Simplifying Your Company’s Network Management Processes With SD-WAN

In a world where crucial businesses processes need unmeasurable accessibility, something was bound to change. While software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) were first introduced in the early 2000s, these innovative systems took over a decade to take root and truly address network issues.

Let’s start with the basics. At its foundations, an SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to wide-area networking. For enterprises and companies with multiple network endpoints — this is a revolutionary step forward. What does this mean for network managers?

An SD-WAN allows for automated business policies, routing freedom, and the ability to monitor performance and usage for end-to-end visibility of the entire wide area network. 

Network Management & SD-WAN: The Basics

Network Management Definition

Let’s get the boring information out of the way.

Net·work Man·age·ment

/ˈnetˌwərk ˈmanijmənt/

noun

  1. The process of managing, operating and administering a data network through a network management system.

Today, we combine both hardware and software to collect and interpret data. Network management best practices leverage a centralized server to harness and analyze this data. Yes, this is an incredibly basic way to explain a very complex infrastructure. But it should help provide some framework for how an SD-WAN can improve your company’s network management processes.

What About SD-WAN?

Think of an SD-WAN as a virtual version of a more traditional WAN infrastructure. It allows a business to utilize existing transport services, such as MPLS, broadband, and LTE internet services, to connect users to company applications.

In its current state, SD-WAN leverages a centralized control function to direct traffic in a secure way across the WAN. SD-WAN checks all of the boxes with network management best practices as it both speeds up functionality while also lowering overall cost.

SD-WAN at a glance:

  • Enables cloud-based enterprises
  • Provides superior application quality of experience (QoEX)
  • Empowers application-aware routing for faster service

Let’s Go Back in Time

Before fully understanding how an SD-WAN can simplify your company’s network management processes, we need to take a trip back in time.

Back in 2003, the world was a much simpler place. This was true only in general terms but also regarding network management. Companies that relied on remote offices relied on rudimentary software and applications to run operations. Most businesses needed email, a standard enterprise resource planning software (ERP), and a handful of custom applications.

In addition to these remote offices was a data center that housed a wide range of servers. To connect these two points, multiprotocol labeling switching (MPLS) offered a reliable and high-quality connection. The issue was the expense.

An MPLS connection was incredibly costly and required each office and data center to have individual routers that weren’t cheap.

As the years progressed, applications became more complex, and cloud-based software began to take hold — the amount of traffic a business relied on for everyday operations became incredibly taxing on an MPLS connection.

Sending cloud traffic that is destined for the internet back to headquarters doesn’t make much sense. By relying on this outdated method, companies suffered from:

  • Added delay
  • Degraded application performance
  • Costly lease line bandwidth consumption

Where We’re at Today

Today, these MPLS connections are dealing with the same basic requirements of facilitating email, ERP systems, and custom applications. However, they are now overburdened with certain modernities.

From social media and SAAS programs to the countless cloud-based systems needed to compete in the current marketplace — the ways of yesteryear simply can’t keep up. The classic WAN structure that relies heavily on traditional routers was not designed for the cloud.

Now, companies need a better way to manage network processes that prevent backhauling cloud-destined traffic to and from data centers. SD-WAN systems offer:

  • Improved business productivity
  • Better user quality of experience
  • Accelerated business initiatives
  • Potential to lower costs

How SD-WAN Can Simplify Your Network Management Processes

Your users don’t care about where their apps are hosted. Whether it’s in a SAAS, data center, or the cloud — they simply expect optimal performance and fast speeds.

If you were to ask users whether their online performance is better at home versus the office — most answers would state that their home provides faster speeds and more reliable connections. That’s because when they are at home, they are accessing applications directly through the internet instead of dealing with countless traffic backups that exist in a modern business.

So, let’s answer the million-dollar question: How can an SD-WAN simplify your company’s network?

A software-defined wide area network with the right features gives companies the ability to securely utilize the internet as a way to reliable route for WAN transport, expand (and overtime even replace) MPLS services.

