Everyone knows that excessive downtime and poor internet speeds are the bane of any business that depends on seamless connectivity in order to work effectively. As such, investing cheaply in IT can be a fatal decision, and usually unnecessary too – when the very latest and best is itself usually available at a reasonable cost. And even if it were not so, the cost of failure will inevitably be far greater.

Your IT department, or external service contract if you prefer, can be the best in town but if your basic hardware isn’t up to the task then it is going to let you down regardless. Bottom line, it is up to you to ensure that your systems are sufficiently robust to be able to withstand whatever is thrown at them.

But much less tends to be made of the other threat to a company’s technological effectiveness, the lesser-known pitfall that is called network latency. This is the generic term used to describe the time taken for a packet of data to travel between two designated points. You can get a feel for what kind of latency you’re experiencing with your own network – but essentially that time is dead time, in which no progress can be made until the data reaches its intended destination. Time that is unprofitable and unproductive.

High Latency Defined

Latency, sometimes known as “lag”, can cause problems to programmes which depend upon continuity for their success. Quite obviously, anything involving moving pictures or sound output, for instance, would be seriously compromised in the event of any significant delay between transmission and reception. Latency can be especially problematic in the world of finance, most specifically “where algorithmic trading is used to process market updates and turn around orders within milliseconds”.

In these instances, any delay in communication can result in very serious financial loss. So, the case for minimising network latency within our computerised systems when dealing with financial movements cannot be underestimated.

PC Mag provides some useful insight into what latency is and what needs to be done to protect ourselves from it. In a nutshell, whilst it is a feature of any IT operation the object of the exercise has to be to keep it to an absolute minimum. High network latency can quite easily lead to communication bottlenecks, which prevent the expeditious transmission of information and thereby result in a loss of bandwidth. When capacity is thus reduced the same effect is created as with a lack of disk space or a slow connection.

So How Do We Protect Ourselves from Latency?

It goes without saying that in today’s high-speed, high-pressure business world anything which threatens the smooth operation of computer systems is to be avoided at absolutely all costs. Time is money, and uninterrupted throughput is essential to maintaining a competitive edge. Communications in particular need to be conducted in real time, and access to critical systems always needs to be dependable.

It is for this reason that businesses are turning increasingly to external specialists to protect their systems from the threat of excessive network latency. These are experts who can intervene at short notice to clean things up and debug networks, enabling smooth communications to be maintained at all times and in all circumstances.

The big advantage with using an outsourced provider to deal with latency issues is that they will be experts in the field, operating under the specific brief of dealing with just these kinds of difficulties. In-house IT departments, by comparison, tend to focus on a very broad range of issues that are common to commercial operating systems. Whichever model you prefer, the task of ironing out problems caused by latency and restoring full functionality to your systems has to be paramount.

Delays brought about by network congestion can by their nature be very complicated and intricate, hence again the need to call upon the expertise of a capable network management company. Ultimately it is essential that your systems retain sufficient bandwidth for all their applications at all times. Today network equipment is sometimes pre-packaged with bandwidth reservation capability.

What Causes Latency Problems in the First Place?

Slow communications can be down to a whole host of causes, including router errors, transmission problems or even faulty software. Security or anti-virus applications may be responsible, or storage delays. In fact, network latency issues can be down to almost anything, but the result is always the same – increased downtime and slower transmission of data.

It is the task of the specialist investigating any issues to identify them and to restore your systems to full functionality with the minimum of disruption, enabling full functionality to be restored in as little time as is possible.

The Importance of Eradicating Delays and Restoring Systems to Full Capacity

We all know that success in business is ultimately about the figure at the foot of the balance sheet. All the same, the old adage about having to speculate to accumulate is an applicable today as it ever was. If your IT isn’t up to the task, then you could be out of the race before you even get the chance to compete with your rivals on a level footing. It really is as simple as that.

The simple fact is that removing, or better still preventing, latency issues is every bit as important as ensuring adequate bandwidth and disk space. Not only does inefficient transmission slow your operation down, but it can also lead to data loss with all that that entails. The sudden disappearance of critical information or the malfunction of real-time applications can not only be a source of acute embarrassment but, in certain circumstances, a cause of total meltdown. In a worst case scenario, it can finish your business off entirely.

It is possible to invest in low-latency networks and if you are serious about succeeding this option should be pursued. A network specialist will provide the knowledge and expertise that you need to make the right decision. Whether or not you choose to follow their advice could make the difference between establishing a thriving business and falling at the first hurdle.