Three tips to improve your Wide Area Network

Wide Area Network planning is crucial for modern businesses. So many of the tools that organisations rely on, like cloud apps, phone solutions, and file collaboration platforms are underpinned by an IT network. Proper planning can ensure that your network scales in line with the needs of an organisation. However, if you don’t plan a network with the types of traffic it’s supposed to support in mind, you can run into issues.

As network planning experts, something we see time and time again is organisations who undergo periods of rapid growth, expanding into multiple new sites, but have found their network performance degrades under the pressure of this increased complexity.

Our goal is to see any business faced with this type of challenge, equipped with the knowledge they need to scale their network effectively. Here are our three best tips to ensuring your business network can withstand anything you throw at it.

1. Choosing your contention ratio

It’s the hidden secret of the telco industry – the contention ratio. Any network is made up of multiple links, each with a unique bandwidth capacity. The contention ratio describes the degree to which a link is shared (or contended).

The contention ratio made up of two elements – the link’s Peak Information Rate (PIR) and the Committed Information Rate (CIR).

The PIR defines the theoretical maximum transfer rate, while the CIR represents the minimum transfer rate. To equate the contention ratio, you divide the PIR by the CIR.

For example – a connection with a 100Mbps PIR and a 25Mbps CIR has a total contention ratio of 4:1.

When looking to purchase network links, if uncompromised performance is what you are seeking, look for telcos providing 1:1 (or uncontended) access.

2. Public SIP vs Private SIP

The next generation of voice technology has well and truly arrived. In September of this year, the ISDN phone services which power much of the country’s business voice connectivity will begin turning off. The network is being shut off to make way for IP-based voice technology like Session Initiated Protocol (SIP).

There are two ways you can connect your phone system to a SIP platform - over a private network link or using the public internet. When connecting to SIP over the internet, there are several things to be mindful of:

  • Security — We like to say the Internet is a bit like the Wild Wild West. If you haven’t locked down your connection to a Public SIP provider, there’s plenty of bad actors who will be happy to snoop on your calls, or scam you out of thousands of dollars.
  • Performance — Because it’s the Internet, there’s no way for a provider to ensure any minimum standard of service (e.g. QoS). You’re at the whim of whichever path your voice traffic ends up taking - and it’s not always the most efficient. At its worst, Public SIP can cause poor voice quality, flaky connections, and restrict concurrent calling capacity.
  • Reliability — Using an Internet connection to access a SIP platform adds another ‘leg to the journey’ for your voice traffic. This extra network component can cause many issues in diagnosing and restoring faults.

When using to a private network, like Bendigo Telco’s Managed Network solution, you have the option of accessing SIP over a private connection. Without the overhead of the internet, this can mean more affordable call rates, increased security, reliable connections and dedicated performance.

3. Virtualise your server environment in the cloud

Virtual server environments are the norm in today’s IT world. There is, however, a constant debate about where that virtual environment should live – whether it’s better to host servers in the cloud or at the network edge.

Hosting your servers at the edge can deliver some unique performance enhancements for users who are on the same local network.

Cloud-hosted virtual servers are a much better alternative for organisations who perhaps don’t need bleeding edge performance, and instead are seeking reliability, flexibility and cost-savings.

When you virtualise your server environment in the cloud, cost becomes more predictable – moving from a CapEx to an OpEx model. You can also take advantage of scalable, managed infrastructure that you can modify with minimal interruption to your users. When you self-manage on-premise infrastructure, this becomes a near-impossible task.

Private Managed Networks can also host a virtualised server environment, allowing businesses to tap into dedicated performance configured with Quality of Service (QoS).

We know how complex Wide Area Networks can be – we do it all day, every day. The landscape is continuously changing, and there are new ways to build on your network, which maximise performance, security and reliability.

We’ve been building networks like this for 20 years. Talk to us today to discuss how Bendigo Telco can partner with you and help your business scale effectively.