Internet speed, accessibility, and reliability is the catalyst for a high-performing business. It’s not rocket science. But, it doesn’t stop there. SD-WAN systems offer a solid bedrock for future innovations and changes within both cloud-based systems but also emerging technologies.

SD-WAN offers four unique benefits for businesses struggling to integrate existing applications with cloud services.

  1. Increased security by removing traffic vulnerabilities.
  2. Boosted performance by centralizing control functions.
  3. Lower costs by cutting down on hardware reliance and network management.
  4. Optimized cloud experience through automation and augmentation to organize tasks and allow for faster remote accessibility.

Take Charge of Your Company’s Network Management

As cloud-based systems continue their conquest, it’s become a necessity for businesses to make changes to their network management best practices.

For companies that rely on branch offices — an SD-WAN offers a way to lower traffic overhaul that could lead to slow speeds. This is because SD-WANs offer a way to customize the orchestration of channels and traffic. Not only will this make UX more consistent, but will also make the network far more reliable, even if you have existing MPLS connections.

Resource-intensive network administration such as installing, upgrading, and maintaining software for network performance can also be drastically reduced through SD-WAN systems.

Whether you’re looking to completely revamp your company’s network management process or want to slowly transition to an SD-WAN system, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, you’ll receive faster, more reliable performance for a fraction of the cost.

Tethering vs. Hotspot: Which Should You Choose?

More and more, businesses are relying less on traditional office settings as they turn to remote work structures. Due to this shift to remote work, companies depend on mobile internet solutions to receive reliable broadband internet connections from anywhere.

Mobile internet solutions such as tethering and hotspots allow employees to tune into conference calls on the road and access important shared folders from different locations. Both solutions can provide fast internet access to enhance business operations. However, tethering and hotspots differ in how they secure an internet connection.

Between tethering and hotspots, are you curious to know which is the right choice for your business? Keep reading to explore the pros and cons of each mobile technology.

What Is Tethering?

Tethering is one way to obtain an internet connection through a mobile device. With tethering, you can use your existing data plan on your mobile phone to share an internet connection with another device, such as a laptop or tablet.

In order to share an internet connection with another device through tethering, you need to connect the two devices through mediums such as:

  • A USB cable
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi

Traditionally, tethering was accomplished by physically connecting two devices with a USB cable. However, most modern smartphones allow you to set up a private, secure Wi-Fi hub that you can connect to on another device. This Wi-Fi hub is commonly referred to as a “personal hotspot,” which is not to be confused with the mobile hotspot devices we’ll explore later.

Tethering Pros and Cons

Mobile tethering offers an excellent solution for getting quick work assignments done when out of the office. However, it is typically not compatible with consistent use during business travel. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of tethering for business operations.

Tethering Pros

One of the main positive benefits of tethering is convenience. When you connect other devices to a Wi-Fi hub on your mobile phone, the other devices share your cellular network’s data limits, speed, and reliability. Because of this, people know what to expect when they connect to a tethered network.

Since mobile tethering is based on an individual’s cellular data plan, many businesses opt for tethering if they don’t want to invest in dedicated mobile internet hardware for out-of-office operations.

Tethered connections achieved via a USB cable offer immense data security. Since the data is confined to the wires inside the USB cable, the connection is strong and typically not prone to interference.

Tethering Cons

If you want to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot via tethering, the caveat is that most smartphones require an unlimited data plan to support personal hotspots. If your individual network plan has data limits each month, you may not be eligible to create tethered hotspots unless you upgrade your plan with your wireless service provider.

Not to mention, using your mobile phone to create a Wi-Fi hotspot requires a great deal of power, which in turn drains your phone’s battery at a fast pace. Additionally, some wireless service providers limit shared data, which could cause you to reach a data cap quickly when you share between devices.

What Is a Hotspot?

Dedicated mobile hotspots are different than personal hotspots that were mentioned above. While personal hotspots can be achieved through tethering, a mobile hotspot is a wireless router that connects to your service area’s cellular tower.

