The cloud, IaaS specifically, can be a very powerful tool and has given many businesses a competitive edge. While many growing companies are struggling with IT challenges, those who have leveraged the cloud quickly realized how this technology has changed the game; but there is more to deployment than what lies in the data center. There are actually two other primary components, which can make or break the experience of the Cloud. We’ll explore the first, Internet quality, in this article and do a follow-up article next month on the second – on-site network preparation.
Part 1 – The Importance of Internet Quality
Internet access may be the most important factor to optimizing the cloud, but the options are limited. When moving to a fully hosted solution, like IaaS, the greatest advantage can also be the largest negative – the cloud experience depends on the quality of your Internet connection. Cloud or no Cloud, most businesses today fully realize the importance of reliable quality Internet. Outages happen with all providers regardless of where the fault may lie. The question is, can your business afford it?
So, how do we minimize downtown and maximize performance? Dedicated Internet Access or a DIA circuit.
There are two basic types of Internet service: best-effort service and dedicated service. For business owners, understanding the differences between the two service platforms is important for deciding which is the smartest choice for your organization. So, let’s examine both service types.
Best Effort Internet Service – This type of service is usually associated with conventional Cable/DSL connections. With best effort service, many users share a predetermined amount of bandwidth. The quality and speed of each individual connection is directly affected by the amount of overall Internet traffic using up the bandwidth at a given time. It’s not unlike the automobile traffic in our towns. At certain times the roads are clear and optimal speeds are easily maintained; at other times (like rush hour) traffic backs up and speeds are drastically decreased.
There’s a common misconception that the bandwidth you pay for is the bandwidth you get. The truth is, as the name implies, “best effort” service is when a provider makes its “best effort” to deliver the bandwidth promised. Usually the speeds advertised are referring to the maximum allowed speed based on your package, but do not account for the users that are sharing it and what that means to connection quality. For example, if you pay for a 15Mbps best effort plan, the provider is offering service speeds of up to 15Mbps. Notice the emphasis on “up to.” Best-effort bandwidth and speeds are only estimates. There are no service level or connection quality requirements, contracts or guarantees. In addition to reducing speed, bandwidth traffic can impact connection quality in other ways, including latency, jitter, packet loss and more. These items directly impact voice quality on VoIP systems, transmit speed of data, and performance on items like virtual computing and hosted desktops.
A tip for “at-home” Internet users
For most “at-home” users, best-effort Internet plans offer an excellent option. Not only are they readily available and easily affordable, they typically provide enough speed and bandwidth to satisfy most basic at-home uses, like checking email, interacting through social media, streaming video content and just searching for information. A rule of thumb for at-home use is to choose a best-effort plan with “up-to” speeds that can handle your most data-intensive online tasks – but remember, it’s still just best effort and quality may differ by location.
A tip for business Internet users
Businesses and organizations that rely on timely transmission of high volumes of data are usually better served by replacing best effort with dedicated Internet service. A best effort plan can be unreliable, counter productive and even risky when a business is dependent on efficient data delivery to operate.
Dedicated Internet Service – This type of Internet service refers to a dedicated level of access between a business and its ISP – a quantity designated for the business that owns it. Remember our automobile traffic example? Well, imagine how efficient your business would become if a lane on all of the roads your business needed to operate was reserved exclusively for your company fleet. No other cars are allowed in your lanes, so nothing can slow you down except yourself.
With a dedicated Internet connection, the stated bandwidth is guaranteed by contract and the speeds should be dependable and high quality. With no outside traffic, information flows easily and is transmitted quickly; plus, you can better manage the traffic using the connection since you know which “cars are on the road.”
When best effort isn’t good enough
You’re sitting down for dinner when your most important client calls. Your client is still working, so now you’re working too. You boot up your laptop and attempt to access some client files through your best-effort line. But wait – it’s 8 p.m. – the ISP rush hour! That means your connection is being shared with Netflix and Hulu watchers, video gamers, net surfers and countless others. Your upload and download efforts time out as the remaining bandwidth can’t handle your larger files. Your client is getting impatient and you’re getting frustrated and worried. If best-effort service isn’t good enough for your clients, then it isn’t good enough. If your business is supported or driven by data – consider moving to a dedicated line.
Cost versus value
As you might expect, dedicated service is typically more expensive than best-effort service. However, when it comes to business, the value of a fast reliable connection is incalculable and could mean the difference between having a satisfied client and having a former client. Furthermore, there are dedicated Internet service providers, like CloudWyze, that have dedicated bandwidth available in bulk, so businesses can leverage the speed and reliability of dedicated service at a fraction of the typical costs.
A word about dedicated service and the cloud
Leveraging the power and connectivity of the cloud to run your business has many advantages. However, it’s important to remember that relying on the cloud to do business also means you’re relying on the Internet to do business. If you are going to use the cloud, the very first step is addressing and ensuring the quality of your Internet. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the cloud as a business solution will be directly tied to the quality of your Internet connection. I would even say that if you’re not willing to invest in dedicated Internet, the cloud probably isn’t the right choice for your business. Doing business in the cloud without a dedicated line pretty much defeats the purpose of doing business in the cloud at all.
If you’re uncertain which type of Internet is the best fit for your business, meet with a reputable IT service provider. They will analyze your business, operations and data usage and recommend a solution that balances your budget with your Internet needs.
Shaun Olsen is the CEO and President of CloudWyze. CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level by crafting and executing custom technology plans for businesses of every type and size. To learn more about CloudWyze, visit www.cloudwyze.com. Shaun can be reached at [email protected]wyze.com or 910-795-1000.
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