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How Much Does Your Work Depend on the Internet? 322

Posted by Cliff
from the connectivity-required dept.
malord asks: "I work for a small company that has recently had problems finding a stable internet connection. It started when we moved our office in order to upgrade our connection speed. We decided to go with cable internet through Comcast, since they offered the best speed for the price and told us that it would be available before we moved. Unfortunately, Comcast did not provide any service for two months after we moved, so we piggy backed on an existing (slow and unreliable) wireless account with another company in the meantime. When Comcast finally came around, the service that was provided was far from adequate with a consistent 30% packet loss and multiple disconnects everyday, which was confirmed through Comcast's tech support. Throughout this process, we have realized that having a reliable internet connection is more important than having a phone line and almost as necessary as electricity. What would you do if your internet was suddenly like dial-up for weeks at a time? How much money would your workplace lose if it was out for an hour or an entire day?"
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How Much Does Your Work Depend on the Internet?

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  • Lost forever? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:34PM (#16027645)
    Wouldn't the sending email server have continued to retry for four days or so? And wouldn't the sender have gotten a notification that the message failed if it had?
  • Re:How timely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis350 (772791) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:35PM (#16027649)
    hate to say it, but if it's *that* critical, you *should* have 2 concurrent lines running, from different providers, on different trunks, with your servers set to fail over to the secondary if the primary dies...
  • Re:How timely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Night Goat (18437) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:39PM (#16027667) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully you come away from this with some new insight on how important the service is to you. Consider redundant T1s from two different companies. And consider using backup MX records for your e-mail, so that mail is queued rather than getting lost. Also, rather than having all of your phone lines running over your T1, you definitely should have at least one POTS line in case of power outages. Some of this was your ISP's fault, and some of it rests squarely on your shoulders for being unprepared.
  • Re:How timely! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:41PM (#16027673)
    >> Direct answer to your question: Our T1 line is beyond essential to the daily operation of the organization. It's absolutely mission critical that we're connected at all times, without interruption or major packet loss.

    And you only have 1 T1?

    If it really was that mission critical you'd have a second dual-diverse line.

    Amateurs.
  • Your fault. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:41PM (#16027674)
    If your company relies on consistent Internet connectivity it's your responsibility to provide redundancy. That could be a completely redundant system, a failover to a different ISP or support contracts to ensure that you get repairs within a certain amount of time. "My company lost money because my ISP sucks". Nope, your company lost money because you failed to plan for failures. Your bad.
  • 100% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigman2003 (671309) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:42PM (#16027680) Homepage
    If my Internet connection is down- I go home.
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:44PM (#16027688) Homepage
    How Much Does Your Work Depend on the Internet?

    Pretty much all of it. But then, look at the crowd you're asking.
  • by BlahMatt (931052) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:49PM (#16027710)
    So if my companies network connection goes down and I can't vpn in....I'm not coming into work... Plus 90% of communication in my company is via e-mail/IM's.... we're pretty much screwed... Plus all of our hosted sites would get really really pissed at us as they couldn't do any business... Plus there would be a riot.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:59PM (#16027777)
    Is it cheaper/better to...

    1: Buy an SDSL business service from one supplier, with SLAs, rigorous uptimes and repair times.

    or...

    2: Buy cheap ADSL services from two or more suppliers but forget the SLA, uptime and repair time guarantees?

    I strongly suspect that (2) is the cheaper and more robust system.

     
  • by NoData (9132) <_NoData_.yahoo@com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:05PM (#16027807)
    Is this the right place? I was thinking is this the right decade for this question. If I was going to be a snide Slashdotter (and I am, in fact, about to be) I'd say hey, 1996 called. It wants its Ask Slashdot back.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:07PM (#16027815)
    You're a business. There's no reason a business should be using anything less than SDSL.
    How about no choice due to poor communications infrastructure and regulations that prohibit any roll your own solution? If things were really critical a satellite link may be a possibility, but in a lot of places the low end of consumer grade ADSL is as good as it gets - even in state capitals in Australia 15km from the CBD.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:26PM (#16027892)
    If the company is extremely frugal and absolutely refuses to spend money on either employee training or technical books (for learning and reference), then the Internet is a vital resource. Actually, the Internet alone is not sufficient. You need both the Internet and a solid search engine like MSN or Google.

