Multihoming the Internet Connection
If you’ve ever lived in a region with fragile infrastructure or otherwise unreliable internet service, you already understand how helpless you can feel when something as simple as a downed tree branch knocks out your internet for the better part of a week. You can run into similar issues if you live in a rural area with unreliable internet connections. In today’s always connected business environment, an inability to access your servers for days on end can cost you thousands of dollars in lost business. Keeping your connection up is more important than ever.
Multihoming your internet connection may be the solution you’re after. It can make your internet connection faster and more reliable and may be the thing that keeps your business online in the event of an emergency or natural disaster that takes down the neighborhood grid. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of multihoming, you’re not alone. Let’s look at what it is, how it’s achieved, as well as the great benefits that go hand in hand with utilizing multiple internet connections in one house or office.
What is Multihoming?
Quite simply, multihoming is the process of connecting your local area network to more than one ISP(internet service provider) at a time. Your local area network is the home or office network to which you connect your computers, devices, and everything else that connects to the internet.
Once set up, your network will connect to the internet through multiple network connections and IP addresses. This allows you to increase your bandwidth and provides you with a backup connection that will automatically take over if something causes downtime on one of those connections.
In order to fully understand how multihoming differs from a standard connection, let’s look at the difference between a single-homed network, a dual multihomed network, and everything in between.
A single homed network is the type of connection most people are familiar with. You likely have one set up in your home or office right now. In a single-homed network, your router is directly connected to one internet service provider through a single pathway. It’s a cost-effective means of connecting to the internet, but it provides no redundancy or backup, meaning if any part of your single connection goes down, so does your entire network.
The next step up would be a dual-homed network. In a dual homing network, you’re still dealing with one service provider but are connected through multiple communication pathways. The big benefit here is that you protect yourself from downtime by having multiple connections, which is known as redundancy. The type of network in which two internet connection options are utilized are typically used for load balancing or creating a backup connection and can be a big upgrade from your single-homed network.
A multihomed network looks a lot like a dual-homed network. Still, instead of the connections linking your router to one ISP along multiple pathways, you are connected to different ISPs through different pathways. This type of network provides additional security features over a dual-homed network since a failure at the ISP level will not necessarily cause you to go offline. As long the service provider is still up and running on your second internet connection, your business can remain online.
Dual Multihomed Networks
If it’s essential that your site is online at all times, the most reliable connection you can get is a dual multihomed network. This type of network is set up by creating two links to each ISP, meaning each ISP connection has a backup pathway associated with it. When you combine the benefits of multihoming with the redundancy of dual-homing, you can ensure that almost nothing will take your internet connection offline.
How to Get a Multihome Connection
Before you get involved in multihoming your office, you should know that it can be a little complicated, and it’s not necessary if you don’t rely upon your site being online.
However, if you’ve got lots of employees or clients who need to log into your servers from different locations at any time of the day or night, it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to set up a multihomed connection for your business. There are a couple of main ways to do it.
Buy a Multihoming Router
Multihoming broadband routers are a type of router that’s specifically set up to handle multiple connections. Traditional routers only allow you to connect to one service provider through one portal and will not work for multihoming. They can be a little spendy, depending on which model you choose, but multihoming routers are the simplest way to get started with multihoming.
Expand Your Computer’s Capabilities
If you are handy enough to install network adapters on your computer and create a software code to handle the details associated with combining multiple internet connections, that’s another possible route. It will save you a few bucks over buying a router but requires a bit of knowledge around the subject. Don’t attempt to go this route unless you are fairly comfortable with building computers and developing software code.
There are some software products that can allow you to virtually combine multiple internet connections, but they don’t provide the same benefits you would get with a hardware solution. For instance, a software solution will not allow for load balancing, which is a huge benefit that comes along with multihoming. If your computer doesn’t have the capacity for handling multiple lines, you may have to use wifi or some other option to provide your secondary line.
Benefits of Multihoming
If you’re considering installing a multi-homed connection in your home or business, there are good reasons to combine multiple internet connections. Multihoming your internet service gives you top notch reliability and efficiency through added redundancy and load balancing. Here’s what that means for you.
Redundancy in computing is simply a communications pathway with multiple connection links. The more redundancy you have, the better chance you have of staying online when something goes wrong with one or more links and takes that internet service out of commission. Connecting to multiple ISPs through multiple pathways is the ultimate safety net. More redundancy equals more reliability.
If your business involves a lot of data transfer, load balancing is a great way to increase your speeds and allow you and your employees to work more efficiently. Load balancing is a term for distributing your usage amongst the combined bandwidth of the multiple connections to your network. Multihomed devices allow you to increase your bandwidth so your network can handle a ton of data without getting bogged down. Whether you’ve got a large number of employees connecting from all kinds of devices or you work with very large files, you’ll notice the difference you get by multihoming almost immediately.
Choose Reliable Providers
All that redundancy doesn’t mean much if your service providers aren’t reliable. Choosing a reliable provider will make a big difference in the quality of the service you ultimately receive. Make sure their infrastructure is built on the newest technology to ensure you get the bandwidth and uptime you’re after. Their responsiveness is also a biggie.
A large part of your multihoming experience will come down to the quality of your service providers’ customer support systems. If you don’t know how to connect two home networks over the internet or set up a multihomed firewall, you’ll want to know that multihoming is still an option for you. Choosing a provider that can help get you set up makes the whole process go much more smoothly.
24-7 & West Wisconsin Telcom has the experience and advanced network that makes us the premier telecom provider in western Wisconsin. We would love to show you how adding redundancy to your network can supercharge your internet connection. Reach out to learn more.