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Chain link point to point
Internet / Enterprise

Are Point-to-Point (P2P) Links Right for Your Enterprise?

Rob Rodier
Companies have plenty of choices nowadays whenever they examine potential enterprise network telecommunications services. Wireless, wired, 4G, Wi-Fi, 5G, MPLS, and fiber are just a few of the many possible features that they need to consider. If you require a tried-and-true, simple, manageable connection, one that protects sensitive information and guarantees high bandwidth 24/7, a Point-to-Point (P2P) link is your best fit.

What is a Point to Point Connection?

A P2P line provides a secure line of connectivity from one location to another. Typically, it consists of a dedicated line leased from the local telecommunications service provider and two end nodes. Enterprises will often utilize a web of P2P links to facilitate secure and reliable connectivity throughout the company.

Before we get into the technical details, it’s worth noting that P2P connections are unmanaged circuits, meaning that your company’s networking team is in charge of providing and managing the hardware, prioritizing traffic, and troubleshooting the network - the provider only gets involved if the actual circuit needs repair.

How P2P Networks Work

Point-to-point networks are nearly as simple as they sound.

A last mile, often fiber connection terminates into a network interface device (Ciena being most common) at each end of the circuit to create a flat, layer 2, connection across the carriers backbone between the two sites. Point to point circuits can have static or fixed routing across a carriers backbone or in some cases be provisioned as "protected" with dynamic routing which would allow the circuit to heal itself in the event of a carrier network problem.

P2P Network Use Cases

There are several use cases for point-to-point links. Connecting your enterprise to a central data center (or multiple data centers) is the most common use case for P2P connectivity. Whether your data center connectivity is being used for simple data storage, DRaaS, or colocation peering, a P2P link is a great way to connect. While traditional data centers meet your data storage and sharing needs, a well peered Colocation data center can serve as your enterprise’s most cost effective window to the Internet.

Office to office connections are another common use case for point-to-point connectivity. For enterprises utilizing large amounts of data (who isn’t?), it’s crucial for them to be able to connect all offices in a secure and reliable manner. Especially in the age of data-sucking video and audio applications like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, having secure connectivity with minimal packet loss is paramount, and with P2P connectivity makes that possible.

Pros of P2P Connectivity

There are many reasons why businesses choose P2P connectivity:
  • Speed: P2P uses private leased lines along predetermined routes, resulting in lower latency given you are avoiding transmission over the public internet. This makes your circuits more reliable and predictable. However, ensuring low latency for your most important applications is up to your network engineers to prioritize traffic (i.e. your lunch time YouTube binge shouldn’t be prioritized over the CEO’s VoiP conference call).
  • Bandwidth: P2P links supply enough bandwidth to support high applications, such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and disaster recovery (DR) that transmit lots of data. We typically see burstable bandwidth sold in 1 gig, 2 gig, 5 gig, and 10 gig, and fixed bandwidth sold in 1 gig and 10 gig
  • Improve Security & Reduce the Need for Firewalls: Unlike regular Internet connections, P2P networks are separated from the public internet and thus are not susceptible to the cyberthreats that come with it. Some carriers even offer encrypted P2P connections for additional security.
  • Simplify Control and Monitoring: having offices use one line of connectivity eases troubleshooting and speeds up resolution, for instance, problem equipment can be identified and replaced quickly. The caveat being that, as mentioned above, P2P links are unmanaged links; your network engineering team is responsible for troubleshooting and managing traffic.
  • Increased Productivity: It goes without saying that a fast, reliable network increases your company’s productivity

Cons of P2P Connectivity

But this option has limitations:
  • Scalability: In order to create a multisite WAN with P2P links, you are required to utilize a “meshed” network with links between every site - this gets expensive due to the number of circuits required as your business grows.
  • Cost: The cost of a P2P circuit will often cost less than MPLS, but more than Wavelength services. Check out our report on P2P Connectivity Pricing, if you haven't already.
  • Unmanaged Circuit: P2P connections are unmanaged, meaning that the carrier is not responsible for prioritizing packets or routing your traffic. As mentioned above, it’s up to your network engineers to manage network traffic management.

Alternatives to P2P Connectivity

P2P links are one of many possible networking technologies (and topologies) that an enterprise can use to build a secure and reliable WAN. If the pros and cons of P2P connectivity aren’t for you, many viable alternatives exist, and we’ve written on them here: dedicated internet access, wavelength services, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), and Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN).

Is Point-to-Point Connectivity Right for your Enterprise?

Enterprises have a wide – and growing – array of options for their network connectivity. Point-to-point or P2P connectivity delivers high bandwidth capabilities, high levels of security, and low latency.

If you need help choosing the right WAN connectivity for your enterprise, Lightyear’s sales team is ready to help - request a demo here.

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