What if you have an office full of employees? You could send them home to work, or to your other office if you have one. But either way, production is going to suffer, opportunities will be missed, sales will be lost, and you are going to get behind schedule.
Fortunately, there are cost effective methods to protect your small business from Internet service outages. Even if your business is only using DSL or cable Internet, there are affordable ways to install a system that provides automatic fail over to a backup Internet circuit.
Building Internet Reliability
Business class Internet service
Building more reliable Internet connectivity is not complex or expensive. The first step is to upgrade to a business class Internet service if you are not already using one. Business class Internet circuits provide higher priority service levels than consumer class Internet services. They are more suitable for the up time requirements of a business. They also include dedicated IP addresses and greater upload speeds, for on-site web or email servers.
Internet circuit redundancy
There are a couple of different methods I have used for small business clients that work very well. Both methods need a second Internet circuit with a different ISP than your current connection.
Using a different ISP for your fail over circuit protects you if your ISP has infrastructure or routing problems. If both circuits were with the same ISP, the fail over circuit would have the same issues as your primary circuit.
There are also methods to load balance your Internet traffic between the two circuits, but our primary goal here is to automatically fail over to a secondary Internet circuit.
Method 1 – Single Router/Firewall – Two Internet Circuits
|Single Router/Firewall – Two Internet Circuits|
|Two Router/Firewall – Two Internet Circuits|
|Two Locations -Two Router/Firewalls – Two Internet Circuits|
If you plan to host your own web or email server on-site, you will need a dynamic DNS provider. DNS is what translates a web address (domain name) like www.mydomain.com to an IP address.
Each ISP will assign you IP addresses from their respective networks. Because you will want your customers to reach your web server if one of your Internet circuits goes down, you will need a dynamic DNS service
A dynamic DNS provider will constantly monitor each of your Internet connections from multiple locations. If they detect that one of your circuits is down, they will change the corresponding IP address of your server’s domain name to an address assigned by the ISP of the circuit that is still up.
Normally DNS changes can take a while to propagate to computers and other DNS servers, but dynamic DNS services will set the TTL (time to live) of your domain names to one minute. When a computer looks in its cached DNS records, it will see the one minute TTL, and request a new record from the DNS source of authority – your dynamic DNS service.
Two reliable dynamic DNS providers are zoneedit and Dyn. There are others, but many only provide services for home users that need to access their computers remotely.
The combination of router circuit fail over and dynamic DNS, will provide reliable Internet connectivity for your employees, web servers and mail servers. I have used this exact method with an organization that had over 100 users in two locations. Of course, they were using high speed circuits and not DSL or cable Internet, but the concepts are the same. While testing, I have walked into the wiring closets and unplugged the Internet circuit in both of their locations, and no one ever knew!
All of these methods are too complex for DIY (do it yourself). You will need to hire an IT network professional to spec, install and configure your equipment. They will need to work with your ISPs and DNS providers, to ensure the needed services are understood, delivered, and configured properly.
- Access your systems and data from anywhere
- Savings from less IT infrastructure
- Rapid deployment of new systems and applications
- Ease of collaboration with remote employees and customers
- Cisco 890 Series Integrated Services Routers
- TZ 215 Series Network Security UTM Firewall
- zoneedit – Advanced DNS Management (dynamic DNS)
- Dyn – Business Continuity (dynamic DNS)
- Network World – How to Quantify Downtime~#~