Over the past 15 years or more, businesses have experienced the trend of driving operational computing and communications down. The trend has been do more with less $. The recent drop in Computer hardware pricing over the past 5 years has fueled this reduction even further. Now every business can have an enterprise quality computing environment and telecommunications solution that is better than what most Fortune 100 companies ran their business on 10 years ago for a fraction of the investment. In addition to this with the proliferation of high speed internet at extremely low monthly fees the attraction of utilizing the internet to run business application over the internet has been huge. This has further fueled the cost savings for organizations around the globe.
Today the internet is relied on for every type of business transaction that you can think of through to credit processing between businesses and banking institutions. Yes the internet is an infrastructure that hold the veritable panacea of applications for one low price per month. I can run Virtual Private Network (VPNs) over the internet. I can run my corporate web site on the internet or access my CRM (Customer Relations Management) application. Backup is possible over the net for my mission critical sensitive data to offsite vaults to protect my business. My email communications, fax communications, voice communications and video communications are all running over the public internet. Post and courier services no longer carry messages and data to remote locations when we can simply transfer gigabytes of data across the public internet.
Security not withstanding the internet is a pretty cool place to do just about what ever you want. The advent of social networking has moved the interaction of people around the globe into a real live online community. So the internet is a medium for sharing rich and expansive media around the world 7x24x265. This all for one low monthly fee. In fact if we subscribe to Skype we can computer to computer call anyone in the world for free.
So where is the challenge to deploying mission critical applications over the internet at large? Well one of the areas is if that application has real time, time sensitive data like voice and video you will soon learn that not all internet connections are created equally. I am not just talking about different types of internet connections, but the same type of internet connections at different locations. This is due to the difference in infrastructure (The age of the cable in the ground). Organizations that widely deploy mission critical applications over the internet must take into consideration the variance in the quality of the internet connections at various locations and with various carriers.
Voice cannot experience packet loss or dropped connections. Whereas Web browsing, email, CRM, file transfer and backup applications can rely on an unreliable internet connection as long as the connection is mostly stable. The key to understand is that if the internet drops the connections even if it is for 2 seconds all of your time sensitive communications could be dropped. Time sensitive applications include telephone call and web conferencing. So when deploying these types of services broadly it is important to have in your plan a contingency plan that says we may need to try different service providers and different technologies for our internet last mile as we deploy our solution out to the field. It may also be important to move some of these applications back to point-to-point connections to ensure the high quality of these services.
Not every internet connection is created equally, even from the same provider. Cost savings in one area, may need to be re-invested in to new areas to allow the organization to do more with less but with multiple options for our security and access.