For firms looking to utilize the power of cloud technology, the right internet connection is imperative. A powerful cloud without the right type of internet connection is inefficient and can prevent a firm from realizing the complete benefit of a hosted cloud solution. So what type of primary internet connection is considered best practice for firms in the cloud? There are two major variables to consider when selecting the right connection for your firm: bandwidth and type. This article focuses on how to find the right type of internet connection for your firm.
The recommended best practice solution for CPA firms using a cloud solution is a dedicated connection. Dedicated connections are recommended for 3 reasons:
- Dedicated connections typically come with a SLA (Service Level Agreement) that guarantees the performance and availability of the connection. Undedicated business cable connections vary in performance and reliability. A dependable connection backed by a solid SLA is a requirement for an internet connection that meets or exceeds industry best practices.
- Dedicated connections are typically very stable. Variance in the speed of data traveling across the internet is usually unnoticeable for certain internet usage, like web browsing or audio streaming. However, variance that is acceptable for some internet usage can be painful for firms that utilize applications and data hosted in the cloud. Variance in the time it takes for data to travel back-and-forth can cause users to experience latency and lag while using cloud applications.
- Finally, dedicated lines are not shared with other customers and are not subject to degraded performance during peak hours. Standard business cable connections can slow down when a large number of customers in the same service area are using the internet. It’s common for cable companies to oversubscribe their infrastructure. If you look closely at the agreement or advertising material for cable connections in your area, you will notice that the bandwidth quoted will typically include a notice stating that you can expect speeds “up to a certain number.” While it’s possible that you may be getting the bandwidth you are quoted with a shared connection, it’s not constant and it’s not guaranteed. Firms that require reliability and high performance are better served by a dedicated connection. Dedicated connections are reliable and come with guaranteed bandwidth that doesn’t change. They provide a pathway to the internet that is set aside for your firm that is not affected by usage from other customers in your area.
What does a dedicated connection look like?
The two most common types of dedicated connections widely available utilize either fiber optic technology or dedicated ethernet. Depending on your provider and the marketing language that they use, these connections can be called EoC (ethernet over copper), business ethernet, dedicated ethernet, or just plain fiber. If you are unsure whether or not the product you are reviewing is dedicated, a good way to find out is to ask to see the SLA and review the polices associated with it.
What about cost?
Typically, a dedicated connection is more expensive than a shared business cable connection. The reason for the increased cost is related to the benefits that a dedicated connection provides. It’s a reserved segment of bandwidth for a single firm and isn’t subject to oversubscription, like shared connections are. As fiber networks grow and expand across the continental United States, competition is driving down the price in many markets, and the downward trend in pricing will only continue. Check with a few providers in your area and compare their rates and offerings.
What about bandwidth?
One observation that you will quickly make once you start shopping connections is that cable connections typically advertise high bandwidth at a low cost relative to dedicated options. Don’t let the allure of a high bandwidth quote sway your decision. Remember that shared connections don’t guarantee the high bandwidth numbers that they are selling and that the actual bandwidth that you will get will vary on a day-to-day basis. Dedicated connections with a solid SLA can be trusted to perform as quoted without great variance in speed and bandwidth. For firms using a cloud platform, a stable dedicated connection will provide a better user experience than a variable cable connection, even if the cable connection provides greater bandwidth.
In summary, the old saying “you get what you pay for” holds some truth in the world of internet connections. If you pay for a dedicated connection, you can expect a better experience than that provided by a shared cable connection. This is not to say that cable connections are never useful or that none of them will ever work well for cloud access. For most firms, a cable connection is a great option for a backup connection and for handling low priority traffic. Cable connections are still the standard for home users and often do perform acceptably. However, for firms that are looking to meet or exceed current industry best practices, a dedicated connection is required.