Keep calm and colo on

Why carriers should care about infrastructure diversity.

By: Michael Rabinowitz

In our last blog, we saw that internet downtime costs UK businesses an estimated £12.3 billion every year – but how do network interruptions affect connectivity providers themselves?

With global networks expected to carry more than 3000 exabytes by 2021 – a 127-fold increase from 2005 - customer tolerance for service interruptions will continue to plummet, taking the revenue streams of the least reliable carriers with it. Just seconds of downtime can dent a carrier’s revenue and brand reputation.

Meanwhile, with the popularity of digital content skyrocketing, carriers, ISPs and CDNs need to reach the broadest possible audience whilst maintaining an exceptional end-user experience. From video-on-demand to online gaming, end-users no longer accept second-best performance – and it’s never been easier for them to ditch and switch.

However, even the best network providers can be caught out by natural disasters, routing errors or unexpected congestion. In December 2006, the Hengchun earthquake severed nine of the eleven cables running through the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines, halving Hong Kong's Internet capacity in an instant. Other incidents, such as the notorious AT&T network crash in 1990 which interrupted over 75 million long-distance calls, regularly demonstrate the potential fragility our modern data-driven economy.

The road to resilience.

Today’s carriers need to be closer to customers and partners to maximise reach and performance, whilst also building-in redundancy and resilience.

Carrier-neutral colocation offers a compelling solution to both these challenges: allowing multiple network points of presence (PoPs) to be established alongside the internet’s largest arteries, close to metropolitan centres and international subsea connections. For instance, central London is the ideal location from which to reach the capital’s 8.6 million people and 976,000 businesses.

By choosing carrier-neutral colocation facilities that host major internet exchanges (IXPs), connectivity providers can also dramatically improve the resilience of their networks by diversifying the underlying infrastructure to eliminate single points of failure.

Internet peering is designed to operate as a mesh, with capacity on many different systems so that traffic distribution can failover to alternatives if one data route is damaged. Today, Interxion’s network provider customers rely on the LINX and LONAP peering nodes in our London data centre campus, as well as a thriving carrier community that includes major backbone networks, for reach, resilience and performance.

Colocation makes good business-sense too: carrier-neutral facilities don’t provide connectivity services themselves, so won’t compete for customers. Meanwhile, these thriving connectivity hubs also attract a ready-made marketplace of potential customers in network-hungry sectors like cloud, digital media and financial services.

Of course, since reliability is the goal, network providers must also seek out colocation facilities that offer state-of-the-art resilience and security. Any well-run colo environment should also be backed up by strict SLAs, proven compliance with industry standards and state-of-the-art systems to monitor and manage operations 24x7. Look for 99.999% uptime SLAs, as well as a guaranteed response from engineers in minutes if issues appear.

With multiple PoPs spanning diverse colo facilities, carriers, network providers and ISPs can walk a simple and effective road to greater resilience and performance. Keep calm and colo on.