Internet load balancing or fail-over for multiple internet connections can seem like a tight rope walk. There are multiple ways to accomplish it, some with point products and others with routers and firewalls. Let's take a look at the options and alternatives.
Firstly, why do organisations look at multiple connections? Why not just have one single high bandwidth connection?
- It might not be possible to get high bandwidth connections in your service area. So you can aggregate the bandwidth of multiple lower bandwidth lines to achieve. E.g. a company looking for 300Mbps bandwidth, may only be able to get a maximum of 100Mbps in their coverage area. In order to overcome this limitation, the company combines multiple lines together to achieve 300Mbps with 3x 100Mbps connections.
- As an alternative to MPLS dedicated leased lines. MPLS often offers bandwidth in excess of standard business broadband and has SLAs around the service level and reliability of the connection.
- Redundancy. In Europe and Asia, specifically South East Asia, the reliability of business broadband, let alone MPLS can be highly questionable, often susceptible to intermittent outages, packet loss and sub-par bandwidth, where you're paying for 300Mbps, but only getting a maximum of 50Mbps. To overcome the reliance on a single ISP which can go down, bringing the business to a stand-still, organisations can leverage multiple connections to multiple ISPs, allowing not only for greater bandwidth, but a fail-over, in case on ISPs connection goes down. (productivity)
- Separate mission-critical business applications and data replication from web browsing and general internet traffic. By identifying application and web traffic and directing business apps down one path and web traffic down the other. So your employees internet access isn't slowed down by the latest batch job, data sync or application spike and your colleague who's downloading a multi-GB archive or torrenting the latest season of Game of Thrones, doesn't bring the corporate WAN to a standstill. - Your WAN should never be slowed down by employees torrenting or accessing data they shouldn't, a good firewall policy, combined with web filtering can make sure of this.
How to balance multiple internet connections?