    I suspect that, at least, 25% of the Slashdot readership uses a search engine to look up things like UART, C-language terms (e.g., printf), Perl-script concepts (like regular expression), etc.

    25% of the readership could not do their jobs (at their frugal companies) without the Internet and a search engine. I speak from experience.

  • Re:How timely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:41PM (#16027944)
    I wasn't fishing for snide comments!

    South, the only person likely to read that as snide is you.

    He's completely correct - if connectivity is as critical to your business as you're trying to make out then you should have at least N+1 redundancy not just for your comms links, but for your core servers like mail and web (if you're hosting your own).

    You work for a non-profit business. That doesn't mean you work for a no-money business! Make a business case to your management *now* to get a redundant link so you're not a repeat victim. Don't wait one, two or six months to do this, do it now while the pain is still fresh in their memories! You may not be planning to change providers any time soon, but do you honestly think you'll always have completely unimpeded 100% uptime?

    If you fail to do anything about this then you're no better than the noob at home who thinks his RAID array is enough for backups and then complains about losing his multi-terabyte porn collection when he's defrag'd after "accidentally" deleting it.

  • by T-Ranger (10520) <.ac.sn.otcubehc. .ta. .wffej.> on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:42PM (#16027953) Homepage
    The failure isnt just with the DSL part, but possibly with the copper too. Say you have two connections with shitty SLAs, and the pole out front of your building that has 500pair on it, 2 of which are yours, and it gets taken out by a car. Telco comes by to fix it, and they have only 250pair cable in the van, who do you think they are going to fix first? Their own end-user customers, and then ones with high SLAs which are resold to high SLA end-users. Not you, in other words.

    You low SLA providers are sure as shit not going to be providing you with a BGP feed, so its not redundent, anyway. Multiple MXs and RRDNS does not count.
  • Re:How timely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:45PM (#16027968) Homepage Journal
    If it's that critical, and you're not yourself an ISP, then you shouldn't be pretending you are. Pay some ISP to do their job and get all the critical services off-site immediately. This is one case where you get what you pay for, and if your company is on the line, it's worth more than a single T1 without redundancy. Whoever decided on that setup should probably be replaced by someone who knows how to set up a company's infrastructure.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:32PM (#16028130)
    I telecommuntute 100% of the time. I am so glad I do not have to use Comcast. Remember this video where a tech fell asleep at a customers hous because they had him on hold for over an hour? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufo9p1O9iAQ [youtube.com] They fired the tech as if it were his fault. No mention of any plans to improve service and reduce hold time.
  • Re:How timely! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TufelKinder (66342) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:58PM (#16028214) Homepage
    Okay, this doesn't really make sense. What if your company
    runs on extremely tight deadlines? Where clients don't
    always double-check that their emailed order was received
    but expect a job to be done/shipped/delivered the same day?

    It's not exactly feasible for most companies to offsite
    one or more employees just to maintain a constant internet
    presence.

    Web hosting isn't the only vital internet service.
  • Re:How timely! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kindbud (90044) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:59PM (#16028216) Homepage
    The loss in customer service is irreparable to one major client, and three unbelievably important emails were lost forever ...

    If it was unbelieveably important, a courier should have been hired to deliver a CD or hard drive. That's what professionals do. Email is designed to be a "best effort" service. It's perfectly fine for routine day-to-day communications, but not for "unbelievably important" things. If it's really that bad, the people who sent the material by email should be reprimanded or fired.

  • by masouds (451077) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:23PM (#16028296) Homepage Journal
    If dialup is that bad for you, why don't you get 4 or more phone lines and make a router that splits your packets across them; Do the same thing in your boss' home. There; you have a 256k line.

