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Network outages costing enterprise customers millions

In years gone, internet downtime would have been considered a first world problem, but now it is costing enterprise organisations millions every time a digital baron period emerges.

With connectivity as the foundation of almost every business nowadays, few can operate without a stable internet connection. From the delivery of mission critical data to the functioning of tills and credit card machines, a digital blackout will cost businesses money.

According to a survey from Open Gear, only 8% of respondents suggested network downtime had cost them nothing. 31% stated outages had cost their business more than $1.2 million while a further 17% said such shutdowns hit revenues by more than $6 million. It should come as little surprise 83% of the respondents said network resilience was their number one concern.

With the coronavirus pandemic further increasing dependence on communications networks, thanks to coerced remote working practices, a stable network becomes ever more important. Another interesting element is the ever-increasing distribution of a network; problems are no-longer contained to the data centre.

Services like Netflix has found a more accommodating home on the network edge, with last mile services and remote locations being used to cache content for users. The idea is to reduce latency and remove choke points on the network, but redundancy cannot always be built into the site and on-site engineers are very rare.

42% of the survey respondents stated the problem in remedying the outage was getting engineers to the site, a challenge which will only be compounded as the network becomes more distributed and the edge becomes more prominent.

There are two key trends which could accelerate the edge which are worth keeping an eye on. Firstly, telcos are partnering up with the major cloud players to ensure more edge services can be offered to enterprise customers. Telecom Italia has an extensive relationship with Google Cloud, for example, while Verizon is firmly in bed with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The second interesting trend is the cloud players gaining competency in the telco segment, perhaps reducing reliance on telco partnerships (relegating the telco to a commoditised partner). The cloud players also have deeper existing relationships with enterprise companies, maybe accelerating the edge trends. Microsoft acquiring Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks are two examples, as is the hiring spree the cloud players have undertaken over the last 18 months.

The edge presents a significant opportunity for the telcos, assuming they are not designated the role of ‘dump pipe’ but it also presents major challenges. Network resiliency is a hurdle for a functional digital society, but it is one which can be addressed with the tools available today, such as artificial intelligence and network automation.


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