May 25, 2022 | 4 min read
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Dedicated Internet Access: a Buyer’s Guide

Business Owner, Product

Dedicated Internet Access has been around for some years, but misunderstandings remain. Some people think it’s just their home internet connection repackaged for business. Some believe it’s only for smaller businesses and can’t handle enterprise loads. Others maintain it is insecure or carries risks of outages.

These beliefs are wrong—but it’s easy to see why they persist. Business internet access, after all, looks very much like “standard” access … when everything’s running smoothly. But behind the scenes, DIA offers rock-solid reliability and availability consumer connections don’t have—which is why it’s fast becoming the first choice of many businesses, small and large.

In this short Buyer’s Guide, let’s spell out the issues that matter when it comes to Dedicated Internet Access—and why you should consider it a workable option for your business.

Business internet, evolved: the case for DIA

Not many years ago (and in some circumstances still today) MPLS was the gold standard for secure network connectivity to the enterprise: a dedicated circuit with a telecoms provider, complete with Service Level Guarantees (SLAs). But MPLS was—and is—eye-poppingly expensive. Coupled to this was the rise in cloud services and an increasing focus on SaaS applications, all reachable via cheap internet connections that continue to improve worldwide. So: does this mean choosing between reliability and cost?

No. That’s why DIA exists. It’s a natural next step for businesses requiring SLAs, ensuring services like SaaS and SD-WANs remain accessible at speeds and reliability equivalent to MPLS. Without MPLS’s setup and ongoing costs.

That’s why Gartner Group predicts spending on internet access (all forms) will head towards US$70bn by 2024, while traditional MPLS will fall below US$40bn. (As recently as 2019 they were roughly equal.) And MPLS, of course, carries a much higher cost per implementation, meaning there are far fewer companies now using it.

Gartner also believes nearly a third of enterprise-scale businesses (30%) will use enhanced internet backbone (that’s dedicated access) instead of MPLS by the same date, a tripling from 2021. And fully 40% of enterprise sites will use internet services as their only connection to their WAN.

All in all, this means internet access has come a looong way from those 1990s dialups. Next, let’s list what buyers should actually look for in a DIA provider.

First, check it’s really DIA!

The basic trait of DIA is that it offers constant bandwidth availability. If you’re paying for a 50Mbps connection, you’ll get a 50Mbs connection: always there, always stable. Not dropping to 20Mbs at peak periods or quoting 50Mbs as a maximum only, with weasel words like “up to”. With DIA, a consistent connection is what you get—reserved for your use only.

That’s important, because the bandwidth of non-dedicated connections varies widely, and is rarely—if ever—completely stable. The reason for this is that the connection is shared with others: in your building, in an office park, even across an entire block or more. And you have no control over who else is sucking hungrily on available bandwidth. With a normal internet connection, let’s just say you’d notice the difference if a video streaming company moved in upstairs.

If your bandwidth depends on how many other companies are using the shared infrastructure, it’s not Dedicated Internet Access. So, Buyer Beware point 1: if you’re in the market for DIA, first make sure it really is Dedicated.

Then make sure bandwidth is symmetrical.

What’s more, real DIA offers the same bandwidth for upload and download. That’s important for business internet. Because while consumer traffic is deeply asymmetric—typically lots of movies and media flowing downstream to the home, with just emails and the odd photo upstream—enterprise patterns of usage differ. Your workers are exchanging large files, accessing remote applications, and uploading data across the SD-WAN with a much more balanced load.

Essentially all DIA services will offer you symmetrical connections. But here’s Buyer Beware point 2: look out for “business internet” providers offering what’s basically an ISP contract similar to those you’d get at home.

Such connections work fine … until they don’t. A change in usage, a brief outage, a rapid burst in traffic nixes the case for cheaper forms of internet access at enterprise scale. True DIA fits your needs; it doesn’t force you to tolerate the ups and downs of the public internet.

See what SLAs and other guarantees are on offer.

A good DIA provider will back up its promises with legal agreements, guaranteeing you the bandwidth and capacity you’re paying for. Which means you’re buying peace of mind, too.

It’s conceptually similar to older MPLS: you’re buying a dedicated “circuit” on that provider’s infrastructure, just as you’d lease a building from its owner, and such arrangements carry the same obligations and protections. Buyer Beware point 3: read the SLA.

Check how the backend technologies work.

If you’re technically inclined, you’ll be interested in how your DIA provider supports its claims—so research the technology it uses to keep your data flowing.

In Expereo’s case, a key advantage is Expereo Enhanced Internet It brings intelligent decision making and on-the-fly adaptability to the paths your data takes, not just letting it choose its own way to its destination but specifying an optimized route for it to follow. And then switching that route if a more efficient one emerges, in real time, many times a minute. It reduces—often vastly so—problems like latency and packet loss, which plague non-dedicated connections. All adding up to higher performance across the board: SaaS, cloud, and SD-WAN.

And ensure you can mix and match for the needs of each site.

Finally, look into your DIA provider’s flexibility. One size of DIA does not fit all. Each of your locations—the small site office, the remote factory, the big-city headquarters—will have its own optimum combination of performance, cost, resilience, and security. And if you don’t know that mix, let us help find it!

The world of connectivity is a fragmented place—but Expereo can create a single, consistent, global experience that’s more than the sum of the parts.

Related to this, quality of information is how you evaluate your network’s performance on an ongoing basis—so look for a provider that offers easy-to-use dashboards and monitoring as part of its portfolio, such as our Buyer Beware point 5: the more transparent your provider is with information and the more interested they are in the details of your business, the more likely they’re a good fit.

Research, check, see the business case—and choose DIA

Gartner and others see DIA as the future of cloud and SaaS access for businesses of all sizes—and increasingly for very large ones traditionally on MPLS. That’s why so many global enterprises today are choosing Expereo. Because we offer more than technology—we offer global coverage, with POPs and partners in over 190 countries worldwide.

Now you’re armed with this Buyer’s Guide, why not contact Expereo?

Business Owner, Product

With over a decade of experience as a technology professional, Catherine is passionate about global network and connectivity solutions. Her expertise includes but is not limited to Global Internet.

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