  • by grozzie2 (698656) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:43PM (#16028337)
    If the business is all online (ebay) and it cant afford $100 a month for a net connection on satellite, then it's not a viable business anyways.
  • by Medievalist (16032) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:34PM (#16028438)
    Pay some ISP to do their job and get all the critical services off-site immediately.
    Don't know about the OP, but my "critical services" that need internet access consist of roughly 400 humans sitting at desks who can't do their jobs without the 'net.
  • by EtherMonkey (705611) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:59PM (#16028485)
    2: Buy cheap ADSL services from two or more suppliers but forget the SLA, uptime and repair time guarantees? I strongly suspect that (2) is the cheaper and more robust system.

    Except for the fact that both the ADSL lines go over the same copper bundles from the same CO from the same LEC regardless of whether or not they come from the same ISP. Most businesses feel that $600/mo for Internet service isn't worth the price until they realize how they've built themselves into a corner.

    A sad fact is that most small and medium businesses will go through this pain and suffering at least once each year for several years before learning better and, in the end, spend more and lose more money trying to do Internet on the cheap than paying up-front to do it the right way. And while it seems sensible and cost-effective to host mission-critical services in-house, the reality is that if they are truly mission-critical and you can't afford proper redundancy, than those services are best off being hosted or deployed at a co-lo center that does provide N+1 redundancy and 24x7 business-class service and support.

    Lessons learned:
    • Public DNS should almost always be outsourced. This is a security as well as an availability issue.
    • Email and eCommerce servers should always be hosted or co-located unless you have N+1 servers and N+1 sites with N+1 Internet connections and reliable failover technology.
    • Internet service without an SLA is not suitable for mission-critical applications. This includes consumer-level xDSL, FIOS, and particularly CATV-provided cable Internet.
    • Two ADSL's from competing ISP's is not N+1 redundancy.
    • Your best options for mission-critical Internet access are (in decending order):
      1. 2x [fractional] T1, each separate carriers.
      2. 1x T1 and 1x SDSL, different carriers
      3. 1x T1 and 1x Business-class ADSL or Cable Internet.
      4. 1x SDSL and 1x Business-class Cable Internet

    I've been out of the small/medium business consulting market for a few years now. But when I was consulting I encouraged customers to host or co-lo all mission critical applications and use terminal services (Windows remote desktop) or Citrix for access. The hosting or co-lo center provides all the redundancy and 24x7 service and support, you just pay the bill. The cost was not unreasonably more expensive than hosting these apps in-house when you consider downtime, maintenance and ongoing consulting fees to keep things going.

    That's just off the top of my head. I could go on, but then I'd have to send someone a bill.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 02, 2006 @01:24AM (#16028673)
    How about no choice due to poor communications infrastructure and regulations that prohibit any roll your own solution? If things were really critical a satellite link may be a possibility, but in a lot of places the low end of consumer grade ADSL is as good as it gets - even in state capitals in Australia 15km from the CBD.

    What this comes down to is simple -- it will happen that there are going to be places on earth where running an internet-based business will be impossible.

    Would you try to build a business that has a mission-critical need for 600,000 gallons of water a day in the middle of your vast (and impressive) desert? If so, would you expect it to cost no more than it would cost someone near a large river right where it enters the ocean?

  • by Sandman1971 (516283) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @02:44AM (#16028798) Homepage Journal
    If your internet connection is mission critical, why go to the lowest bidder in order to save a few bucks (which won't happen when the service goes down, you'll lose money)? When will people realize that for critical services, go for the most reliable you can realistically afford. If it happens to be the cheapest then consider that a bonus, but it shouldn't be one of the main factors in choosing a service. Can you afford a T1 with a DSL backup? How about a DSL with a cable backup, or vice versa? You need to crunch numbers, see how much money/productivity you'll lose for every hour/day without service and decide accordingly.

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