This wireless router provides multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices with constant access to broadband internet. Unlike tethered personal hotspots created on smartphones, dedicated mobile hotspots provide high-speed LTE network coverage to up to 15 devices. Routers and modems are commonly used today because they are built to connect multiple devices to the internet simultaneously.

Mobile hotspots can be used in people’s homes, allowing each family member to connect all their devices to the same network. Additionally, mobile hotspots are often used in public spaces such as restaurants and coffee shops where customers can connect to the wireless network via a password.

Hotspot Pros and Cons

Just like with tethering, mobile hotspots offer advantages and disadvantages depending on their intended usage. Common pros and cons of mobile hotspots are:

Hotspot Pros

Compared to tethering which drains battery life, many mobile hotspots run on large lithium-ion batteries that can support Wi-Fi for 24 hours on battery power alone. With a mobile hotspot, you can achieve a day’s work with battery power instead of only a few hours.

Additionally, most mobile hotspot devices offer impressive internet speeds. Since mobile hotspots are specifically designed to connect multiple devices to the internet, their antennas provide a better connection with faster speeds compared to internet connections created on a mobile phone. Depending on your network provider and individual mobile hotspot, you can see speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps).

Mobile hotspot devices also provide robust security features. Many mobile hotspots support virtual private networks (VPNs), which allow users to create a safe, private Wi-Fi network. In the case of multiple devices, mobile hotspots will enable you to:

  • Customize what can be seen in guest networks
  • Track how much data each connected device uses
  • Adjust guest access credentials

Hotspot Cons

Mobile hotspots don’t have too many drawbacks. The only potential disadvantages of mobile hotspots are paying for the physical device and having to set up an additional piece of hardware.

However, if you don’t mind paying for the mobile hotspot hardware and setting it up or carrying it around, mobile hotspots make for a fantastic solution for businesses.

Which Connection Is Best for Your Business?

Tethering and mobile hotspots both offer solutions for internet connectivity. While tethering uses cellular data on a mobile phone to provide internet access to other devices, a mobile hotspot connects multiple devices to the internet through a physical piece of hardware. When it comes to business operations, using a dedicated mobile hotspot is generally a more sustainable way to provide internet access to multiple devices.

If you’re looking for support or advice about which internet networks to use, reach out to Integrated Communications today. You can schedule a free network audit to determine the best telecommunications options for your business.

Exploring the Difference Between Cable and Fiber Internet

In today’s world, you can’t get far without a solid internet connection. The internet connects us to information, socialization, business operations, and more. Businesses across the country are discovering the benefits of SD-WAN services, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), and fast internet.

There are many ways faster internet enhances business operations, including higher productivity levels, robust security, and efficient cloud access. There are two primary types of internet: cable and fiber. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities of cable internet vs. fiber internet and narrow down which type is best for your business.

What Is Cable Internet?

Cable internet is also referred to as broadband internet. Cable internet is quite literally delivered using cables. The same copper coaxial cables that provide cable television also deliver cable internet. A coax cable can supply internet and television connections at the same time. The wires are comprised of:

  • A copper core
  • An insulating sheath
  • Copper and aluminum shields
  • A plastic outer layer

Typically, a cable internet modem delivers internet, but neighborhoods and areas connect each network. Connections from different households, offices, or businesses converge together, often on a utility pole on the street, and they share bandwidth.

How Fast Is Cable Internet?

Cable network speed can usually accommodate large downloads. However, since the network is connected and shared by neighborhoods, slow speeds often occur during high usage times. If your business is located in a highly populated area, you may experience dramatic slowdowns during peak business hours when you need to be productive.

Cable download speeds range from 10 to 500 megabits per second (Mbps). The upload speed range is 5 to 50 Mbps. You select your preferred speed when you sign up for cable internet. The higher the speed, the more money you pay. Even still, the speed you pay for isn’t guaranteed. Many cable service providers have data caps, and if you go over the data limit, you may need to pay additional fees.

