“Two is one, and one is none.”
It’s a saying often attributed to the US Military, specifically the Navy Seals.
And it powerfully sums up the concept of redundancy – the idea that having a backup is not just an option, but a necessity.
For many Australian businesses, this was a painful lesson learned during the recent Optus outage.
It was one of the largest network disruptions in the country’s history. An estimated 400,000 businesses were left without internet and phone connectivity.
Yes, because of the outage. But also because these businesses relied on a single network source.
For Aussie businesses the Optus outage was more than just an inconvenience; it was a wake-up call.
It underlined the inherited vulnerability of our increasingly connected world – and the consequences of being unprepared.
As we unpack the aftermath and learnings from this outage, we’re reminded of the importance of effective risk management and contingency planning. These core activities are crucial for business continuity and success.
In this article,m we explore the lessons from the Optus outage, the importance of having a backup network, and how your business can better prepare itself for unforeseen disruptions.
Because in the world of network connectivity, just as in the military, having a backup isn’t a luxury – it’s a strategic necessity.
Get Your Free Essential Eight Cyber Security Report
- The cyber security gaps costing you time and money.
- Practical steps to upgrade your security measures.
- The hidden risks of poor security protocols.
- How to bolster your cyber security and aid business growth.
The Cost of Unpreparedness
It would be easy to treat the Optus outage as just a temporary technological hiccup.
However, this would be a mistake. It should serve more as a reminder of the vulnerabilities businesses face.
When internet and phone services suddenly went dark, the cost of being unprepared became alarmingly clear.
Consider the impact on the estimated 400,000 businesses affected.
For many, this meant a stop to all transactions, little-to-no communications, and lost opportunities.
As you can guess, the financial toll was substantial.
Small businesses, often operating on razor-thin margins, were particularly hard hit. The inability to process transactions or communicate with clients can quickly escalate from a temporary setback to a threat to their very survival.
Moreover, the reputational damage from such disruptions can have lasting effects, eroding customer trust and loyalty.
For larger enterprises, the risks are no less significant. The disruption can cascade through supply chains, affecting not just the directly impacted business but also their partners and customers.
The resultant loss of productivity, coupled with the potential for breach of service level agreements (SLAs), can lead to both immediate financial losses and more subtle long-term impacts.
Understanding Network Redundancy
In the aftermath of the Optus outage, a crucial concept comes to the forefront: network redundancy.
But what exactly does this mean for your business?
A redundant network is not just a backup; it’s a critical component of a modern business’s infrastructure. It ensures continuous operations during outages like the one experienced by Optus customers.
It’s like having an emergency generator when the main power supply goes out. The backup instantly kicks in, ensuring there’s no interruption in service.
Why is this important?
Because often a single point of failure in your network infrastructure can spell disaster.
With network redundancy, however, you create a safety net.
If one network path experiences problems -be it due to technical failures, natural disasters, or, as seen in the Optus case, large-scale outages – the backup network takes over keeping your business online and operational.
Implementing network redundancy involves a variety of strategies. It can be as simple as having a backup internet connection from a different provider, or as complex as setting up multiple data paths and servers to ensure uninterrupted data flow.
The key is to ensure that these backup systems are independent of the primary system’s infrastructure. This way, you avoid a domino effect in case of failure.
Not just for outages
This approach not only safeguards against unexpected outages but also provides a cushion during planned maintenance.
This ensures that your business’s digital operations are always on, and always connected.
For businesses, big or small, the message is clear: network redundancy isn’t just an IT concern, it’s a fundamental business strategy to ensure continuity, reliability, and competitiveness.
Investing in Continuity
When we talk about investing in network redundancy, we’re not just talking about installing backup systems. We’re talking about investing in the continuity and resiliency of your business.
As we mentioned above, downtime can mean lost revenue, damaged reputation, and missed opportunities. So, the question isn’t whether you can afford to have a backup network, but whether you can afford not to.
Think of your investment in a backup network as more of an insurance policy for digital operations.
Just as you insure your physical assets against theft or damage, a backup network insures your digital presence against the unexpected.
It’s a crucial step in protecting your business against the kind of disruption we saw with the Optus outage.
Beyond the mere installation of backup systems, investment encompasses a comprehensive strategy that includes regular testing and maintenance of systems, employee training on emergency protocols, and a clear understanding of the potential risks and their mitigations.
A backup network is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution; it requires ongoing attention and management to ensure it works when you need it most.
Your competitive advantage
Moreover, investing in network redundancy can offer more than just a safety net; it can also be a competitive advantage.
Customers expect round-the-clock service and a seamless experience. With this in mind, having a reliable network can be a key differentiator. It assures your customers that your business is always on, always available, and always ready to serve their needs.
Don't miss out on our latest.
