TECH PERSPECTIVE / THE DIGITAL EDGE
PUBLISHED 7 JANUARY 2020
The idea of “managing risk” is a familiar one. In our day-to-day lives, we often “spread our risk” to avoid something from happening (or at least minimize the likelihood), or we buy a “spare” to enable us to carry on should it happen in the future. In practice this might see you take out some form of insurance policy. The concept of identifying “a risk” and taking mitigating action is one we carry out many times a year.
Risks and potential eventualities exist in the networking world as much as they do in our private lives.
Enterprises today rely entirely on their network. And in most cases, the loss of connectivity can see site productivity grind to a halt as users are unable to access critical applications.
Service availability is everything.
Designed as a 100Gbps dual fiber loop, FA-1 can provide high capacity, fully-protected trans-Atlantic private line services between the US and Europe via separate North and South trans-Atlantic cables.
Private Line or Shared Infrastructure?
but not all network connections are created equally. Different network technologies are designed to achieve different objectives.
Multi-national corporations (MNCs) with applications that are not latency-critical or which reside in the Cloud, are increasingly looking to use “SD-WAN”, with the Internet and “Hybrid WAN” as the underlying network technology. By its very nature, the Internet is a mesh of interconnected networks that rely on routing tables to map a course between 2 points, with“net neutrality” and “best-efforts” principles determining how traffic makes its way across multiple network paths. The Internet is also based on a shared infrastructure and “contended” capacity model, making it by far the most cost-effective use of available network infrastructure as it does not “dedicate” bandwidth to individual users.
While this offers a degree of “insurance”, it inevitably comes at a marginal “cost” to performance, since traffic can take a number of paths across a network, but not always the most direct one.
Conversely, MNCs who pass enormous amounts of data between international sites, for example in the US and Europe, or whose data may be too sensitive or valuable to use shared infrastructure, are more likely to choose more “basic” and fundamental private connectivity. These “private lines” provide dedicated capacity, and are shared with no-one.
The benefits of a private line are clear. Uncontended capacity, known physical paths, reliable and predictable performance.
And the single biggest disadvantage is of course that a private line is a “point-to-point” connection. If the connection is lost in any way, users simply cannot connect to their applications. And while an Internet-based network “back-up” connection could be put in place in case of outage, performance will be diluted in the event that the back-up connection is required.
It would be like taking out an insurance policy which renders slightly lower levels of cover or perhaps a higher “excess payment” for the first $x dollars of a claim.
But all is not lost. MNCs whose application performance requirements dictate the use of a private line can still spread their risk or invest in insurance. Typically, they do this by having more than one connection in place. But think about it; an insurance policy isn’t going to offer much insurance if it’s built on the same foundations as the services it is designed to protect.
The Building Blocks of a Private Line
The key to choosing private lines for maximum uptime, is to ensure “separacy” and “redundancy”. This usually means ensuring every building block of each service is different; building entry points and cross-connects, local loops, Central Offices (CO) and Local Exchanges, carrier PoP, terrestrial backhaul fiber, Cable Landing Stations (CLSs), subsea fiber and subsea network ownership.
The devil really is in the detail.
Not all subsea cables over which each international private line runs will have resilience and redundancy built in. Some either have no redundant path available, or if they do, it goes on a long and circuitous route elsewhere, rendering it meaningless.
Most MNCs are familiar with domestic and metro fiber runs, building diversity, carrier PoP separacy and redundancy at CO. But one often-overlooked aspect is where subsea cables come out of the ocean and connect to backhaul; CLSs.
Trans-Atlantic Subsea Cables
Using trans-Atlantic subsea cables as an example, a quick glimpse at the mish mash of systems that connect the US to the UK and France on Telegeography’s Submarine Cable Map illustrates the point. The route between the Europe and North America is one of the most popular and congested, with as many as 17 cables crossing the ocean. But look more closely at the CLSs in Manasquan (NJ), Wall (NJ), Shirley (NY) and Bude (UK) and you will see facilities that land multiple subsea cables; most of which cross the vast Atlantic Ocean.
And as with any shared facility, this represents a risk.
Taking it one step further, most trans-Atlantic subsea cable systems are owned by a consortium of telcos, all of whom are competing for the same market share. This shared ownership model can also give rise to issues. Multiple cable owners trying to sell the same capacity, a potential conflict of interest between consortium members who are also direct competitors, the availability of separate backhaul fiber and routes back to carrier PoPs.
When buying a trans-Atlantic private line you really do need to do your homework.
FA-1 – 100G trans-Atlantic Private Line for Maximum Network Uptime
GCX’s FA-1 is different and unique. It is a multi-terabit trans-Atlantic system which connects New York and Washington DC to London, Slough, Paris, Frankfurt and Marseille. From Marseille it also connects directly to the Middle East and Asia.
FA-1 is the perfect system to add redundancy and resilience to any private line requirement between east Coast US and Western Europe.
Designed as a 100Gbps dual fiber loop, FA-1 can provide high capacity, fully-protected trans-Atlantic private lines between the US and Europe via separate North and South trans-Atlantic cables. And thanks to private, dedicated landings in UK, France and New York, with two-way diversity into US (no “Single Point of Failure”), FA-1 can ensure maximum network uptime.
But if that’s not enough, FA-1 (South) remains one of only 2 subsea cable systems to connect directly between the US and France, and offers the lowest subsea latency between New York and Paris.
Unlike with consortium-owned systems, full private ownership of FA-1 gives GCX gives total control over decision-making on all aspects of the services offered. This includes engineering, capacity, routing, upgrades, maintenance, service restoration, commercial and so on.
So if your US to Europe connections are critical, and even if you already have trans-Atlantic private lines in place, can you afford not to consider managing your risk with FA-1 ?
After all, when buying insurance, it is often much safer to talk to the underwriter than a broker.