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Internet Outage In The Forecast? Maybe Not, But It’s Always Cloudy On The Internet


Fellow at Dyn


Here in the U.S. we are nearing the end of our summer, which means there’s time for one last vacation before the chill of fall sets in. If you’re at all like me, in advance of your week off you’re constantly checking websites and apps to see what the weather will be like during your time away from the office. There is no better feeling than when you look and a big, smiling sunshine icon is staring back…

But weather is far from certain.That sunny image is only a snapshot in time. Especially in parts of the country like New Hampshire, where terrain varies from beaches to mountains and lakes in between, weather conditions are always changing and are inherently unpredictable. If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes — and even if it is sunny directly over New Hampshire (a wonderful vacation destination!), if you zoomed out and took a broader view you would see that it is always cloudy somewhere and, many times, those clouds are coming for you.

The same is true for the internet, where sunshine is quickly turning to cloudy skies for someone, somewhere. While your infrastructure may seem sunny and all clear, things can change rapidly. This is why we’ve seen a rise in the adoption of Internet Performance Management (IPM). Systems admins, NOC engineers and even CIOs and CTOs now know that, like their vacations, they need to constantly monitor the changing circumstances of the internet and take action to ensure they deliver exceptional performance to their end-user.

Following are a few steps to consider as you plan your internet infrastructure for cloudy days that are sure to come:

Always keep your eye on the forecast

The first step in having strong online availability and ensuring your customers can reach you is knowing the constant state of internet performance in all markets where your customers reside.

There are some important questions to ask to determine availability. Are my services up and running? Are my partners and customers able to connect with my services? What does the connection performance look like among my selected cloud providers and are localized outages preventing some of my customers from reaching my CDN?

Reachability similarly impacts your customers’ ability to access your website and services. How accessible are you in the largest markets around the world? n cases where a business is using a single cloud instance, a failure within that instance will result in your services becoming unavailable. Similarly, an outage within the internet itself will prevent your customers from reaching you online, even when your services are fully up and running. Having redundancy at all levels of your infrastructure is the only way to fully protect your availability and reachability.

Use a weather app with alerts

Many companies today have reduced cost while improving flexibility, reliability and scale of their internet infrastructure by employing cloud service providers and CDN services (read more about this by downloading our ebook, “Optimizing Cloud Migration). It should be noted that not all cloud vendors are created equal and it is not necessary to tie yourself to a single provider. Build a best-of-breed solution using a jigsaw puzzle of components from multiple providers to solve your online needs. This strategy allows you to have a failover system in place in the event of a major availability issue affecting one of your providers. All of these advantages are why companies in hybrid configurations all are using the internet to solve similar challenges.

Yet, how many of these companies have a comprehensive, end-to-end view into the speed and availability of their information across the Internet? And how many companies understand how latencies, quality, outages or redirects are impacting their customers’ ability to access their Web offerings?

Each day there are an average of 3,000 internet-related outages around the world. How are you prepared to deal with these difficulties when they happen to your business?

Check out this cool animation showing internet outages on the east coast during the 2012 Hurricane Sandy.

Take shelter when bad weather hits

We’ve said it before: slow is the new downtime. The global proliferation of high speed internet  and the shift to mobile for Web browsing, app usage and eCommerce means that the expectations for performance are higher than ever.

One often over-looked technology to help optimize performance is the Domain Name System. DNS is a critical component to ensuring online services remain available and that end users are able to connect to those services as quickly as possible.

When a user lands on a page, dozens of distinct DNS queries are issued to identify the correct source for all content. DNS resolution can account for as much as 29% of initial page load time. Poor DNS performance can lead to slow page loads resulting in dissatisfied customers and lost business.

Pack a raincoat, even when it’s sunny

A smart strategy is to begin by adding a Secondary DNS provider. This is an easy step to help mitigate the risk of things like DDoS attacks. Dyn’s Managed DNS solution responds as much as 20% faster than other managed DNS solutions, while often responding in a fraction of the time as in-house DNS networks. As you begin to realize the benefits of having multiple DNS providers in general and Dyn specifically, you may want to consider adding advanced features, like the ability to have you traffic automatically rerouted in the event of a performance degradation.

Phil Stanhope is a Fellow at Dyn, working with the Office of the CTO since 2013. Phil's focus varies across engineering, infrastructure, architecture, analytics, operations and emerging technology strategy and planning. Phil is a known thought leader in the industry, having served on numerous advisory boards and technology adoption programs. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn, or follow @Dyn on Twitter.

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