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The real point of Point-to-Point: where it fits in the real world

Point-to-point, often abbreviated PtP, can be delivered by several technological underlays, but the result is the same: right-sized, right-priced connectivity, with your global needs in mind. 

In this article, we’ll explore what PtP does, some typical use cases, and how GNX’s technology- and carrier-neutral approach can make PtP a unified part of your overall network strategy while avoiding the complexity for your technical team. Ready? time to get to the point!

Point-to-point technologies: different spaces for different cases

In the sprawl of connectivity options, PtP is the simplest in concept: a link connecting two locations, the same way a bridge connects two sides of a valley. It’s the sort of link you see between two inhouse datacenters, or two major distribution hubs, or two city HQs: places where data needs to flow smoothly, securely, and in eye-popping volumes. But while simple in concept, PtP setups work best in specific scenarios, sometimes with subtle differences.

A life on the wavelengths

One approach is called wavelength: literally, renting a specific chunk of frequencies on a fiber optic cable. Since many frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum can share the same pipe at once without getting in each other’s way (a startling number of them, in fact) it’s like having a lane reserved for your use on the freeway: even if the authorities add more lanes, that one remains yours.

Of course, since it relies on a specific physical technology (fiber and photons), it depends on there being glass in the ground between the locations you want to connect – so it’s not available everywhere.

An Ethernet built for you

Another choice is Private Ethernet. You guessed: it’s the same proven technology as on your office floor, scaled up to act as a private link between separated locations. Like wavelength, it offers guaranteed capacity and performance. But since it doesn’t rely on fiber in the mix, it’s often more flexible, “behaving” more like a normal Ethernet option than the more exotic wavelength approach. (In network-speak, it’s at Layer 2 of the OSI model, “transport”, whereas wavelength is at the “physical” Layer 1.)

The Important part: across the world, your global organization may benefit from both wavelength-based and Ethernet-based options, each fitting specific use cases for physical infrastructure and application needs. Which is why GNX’s offer encompasses both – favoring not one technology, but one best outcome.

Side note: why being neutral is positive for your business

Bandwidth is about moving packets of data around, as fast as possible. But looking at the Big Picture, it’s more about patterns than packets. The daily flurry of emails and files is a very different activity to collecting constantly-moving values from various stock exchanges or streaming high-fidelity video from a thousand cameras. And national laws affect your choices too: some countries demand data on their citizens is kept within their borders, which means many companies need both inhouse and offshore servers.

This is the reality of enterprise connectivity: complex and diverse, with different solutions for different parts of your organization. That’s why a truly global approach to connectivity means being agnostic about technologies so you can focus on the combination that works best.

One provider, in one market, may be the hottest wavelength ticket in town; another provider, elsewhere, may squeeze blistering performance out of Private Ethernet. But unless each option is right for your business needs there (and available where it needs to be), the outcome won’t be optimal.

Next up: some typical use cases for Point to Point.

Use cases: where point-to-point makes sense...

The rule-of-thumb for point-to-point: if two (or more) locations in your organization need consistent, reliable, private, and high-volume data exchange at high speeds between them with guaranteed service levels, PtP is on the table. Some cases:

  • Between regional data centers. Data of a consistent type is collected in country A and worked on in country B: that data is sensitive, confidential, and time-critical. There’ll be a constant and predictable stream of data from A to B: a PtP setup lets it flow, with no need to trust the ups and down of plain internet access. PtP gets the job done. Both wavelength and Ethernet work here.
  • Capital markets. For connectivity between global stock exchanges, where speed is crucial and every millisecond matters, fiber and wavelength provide ultimate reliability and speed. More broadly, between offices and data centers in the financial sector, where plain business internet is not good enough, Private Ethernet can provide uncontended links and backup connectivity without the seams showing
  • Video streaming. Point-to-point connections are often used to provide high-bandwidth communication between devices. This makes it an ideal solution for streaming video or transferring large-sized data files without any hiccups.
  • Related locations on a single site. For an organization with different buildings on the same business park, university campus style, there’s no point in providing their bandwidth through a public cloud when a connection between them is faster and more secure – especially if the data exchanged needs to stay on-site. PtP provides a fat pipe to do it – and if there’s fiber in the ground, wavelength may be the winner.
  • Where leased lines look pricey. For point-to-point connectivity, leased lines were once the main option, carrying high rental and contract costs. That’s changing. New PtP options (including wireless PtP) offer service at comparable speeds and service levels between specific locations, bringing the cost down. Today wavelength and Private Ethernet are comparable in price to older MPLS, with greater future potential.
  • Where internet access is not needed. It may be hard to imagine, but some connectivity doesn’t involve the internet. Private surveillance camera networks, ATM and vending machine networks, and maintenance organizations often use PtP to convey data to HQ without ever crossing public infrastructure. Technology choices may depend on your data priorities – Private Ethernet, for example, makes it easier to separate different types of data on the same physical link.
  • Emergency services and the public sector. It’s hardly a surprise to learn police and military communications don’t use public networks. PtP is often used by governments to link vital infrastructure, keeping the State running even if disaster strikes. For physical layer reasons, Private Ethernet is more common here.

… and where it doesn’t

So Point-to-point offers reliable bandwidth, guaranteed service, and high capacity, and lower prices than a typical leased line. That all sounds great, but it’s not a solution for everything. A general rule: the more “points” you need to connect, the less PtP makes sense.

Point-to-point isn’t a good fit for providing internet access to downtown employees, or roaming access to nomadic workers, or connecting a constellation of small local offices and shops spread around a city. But if you have a few locations hungry for data from each other – that’s the case for PtP.


How GNX cuts through the complexity

From the above, you’ve seen how a single large organization may have many technologies in its network infrastructure, PtP being one. But in the ideal case, the average worker doesn’t see any difference between them – and doesn’t care. With that same approach, GNX aims to bring that simplicity to network provision, too.

Think of a family trip booked as a tour. Sure, it involves different airlines, hotels, transfer buses, and venue ticketing. But to get it, the family booked a single product, at a single price, in a few clicks. Bringing those services together was the work of a tour company, who used agreements with various specialist providers to assemble their dream vacation from its component parts.

In essence, that’s what GNX does with connectivity. With strong relationships and SLA-backed contracts with best-of-breed network providers worldwide, we’re able to join different services into a single, seamless offer, under a single, seamless contract – and even advise which combination of services makes the most sense for you. (Including – of course – PtP.) What’s best, we do it all from our GNX automated platform. No more messing around with a hundred companies and a hundred contracts; the complexity is smoothed into simplicity that’s right for each of your use cases, letting your people focus on what matters. 

See where PtP works in your business

We believe in being technology- and carrier-neutral, so you can get the right tech for every use case into a single offer that makes the best sense for your situation (and budget). A neutral approach to sourcing connectivity, without the negatives of complexity, for an outcome that’s all positive.

Shall we help you see where PtP fits into your connected world? Learn more.