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LTE + Destination Based Failover: How to keep your phones and POS system connected

October 16th, 2020 [UPDATED]
Originally published on June 15th, 2020

Ensure Point-of-Sale Transactions and VoIP Calls Always Go Through

Before we walk through 4G LTE failover for business Internet connections, let’s take a brief refresher on SD-WAN.

What is SD-WAN?

What is SD-WAN?

First, we need to briefly cover a software-defined network (SDN), as this is where SD-WAN has its roots. In an SDN, the control functionality is abstracted and separated from the network’s physical devices, so configuration and management are centralized. Instead of configuring a network box by box, the configuration is completed in one place and then pushed down to all the individual devices on the network simultaneously. The same principle applies to wide area networks (WANs) with SD-WAN.

Software-defined wide area networks use software to control connectivity, management and services between data centers and remote branches or cloud instances. SD-WAN manages multiple connections—from LTE to broadband to MPLS and segments, partitions and secures traffic across an enterprise’s wide area network (WAN). Each business’ SD-WAN implementation is managed from a centralized orchestrator that monitors network activity and alerts your company and SD-WAN vendor to any issues.

GeoLinks’ SD-WAN solution supports network security features including restricting and allowing traffic to and from specific websites.

Two Types of SD-WAN Configuration: Active-Active VS Active-Passive

There are two main types of SD-WAN setups.

Active-Active Configuration

In an active-active configuration, your company will have two or more WAN sources connected and online at all times. With both network lines always-on, your network traffic is routed over whichever source is best optimized for each individual application you’re using. If one line fails or drops in quality, SD-WAN prioritizes mission-critical traffic and instantaneously (and automatically) routes the data to the other line without any data loss. You and your staff often won’t even know this has occurred because there is no service disruption.

Active-Passive Configuration

In an active-passive configuration, your company will have just one WAN source active at any given time. When the primary pathway fails, data will failover to the secondary pathway.

Benefits of SD-WAN

To learn more about SD-WAN and ways your business can leverage the technology, read our article “Size Doesn’t Matter: SD-WAN Benefits Every Business Network”.

Here are the highlighted top five benefits to your company when implementing SD-WAN:

  1. Cost Savings
  2. Bandwidth Elasticity
  3. Enhanced Quality of Service (QoS)
  4. Business Continuity
  5. Improved Data Security

The powerful cost benefits of SD-WAN dominate conversations, so it’s easy to forget that the impetus behind SD-WAN development was business continuity — Internet failover, to be specific.

What is Internet Failover?

Internet failover is just what it sounds like: When the primary Internet connection fails, experiences packet loss or latency spikes, SD-WAN technology switches traffic over to a secondary connection. At a time when your business is increasingly dependent upon Internet connections to access vital computing and communications infrastructure and applications, you can see why business continuity is critical. It’s not only essential to maintaining productivity, but also for the consistent delivery of service to your customers.

GeoLinks offers Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) wireless service as the recommended choice for Internet failover for most businesses using fiber optic or our own dedicated fixed wireless network.

Why Choose 4G LTE Failover

Why Choose 4G LTE Failover?

4G LTE wireless is particularly advantageous as an Internet failover connection for several reasons, including:

  • Diversity: 4G LTE wireless does not rely on last-mile wired connectivity and offers an entirely diverse connection from a primary wireline connection.
  • Speed: 4G LTE is the wireless equivalent to a physical line with speeds averaging 10-20Mbps, with download speeds in the U.S. approaching 30Mbps and in some areas nearing 45Mbps, according to January 2020 research from Open Signal.
  • Responsiveness: 4G LTE wireless has both low latency and low idle-to-active times.
  • Cost Efficiency: From a failover perspective, the cost benefits of 4G LTE are considerable compared to additional wireline connections.
  • Omnipresence: 94 percent of North American residents, and 98 percent of the U.S. population, in particular, have access to 4G LTE. The probability of 4G LTE reaching all of your business locations is very high, even in rural settings.
  • Simplicity: Deploying 4G LTE as a backup is plug-and-play.

How Can 4G LTE Failover Help You?

Having a disaster recovery plan is essential to today’s businesses. Human-caused outages (construction accidents, cyberattacks, etc.) and natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires are on the rise. LTE-driven business continuity is a proven, affordable option for businesses of all sizes.

Here are the most critical use cases for SD-WAN with 4G LTE wireless:

Point of Sale (PoS): If your business is a retailer, restaurant, hospitality or entertainment company, processing electronic payments is the lifeblood of your business. If there’s a fiber cut, loss of power or any other disruption to your connection, 4G LTE can kick in so you can still accept credit cards or digital payments.

VoIP Calls: If your business relies on data connections to carry voice calls (VoIP), you need to ensure that those calls continue to stay connected with high clarity. With SD-WAN and 4G LTE Wireless as a failover option, you can continue to make calls if there’s a disruption. Also, SD-WAN can enable primary and secondary circuits to be active simultaneously, enabling calls to proceed uninterrupted (i.e., session persistence) even if one of the connections goes down. (Plus, SD-WAN offers quality of service controls to make sure your voice calls are high fidelity.)

