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Do I need private interconnections?


June 4, 2019


June 4, 2019


Building a well-executed application can be expensive and time-consuming. You’ll need to make plenty of tough technical decisions throughout the process. One you won’t be able to avoid concerns how you wish to connect your users to your service.

Below, I’ll take a look at the various considerations for making these connections, in terms of privacy, security and reliability.

Connecting to users via the internet

Most of us are forced at some stage to serve users via the open internet. It offers the widest connectivity as the inevitable pathway of the majority.

Increased use of the internet may have been a godsend for connecting users with real-time applications, but it comes with its own set of problems around security and latency.

While high-bandwidth, static content like videos and photos are fine-tuned for delivery over the internet and mass consumption, real-time communications risk buffering and disruption that detract noticeably from the user experience.

Because of this, system architects all over the world are designing for those inevitable “Hold on, the signal isn’t great here” use cases.

If you’ve used Skype or Facebook Messenger for voice or video chat lately, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s why they have the ratings pop-up at the end of the call. This is a process known in the industry as Mean Opinion Scoring.

This is a way of pinpointing issues so network performance can be fine tuned. But it’s ultimately only a corrective measure that is applied to a problem retrospectively, once it has occured.

Encryption – potential quality drawbacks

If you’re connecting over the public internet, but wish to benefit from improved security, you’re probably using encryption in the form of VPNs.

One thing to keep in mind, though. If you encrypt data at any point in your flow, you face a cost. Adding encryption and decryption times at each end of your network increases latency.

When it comes to voice services, enabling AES encryption has been found to add up to a 9% increase in latency and 30% to the jitter of a call – under ideal conditions!

To put it bluntly, encrypting a call degrades its quality. When compounded with other issues, this could cause the end user to end up with a ‘low quality’ call experience.

Private interconnects

Maximizing security and quality

While you may be forced to connect to your customers via the internet, there are certainly better solutions to interconnecting your various infrastructure services.

Would you ever trust public transport enough to get valuable or confidential cargo from A to B? My guess is no.

The same goes for your data; why would you use the public internet to link the backbone of your application together?

We’ve seen a major push in the communications sector towards the use of private interconnects. The benefits of this approach are numerous:

  • More secure transportation of traffic without relying on VPNs
  • Fewer hops your packets have to make between A and B
  • Prioritization of traffic
  • Lower latency between the furthest points in your application
  • Better redundancy of your service

Ensuring reliability – keeping control

Here’s a scary statistic. Business end users in the United Kingdom are likely to face 2 major downtime events per year, due to issues with their ISP.

While the picture is improving and the average typical duration of such downtime events is tracking downwards, this is generally thought to be because IT is getting better at managing poor connectivity, not because of any overall improvements in connectivity.

As a result, IT staffing is becoming an increased cost center due to the number of people required to monitor and react to issues like a bad connection or downtime.

The best way of avoiding such issues is to directly connect your infrastructure over a private network where you have full control over the design, capacity and media – for QoS and SLA.

Being able to see where and how your traffic will be sent before it traipses over a network is a sysadmin requirement for maintaining the quality of your service.

This is another reason why private interconnections are becoming more popular.

Private interconnections for your communications

If the cornerstone of your brand is quality, it’s vital that you extend the same philosophy regarding public vs private connections to all the systems on which your services are built.

One of these core infrastructure layers is communication, including voice and messaging services supporting your apps and services – whether these come baked in or in the form of an external customer services number.

To help you control your intra-cloud workflows, Bandwidth has locations across the world from which you can connect privately to our network using a variety of methods.

Thanks to our integration with connectivity provider Megaport, we can provide localized direct interconnections to our platform from nearly 500 points across the globe.

In this way, you can ensure maximum security, reliability and control as you scale your cloud communications.