What is Latency? Why Does Latency Matter? How Can You Reduce Latency?
Have you ever found yourself frustrated because it’s taking forever to simply load a website? How about uploading a document into an email; do you feel like you might as well watch paint dry? Perhaps you’re in a rush to pull up a customer’s ticket information in your company’s CRM system, and it simply will not load; meanwhile you’re live on the phone with said customer and your conversation becomes a painstaking exchange of delayed echoing – ever been there? There are a multitude of factors that contribute to this all too common series of events. One of the primary culprits? High latency. Latency has a direct effect on internet-based business applications and operations. So, what exactly is latency?
What is Latency?
In networking, latency is defined as the total round-trip time it takes for a data packet to be transmitted from a point of origin, or a single node, back to its source. While there are a variety of factors that affect latency, a foundational component is the physical type of Internet connection a company employs. Satellite Internet, for example, is notorious for having high latency (long round-trip travel times) due to the sheer fact that data has to transmit across tens of thousands of miles into space. Because latency involves speed, the quality of network devices (such as a router) and the quantity of such that data must traverse, also significantly dictates latency.
Why Does Latency Matter?
Simply put – it affects Internet speed.
People commonly mistake Internet speed with Internet bandwidth. Bandwidth is the physical amount of data that can be transmitted over a connection in a fixed amount of time. Internet speed, however, is impacted by the relationship between both bandwidth and latency.
For example, the figure below demonstrates three different Internet circuits. Circuit C has the highest Internet speed because it has low latency and high bandwidth. Oppositely, Circuit B has high latency and low bandwidth and consequently has a severely lower Internet speed.
How Can Latency Affect Your Business?
As outlined above, latency directly affects a company’s network performance. Thus, high latency can negatively impact everything from the loading of a webpage, to uploading or downloading an important document, to the overall efficiency of internal systems. Furthermore, if a business has adapted a VoIP phone system, inbound and outbound call quality can largely be compromised. If not quickly resolved, all these items can culminate into a significant loss of company productivity, reputation, and revenue. Find a few real-life examples of such claims below.
Loss of Productivity:
A team of analysts are tasked with researching a competitor’s newly released product. Intuitively they first head to the Internet to begin seeing what information is readily available. The team quickly discovers that the task is going to take far longer than anticipated due to the simple fact that every web page they visit is taking what seems like forever to load. What could have been an hour project, has now occupied an entire day.
An e-commerce brand launches a new product line, and it goes viral. Orders are pouring in left and right. While most would think said company would be celebrating, instead they are in sheer panic. Why? The network is encountering the perfect storm – high latency, low bandwidth, maxed throughput – consequently, the company’s backend online order portal crashes. Without an adequate backup circuit, the portal remains down for multiple hours. Those few hours massively delay the company’s internal operations and lead times preventing them from delivering in the promised 48-hours. End result? High call volumes and unhappy customers.
Loss of Revenue:
More and more business transactions, both internal and external, are moving online every day. For instance, look at any restaurant with a POS system. POS systems, used to input orders and process payments, require an Internet connection. Slow Internet = delays = long wait times = customers choosing to go next door to your competitor = lost revenue.
So, How Can You Reduce Latency?
While technically speaking latency can never be fully dissolved, there are ways business owners and IT Directors can decrease delays.
Choose Your ISP Carefully
The simplest way to reduce latency is to transfer the responsibility onto your business Internet Service Provider (ISP). Avoid Satellite connections, upgrade to a dedicated Internet circuit, and only onboard with telecoms that have a strong Service Level Agreement (SLA) that assures low latency. GeoLinks’ SLA, for example, guarantees round trip latency under 40ms.
Establish a Business Continuity Plan
We’ve already established that ensuring internal systems operate as efficiently as possible is essential to a company’s success. Thus, what do you do if your primary circuit is experiencing high latency (despite your ISP’s SLA)? Ideally, you switch to your backup circuit operating on an entirely different network. Onboard your services with an aggregator, like GeoLinks, and your provider can manage both connections seamlessly.
Invest in SD-WAN
SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) is a software-based approach to managing Wide Area Network (WAN) connections to more effectively route all network traffic between headquarters or data centers, remote and branch offices, and the cloud. Not only can SD-WAN issue automatic failover to an alternative or backup connection, the technology is able to define network policies based on business intent and steer traffic intelligently forgoing additional hops. The result? Reduced latency and overall higher application performance.
For the majority of consumers, the difference between 168 milliseconds and a single millisecond merely equates to convenience. For a modern and connected business, on the other hand, latency can be far more impactful. So, if application performance and Internet speed play an important role in your day-to-day business operations, reducing and preparing for high latency is paramount.
Want to learn more about SD-WAN, GeoLinks’ SLA, Business Continuity, or Shared vs Dedicated Internet access? Talk to a GeoLinks’ Client Consultant today!
Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the most essential parts of running a successful business. Just like business liability insurance, disaster recovery planning for your network ensures ongoing business continuity. Whether your disaster recovery plan is for site mirroring, load balancing or just staying online, it is the responsible thing to do for all business owners, CIOs, and IT managers.
This month, California witnessed one of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history – the Camp Fire. Located in the city of Paradise, California, this tragic disaster resulted in massive loss of life, structure, property, infrastructure, and habitat. Southern California also experienced two horrific wildfires, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire. These fires tore through both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, taking down just near everything in their paths. Cities near the burn areas, while not officially evacuated, experienced county-wide network outages. That said, businesses with a disaster recovery plan have proven resilient. So, what exactly is a disaster recovery plan?
What is A Disaster Recovery Plan?
Disaster recovery planning entails outlining how to recover your business operations during or after a disaster. No business is immune to disaster, so having a plan in place protects your business from large financial losses, and in extreme cases, bankruptcy. While it may appear to be a daunting task, business owners will be happy they had one ready for when disaster strikes. So how do you go about planning for a disaster? First, it’s worth exploring Business Interruption insurance, this coverage insures the revenue losses a business might suffer in the case of a disaster. Next, consider following this quick checklist provided by Q Finance: The Ultimate Resource:
Business Impact Analysis:
- This is where you identify what parts of the business will be most impacted by a disaster.
- Calculate how much this will cost you if you lost them in a disaster for a day, a week, and two weeks.
- Next, identify the maximum threshold your business can tolerate before being threatened with closure.
- List the minimum activities required to deliver identified parts of the business.
- Make sure adequate resources are available to provide those activities.
Risk Assessment Analysis:
- Identify what the risks are to the organization, such as loss of staff, suppliers, IT systems, and telecommunications.
- List plans already in place to deal with each risk.
- List plans that need to be put in place to deal with each risk.
- Assign a “likelihood to occur” score or probability to each risk.
Decide on what action to take for each identified risk:
- Deal with a risk by planning to operate at a minimum level.
- Tolerate the risk if the cost of reducing operations outweighs the benefits.
- Transfer the risk to a third party or take out insurance.
- Shut down / terminate the activity.
Write then share the plan(s):
- Start by writing a general plan, then decide if you need more detailed plans within that one.
- Write a scope and purpose for each plan.
- Identify the resources and contacts that own each plan and are responsible for it.
- List their contact details.
- List tasks, processes, and procedures used to respond to an incident.
- For business continuity, list the identified critical activities, how to recover them, and the timeline involved.
Test, update, and maintain plans:
- Plans must be tested. That is the only way to ensure that the plan can work in the real world as well as it works on paper.
- Involve staff and have them go through the plan and recommend improvements.
Telecommunications and Disaster Recovery Planning
The modern world has become extremely interconnected, especially now with online transactions largely taking over physical transactions. With most business activities occurring over a telecommunications network, companies depend on the reliability of their Internet connections now more than ever for business continuity. Not having a backup Internet connection, or one that guarantees uptime and redundancy, can cause major financial losses.
For example, if a brick and mortar store or restaurant loses their Internet connection, their POS System will crash. If a businesses POS system is out of order, they will be unable to charge customers for products and services. A major disaster might mean your business is delayed or completely halted for days or weeks at a time. This is, if a proper plan is not in place.
What if you are an e-commerce company? If you lose your Internet connection you will not have access to the online orders customers are placing. Delaying processing orders will delay shipping orders, which will result in upset customers and a domino effect that is sure to affect your ability to gain new customers.
At a minimum, organizations should have a disaster recovery plan for their telecommunications infrastructure. There are several ways telecommunications companies can guarantee uptime. GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network, for example, offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees 99.999% uptime. To achieve 100% uptime, businesses are able to bundle in technologies such as LTE failover.
Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Business Continuity
LTE became a reality in 2010, and it was a big deal for the telecommunications industry. It provided much-needed low-latency, high-speed, reliability and power efficiency to wireless networks. LTE networks are leaps and bounds better than their 2G/3G predecessors.
LTE is the reason why we can have a gig economy with Uber, Lyft, and delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash. It is also a wireless equivalent to a physical line. A well-designed network utilizes various types of technologies that can be depended on during different situations. For example, GeoLinks’ dedicated fixed wireless network, ClearFiber™, is connected to a fiber-optic backbone, and has the ability to failover to a LTE connection. Switching over to LTE is not like switching over to traditional mobile networks. Its low latency and fast speeds provide you with uninterrupted service, especially in times of disaster.
GeoLinks is proud to report our network has remained connected during California’s catastrophic fires. In fact, we are honored to be servicing CAL FIRE and Red Cross Evacuation Centers across Ventura County. If there is one thing California businesses should take away from the new year-round fire season, it’s that you must have a disaster recovery plan in place. At the bare minimum, have a plan for your telecommunications infrastructure and how to connect to the Internet.
To learn more about GeoLinks Disaster Recovery Solutions, call and talk to one of the GeoLinks’ team members today! (888) 225-1571