Latest posts by Daryl Chambers (see all)
Today, losing access to internet for even a few minutes can badly damage sales and profit and reduce efficiency of a business’s operations.
Most businesses today rely on a single data path for their internet connectivity, typically using NBN. This connectivity covers so much of what a business does, from accessing cloud-based systems (like SAP, SalesForce, Microsoft 365 or AWS) through to payment systems and EFTPOS.
In retail operations a failure to be able to process credit card payments not just hurts immediate sales but potentially customers won’t come back next time. In other businesses the indirect cost can be even more dire. Imagine a medical surgery needing to download customer records in an urgent case… Or a mining company depending on a reading in their cloud platform to make a decision.
Even with 99.9% uptime of your core internet this actually represents around 40 minutes per month of no internet. If that happens in a peak time in a retailer or during an emergency then lost sales and profits or costs can blow out very quickly. In non-CBD areas this uptime might be lower at around 99% and then we see 6-9 hours per month of downtime. Scary?
In 2021 Gartner estimated the cost of unplanned downtime to be around $5,600 per minute. While that may be a US number even in Australia the figures can get high quickly.
Planning for the worst – What causes network outages?
There are many causes of core network outages such as:
- Operator technical problems such as a network software glitches or a power outage at a switch/exchange
- Physical disturbances such as underground cable being accidentally cut, or from floods and fires
- Cyber attacks on core networks
How can you mitigate such outages and costs?
If a business loses core connectivity it should have a disaster recovery (DR) or business continuity (BC) plan ready to automatically fail-over critical operations to a backup connected network. Obviously this network should be dimensioned to offer the bandwidth to manage the required critical operations. Luckily today we have various solutions to support this:
- Adding a secondary land- based system. While this might look suitable and be quite low cost there are too many instances where primary and secondary land lines go down together (e.g. accidently digging up of a underground cables, issues at a main exchange…).
- Cellular failover using 5G / LTE wireless routers using products such as the Peplink BR1 Pro. This separates the redundant failover form common infrastructure in the ground providing better back-up and with the addition of dual SIMs for different carriers you can add another layer to the solution.
- In remote areas without the benefit of good cellular, satellite IP is now a viable option using from carriers including Inmarsat BGAN or Iridium Certus along with the VSAT and high speed from providers such as Starlink. For even higher reliability why not couple the cellular and satellite together. Peplink InControl will even bond these channels to maximise throughput.
- Use cellular to provide out-of-band-management (OOBM) to reach critical systems such as manufacturing and mining equipment, switches. This provides 24/7/365 access to critical network components for IT personnel to remotely systems manage.
Assuming you go for a wireless failover to support your business there are a number of issues to consider:
- Speed of failover – system can be designed to be ready to detect outages and failover in an instant so that users barely notice a disruption
- Selecting the right cellular network to use? To provide coverage where needed
- Using the right data plans and systems to manage the cellular failover are crucial for controlling costs
- Failing back when the core network comes back on air to reduce cost of being connected over cellular
- Cost control – which services do you allow to connect over to the back-up system? For instance payments might be crucial but staff access to internet or YouTube/FaceBook could be blocked.
- For EFTPOS and payment any redundant system must meet the payment card industry (PCI) compliance standards
Outages happen. Technologies exist to integrate solutions to mitigate risks and minimise costs and disruptions. Make sure you are ready.
How can M2M help?
- Hardware – M2M work with leading vendors such as Peplink who offer a range of supporting software and hardware packages designed just for failover. These solutions activate without any disruption to the end users, providing robust, reliable and cost-effective tools to keep businesses running.
- Data plans and SIMs – our M2M One business offers specially designed failover plans on Telstra LTE and 5G, the network with the greatest coverage.
- with the ability to aggregate Sim data across your network of failover routers (most times failover is not national but at a very local level to use data from your SIM pool to manage those sites)
- In addition we offer second SIM failover for even greater redundancy, all managed from a single screen
- Management of the pool – our systems allow you to manage the pool of data and minimise monthly costs. If there is a larger outage you can lift up the data plans to provide more data for that limited period and then move back to a “normal” plan the following month