Cable Network Availability

Cable networks are available just about everywhere across the country. If you live in an area where you can access a television network, you can also access cable internet. Cable internet is available in all 50 states and has 89% coverage across the United States. Cable internet availability is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Cable Reliability

For the most part, cable internet for business is very reliable. However, electricity outages can affect cable connection. Cable internet is not as reliable in areas with frequent electricity outages and cable interruptions. Backup internet sources may be needed during power outages. Even still, cable internet is more reliable than other internet sources such as digital subscriber lines (DSL) or satellites.

What Is Fiber Optic Internet?

Now that you have an understanding of cable internet, let’s explore the offerings of fiber internet. While cable internet uses copper cables, fiber internet uses fiber optic cables to deliver internet to homes and businesses. Fiber optic cables are comprised of optical fibers, which are incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic.

Fiber utilizes LED or laser pulses to transfer internet data over long distances. Fiber cables carry more bandwidth than copper cables, which makes fiber internet a popular choice. Fiber internet technology is newer, so it is not as widely used as cable internet.

How Fast Is Fiber Internet?

Fiber internet is the fastest internet available today. Fiber cables can transfer large amounts of data without delays in processing. Additionally, fiber optic internet does not have bandwidth caps, so you can use as much as you need.

Fiber internet does not share networks, so peak-time lags are not an issue as with cable internet. High-speed business fiber internet help improves productivity and customer satisfaction. Fiber speeds for uploading and downloading are no less than 250 to 1,000 Mbps, which is significantly faster than traditional broadband internet.

Fiber Network Availability

Fiber internet is still in an expansion stage, so connections are not as easily accessible as cable internet. However, as fiber internet gains popularity, it is becoming more available. Fiber optic internet would be more difficult for rural businesses to obtain, but it is more accessible in metropolitan areas.

Fiber Reliability

Fiber internet is incredibly reliable. Electricity disruptions do not affect fiber network availability, so internet connections continue if the electricity goes down. This reliability is because fiber optic cables are made of glass, and they do not conduct electricity.

It is incredibly rare for a fiber network to get interrupted. This consistent network reliability makes a considerable difference in productivity for businesses when they need it most.

The Best Choice for Businesses

Fiber internet is the most efficient choice for businesses in metropolitan areas with access to fiber. Fiber internet boasts the fastest speeds, large bandwidth capacities, and network reliability unimpacted by power outages. Companies with high productivity demands will find that fiber internet best suits their needs.

For rural companies or businesses with less demanding needs, cable internet is suitable. If businesses don’t have many content needs, mission-critical internet applications, or on-location servers, cable internet can adequately meet their needs while saving a little bit of money.

Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Internet?

Even though cable and fiber internet have many similarities, they also have differences that distinguish them from each other. Gone are the days of satellite and dial-up internet connections. At a minimum, businesses need cable internet to operate. However, the best way to improve speed, productivity, and reliability is by installing fiber internet.

Are you curious to know if fiber internet is right for your business? Integrated Communications can help. We will perform a free telecommunications and networking audit for your business. Don’t wait any longer to determine how your business can improve user experience, save money, and increase productivity; instead, contact us today!

Woman Working on a Laptop

5 Ways Faster Internet Can Enhance Your Business

Businesses of all sizes in every industry rely on fast internet access to be competitive. The speed of a business’s internet directly affects its success. As technology improves, internet speeds get faster and more reliable.

Traditional cable or DSL internet providers offer speeds between 10 and 30 Mbps (megabits per second.) However, businesses that operate with fiber-based internet experience speeds up to 1000 Mbps. Fast internet for business is essential for ensuring the satisfaction of customers and employees alike.

Keep reading to learn 5 ways faster internet improves your business.

1. Access to High-Speed Internet Reduces Costs

Don’t let the initial startup costs of high-speed internet deter you from signing up for it. The initial costs often pay for themselves through the added efficiency and productivity that your business will experience.

