Spring 2015 and everywhere I look outside my office window I see Telus contractor vehicles and personnel installing fiber optic cabling...Telus Communications is in the final stages of a multi-million dollar fiber upgrade in Kelowna...Now why might this be? In case you business owners out there did not already know the communications industry is highly competitive and they are all looking to provide you the customer with more services. Phone companies are in the Cable TV business and everyone is selling Internet access! When it comes to Internet Access speed is king! Everyone is looking for more and faster. So much so that the original telephone copper cable plant that has serviced all of our buildings, originally for phone service and more recently for Internet access, simply does not have the capacity to provide the desired bandwidth. Internet usage just keeps growing in leaps and bounds. Never mind all the recreational reasons to use and indulge in the Internet there are also many advances in technology that are providing new options for business that a few short years ago simply were not available..
The Cloud Storage business solution is moving so fast that it is truly difficult to keep up with. Today, if server up time is deemed mission critical, it is possible to have a fully replicated server backed up in the cloud or data centre. You could experience a a complete hardware failure at your physical location and, because of an offsite data backup, be back online in minutes instead of days or weeks! Guess what - This sort of solution, even with very good compression, requires a massive amount of upload capacity on your Internet connection.
Cloud based Servers and Software as Service (SaaS)
Servers typically have a 4-6 year usable life span and then a business goes through another capital expenditure. We are in the relatively early stages of seeing companies having their servers provided to them by the data centers in a recurring model. This model has some attractive benefits:
- No upfront capital spend
- Server maintenance is typically all included
- Server backup/redundancy is typically all included
- Servers can be scaled up and scaled down
- No capital spend in 4-6 years
The one main downfall of this type of a server setup is the business's dependency on the Internet connection. If there are ANY issues with the Internet your server is effectively "offline"!
The ability to work remotely is a real benefit of technology and has become quite common. I myself have spent many years working part of the work week from my home based office. Try working from home however when you are having an issue with your Internet connection and you computer and IP phone lose connectivity to the office.
Not all Internet Services are created Equal: So with all of this demand for Internet access which service is right for me? From my perspective compare these 4 main metrics;
This metric is becoming more and more important especially for business. Upload speed is the rate at which data is transferred from your site to the Internet. Cloud based back-up and storage for example are heavy users of upload. If you did not have adequate upload speed it could, in theory, take weeks for you to upload all of your data.
Download is the obvious opposite of Upload. Although equally important, most Internet service providers are able to offer plenty of download speed, it is the upload options that set service providers apart. Downloading emails, attachments and watching Webinars are all examples of downloads.
This metric is typically found in the fine print of an Internet access contract and deals with the TOTAL amount of data that you the customer can move in any given month before you get charged usage or overage fees. This will be a quantity, usually Gigabytes of data. It is important for you to know how much data is included in your monthly plan as overage charges can hurt!
In the end it always comes down to service. You can have the best priced Internet connection of all of your business peers but what happens if you experience a problem? For this very important reason it would be advisable to add some weight to your decision making process for a local, reputable service provider. During my career in communications I have witnessed medium and even large enterprise business transition services back to local providers if and when the large national communications companies were unable to provide that "local, responsive" service.