor impacts during an outage.
  • Cold Failover: Instead of an automatic transition, a cold system needs to be transferred manually. These solutions are not nearly as efficient, and you’ll lose productivity while the switching process happens but if your business can manage a small amount of downtime, this may be a good option.

Any of these options will improve your network reliability, the question is how efficient you want the process to be. One way or another, you have the ability to continuously transmit data and minimize impacts on productivity.

What About Redundancy? Isn’t That The Same as Failover?

In most areas of business, redundancy is something to avoid – except in your network! When we talk about redundant circuits, we simply mean the backup circuits you have in place.

In this case, the redundant connections come to your rescue when the primary ones fail. Many carriers will offer backup circuits in addition to your primary connection, but this will only mitigate certain problems.

The best practice is to introduce carrier diversity which means you source your redundant circuit from a completely different carrier. This way, if your primary carrier experiences a large network outage, your backup won’t be affected.

Failover connectivity is specifically the mechanism by which you swap from the primary system to the redundant system. Redundancy will minimize disruptions and keep productivity high, but failover is how you do it.

At the end of the day, you need both redundancy and failover systems to keep your business running smoothly.

Wired vs. Wireless Failover System

Choosing the right connection for your failover is important – after all, if both your primary and your backup can go down at the same time, you’re not really coming out on top.

Having a less expensive cable or DSL connection in addition to a dedicated fibre connection can be a great way to stay online in case of an emergency, but it’s not always just network outages impacting your connection. Interruptions can be entirely physical – natural disasters, vandalism, construction accidents, and even beavers can completely sever your cables!

Adding diversity to your failover connections can help you prevent sudden downtime. Including a wireless circuit like LTE or 5G, in your failover solution can ensure you’re protected in even the most extreme circumstances.

Which Wireless System is best for your business?

“Wireless” is a broad term – fortunately, it means you have a lot of options. Typically, wireless connections are not as fast or reliable as a wired connection but they make great backup circuits due to their availability and ever-increasing reliability and capacity.

  • 5G/LTE internet uses cellular network coverage to get businesses online in remote areas that lack wired infrastructure. In more urban areas, it makes a great option for failover connectivity. With speeds up to 300mbps, 5G/LTE makes for a high-performance failover internet connection, and as network upgrades roll out across the world, it’s only getting better.
  • Satellite Internet can provide up to 100 Mbps and is available in most remote locations. Relying on low-orbit satellites to transmit data, this method is subject to a lot of interference, and speeds are often slow.  However, in remote locations, it can mean the difference between having internet or not – and as a failover connection, it will be there even if your nearest cell towers go down.
  • Fixed Wireless Internet has a wide range of profile offerings. If you’re looking for a more robust backup connection this might be a great choice for you. However, this solution is typically a bit more expensive.

How crucial is Failover Connectivity for my Business?

Today’s modern organizations operate largely through the internet – especially since the beginning of the pandemic. As a business owner, this highly connected way of operating means you can be vulnerable to more than just outages. Security breaches, server maintenance issues, DDoS attacks and more can all hamper your business operations. A backup circuit makes sense from a security perspective as well.

In an emergency, having a redundant connection can keep the revenue flowing and the lights on, even if it’s at reduced capacity. Without failover, your revenue is at the mercy of whatever unknown situation is causing the outage.

Failover connections can save you more than money too. Downtime can cause a lot of stress and take your IT team away from more important initiatives. Unreliable connectivity has a negative impact on employee morale and can contribute to staff turnover. With redundancies in place and ready to go, your team can investigate and resolve outages without tensions running high.

iTel’s SD-WAN— a Modern Method for Success

Software-Defined Wide Area Network – SD-WAN – technology has made failover connectivity incredibly simple. iTel’s options allow you to bond multiple connections so you can utilize their combined bandwidth – and if one goes down, there are multiple others already connected.

iTel provides SD-WAN options to simplify, strengthen and complete multiple network objectives simultaneously. In addition to failover, you can also leverage SD-WAN technology to implement a Secure Access Service Edge – SASE – framework.

Bottom Line

Your business can easily fall victim to forces outside your control, and as such, your disaster recovery plan needs to include your internet connectivity.

Here at iTel, we provide everything you need for reliable business connectivity. Our services include internet failover, SD-WAN, and managed continuity options to keep you online no matter what happens. We’re here to help you prevent and mitigate the impacts of outages, security threats, and more. We’ve partnered with a long list of carriers and technology providers to ensure you can access everything you need in one place. Let’s Connect.

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Please contact us for any additional information. We would be more than happy to direct you to the resources you need, or to put you in touch with an iTel Associate who will be able to answer all of your questions.