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Connectivity

3 ways to connect your private IP network to the Internet

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Miles Burns
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For medium to large sized businesses with several locations, a private IP network will allow seamless data and voice communication between each site using GCOMM’s premium national network.

This network can be comprised of a large variety of last mile tails, ranging from low level ADSL2+ to higher end fibre and copper-based premium services. All of these services can connect directly to GCOMM’s network, providing high speed service with unlimited traffic and 99.99% uptime guarantee.

The private IP network offering can be deployed for a number of uses, including voice communications, hosting of cloud platforms and anything in between. However, it will likely be the case that users will require access to the Internet. I’d like to outline a few of the various methods that are used to provide Internet access to the private IP network and what each method may or may not do well. Hopefully, this breakdown will help inform future design of IP network services wherein Internet access is required.

Connection options

There are three major configurations that are possible when trying to connect a private IP network to the Internet. We have given them the following names:

  1. Independent last mile Internet access

  2. Head office Internet gateway(s)

  3. Centralised Internet gateway

There are many factors to be considered when determining which configuration would suit a network setup best. These include:

  • The Internet traffic requirements of the business.

  • The speed and type of each service.

  • The numbers of users, both on the network and for the specific types of applications that may be accessing the Internet.

The upcoming paragraphs will break down each configuration and what to look out for when choosing the right one for your network.

Independent last mile Internet access

The most basic solution when it comes to routing and network complexity,  accessing the Internet through last mile connectivity may not always be the least expensive option. This configuration relies upon the installation of a separate last-mile tail with a traffic package, at each of the sites that are connected through the private IP network. As part of this configuration, we are essentially creating a “mirror-network” that allows each site to independently access the Internet without sending any of that traffic across the private network.

A major advantage of this configuration is that all of the sites within this network will maintain Internet access regardless of the network condition as a whole. Each site can also potentially utilise their own independent Internet link to run VPN services back into the private IP network should their own private IP link become compromised. In this way, each Internet link acts as a failover (link to Todd’s article about failover connectivity) which can be reused to provide private IP network service, should an outage occur.

A possible disadvantage of this configuration is that the user will need to provision two separate last-mile tails to each site within the network, which may or may not be costly, depending on the services used. It is important to note that each site is limited only by the performance of their individual gateway, so premium services should be considered at higher priority locations, while a more economical services, such as ADSL, can be used at satellite offices.

Head office gateway

Head office gateway uses only a single site’s additional Internet connection to supply access to the entire private IP network. All traffic that isn’t routed to the same location as the gateway would need to be sent through the private network to each individual site. For best performance, the primary site (i.e. the head office) with the most users should be designated as the location of the gateway.

One of the potential drawbacks to this configuration is that if the primary site loses connection to the private network or the Internet, access will be lost for all satellite locations. Any site disconnected from the private IP network will also lose Internet access. Furthermore, the upload speed of the head office site will greatly impact any traffic speed entering the private IP network, meaning a service like ADSL2+ with a low upload will slow down Internet downloading for all other sites. These issues must be carefully considered before committing to this setup.

Centralised Internet gateway

The final configuration for consideration is the centralised Internet gateway  (CIG) product, available as part of the GCOMM data centre solutions. This configuration will allow for your network to have its Internet access managed entirely by GCOMM through one of our data centre points of presence in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Darwin. The CIG is managed by GCOMM and is combined with a firewall to ensure that your network is protected at all times. The service provides an Ethernet port and a rack space to colocate your gateway device or it can be rented from GCOMM. The gateway will access the Internet at 100Mbps or 1Gbps, depending on the requirements of the network, meaning that no internal bottleneck will limit the speed of Internet service for all the other sites. Speeds to and from each site to the gateway are only limited by the speed of their own last-mile tail. While one of the more dependable and foolproof configurations, the cost of colocation may be a downside for some businesses.

Conclusion

Whatever configuration is chosen, it is essential that the upsides and downsides to each possible setup be carefully considered before any design decisions are made. The importance of Internet access and the number of users and services being put in place will help determine which configuration is the best solution, as well as budget and technical complexity.

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About Miles Burns

Miles Burns
Miles is a recent addition to the GCOMM sales team and hails from the city of Boston in the United States. He traveled to Australia to complete his Masters of Information Technology at Bond University and now works to help his clients develop the best networking solutions for their businesses.