Join our subscribers and receive expert insights on cyber security and IT. Sign up now!
Solutions for Stability
In the wake of the Optus outage, it’s evident that businesses need to invest in stability.
This brings us to a pivotal question: what solutions can businesses implement to ensure this stability? The answer lies in adopting a comprehensive approach to network redundancy and resilience.
1. Diverse Service Providers
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
By diversifying your network service providers, you mitigate the risk of a complete shutdown if one provider faces an outage.
This might involve having a primary internet connection with one provider and a backup with another.
Here’s the strategy: use different, independent providers for your primary and backup internet connections.
For example, you might choose Telstra for your main link and TPG for your backup. This way, if one provider experiences an outage, the other is likely to remain unaffected, ensuring continuous connectivity for your business.
It’s crucial to select providers that operate independently. Avoid choosing a provider that is a subsidiary of your primary provider.
For instance, iiNet is owned by TPG, pairing it with a TPG primary connection wouldn’t offer true redundancy.
Instead, choose completely independent providers to ensure that your backup stands apart.
2. Cloud-Based Solutions
The cloud offers an incredible advantage in terms of network redundancy.
Leveraging cloud services for critical business functions means your data and applications can remain accessible, even if your local network fails.
Cloud providers typically have robust, geographically diverse infrastructure, which adds an extra layer of security and update assurance.
3. On-Site Redundancy
For some businesses, on-site redundancy is also critical. This could mean having backup servers, secondary power supplies, and alternative communication systems.
While this requires an investment in hardware, it provides an immediate fallback option in case of local network issues.
4. Regular Testing & Maintenance
Having a backup is only as good as its readiness to be deployed.
Regular testing and maintenance of your backup systems are crucial. This ensures when the need arises, your backup solutions will function seamlessly, minimising any potential downtime.
5. Customised Solutions from Manager Service Providers (MSPs)
This is where MSPs like us at Stanfield IT can be invaluable.
An MSP can assess your specific business needs and tailor a redundancy plan that fits your operations, budget, and risk profile.
They can handle everything from setup to ongoing maintenance and support, ensuring your network is robust and resilient.
MSPs’ involvement goes beyond just the initial setup as well. They offer ongoing support and maintenance to ensure your backup network is always operational.
This includes regular testing, updates, and prompt response to any vulnerabilities.
By partnering with an MSP, your business will access their expertise and resources dedicated to maintaining network stability. This partnership allows you to focus on your core business activities knowing that your network is in safe hands.
Preventative Measures and Best Practices
A little bit of prevention goes a long way. Adopting preventative measures and best practices will help you mitigate the risks of network outages. Here are some key strategies your business should consider.
Frequent Network Audits
Start with regular network audits. These are your roadmap to understanding the current state of your network, pinpointing vulnerabilities, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
Empower your team.
You may have heard the term human error thrown around. It’s often the culprit behind network issues.
Regular training sessions for your employees can significantly reduce this risk. Teach them the do’s and don’ts, the warning signs of network threats, and the steps to take if things go wrong.
Disaster Recovery Planning
Be prepared. A well-documented disaster recovery plan is your lifeline in a business crisis.
It should clearly outline the actions to take during an outage, including how to access backup systems and communicate with relevant stakeholders.
Invest in Quality
Lastly, remember the adage – you get what you pay for.
Investing in high quality hardware and services might cost more upfront, but the reliability and support they offer are invaluable. They’re the foundation of a strong network.
By implementing these preventive strategies and best practices, your business can not only reduce the likelihood of a network outage but also ensure you are better prepared to handle them if they do occur.
In light of the Optus outage, it’s clear that a strong network infrastructure is essential for business continuity.
Don’t wait for the next disruption, take action today. Evaluate your network, strengthen your backup systems, and ensure your team is ready for any challenge.
Investing in redundant internet is not just about avoiding disruptions, it’s about ensuring your business is always online, serving customers and meeting demands without interruption.
At Stanfield IT, we understand the challenges of building resilient network systems that suit your business needs. We’re here to guide you through your current setup, implementing robust redundancy measures, and preparing your team for seamless operation.
Reach out today. Let us help build you a network that not only defends itself from disruption but also supports your business’s growth and resilience.
Some of our latest
What is Network Security? Network security is the practice of protecting your network and its integrity from potential threats. Utilising both hardware and software solutions to manage access to the network, your business’s network security should identify threats and...
The recent cyber attack on DP World Australia, a major global shipping operator, should serve as a lesson for all businesses. In November 2023, the shipping giant was hit by a cyber attack. The breach didn’t just disrupt their operations; it led to a data compromise,...
If you’re a business owner or IT professional you’re probably familiar with the challenge of securing data and infrastructure. One of the most effective frameworks designed to address these challenges is the Essential Eight Maturity Model. It comprises four distinct...