Ensuring IP network resilience

19 September 2023 | Research

Simon Sherrington

Perspective | PDF (22 pages) | Transport Network Strategies

“Traditional ways of ensuring IP network resilience are clearly not working. Organisations new to adopt a new approach.”


Most of the digital services used by consumers and businesses run over IP networks, which provide the backbone transport infrastructure for broadband and mobile services and for corporate data networks. The largest national networks operated by telecoms service providers connect thousands of network elements, hundreds of millions of consumer and business customer devices and billions of IoT devices. The IP networks operated by large organisations such as banks underpin the critical digital infrastructure that enables those organisations to function. IP networks interconnect the data centres of the largest internet content and application providers that are used by billions of people daily. 

Therefore, when parts of an IP network fail, the implications can be significant. Outages have taken broadband and mobile services offline, cut entire countries off from the internet, prevented financial institutions from processing payments, stopped large social media companies from providing services, and prevented people from making calls to emergency services. Large failures of IP networks can have grave consequences and can also be very costly. Yet IP network outages happen remarkably frequently.  

This all clearly demonstrates that organisations need to invest in increasing the resilience of their IP networks. Ensuring network resilience means being certain that service levels can be maintained to an acceptable level in the context of extraordinary events. These events might include equipment failures, malicious attacks or human error. Ensuring resilience is not the same as monitoring reliability. Nor does it mean ensuring network security. Ensuring resilience means taking a strategic approach to improving the robustness of the network by improving its architecture and configuration, in order to pre-empt and prevent problems. It involves building in resilience by design.  

Despite the negative implications of IP network failures, many organisations are not doing everything they can to pre-empt and prevent problems. In response to a survey of operators of IP networks conducted by Analysys Mason in August 2023 , fewer than half of respondents (43%) stated they undertake risk analysis or fault simulation, or network element health checks, only 26% stated they simulate attacks on the network, and fewer than 20% said they undertake fault survivability or disaster recovery analysis. 

A range of barriers are preventing operators of IP networks from doing more to ensure IP resilience. These include lack of in-house expertise, lack of budget and time, or inability to observe what is happening within the network. Insufficient expertise is particularly important; human errors cause a great number of outages – for instance, during system upgrades or system reconfigurations.

Traditional approaches to improving IP network resilience are not working. Organisations need to consider a new approach. Given the scale of the risks, and the potential benefits from improving IP network resilience, operators need to adopt a strategic approach. They need to strive for IP network resilience by design – ensuring that resilience is built in at the network planning phase, and that the network architecture, device configurations, service constructs and operational processes are all designed to avoid problems, or to mitigate them without affecting customers.

This report offers insights into how service providers can ensure the resilience of their IP networks.

Ensuring IP network resilience (English version)


Ensuring IP network resilience (Chinese version)