Business Broadband Terminology Guide

Business BroadbandSelecting the right business broadband for you and your office will require a basic fundamental grasp on the technical lingo and how it relates to making your company more productive.  Here is what you need to know:

Business Broadband Support

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sell business broadband support packages along with their broadband service.  These contracts generally come with guaranteed response times as well as potential liabilities for false alarms if you refuse to troubleshoot or do not have an IT person on staff that can fully troubleshoot your own network and separate internal problems from external ones.  The issue is that quick response work crews cost money whether there are problems or not, and calling them out to work on a non-existing problem still costs the ISP.  This cost should not be borne by other consumers, so you have to understand the risk of picking up the phone without an IT person looking into the situation.

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Business Broadband

Businesses have very different needs and usage patterns from one another, and those needs can be wildly different from those experienced by consumers.  As a result, you get a pair of options when considering business broadband connections: equal upload and download performance or unequal performance similar to what you may have at home.  Equal performance is deemed symmetrical, and is generally highly desired by those that send a lot of data during the course of the average business day.

Bonding or Bonded Lines

Bonded lines, sometimes referred to as bonding, is when you have more than one data wire from one provider.  This is essentially allowing for teaming, or the pairing of multiple data inputs and outputs that act as one seamless solution.  This is a little bit different than the next item on the list despite the obvious similarities…

Fallbacks

Fallbacks are situations where you have more than one ISP meeting your business broadband needs.  Fallbacks are great because trouble with one network will not necessarily impact the other.  From a troubleshooting standpoint, broadband problems with two networks is generally a good indicator of local hardware or software issues.  Either way, having a backup plan is often a good idea for anything in business.

Virtual Private Networking

Some ISPs offer support for VPNs and may even offer dedicated gateways for lease, but others may require that you have your own hardware.  A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is essentially a secure network that exists on top of another network and is accessed only by those with the proper security codes and software.  A VPN allows users from outside the office to log in and access secure information and/or applications from wherever they are, but these applications and data access will consume a great deal of broadband resources.  In fact, it is accurate to say that local users not on a VPN consumer far less resources accessing the same software and/or data.  Since local networks usually have orders of magnitude better performance, this makes VPNs a choice only for a select few unless the company wants to start spending a great deal of money on business broadband that can stand the strain.

Patch and/or Cache Server

Some businesses rely on software that is updated, often frequently.  This can put a very large strain on the broadband connection if hundreds of users have to download and apply a large patch in order for workers to be productive.  In some cases, software will simply not function until it is patched, especially if there is a potential security issue at hand.  This has created a problem: downloading hundreds of copies of the same software is not efficient and may create an unreasonable broadband need that could be solved by having a device that downloads the software once from the Internet and then whenever local users try to access the patch, they are redirected to the patch server that is on the network versus one outside the network on the Internet.

This solution provides security as well as better utilization of resources, and many existing servers can be tasked with other things rather than just patching.  Many such servers act as cache servers, keeping track of frequently used files as well.  For example, if your workers log in to a page on the corporate website to do their tasks then they are all likely downloading some of the same images, java scripts, and so on.  This can be reduced with the use of a cache server.