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We have 2 ISP providers (X, Y) and we have connected the ISPs to a core switch>Sophos firewall>Switch rack>end user (LAN & WiFi). This ISP works on fail-over mechanism.

The issue here is that we work on live chat process where we answer customers' queries through Zendesk and other live chat apps. When an ISP is down, fail-over (Backup ISP) is taking 2 to 3 seconds to come up. In the meanwhile chats are getting disconnected. Due to this, we are losing customers. Can we use IP NAT to make two IP addresses into one IP address? Any ideas or suggestions will be helpful. Thanks.

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    This is a case where you need to get provider-independent addressing and peer with the multiple providers using BGP. You can then keep the same addressing when you fail over. It will still take a finite amount of time to fail over, but the addressing will remain the same, so the sessions should not disconnect.
    – Ron Maupin
    Dec 4 '18 at 15:02
  • Thank you so much Ron Maupin for your suggestion. Dec 10 '18 at 3:45
  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can provide and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Dec 25 '18 at 10:11
  • Actually your answer helped me alot Ron. Using BGP protocol worked for me. But there is no option to Accept your comment. Thanks for the support. Mar 4 '19 at 11:14
  • OK. I put it in an answer for you.
    – Ron Maupin
    Mar 4 '19 at 15:14
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This is a case where you need to get provider-independent addressing and peer with the multiple providers using BGP. You can then keep the same addressing when you fail over. It will still take a finite amount of time to fail over, but the addressing will remain the same, so the sessions should not disconnect.

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While it might not be possible to solve your narrow question about IP addresses without provider-independent addressing and control of your own routing, it is certainly possible to do something the wider problem of losing live chat connections because your IP address changes.

1. Better line A higher quality line might go down infrequently enough this becomes not an issue for you. This might be tricky to achieve, depending on the reason for your current problems.

2. Backup line Some ISPs offer a service where if the main line goes down a backup line comes up, with the same IP addresses, which should therefore keep the same HTTP sessions to Zendesk and similar. You might not care to give your ISPs more business if the current service is inadequate.

3. Tunnel You could set up two tunnels over ISP X and ISP Y to a place with a NAT at a single public exit point. You set your router to failover the internal routing from one tunnel to the other; when it happens your public IP address doesn't change, thus keeping sessions alive at the chat service. Can definitely do this kind of thing with AWS and similar, or find a business ISP offering this service.

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  • Thank you so much jonathanjo for your suggestion. Dec 10 '18 at 3:45
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Short answer: No.

When you switch from one ISP to another, your IP address changes. All your chat clients have to detect that and change. A few seconds is actually pretty good.

I would spend my time and money improving your ISP connections, so a failover is a very rare event. Consider a second connection to the ISP (to different equipment on their side) if circuits are the problem. If the problems are internal to the ISP, consider getting a different ISP.

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First attempt: Changing the routing of the IP address

In the internet the smallest block which can be announced is /24 for IPv4 and /48 for IPv6.

This means that two IPv4 addresses which have the same 3 first bytes must be routed to the same ISP.

Example: The addresses 192.0.2.43 and 192.0.2.65 both start with 192.0.2, so they must both be routed through the same ISP.

Routing 192.0.2.43 over another ISP would only be possible if all customers using an address in the range 192.0.2.xxx would switch the ISP at the same time.

... and even then I'm not sure if this would really work.

Second attempt: Changing the local IP address of the connection

(In this case you have two different IP addresses for two different ISPs but the chat program you are using is capable to switch between the two IP addresses without dropping the connection.)

At least there are experimental protocols which allow to do so; maybe there are also protocols suitable for commercial use which can do this.

However such protocols would probably use UDP and work on OSI level 5 or above. This would mean that such protocols are not in the scope of this website any more.

Using such protocols would however definitely require special software both on the customer's PC and on your server.

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  • Thank you so much Martin for your suggestion. Dec 10 '18 at 3:45

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