14 Oct

Important Features Of Superior Internet Connectivity

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Image credit: Stuart Miles

One of the most important aspects of any online service is the quality and stability of the network. You are going to want fast, highly-available Internet connections and rock solid uptime from your service provider. Here are the things to look for when evaluating a provider’s data network:

Size And Number of Connections. It is imperative that you insist on a provider that has large connections from multiple providers, with the network infrastructure in place to maximize the benefit of the same (i.e. routing and failover resources). Iin addition, each carrier should have direct connections to other networks to speed data movement and reduce hop counts (see Peering below).

Carrier-Neutrality. The old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket definitely applies here. A service provider who is locked in to service from just one or two carriers has limited options, and limits your options as well. For instance, if you wish to run a dedicated line (PRI, etc) to your equipment, you may be forced to obtain the line from your colocation provider’s exclusive carrier, like it or not – and if they don’t have that service, too bad! A carrier-neutral facility not only has more options and negotiating power for the network connectivity that they provide to your equipment, you also can obtain direct service from any carrier who can run a line to the service address.

Utilization Level. This is a measurement of how much of the data network’s capacity is being utilized at any given time. Obviously, as utilization nears capacity, network congestion issues will being to arise in the form of latency and generally degraded service quality.

Peering. Peering is a relationship between two or more networks in which they create a direct link between each other, and agree to forward each other’s packets directly across this link instead of using the standard Internet backbone. Carriers who have established peering arrangements with a large number of other networks can provide superior transit time with greatly reduced hops on a significant percentage of internet traffic. Because of this, peering is a desirable characteristic when evaluating a provider’s network architecture.

Network Redundancy. The multiple connections of a superior data network should be configured to effectively provide redundancy, so that if one interface goes down, traffic is seamlessly shunted to the remaining interfaces without appreciable impact on data flow. This is typically accomplished via protocols such as BGP and VRRP. You’ll want to choose providers who employ these technologies at their core.

Migration Path. Despite grand plans and efforts, it is likely that your colocation project will start out relatively small with minimal demands for network connectivity. Your colocation service provider should be able to accommodate rather humble beginnings, while allowing for easy and non-disruptive growth as your bandwidth demands increase.