Diverse Hybrid Connectivity (DHC)

The Requirement

For businesses where downtime is simply unacceptable, Metronet (UK) has created a product that offers a level of diversity that until now has only been viable for mission critical, Tier 3 & 4 data centres.

Many providers offer ‘diverse connectivity’ and although two circuits are always going to be better than one, this rarely provides truly independent connectivity. Even if the fibre enters a building at two different points and is connected to two different exchanges, the ducting along which these fibres travel is almost always shared along the way. Essentially, this means that should there be a break on a customer’s dual fibre circuit, true resilience cannot always be guaranteed.

Using independent providers can increase your resiliency further, but the beenfits are often outweighed by the technical challenges of trying to integrate multiple providers, multiple IP address blocks and dealing with the inevitable finger pointing in the event of a primary or resilient failure.

The Features

Metronet (UK) DHC provides resiliency in a number of different ways:

Technology resiliency
Connectivity is delivered using two entirely different carrier mediums (i.e. over the air with wireless and subterranean with fibre). Each last mile connection uses completely independent hardware and therefore reduces exposure to risk.

Last mile routing resiliency
With dual fibre solutions, ducting is normally shared, even if a different operator provides each connection. Metronet (UK) DHC means that one kast mile path doesn’t even touch the ground, let alone the same fibre ducting. Further resilience can be delivered though terminating each site with different edge devices (routers) that are linked to allow for router failure.

Exchange resiliency
Most operators co-locate equipment in local exchanges. An exchange fault or power outage will often cause downtime for both connections. Metronet (UK) POP sites are owned, controlled and managed by Metronet (UK) are not shared with any other provider, giving you the comfort of true independence in connectivity.

Internet Edge resiliency
Metronet (UK) uses BGP to route traffic via multi-homed Tier 1 transit providers as well as peering at all of the UK’s major Internet exchanges, such as LONAP and LINX. Custom built fault monitoring systems ensure that any troublesome peerings or exchanges can be isolated and Internet traffic rerouted dynamically before connectivity becomes affected.

Features:

  • Your static IP addresses will route correctly via either connection
  • Connectivity will be tested in a bespoke manner and configured to ensure that the solution fails-over in a fully automatic fashion.
  • Dual managed Cisco routers are typically provided onsite to provide hardware resilience.
  • All customers will be given access to real-time traffic and performance statistics 24/7/365. This allows the ability to forward plan their IT strategy based on evidence.
  • Circuits can be of differing speeds, for example 1Gb/s wireless and 100Mb/s fibre or 100Mb/s fibre and 20 Mb/s wireless. Metronet (UK) delivers services that are closely tailored to the customer’s needs.
  • By using differing technology mediums, Metronet (UK) can get your business up and running a lot faster with a wireless connection (often within 5 days), while waiting for fibre to be installed.

Provider Independent IP Address Space (RIPE)

As an optional extra, Metronet (UK) can apply for a PI assignment and manage the RIPE process on a customer’s behalf. This means that static IP addresses are owned by your organisation and if there is a need to change provider at anytime, your business retains ownership of the IP address range. Although this is no longer possible with IPv4, it is an on going option for IPv6.

The Customer Experience

Diverse connectivity is becoming more and more important and the emphasis on business continuity means that organisations are having to think ‘outside of the box’ when it comes to resilience. For businesses that depend on connectivity to support customers 24/7 or drive revenue, downtime cannot be tolerated. This is nowhere more true than for DRL Ltd, the UK’s largest online kitchen appliance specialist and the drive behind www.appliancesonline.co.uk.

Their operations empire includes head office and video studio, several logistics centres and three call centres, all supported by Metronet (UK)’s Diverse Hybrid Connectivity solution. Each day, DRL sends out delivery vehicles to make over 4,000 deliveries within hours of receiving an order, 7 days a week. DRL’s approach defines customer services and this goes some way to explaining its impressive growth over recent years.

Ivan Coetzee, Head of IT Operations at DRL, is more tan familiar with the concept technology diversity having employed similar technology in his native South Africa and has been surprised that more organisations have yet to realise the benefits that this approach can bring. He comments that, “if a fibre is dug up or there is a flood, we will still have the wireless. If the radio fails, we still have the fibre. In my opinion, this is one of if not the most resilience networks in Europe. Many companies have dual fibre but there is always a risk that those fibres will touch the same ducting or exchange. As far as we know, DRL is one of the only organisations that has invested in differentiating technologies that peer in different places. There is no company in the UK other than Metronet (UK) who we felt could deliver this for us. The achievement is remarkable.”

He added, “the network design is so comprehensive, it really is bullet proof.” Not long after completion of DRL’s network infrastructure project the company announced its ambition to achieve much greater turnover of £1bn in 3-5 years. Early indications are that DRL are set to exceed these targets.

Summary

Metronet (UK) knows how important connectivity is to support the businesses of the future and this means that their network infrastructure needs to be future proofed. Metronet (UK) is unique in its ability to provide an entirely diverse, managed solution with SLAs of 100% for network uptime and a guarantee of convergence within 30 seconds. Metronet (UK) provides comfort to those organisations for which the network infrastructure really is the lifeblood of the business.