Other direct savings options are available with fast internet for business. High-speed internet offers a telephone service called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). This gives companies the option to have a telephone voice service connected to their high-speed internet. Depending on the number of employees and extensions your business has, you could save thousands of dollars by connecting a VOIP service to your internet.

VOIP allows your business to make calls through a handset, headset, laptop, tablet, and an app. All your business needs is a connection to high-speed internet to utilize this service. The best part of this telephone service is that caller IDs will register your business name and number.

2. Faster Internet Allows for More Productivity

Businesses majorly lose out on productivity levels if employees are waiting on a slow internet connection to load their work. Most employees in many types of businesses are incredibly reliant on internet access to successfully perform their job.

High-speed internet not only cuts down on the time that employees wait for applications and software to load, but it also supports multi-tasking across multiple applications at once. Delayed internet speeds affect research capabilities, customer service, emails, and in-house communications. All of these areas add up and cause your business to lose valuable time and money.

High-speed internet for business allows employees to operate efficiently between tasks and projects. Employees can complete tasks faster without dealing with the frustrations of a slow internet connection.

Traditional DSL internet easily gets interrupted with:

  • Poor weather conditions
  • Physical breakdowns
  • Electrical interference

These circumstances are far less likely to interfere with high-speed internet.

Reliable connection keeps your customers productive, too. If your business’s website loads slowly or even crashes, customers will be quick to take their business elsewhere. Maintain a loyal customer base with a reliable and fast internet connection.

3. High-Speed Internet Has Better Security

High-speed internet is better equipped against hacking and security breaches compared to traditional internet services. Security breaches present considerable risks and damages to businesses. Recovering from illegal access is always an expensive process.

Preventing security breaches before they happen is the safest and most affordable way to handle the cybersecurity of your business. You don’t want to risk losing valuable information about your business, or about your customers. Customers will not be happy with you if their personal information gets leaked in a data breach.

To further protect valuable data, many businesses backup their data offsite. As the amount of data increases, so does the need for reliable internet service. Slow internet connections interfere with data backups, often leaving some attempts unsuccessful.

Fiber optic internet can accommodate large data transfers. These smooth and quick transfers put your employees, customers, and owners at ease.

High-speed internet also protects your business with:

  • Security systems viewable from anywhere
  • Clear HD imaging
  • Protection against cybercrime
  • Adding phones, tablets, and other devices to your security system

4. Effectively Collaborate Remotely

High-speed internet allows your employees to work remotely with ease. You can extend your talent pool to the entire country if you can effectively operate remotely.

Remote workers depend on quality internet connections in order to successfully collaborate with other remote and in-house team members. Running a successful remote operation also allows you to save money on overhead costs.

Even if your employees only work remotely while traveling, high-speed internet allows them to share files, print necessary documents, and collaborate on company platforms as if they were physically in the office.

Isn’t it frustrating when a video meeting crashes or glitches? Slow internet gets even slower when multiple employees are working at the same time, not to mention an entire team. High-speed internet supports multiple employees each working on multiple devices during the day.

You can count on your video meetings to run smoothly with fiber optic internet. This is guaranteed to make your employees happy because the only thing worse than meetings is meetings that last way longer than they need to.

5. Faster Speeds Improve Cloud Access

The constant need to upload, download, and store items in a business setting is supported by cloud access and remote data storage. Things like software-as-a-service (SaaS), content management systems (CMS), and customer relationship management (CRM) programs rely on the cloud.

Slow internet speeds negatively affect the performance of these programs and applications. If customers on the other end of CRM programs experience a lag in processing data, they will lose their confidence in your business.

Almost all new software programs are designed to rely on fast cloud access. If your business has traditional slow internet, it will directly affect how these programs perform. High-speed internet is essential for utilizing new software that is designed to help your business find more success.

