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Diversity in connectivity – what is it, why it matters, and how to achieve it?

Here’s a fact: No one wants their internet connection to go down. Not if it means losing business when your stores’ payment systems go offline, logistics are backed up because the ERP environment is unreachable, or your factory needs to restart after a loss of connectivity.

This is why many businesses secure themselves with a secondary or backup link for their business connectivity, so operations can continue when the first line fails. But that’s not always enough, as it may be the case that your secondary line is identical to the primary in terms of path, provider, or technology. Two lines sharing the same infrastructure will equally fail in case of physical damage –this is where diversity comes in.

What is diversity?

Both a secondary and a diverse connection aim to enhance reliability and uptime. The difference is that diversity offers more than just the backup, but a completely different pathway, technology, or method from the primary connection.

Imagine a company has its primary internet connection provided through a fiber-optic cable that enters their building from street A. Under normal circumstances, this connection is fast and reliable. However, to protect some business-critical applications from suffering downtime, the company sets up a diverse connection with an LTE wireless link entering the building from street B. This will ensure that if any issue affects the physical cables, the wireless connection will remain active, providing internet access to the company. This setup reduces the risk of complete service interruption, as the two connections are unlikely to fail simultaneously due to their differing natures and entry points.  

Types of diversity

Choosing a different technology (e.g., wired as primary and wireless as a secondary line) is only one type of diversity. As you may have guessed, there are more. Here, we explain the most common ones:

  • Service Provider (ISP) diversity.- Diversity is achieved using different ISPs, but may use the same last-mile provider and local physical infrastructure. Although the access path to the site could be the same, the local ISP provider, IP addresses, and internet gateways are diverse.
  • Technology diversity.- Two services are delivered using a different path based on different access technologies (like the example above). Diversity is achieved across last-mile technology, local providers, IP addresses, and internet gateway.
  • Last-mile diversity.- Two services are delivered using different last-mile providers. The physical path or conduit onto the site might be (but isn’t always) the same. This setup can be contracted using the same local ISP with the same upstream internet gateway to allow for seamless failover between the two paths
  • Full diversity.- Two services for a site are delivered using diverse last-mile providers and ISP providers with separate IP addresses and internet gateways. The physical path or conduit onto the site and the local metro can be the same, but full path diversity (different entrance points into the site) can also be achieved to offer the highest level of diversity.

Sounds easy, I’ll take care of it

While, in theory, it may sound as easy as just hiring two different providers or selecting two different access technologies, achieving a truly diverse connection isn’t always as straightforward. A few common challenges:

  • Handling multiple ISPs to achieve ISP diversity requires additional time for sourcing, onboarding, and managing your ISPs. This complexity grows with the size of your company, the number of sites, or the geographical scope.
  • Different technologies may imply, in addition to dealing with different providers, having to consider different SLAs or compromising on less bandwidth for the secondary line. Further, integrating different technologies into a seamless network can be technically challenging, resulting in longer lead times or higher costs.
  • In some regions, local regulations may prevent the construction of new infrastructure or the use of certain technologies, limiting your options.
  • The lack of market insight adds to the complexity, demanding extra procurement time when evaluating local ISPs to ensure they can provide the levels of diversity you need. Different ISPs may share the same infrastructure or converge at a point susceptible to a common failure. Not knowing this can impact your choice.
  • Site SLAs add the capability to have a single availability SLA on a per-site level instead of on a per-service level, guaranteeing your business’s availability. However, this is difficult to achieve when contracting from two different providers.

But wait. When there are challenges, we see opportunity. Luckily, we know a way or two to help you achieve diversity for your global sites – without the headache.

Diversity with just a few clicks

Imagine designing and selecting your global network by ticking a few boxes, including your diversity requirements. Well, now you can.

At GNX, we simplify the process of sourcing and managing global connectivity—and everything in between. With our carrier-neutral and automated platform, GNX+, you’ll gain access to our database of 1,500+ ISPs worldwide, with updated information on pricing, SLAs, lead time, and more, to make better, more informed decisions.

Looking for full path diversity at your most critical sites? Simply select your preferences, and we’ll take care of the rest. Not sure where to start? No worries. Behind our platform, there’s a team of global internet experts that have your back: from solution design all the way to service rollout, management, and support (and all under one contract, invoice, and point of contact).

Reach out, and we’ll take it from there.