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Enhancing business continuity for high-performance networks

by Gabe Pannella, US Senior Director - Fiber

Redundant systems are the holy grail for mission-critical, high-performance networks that simply cannot afford to go down.

Thousands of miles of unused dark fiber cables across the U.S. offer organizations alternate fiber optic paths, and thus geographic and route diversity for critical communications networks.

Dark fiber diversity enables customers to avoid single points of failure throughout the network. Unused fiber strands are installed by wireless infrastructure builders alongside used strands to ensure excess capacity – an untapped resource for building network redundancy and resiliency. 

Dark Fiber Provides: 

Scalability: Unlike lit fiber services, dark fiber can easily grow with a network’s bandwidth needs. Dark fiber capacity can be upgraded in much the same way as other elements of your network. By simply replacing the network’s optical transceivers, throughput over the dark fiber can be increased by tens of gigabits — or more —without having to pay increased monthly fees for the use of the fiber.

Security: Enterprise networks benefit from the security, availability, and cost-effectiveness dark fiber offers. Delivering truly redundant pathways for their data, organizations can guard against loss in the event of a cyber-attack or a natural or man-made disaster.

Control:As a leased connection, dark fiber gives organizations a high degree of control in terms of what data travels through the network and making changes as business needs evolve.

Low Latency: While latency for lit fiber services like Metro Ethernet are measured in milliseconds, dark fiber offers very low latency, sometimes measured in tens of microseconds (1/1000th of a millisecond). Dark fiber is among the fastest means of moving data across a network. With no predefined limits on bandwidth, latency is only constrained by the speed of light. It is unaffected by network congestion because it provides a dedicated optical pathway that’s not shared with any other network.

Redundancy: Dark fiber provides critical redundancy, delivering a higher level of resiliency and availability of an organization’s network.

True network diversity 

Dark fiber offers a robust solution for creating redundant systems that help safeguard organizations’ communications infrastructure as part of a Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity (DR/BC) Strategy. By leveraging the potential of dark fiber, businesses can build a more resilient foundation for future, sustainable growth. 

As businesses continue innovating across new platforms, network outages of any kind can be devastating. Due to increasingly complex cloud technologies, distributed architectures, and hardware failure, the cost of downtime is soaring. According to Veeam’s 2022 Data Protection Report, the average cost of downtime is $1,467 per minute. 

According to the Uptime Institute, nearly 30 percent of outages last more than 24 hours. In a natural disaster or even a common construction accident, businesses could lose internet connection for days, or even weeks as the cost per minute mounts. 

Because disasters and accidents will inevitably happen, network diversity is key. Duplicating infrastructure on a geographically diverse route significantly enhances redundancy, reducing risks to networks from weather events, environmental impacts, and other location-based incidents. 

For reliability, dark fiber enables the client to control their own destiny when it comes to monitoring their network. Many companies currently use the latest Fiber Monitoring Tools that can identify fiber outages instantly. Some of the most commonly available tools are FiberWatch, EXFO, Packetlight, and Viavi. They monitor fiber performance, are mobile-enabled, and can integrate into an existing email/messaging alert system for your fiber network operator/owner. 

To achieve a low failure rate and maintain high reliability, operations teams should avail themselves of training and certification opportunities, such as ISO Certification 9001-2015 and Information Security ISO Certification 27001. These certifications are important in identifying network security frameworks, policies, and procedures providers should follow to limit risk and increase reliability. Following Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), service delivery and best practices assures that network managers are always ready to act and initiate communications in the event of any unforeseen interruptions. In addition to internal measures, your fiber network provider should have all facilities registered with Before You Dig (811) to prevent accidental physical damage to the network caused by street construction and repairs.

Safeguarding business success

Beyond recovery costs or replacing equipment, the cost of network downtime can also include lost revenue, lost productivity, and reputational damage. Some disaster recovery plans use the same infrastructure as the primary system, and while this is still considered redundant, a single outage could easily take both primary and secondary connections offline. Diverse entrance points and backbone separation are key to ensuring uptime in any DR/BC strategy. 

Dark fiber is the strongest weapon in the business continuity arsenal. Capable of transporting large quantities of data whenever needed, dark fiber can accommodate the changing needs of most businesses regardless of size — from nimble startups to large multinational corporations, and everything in between. It is critical that companies have a network that is scalable to meet network needs, including lit services, wireless transmittals, and cloud-based data backup. Selecting a partner that offers a scalable network is crucial. Currently, 864-strand fiber trunks are what most providers are deploying. However, leading providers can now also offer 1728-strand fiber trunks. 

A major benefit of tapping into dark fiber lies in its point-to-point connections. Data transmission goes straight from point A to point B without interference, enabling low-latency and seamless, secure data exchange from edge to cloud, edge to core, and edge to edge.

Ready-to-deploy dark fiber is at your disposal: Speed to Market

There can be sizable upfront costs and significant challenges associated with laying down fiber, including designing routes, coordinating with network engineers, managing construction teams, testing/turnup, and service delivery, not to mention securing proper permits and licenses. 

Currently, there are thousands of dark fiber route miles available across cities and metropolitan areas that can be immediately tapped, enabling businesses the benefits of critical route diversity without the startup costs. Once the fiber has been laid, it can be leased to local and municipal governments, hospitals, businesses, financial institutions, tech firms, hyperscalers, and other public and private entities looking to enhance their own networks. 

Leading organizations across every industry are exploring dedicated network solutions and becoming more aware of the advantages of “going dark.” By enabling redundant systems, businesses can worry less about staying connected and more about serving their customers.