You love the World Wide Web… kind of. It’s a thing of beauty when you want to get information anywhere, anytime. It’s gets a lot less pretty when you are trying to share large files between offices, have high quality teleconferences, or interact with your applications as fast as you can. It gets down right ugly when your ISP crashes or gets so congested by people streaming high def video that you can barely get anything done. And then there are the security problems. You either have been hacked, are being hacked or will be hacked soon. Is this really the best one can hope for?
The Connectivity Conundrum
What would be ideal is to have the Internet all to yourself. Think of it. Only you, your valued customers and suppliers, and all of your business locations could use the network. Think of the performance! All that bandwidth and no competition. The network really would achieve that ideal of being transparent.
Of course, there is this little matter of not being able to access anything outside of your domain if you are the sole owner and user of the web. That’s not going to work. How will you do your banking, get to Wikipedia or buy and sell anything online?
No, you still need the Internet for connectivity to all the content out there and connections with other people. It would just be nice if you could split the Web in two. One side would be general public access. The other would be internal private communications only.
My Private Internet
Want the network all to yourself? Build your own! That may sound a bit nuts, but it’s how performance demanding companies have been doing it for decades. They sure don’t call it the Internet. That term refers to the Public Internet designed by the government and later made available to everyone. Instead, these “private Internets” are constructed using dedicated private lines.
A private line is just that. You order a point to point line service that connects directly from one location to another via a telecom service provider’s office. The only traffic on that line is what you put on it. The rest of the time it sits idle.
For point to point connections, a dedicated private line can’t be beat. You order all the bandwidth you need. There is minimal latency, jitter and packet loss because these are high performance copper and fiber telecom lines. You’ll recognize them as T1, DS3, OC3 to OC48, Ethernet over Copper and Ethernet over Fiber. In some locations private microwave or even laser line of sight wireless service is available.
Adding More Sites
What if you have more than two locations to connect? Simple. You order more private lines. You could have every location connect to every other location, but the cost of this goes up exponentially as you add sites. A more practical solution is to have each remote location connect to a central headquarters data center. That is where the switching and routing takes place to ensure that all locations can communicate.
Voila! You've just built your own private Internet, also called an Intranet. You now have the high performance, high security… and high cost of going it alone. It may well be worth it. With a Wide Area Network (WAN) under your control, you’ll be able to bypass the public switched telephone network for long distance calls between facilities and create your own private cloud that will be as response as if it was right down the hall.
Hackers getting into your servers? How are they going to do that when there is no outside connection? If your data is really, really sensitive, you can encrypt the transmissions between facilities to completely frustrate anyone who might “tap” the line.
Reducing Costs Without Losing Performance
Owning and managing a fleet of dedicated private lines and the infrastructure needed to route the packets gives you the ultimate in control, but it costs a pretty penny. Is there a way to get the same result cheaper without giving up the superior performance of this arrangement?
There is and it is a public/private hybrid called the Multi-Protocol Label Switching Network or MPLS Network. An MPLS network is a private “Internet” that someone has built with fiber optic connections to many cities and countries. The largest ones can connect hundreds or thousands of business sites worldwide. That’s just like the Public Internet, except that this one is privately run and serves only a limited number of paying customers. There is no access to the general public.
MPLS uses a proprietary protocol to route the data through the network. This makes it hard to hack because the usual IP snooping tools won’t work, especially if you encrypt your "last mile" connections. Any intruders looking to gain access to the core of the network will find that quite challenging compared to the Public Internet. For these reasons, MPLS Networks are called “virtually private” by the nature of their design.
No, this isn’t your own private network. There are many companies using the MPLS network at any given time. Unlike the Internet, the MPLS network is run with sufficient resources to offer each client as much bandwidth as they need with low latency, jitter and packet loss. You also have the option to create classes of service for your own data streams so that VoIP phone calls aren’t disrupted by large file transfers that aren’t so time critical.
You’ll Need Internet For a Complete Solution
MPLS networks sure sound like the closest approximation you can have to the Public Internet without all the limitations. Even with complete high performance connectivity among all your business locations, you are still missing a way to communicate with the general public and use all the resources of the World Wide Web. The answer? Take both.
You can set up two networks within your organization. MPLS for internal communications. Public Internet for going outside. You can manage the merger of this arrangement yourself, or turn it over to the MPLS operator. You still have private connectivity between locations, but you also have the Internet available as a separate data stream in its own class.
Have It Both Ways
That’s right. When you build your own World Wide Web you can have the best of both worlds. You have multiple classes of service that prioritize packets based on their criticality. Real time audio and video streams get the highest priority with critical business applications a close second. Your Internet access is lower on the list, with background activities like data backups to the cloud on the bottom rung.
All of this will be invisible to your employees. They’ll simply experience a high performance network that works extremely well for every application. They might even wonder what their peers at other companies are complaining about.
Would you like to investigate an improvement to your current Internet performance or a cost reduction to a privately run suite of dedicated private lines? Get expert recommendations and competitive cost quotes now. This may be more affordable than you think and well worth making the move.