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It is on a day like today when British Telecom the biggest provider of internet connectivity in the UK experienced a huge outage on its broadband network that will affect thousands of customers. The presence of a second means of connecting to the internet will save some businesses thousands of pounds in lost productivity.

More and more organisations are moving applications into a hosted cloud environment to meet the demands of a more mobile workforce or to reduce internal IT expenditure. However in a lot of cases very little thought is given to the weakest link in the chain, the connection to the internet. Hosted Apps or Cloud Applications are 100% reliant on a good internet connection at both ends. The provider of the hosted application should have a very resilient network with multiple high speed connections. However the customer will more than likely have a broadband connection from one of the big providers that has no resilience at their office. This is usually not a problem because for the most part broadband connections tend to be fairly reliable so it is really quite hard to justify spending the extra money on a secondary connection when it is never going to be used.

That is until something happens like it did today.  A complete outage on a scale like today can cost companies thousands and thousands of pounds.

Carl in Bedford contacted the BBC, saying: “We have lost both our business lines at work causing us lots of lost revenue as we can no longer do our scheduled remote work on our customer sites.

“It is shocking that a small power issue 150 miles away in Birmingham can have such a huge effect on business customers elsewhere.”

There is a very simple solution to this problem. Provide another means of connecting to the internet, this could either be a second broadband connection terminated in the same building or even USB 3G dongle. I have a dongle from Vodafone at home that I use in emergencies. The only problem with the 3G dongle is that you will need a 3G connection to use hosted applications or cloud based applications as trying to use hosted applications over GPRS would be more frustrating than having no access at all.

If you are going to get a second broadband connection make sure you use a different provider that has their own LLU network.  What LLU means in layman terms is that the ISP does not use any part of the BT network to provide their services (they may still use the same building to host the equipment though). Most ISPs use the BT network to provide their services, all they are doing is re-selling access on the BT network so if something happens to the BT network then it will affect the smaller providers that are using the BT network for transit. Another option is CABLE (Virgin Media) or even satellite broadband as these networks are completely independent from the copper infrastructure provided by BT and other ADSL providers.  To ensure your business runs without interruption you will need to connect both connections to a router that can manage multiple types of connectivity at the same time.