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Redundancy for internet connection needed for small businesses?

By evin.hill ·
I'm just possing this question to get some feed back. What makes me ask this is one of my company's clients internet access is down due to their actual DSL line going bad that comes into the building. Well the carrier has been testing and fixing the problem since yesterday and their service stopped on Tuesday. With the dependcy of today's smaller businesses on internet connectivity, would it be a wise suggestion of a backup internet connection? This client is basically non-functional and I'm sure they are losing tons of money with the down time. But even wiwth this being the actual service providers problem, my company and myself as the tech support, look like we aren't getting the job done. I just wanted to hear some feedback from some of the more experienced people regarding support of this nature with small businesses and how to handle certain issues that are common in a bigger environment.

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Needed Redundancy

by rflanagan In reply to Redundancy for internet c ...

In my opinion if the company in question is greatly dependent on the internet for revenue then they should definitely have some sort of backup. It might take the form of a 2nd DSL line or a cable modem, or a dial up comnnection though some other service provider. Also perhaps have a backup system in another location as thier home or one of the workers homes. And no matter what the problem is you as the IT support are to blame, that the nature of our business. The only thing you can do is recommend a backup system and when they don't take your advice forget it.

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Need too/two

by JamesRL In reply to Needed Redundancy

We have a lot of customers who have small offices connected by vpn/dsl to a central office with a server. Its cheap insurance to have a second internet connection. If you use DSL, go Cable for your second....

James

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Your question has the answer embedded in it

by stress junkie In reply to Redundancy for internet c ...

Any kind of fault tolerance should be judged based on risk management. You have to ask yourself how large a risk are you protecting against? In this case by your account the risk is being completely unable to perform business activities. Then you ask what is the probability of this risk actually happening? In this case the risk is very high. Then you ask what is the cost of implementing some form of fault tolerance? In this case it should be small. Cable modem service is a bargain if it is available. Other forms of fault tolerance may be an illusion. For example if your DSL provider also provides ISDN over the same lines then looking at ISDN as a fault tolerance solution would be a mistake. Even if the service provider is not your local Baby Bell it probably uses the same Baby Bell lines and service technicians as the Baby Bell itself. So trying to find a truly independent alternative may be difficult.

So the situation described does appear to justify implementing some form of reasonable cost fault tolerance WAN but the next question is can you get a truly separate WAN provider?

The next possibility to address this problem is to try to move some of the critical Internet functions out of the client's machines to some service provider's machines. For example you could use your ISP for your email server. At least the business would still be recieving email. Then you could go to some wireless hot spot with a notebook computer and check the business email via a web based email interface from the ISP. That would allow the business to respond to emails.

A web site could be moved to a web hosting company. There are many and the costs and service quality range from low to high. At least if your client's DSL is down customers could still reach the company web site.

Naturally since you didn't mention the type of business it is difficult to think of specific solutions. At least those two functions can be made fault tolerant by outsourcing them. The notebook computer with a wireless adapter being used at a public hot spot is a viable form of fault tolerance.

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suggestion

by frederic.levet In reply to Redundancy for internet c ...

I don't know which are the costs in NY but in Geneva it's quite affordable even for a small company regarding the money lost in case of a failure ; in my small IT support company we actually install more and more double wan firewalls like Zyxel 35 or USG100 for example and we choosed to select different ISPs for the lines in case of a failure of a specific ISP infrastructure but the really best thing to do is to have the following configuration :
- 2 different ISPs that are not sharing the same communications infrastructure (take information before choosing)
- on 2 different kind of lines for example one xDSL on ISDN and the other on analogical or fiber or cable

Then it leads us to the last but not least point : the firewall (with its double wan) as it becomes the SPOF (single point of failure) it should be either available in stock at least or as a spare but it induces a cost and also a downtime or you can choose to use Cisco routers with VRRP or HA (high availability systems) with 2 Zywall 35 or 100
The problem of this high availability solution is its cost so it leads me to think about a cheaper solution :
2 internet gateways (low cost modem-routers with built-in firewalls) with the same configuration but different Internal IPs so they are the 2 gateways of your network
you can specify in DHCP or manually which preferred gateway you want to use and the second backup one for each computer groups
you can select a gateway for servers and another one for client computers and add the other for redundancy on both
Then the main problem is when mail server is receiving but it can be solved with backup mx records and multiple SPF record for send without spam problem and for remote access you can also use either round-robin or a second dns record
I think this solution is on my own the affordable way to implement an high-availability and lowcost internet access for small businesses.

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