How the Internet Works – Episode 6.
The Utility of the Internet
We’re just over half way in our series exploring How the Internet Works.
Our previous posts unpacked the fundamental components of the Internet and how they all function together. By now, we have a clearer understanding of how the Internet operates. But the question that’s probably on your lips is, “what does the Internet actually do?”
The Internet makes the modern world go around
We think that the Internet is just a cool means to stay in contact with friends near and far, but it is so much more. We tend to discount what the advent of the Internet actually means to us all.
The ability to communicate electronically and share information instantly enables humankind to be more efficient. Not to mention how, from the inception of the Internet, we have been transcribing and uploading everything we know. In short:
The Internet grants us instant access to the world’s collective knowledge.
Let that sink in for a minute.
We now live in an age where anyone with an Internet connection (and some research savvy) has the potential to learn anything. The Internet has catapulted our intellectual evolution.
This, in turn, has allowed collaboration between our greatest scientific and medical minds that may not have otherwise been possible. It has made education far more accessible and provided tools like video to encourage learning.
In the business world, the Internet has revolutionised the way we work and makes way for true globalisation.
- High-speed Internet connections enable us to communicate with various stakeholders around the world in real-time. No more decision-making delays due to unnecessary long-haul flights (and haemorrhaging budgets).
- We can also work remotely or through satellite offices, diversifying the workforce. Companies can attract and retain the finest talent as they no longer have the geographical restrictions that we faced just over thirty years ago.
- The Internet also gives way to online currency and financial transactions. Orders can be shipped around the globe, and you don’t even need a brick-and-mortar store to operate.
- Finally, businesses can drastically reduce their risk, reliance on resources, and save with cost-effective, virtually unlimited, backup capabilities afforded by cloud computing.
It is hard to imagine that there could be any business out there that doesn’t rely on the Internet in some shape or form to function today. The question of whether or not a company needs the Internet is moot. What’s critical to business these days, is the reliability of Internet services.
Business Imperative Failover and Redundancy
Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) has many responsibilities when it comes to your Internet experience. We have discussed Quality of Service in a previous post, but no duty is possibly more important than ensuring availability of Internet to your business.
There are two factors at play here, namely: Access which we will cover in our next post, and availability.
Redundancy and Failover
There are a few backup measures that your ISP has to put in place to ensure network availability at all times.
Redundancy refers to extra physical network components installed for use in the event of failure. It is literally having duplicate equipment available to use at a second’s notice.
Failover refers to the automated procedure of transferring (or redirecting) services to the redundant hardware when a fault has been detected.
In the event of failure, quality service providers can re-route traffic or switch to backup hardware in milliseconds. You would be none the wiser if a link somewhere upstream on your ISP’s network were down.
The more robust your ISP’s redundancy and failover solutions are, the better your Internet experience will be. That’s because millisecond failover ensures a seamless transition between hardware. For example, if there were to be a major power outage in your area and your ISP had insufficient failover procedures in place, your business would be cut-off from the world – and no business can afford that today!
Of course, failover is not limited to your ISP alone. Sometimes a failure can occur on the last mile (your direct connection to your ISP). Make sure to read our next post, where we will explore accessibility and why the last mile matters.
When choosing an Internet Service Provider for your business, it is crucial to ask your ISP questions about their failover methodology.