If you’re an internet or managed service provider, maintaining operational stability is arguably your most important objective. After all, your business—and your reputation—depend on your ability to provide strong and reliable service.

Unfortunately, many service providers struggle with network downtime. While you might expect the frequency of network outages to be reducing year over year, the opposite is actually true. In fact, according to the Uptime Institute, IT system failure is actually happening more frequently because enterprise computing environments are increasing in complexity.

The top causes of data center outages are now linked to network issues (27 percent), IT systems (29 percent) and power (24 percent). But as we explained in a recent blog post, network outages can stem from many different problems like cyberattacks, weather events, and local construction projects. There’s no telling when an outage can occur.

What could an Internet outage mean for your company?

Without a functioning network, you can’t service your customers—plain and simple. You will have paying customers that are in the dark until service gets restored. So an outage for your clients means an outage for you, too.

Downtime can take hours, or even days to resolve. Depending on the severity of the outage, your business could be completely crippled during that time. Network outages can impact both customer-facing and backend operations.

Plan ahead for business continuity 

Don’t leave anything to chance. Now is the time to form a business continuity strategy. Business continuity can be defined as a strategy for guaranteeing network uptime, even when local connectivity is lost or interrupted.

Here are some steps that you can take to form a business continuity strategy:

  1. Conduct a network audit

Your first preliminary step should be to gain a thorough understanding of your network. Round up your global IT team, and ask for a complete rundown of every single link and device running through your network. You will also want to ask for a list of all the vendors that are supplying connectivity to you company—primary and secondary. This will give you a clear sense of where your critical connections are, and how much you are paying for each connection. It’s possible you already have some level of business continuity in place, such as wireless backup.

  1. Determine your mission critical functions

Next, take a hard look at your company’s processes and workflows. Is your company using mostly legacy communications systems, or cloud-based solutions? By the end of this step, you should have a solid understanding of how your company is connected, where the majority of your data lives, and which processes are running over your own infrastructure.

  1. Drill down into each site

The next step is to determine how much bandwidth each branch location is using on average, and when it’s being used. Ask your IT personnel to research each location and come back with a traffic report. For instance, is your company using mostly video, video or data? And what are these services being used for?

This information is critical for the next step.

  1. Determine how much downtime costs your business

No amount of downtime is desirable. But not all downtime is created equal. A brief lapse of connectivity during the afternoon at a branch office in San Francisco, for instance, may not be as harmful as a local outage during peak business hours in New York. By understanding your peak traffic time, and which operations are mission critical, you’ll be able to understand how downtime impacts your company in various locations—and the impact it has on the company as a whole.

  1. Take control with SD-WAN

Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is the glue that will hold your entire business continuity strategy together. It’s the most advanced, cost-effective and reliable solution for preventing downtime.

SD-WAN is a methodology that involves decoupling networking hardware from its control mechanism. With a reliable SD-WAN system in place, you will be able to see and manage all of your company’s connections from a single pane of glass. You’ll also be able to adjust connectivity in real-time, as network conditions fluctuate.

Best of all, with SD-WAN you will be able to establish reliable business continuity, for your entire global enterprise, without having to rip and replace any infrastructure.

Multapplied’s SD-WAN solution will enable you to aggregate all of your connections, regardless of their connection type of carrier. The end result is full network redundancy, and full transparency into your mission critical workflows.

Of course, your company is unique and your business continuity strategy may be a bit more complicated. So think of this list like a basic roadmap to help get you moving in the right direction.

The next step is to pick up the phone and contact someone at Multapplied, to arrange a comprehensive network audit. To contact the team, click here.