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Multi-homing is a situation that describes a single computer host that makes use of several IP addresses associated with various connected networks. Within this scenario, the multihomed computer host is physically linked to a variety of data connections or ports. These connections or ports may all be associated with the same network or with a variety of different networks. Depending on the exact configuration, multi-homing may allow a computer host to function as an IP router.
The process of multi-homing makes use of what is known as Stream Control Transmission Protocol, or SCTP. Essentially, the process involves employing multi-homing by making use of a single SCTP endpoint to support the connectivity to more than one IP address. By establishing connection to multiple addresses, multi-homing can help to enhance the overall stability of the connectivity associated with the host.
One of the advantages of multi-homing is that the computer host is somewhat protected from the occurrence of a network failure. With systems that make use of a single IP address and connection, the failure of the connected network means that the connection shuts down, rendering the end system ineffectual as far as connectivity to the Internet is concerned. With multi-homing, the failure of a single network only closes a single open door. All the other doors, or IP addresses associated with the other networks, remain up and functional.
In general, multi-homing is helpful for three elements of effective web management. First, multi-homing can help to distribute the load balance of data transmissions received and sent by the computer host. Second, the redundancy that is inherent to multi-homing means less incidences of downtime due to network failure. Last, multi-homing provides an additional tool to keep network connectivity alive and well in the event of natural disasters or other events that would normally render a host inoperative for an extended period of time.
Multi-homing is often employed in situations where access to the Internet is critical to the operation of a business related effort. For example, multi-homing will be included as part of the disaster recovery initiatives that many financial institutions have in place. By creating network redundancy, it is possible for banks, brokers, and investment firms to remain accessible to customers even when some type of unanticipated event has crippled the primary network interface.