Connectivity menu for corporate networks

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It’s not what you connect to, but why

In my last blog I stated that the Internet is a foundation of the way we work today. As the author Simon Sinek famously said we, as individuals, and as organisations should: ‘Start with why’. Anyone who has read Simon’s book will know that ‘Start With Why’ is a great read for anyone looking to discover their sense of purpose or belonging, anyone who is looking for that big picture ‘why’ we do the things we do. In this blog I’d like to explore the ‘why’ of connectivity choices for corporate networks and ‘how’ BT might help.

The why of internet connectivity

It’s about connecting your customers, suppliers, offices and employees. It’s about collaborative working, whatever the time of day, wherever you are in the world. And this means that you need a cost-effective service you can rely on, globally. As more and more businesses move to hybrid networking (MPLS and Internet) models your users demand you buy the best available internet, with quality and performance at its core.

There’s always a trade-off: a la carte versus set menu

The trade-off with internet connectivity is: cost – versus – performance. We’ve all seen data telling us that global data flows have exploded, in fact that’s tenfold over the past decade and projected to triple by 2020[1]. In response to that you’re considering internet connectivity to deliver ever-increasing bandwidths at a reducing cost per megabit.

You’ll understand though, that not all internet is created equal and you’ll get what you pay for. This becomes crystal-clear when comparing the service-wrap of various internet solutions. Don’t incorrectly prioritise cost over service, because then the service can fail to meet your expectations.

Consider your connections to cloud

Business content is shifting towards the cloud, with internet as a starting point for cloud service provider connectivity. However, regulatory / compliance concerns and class-of-service mapping can mean that internet is not always suitable for some traffic destined for the cloud.

In that case there is an alternative to internet: direct connectivity solutions such as Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute and AWS Direct Connect are popular choices to deliver low-latency and high stability.

Direct connectivity to cloud can offer a range of benefits:

  • Sites are simply added as on-net sites to your network
  • Optimal application performance
  • Highest reliability connectivity
  • Greater security
  • Additional value-added services like virtual firewalls and application acceleration

And that’s just the transport network (or, as I termed it in my last blog, ‘underlay’).

Consuming internet: SD-WAN has brought control & confidence

As overlay services like SD-WAN have matured they give global enterprises the confidence to consume more internet connectivity as an underlay network for their sites. SD-WAN routing optimises application performance over the internet and allows controlled application use of an existing MPLS connection at times of internet congestion. Basically, with SD-WAN, you’re getting the most from your hybrid (MPLS and Internet) network design.

Why must I compromise?

…as Veruca Salt, from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, may have asked. Of course using internet in your corporate WAN is a compromise. The performance of your business applications will vary depending on which internet service provider (ISP) you’re connected to and how many hops across different networks will have to be made to connect your users to content. So, ISP choice becomes important as does the flavour of internet chosen at the enterprise site. You’ll consider trade-offs of the cost of dedicated internet access (with its benefits of stability & reliability) versus the ubiquity of broadband (whose bandwidth & quality will vary over time).

Food for thought: when bandwidth appetite outgrows connectivity

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) liked what was on BT’s menu of internet options. So much so that they signed a four-year contract with BT for high-capacity (10Gbps) dedicated internet connections to serve their 450 employees. This helped EFSA maintain their position as a leading provider of food safety information to the EU.

Our menu of internet choices: BT Internet Connect

We offer our customers choice but don’t forget that internet connectivity is a broad term. Let’s expand on that here. Business grade and consumer grade internet are very different services. Our business grade internet service (we call it ‘Internet Connect Global’) is a dedicated solution that gives high performance and availability with the service support you need. We also offer contended internet services (we call these ‘Internet Connect Reach’), which come with lower levels of service and performance, but also a much lower price.

At BT we offer two broad categories of internet connectivity:

1.     Internet Connect Global: a robust, reliable and fully managed global Internet access service with a 100% availability target, designed specifically for multinational corporations. It can be used to provide access to the public Internet, to make company portals reachable, to support business applications and to create company internal IP VPNs.

2.     Internet Connect Reach: complements BT Internet Connect Global as this service is for remote sites needing small bandwidth, lowest possible cost; sites that can afford a best-effort service.

The what, the why and the how

Simon Sinek told us that every company knows ‘what’ they do. However, as you read this article you may have been considering your ‘why’. With BT as a partner we will help you with your ‘how’; as we discuss global connectivity options to help your business thrive.

The ‘what next?’

Have a BT expert call you today.

Related reading:

1.     BT’s recommendations on building the network your business needs to survive Download our eGuide  

2.     BT’s internet connectivity options Internet Connect

3.     BT’s direct connectivity options for cloud services Cloud Connect Direct


[1] BCG Henderson Institute, Globalisation is supposed to be in retreat, April 2017

Steve Coakley