By Linda Gail Christie
Slow or unreliable connections to your Internet-based storage service provider (SSP) will frustrate users, slow productivity, and even threaten the viability of using an SSP. However, buying a bigger pipe can be expensive. Here are some things to consider before upgrading your bandwidth.
First, make sure that your ISP service is not slowing down the connectivity to your SSP. Obtain an ISP service-level agreement (SLA) that guarantees 99% or better uptime and low latency-200 ms or less. PSInet, for example, offers 85 ms or less latency in North America. (For examples of SLAs, see additional resources at the end of this piece.)
"If your current ISP doesn't offer SLAs, it may be time to change to a provider that does," said Casey Joosse, general manager for Hotline Support Pty. Ltd., a network integrator and corporate ASP based in Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane, Australia. "Performance accountability is a must in choosing both an ISP and an SSP."
Eliminate routing delays by remaining on one backbone. "If your ASP or SSP uses Qwest fiber for hosting, for example, then it's logical to get an ISP connection from Qwest," said Cori Fountain, chief executive officer of Planet Computer (a Denver, Colo.-based ASP. "Routing through multiple backbones can add a tremendous amount of latency." For more critical operations, you may want to consider getting a point-to-point connection to your SSP, "Although this is more expensive, it's vastly more reliable," Fountain advised.
Make sure you have adequate bandwidth to serve your user base. "The general rule of thumb is to provide 20 kbps per user," Fountain said. "So, simple math will tell you that if you have more than 20 users accessing the SSP directly you will need a T-1 connection or better; with 200 users you will need a T-3." Also, routers with two or three ports can be used to combine multiple T-1 lines.
Many companies are looking to inexpensive DSL technology for a solution. One thing to watch for is whether or not you need the same, bi-directional speeds during upload or downloads. "ISDN, Frame Relay, T-1 and more traditional services offer sustained, bi-directional speeds," Fountain said. "Although DSL technology shows promise as an affordable solution, be sure to obtain an SLA from the DSL provider to ensure the bandwidth will be there when you need it."
- For SLA examples, see UUNET at http://www.uu.net/terms and PSINet at http://www.psinet.com/sla.
- For other Web sites of companies referenced in this article: Hotline Support Pty. Ltd. ( http://www.hotlinesupport.com/); Qwest ( http://www.qwest.com/); and Planet Computer (http://www.planetuplink.com/).
- For a complete list of all tips produced by SearchStorage.com, please see: http://www.searchstorage.com/searchStorage_Tips_Page/0,1800,,00.html.
About the author: Linda Gail Christie is a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.