At GeoLinks, we leverage a configuration that allows for destination-based failover to address these two mission-critical scenarios. As a Verizon Wireless Preferred Partner, GeoLinks offers a high-quality LTE connection via a commercial-grade machine-to-machine router that plugs into our SD-WAN device at the customer location. Because VoIP and PoS systems are low bandwidth applications, GeoLinks is able to offer this solution for $49 per month without incurring data overages.

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Don’t Overlook Inbound Failover in Your Business Continuity Planning

It can happen any time. And these days, it happens too often. Maybe it’s a hurricane tearing down and overloading infrastructure. Or a wildfire. Or the third “thousand-year-flood in a row.” Maybe it’s just a construction crew with a backhoe.

Whatever the cause, your business connectivity flatlines, cutting off your organization from the rest of the world. Your on-site employees can’t access the cloud apps they need to run your operations and serve your customers. But the cost to your business is much higher than that, because the severed connection works in both directions. Suppliers can’t reach your intranet to validate inventory and fill orders, remote employees can’t access databases to do their jobs and customers can’t reach you for help.

All in, the cost of the outage is far greater than direct costs of idle employees. It’s costing you customers and brand reputation, making distributors afraid to recommend you going forward, and leaving you disadvantaged to competitors that are simply open and reachable at a time when your company is suffering an outage.

Fortunately, this hypothetical doesn’t have to be your future. New solutions can deliver affordable business continuity options to keep your operations running and competitors at bay. In fact, since few companies factor inbound continuity into their own business continuity plans, you can be in a stronger position than your competitors when an outage takes down an entire region.

 

New Tech for a New Age of Business Disruption Threats

The world is several years into meteoric adoption rates for SD-WAN, and there are no signs of uptake slowing down anytime soon. That’s for good reason, since SD-WAN can help businesses on the security, financial, operating and other fronts. Of course, the big “other” in “other fronts” is business continuity, where SD-WAN’s role in failover protection  is critical to business continuity planning.

The mantra “not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal” has become an almost cliché statement for providers with leading-edge SD-WAN solutions. But that doesn’t make it any less true. SD-WAN flexibility is vital, not just for optimizing current resources and ensuring that your failover solution actually work when you need them to, but in areas that many businesses overlook in their business continuity and disaster recovery planning—inbound failover.

Without inbound continuity, inbound traffic is limited to one connection. This means if the primary circuit drops, external sources can’t reach your site or VPN.

 

Cloud Dependence is Raising Redundancy Awareness

Every day’s a cloudy day for today’s businesses, and that’s a good thing. Cloud services have revolutionized business operations, delivering redundancy, always-updated solutions, scalability and, of course, the OpEx vs CapEX benefits that finance departments love. Extra attention to business continuity – particularly on the network side – has accompanied that adoption—and for good reason.

Way back in the olden days (you know, like, three years ago), when a company’s Internet connections went down, it was an inconvenience to the operation, but since mission-critical software was run on desktops or from on-premise servers, most company operations could continue. In today’s cloud-centric world, where even your telephone solution is an app, downtime can be devastatingly costly. So, businesses large and small have started to pay attention to terms that only their IT departments and people who wore pocket protectors in school previously cared about (or even knew), like “network redundancy,” “failover” and “business continuity.” It’s true…we’re all nerds now.

 

Inbound Failover and Business Continuity Matters, Too

But one area that’s often overlooked by today’s businesses—sometimes with catastrophic consequences – is inbound failover. With inbound continuity, static public IPs are provided between the core network and your gateway to support inbound failover for remote users and web traffic.

The right providers, with the right solutions can protect you from the consequences of inbound failure and protect you from costly outages when your company is hosting websites or applications that customers and employees rely on. Examples include:

  • Web traffic
  • E-commerce transactions
  • Remote employees
  • Supplier intranet access
  • Customer intranet access

 

Wireless Connectivity Gives Inbound Continuity Vital Diversification

Wireless connectivity options like GeoLinks ClearFiber™ offer added diversification protection that’s more resistant to construction accidents and natural disaster outages. In fact, many business and government offices rely on fixed-wireless solutions, which are better than today’s traditional fiber solutions, and then back those solutions with 4G LTE failover protection, for reliable, secure connectivity that, when paired with the right SD-WAN solution, can deliver inbound failover as well.

Military-grade encryption, greater redundancy, lower costs and failover for your inbound, not just your outbound, connections all add up to a solution that’s not just best-in-class, but smart business as well. So, when that fire, flood or backhoe takes all your wireline continuity options, your business avoids that connectivity flatline altogether, saving you productivity, reputation and your customers to boot.

 

Ready to Disaster-Proof Your Connection with Inbound Continuity?

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