Take Your Business to the Next Level With Faster Internet

Fast internet for business is what takes your profits from good to great. Save money, collaborate productively, and keep your data safe with high-speed fiber optic internet. Faster internet is a valuable investment that pays for itself with the benefits it offers.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level and improve the lives of your employees and customers? Integrated Communications is here to help. Reach out to us to get started today!

Debunking Common Virtual Security Myths

virtual securityWhen it comes to deploying security in a virtual environment, some industry professionals draw a blank–or, worse, they think that it’s necessary to replace existing physical security protocols with virtual substitutes. This is not true.

In fact, the best approach to use when viewing virtual security is a logical one. Consider this: A jewelry store owner who expands the physical location or who opens a new facility would not try to use his/her current security force to protect the new location, nor would the owner secure the new location by trying to stretch the current security force between two facilities and simply hope that the depleted resources will cover the need. Both sites need to be secure.

Considering the current, overwhelming surge in virtual as-a-service solutions, knowing how and when to apply virtual security measures like firewalls has become a crucial consideration for businesses. This is especially due to the fact that according to industry specialists, over one-fifth of all VPN (virtual private network) security will be deployed in a virtual format by the end of the year.

Layered Security

Companies already understand the flexibility and cost-saving advantages of moving information and even key infrastructure to the cloud (hence, the rapid growth). That said, virtual security protocols should not be an either/or dilemma; they should be employed in a layered defense. The physical systems already in place should be supported with virtual firewalls—not replaced with them—depending on the level of the workload requirements.

The reasons for this layered defense are abundant. Not only does it secure the virtual aspects of the data system, but the same ease of alteration and on-demand access that is available in a virtual environment is accessible with virtual firewalls. Companies can adjust deployment according to specific needs, which allows them to better control financial commitments.

Deployment Confusion

The issue of deployment confusion has been discussed at length by industry experts. Keeping pace with the rapidly expanding network services available in a virtual environment means finding ways to secure that activity from threats.

Therefore, deployment should depend on the same workload and accessibility requirements that have determined the current physical security measures.

Notably, there are two basic types of virtual firewalls:

  • Introspective: This type resides within the hypervisor side of each virtual NIC (network interface card). Although it offers a well-managed way to keep virtual machines protected, it is limited in availability at this time.
  • Edge: This is the most common form of virtual firewalls. These reside between two or more virtual portgroups or switches. The beneficial aspect of this type of virtual security is that companies can deploy them at the “edge” of their data center or between trust zones in a cloud environment, depending on their workload and throughput activity.

Rules of the Game

In general, there are three fundamental rules when it comes to adding virtual security services to a network:

  1. Deploy virtual firewalls to enhance the depth of network safety in conjunction with the physical securities already in place.
  2. Know the specifications of a virtual firewall. (The specs for physical firewalls are outlined; virtual ones should be outlined, too.)
  3. Don’t limit virtual security to one type (or breed) of firewall. (Requirements play an essential role in the types and amount of firewall protection needed for a network.)

With the changing environment of virtual services, companies can discover the best means of keeping their networks secure by incorporating virtual security protocols. The investment is well worth it when the risks are considered, and the faster, more adaptive role that these protocols play can make a huge difference in security compliance.

3 Broadband Speed Tips For Business-Friendy Internet Provider Services

With recent increases in access locations and speed tiers, selecting a business-friendly Internet provider may be more difficult than ever. According to the 2013 “Measuring Broadband Across America” report, the FCC cites a current average U.S. broadband speed tier that tops 15 Mbps (1). In the last six months of 2013, more than half of the U.S. consumers still running at less than 1 Mbps upgraded to a quicker speed tier.

The following three points focus on the critical areas of business-friendly broadband Internet services.

1) Speed — How Much Is Sufficient?

Every new generation of devices increase the demand on broadband speed. But without predictability and dependability, your Internet services quickly become worthless. According to Measuring Broadband Across America, speeds above 10 Mbps do not greatly affect page downloads. However, HD streaming video as well as multiple resource sharing can force quick reductions in delivery speeds.

