The richness of Web 2.0 and user interactivity (feedback, comments, content contribution etc.) is such a powerful element that it further accelerates mass migration from once flavor-of-the-day bogged down social networking sites to newer better performing ones with such suddenness that it truly takes the breath away.
Other recent trends such as Software-as-a-Service (S-a-a-S) and many Web hosted applications; such as many of the more recent Help Desk implementations, all contribute to this richness, variety and in most instances the cost-effectiveness of the Web-based applications solutions over the traditional locally hosted varieties.
However; for commercial enterprises and particularly those with very active websites such as social networking and bookmarking sites the standard consumer grade arrangement is most definitely unsatisfactory and so they will have a different type of SLA with their ISP. Up until very recently this usually meant expensive leased lines or dedicated fiber optic cables between their premises and the ISP’s exchange equipment.
Alternative Business and Organizational Internet Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Firstly I must make note of the fact that the asymmetric nature of ADSL is not always manifested by higher data transfer rates for downloading than uploading. Sometimes it is more important for a site to have upload data transfer rates superior to its download data transfer rates. Instances of where this type of IP transit arrangement would be considered desirable include:
Manufacturer and developer download sites; particularly where the content of the consumer downloadable files changes often or is deemed to be of a critical nature (antimalware sites). Generally their upload link to their consumer/customer accessible downloads and support sites would be a separate and dedicated link specifically for this purpose.
Urgent notification systems that need to rapidly disseminate variable critical content to a large number of target systems and users; especially the so-called “knee-jerk” security responses to zero-day threats and other emerging vulnerabilities.
Update sites such as the Microsoft Windows Updates site and their automatic updates services would avail themselves of an IP transit Service Level Agreement (SLA) where administrative upload links to these facilities would be higher than that of the download rates.
Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL)
Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL) is another variant of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) broadband services and yes it means exactly what it says. Data transfer rates (bandwidth) capabilities are more or less equal in both directions (upload and download).
Today, with ADSL 2+ we find that many a small to medium business no longer requires these expensive leased line alternatives. Web hosting services have also made an impact in this area through the provisioning of assorted quality of dynamics, metrics, 24/7, auto-responder, domain hosting services and Internet point-of-presence services that are affordably suitable for many smaller scale enterprises and individual requirements.
No doubt this is a lucrative field for the services hosting provider. A fact reflected by the number of hosting services providers including Microsoft’s entry into the arena with their free domain hosting services. Once built, upload the website and the rest is taken care of (more or less). No servers to worry about. Let the networking guys at your hosting service provider do that.
Yet another resurfacing technology that follows the Software-as-a-Service (S-a-a-S) centralized application, processing (computing) and services philosophy is terminal services. In a terminal services production environment implementation centrally located servers host the applications, deliver services and perform the bulk of processing (computing) for those clients assigned to it. This is the same sort of structure and relationship that existed between the mainframes of yesteryear and their associated user terminals.
The benefits of this type of arrangement include a dramatic reduction in the amount of data that needs to be transmitted between end-points. Client requests and server replies containing the results of processing and “dumb” client user service accessibility requests ready for onscreen display are basically all that is transmitted.
The above factors also apply to wireless networking and wireless Internet access technologies. The main distinctions between wireless network access (including the Internet) and other technologies is that it is wireless. Apart from this, access, authentication, logical connectivity, bandwidth and aggregate data throughput rates etc. and associated issues are for the most part much like the other available technologies when it comes to IP transit.
All of the afore-mentioned factors are continually conspiring to change the face of the Internet and how we use it. For many of us, considerations and decisions relating to IP transit and the specific intricacies of the products and services offered by and stated in the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between ourselves and our ISP rarely come to our attention. Yet there can be little doubt they are the arrangements upon which the Internet is built and commercial viability is derived.
I guess you could say that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. One way or another somewhere along the line the end user pays for their share of Internet access and use. The trick from all perspectives (consumers, business, government, enterprise and organizations of all sizes and persuasions) is to minimize these costs and doing so in the future will more often than not require us to completely rethink how we implement our Internet presence.