Decided on an ISP for your company? Take a look at these helpful tips!
#1 All Internet links are not equal
An Internet link is important for your business. Sometimes, your entire business depends on the Internet. Hence, the terms of service and quality of the link are important. Always buy a leased line; don’t settle for a broadband, especially if your business requires solid connectivity. A leased line gives you:
✔ PoP to PoP Latency SLA
✔ Uptime, MTTR SLA
✔ You may ask your ISP to optimize a few routes that are important for you.
✔ A few ISPs offer Atlantic Route for Europe and Pacific Route US West Coast.
#2 If you need multi-location connectivity, use MPLS VPNs
A MPLS VPN will provide you better quality of service and security. It is way better than managing a network with multiple internet links terminating in your DC. There are certain low margin businesses that may still want to stick with more economical Internet connectivity. A MPLS VPN will provide you:
✔ End to End SLA (Latency, Uptime, Packet Loss, Jitter, MTTR)
✔ Prioritise traffic (Eg: SSH)
#3 Consider Leased Lines for Replication
Use a domestic leased line for DC-DR replication links — your own information superhighway. Useful if you host your own DC & DR. This is not applicable on Cloud Services like AWS, Azure etc. Today, even leased lines can provide network redundancy in the service provider’s core, with automatic switching to alternate path within 50 milliseconds.
#4 Backup Plan
Redundancy should not be an afterthought. Make sure that every important link has a backup. Backup links will not be as expensive as the primary links. It always provides peace of mind. Be sure to test periodically, if the backup links work as expected.
#5 Understand SLAs
SLA or Service Level Agreement binds your service provider to give you quality service. However, sometimes customers sign the default SLA provided by the service provider. You can always ask the service provider to give you a better SLA. It may take a while for them to come back to you with all the necessary approvals. But, it is worth the effort. Importantly, understand how uptime, MTTR (Mean Time To Repair), etc. is calculated.
#6 Understand ISPs business processes
ISPs handle a lot of customers and are big. To an outsider, things will look very difficult to understand and connect to the right person who can solve your problem. This work should not be done when a problem arises; but when there is no problem. Take time and effort to understand:
➔ Who is doing what?
➔ What is the escalation matrix?
➔ What is the role of sales guy after he sells you the service?
➔ People interacting with you change over time, so it is important to understand the processes.
#7 Understand Penalties
Sometimes, the links will not work as you expect. There are certain things which are beyond your control and within ISP’s control. For such instances, ISPs offer penalties for service terms violations:
➔ Financial Penalty
➔ Service Extension
Financial penalties are mostly limited to Government Customers. ISPs will be happy to provide service extension, for SLA violations.
#8 Be realistic
ISPs can’t predict future or change laws of Physics. So be realistic in what you demand. Most things are doable with additional procurements of backup links or services. If the ISP can’t offer what you are asking for there must be a reason, that they can convince you.
➔ No one can offer 100% uptime
➔ No one offers compensation for business loss
➔ Sometimes, the services they offer depend on the revenue they get from you
➔ Always review the performance with your ISP and monitor if their services are matching with the SLA they offer
➔ Don’t depend on a single ISP for all your needs.
#9 Demand the best
Demand enterprise-level offerings and SLAs, both on service delivery and assurance. The enterprise offerings are better and provide you with separate single point of contact (SPOC) for sales, service delivery and service assurance. The premium you pay is worth when you face issues.
Derick Thomas joined VSNL as a network engineer in 2006. He worked in their network division for a few years and then moved to Bharti Airtel’s B2B business division for a few more years. Derick also worked as a Business Solutions Consultant, who interacted with IT Managers and CIOs for their business needs.
Derick will be speaking at Rootconf 2018 on Invisible security: how ISPs keep you and their network safe.
Rootconf intends to educate technologists, security professionals and decision-makers in startups and enterprises. This event is presented and curated by HasGeek. HasGeek helps people in technology meet each other, collaborate on new opportunities and advance the state of the art in technology.
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