2) Data Limitations

Uploading may be even more critical than downloading. Modern business management has turned to “cloud services.” From video conferencing to interactive learning and from file sharing to email, the software, the data and all the associated files flow in both directions. To further hinder the process, some business broadband business Internet service providers limit your single-instance data transfer options. Make certain your services do not dead-end due to file size restrictions.

3) Latency

Latency defines the time lag between real-time data transmission and data packet delivery. When uploading a file into “cloud” storage, latency may not present any major complications. However, latency can greatly affect the efficiency of real-time video conferencing and online phone calls. For efficient real-time communications, make certain that your Internet provider and cloud management services use equipment designed to eliminate data latency.

Conclusion

Although not the only criteria for business Internet service, speed plays the major role in home and business connectivity. Before choosing any Internet provider resources, consider the importance of:

  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Portability
  • Plan Restrictions
  • Contract Requirements
  • Managed Services
  • AND Speed.

How Robust Data Services Can Help Facilitate Remote Employees

Working remotely is becoming increasingly popular amongst both businesses and their employees. Employees save on commute times, gain autonomy and get to work in their pajamas while employers save on operating costs and improve employee morale. This new way of working is only possible through leveraging new technologies and data services, something many businesses are discovering is impossible without increasing data speeds.

A Need For Bandwidth

Having employees work remotely requires robust communication abilities. There are many affordable options out there including Skype and Google Talk for video conferencing and Dropbox and Google Drive for file transfers. Employees can even access their work computers remotely if necessary. The only caveat to all of this is that you need a respectable level of data service bandwidth to make these applications usable.

High speed business data plans have changed a lot in the past decade and not all businesses realize how inadequate their service is until they begin to experience issues. When you do begin to adopt cloud applications and video conferencing to stay connected with remote employees you may see some problems if your data plan is not robust enough. This can be especially true when it comes to upload speeds.

You are no longer just focusing on downloading large files anymore. Services like Dropbox require you to upload large files to the cloud for access anywhere, essentially a requirement for remote employees. The more data you have moving back and forth the greater chance you have of experiencing lag. You want to be able to move information quickly between your business, the cloud and your remote employees, but you will only be able to do so if you have true high speed business data.

Keeping Up with Technology

Even if your business does not have any plans for employees to work remotely, the realities of business technology demand high data service bandwidth. If you hope to stay current, you need both the download and upload capacity to use emerging technologies. At Integrated Communications we can help you find affordable Internet speeds that will meet your needs, both now and in the future.

The Importance of Adequate Bandwidth for Business Performance

A prudent businessperson knows the importance of saving money. You want to avoid spending unnecessarily if you can help it because it lends stability to your operation. As important as it is to be frugal, though, there are some areas where it pays to spend a little more — your Internet being one of them. The demand on your business’ bandwidth is rapidly increasing, and is only expected to grow. Failing to account for this can slow down your operations and cost you money.

Increasing Demands on Bandwidth

Depending on how long you have been in business, you may remember the days when you did not even need an Internet connection. Even once you did begin using emerging technologies, your bandwidth needs were probably not very intensive. Now, though, it is practically a necessity to be constantly connected and have the fastest speeds you can afford — and not just for watching cat videos.

The usage of online applications is skyrocketing, and for good reason. They provide a new level of reliability and accessibility never seen before. Services such as cloud backups, hosted storage like Google Drive or Dropbox and video conferencing are all becoming standard for businesses that want to leverage the best technologies out there.

The problem is, your old data package is probably not up to the challenge of this level of Internet usage. This becomes especially true when you consider that download speeds used to be the priority, with a very minor focus on upload speeds. Using cloud backups and Dropbox-type services quickly and effectively requires serious upload capabilities — something older data packages just do not have.

Money Now or Money Later

You want your employees and your business moving as quickly as it can while maintaining quality standards. If your Internet speed is not up to par, it makes efficiency impossible. This causes your entire system to bog down unnecessarily and will inevitably impact productivity. The increased cost of a more robust data package is worth it for any business that wants to stay competitive.

What to Look for in an Internet Provider

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The Internet has been around for so long, the question of “Should I get the Internet or not?” has changed to “Which Internet service provider (ISP) should I choose”? With so many of them around, and with each one seeming to offer the same product in the same package, it can be difficult- but not impossible- to know what to look for in an Internet provider.

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Type of Use

Businesses and individuals look for different things with an Internet provider because of demand, use and capability. Whereas an individual usually just surfs the Net, watches movies and does word processing, a business relies on much more than that, with many more users needing to do their work at the same time. Businesses likelier need Internet with higher bandwidth and bandwidth speeds so that more data can travel more efficiently.

Type of Contract

Going on a contract typically saves money, as your ISP knocks off a few dollars each month in agreement to you sticking with them for a certain length of time. The downside to this, of course, is that you’re locked in with one ISP for one to three years and might pay a penalty to get out. The alternative is to go with an ISP on a monthly basis: you might pay a bit more each month, but you retain your freedom to go with another ISP whenever you want.

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Type of Coverage

In the United States, there are dozens of ISPs to choose from and they range in size from local to national. The benefit of going with a nationally-known ISP is that you know exactly what you’re getting, the ISPs have years of reputations behind them, and it’s fairly easy to get parts and service because of how big the company is. Conversely, going with a local company has its pluses, too. Local Internet providers tend to be more competitive because they want to grow and attract a wider customer base, so they’re likelier to offer better deals on a more regular basis. They also haven’t been swallowed up by size, and can usually offer better customer service, treating you like a person instead of a number.

Type of Equipment

To get service started, you need a certain piece of equipment from your Internet provider- a modem. Some ISPs will happily sell or loan you a modem, which comes with pros and cons. While it’s easy and convenient, it also puts more money in their coffers. If you can find an ISP that lets you use your own modem, not only can you control the type and quality of it, but you’ll also pay a lot less.

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No matter what you look for in an Internet provider and who you choose to go with, remember that Integrated Communications is here for all your business and personal telecommunications needs. Visit our home page to see the wide range of services we provide.

Homegrown Telecom: Business Internet MN

Near and far our toys and our cars are shipped and sold to us from out-of-State and out-of-Country. While this has been great for the consumer wishing to lower their overall spend, it isn’t great for the consumer who incurs problems and needs to get a hold of the manufacturer or have their issues solved in a timely fashion. Telecom, IT, and other technology facets, these days, seem to be no different; businesses big and small are working with carriers and vendors who are “housed” in another area.

Is this a problem?

Well, as these carriers grow and expand into uncharted territories, their appreciation and attentiveness for their clients depletes significantly. Calls being made by a client to their provider are being handled outside of the local sector and businesses are starting to experience extreme down-times as they wait for their connectivity issues and/or business needs to be handled – oftentimes incurring endless “on-hold” hours.

How can this be avoided?

Stay homegrown! Many businesses are beginning to turn back to their local providers and/or agents (such as business internet MN master-agent Integrated Communications) to handle their business’ services and voice and data needs. IT companies such as Velocity Tech Solutions are seeing the change and it’s becoming a huge factor for many local and multi-site businesses. Anne Tarantino of Velocity Tech Solutions (2013) notes, “Big businesses are competitive and are taking many local vendors out of the market; but, things are starting to shift back towards the use of local vendors as people realize the satisfaction, customer service, and timeliness with big businesses just isn’t there”.

If you are a business looking to ensure your needs are met and issues are being handled instantly, then you need to go homegrown. Integrated Communications has partnered with many local voice and data carriers, as well as phone and IT vendors to ensure your business has the proper resources just around the block. Call us at 763-443-7009 for questions regarding our homegrown style of business and the partners we love.

*Velocity Tech Solutions is a partner IT vendor of Integrated Communications – located out of Spring Lake Park, MN