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.
- 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.
- Increased security by removing traffic vulnerabilities.
- Boosted performance by centralizing control functions.
- Lower costs by cutting down on hardware reliance and network management.
- 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.
Could Net Neutrality Impact VoIP Telecommunications Services?
The often debated topic of net neutrality is usually approached from the angles of online censorship and web services, but there are also very real ramifications for the Internet-based industry of VoIP telecommunications. Put simply, “net neutrality” is a principle by which internet service providers cannot discriminate against the data that they transmit. Under net neutrality, all data is required to be transmitted with equal fidelity and at the same price. Without net neutrality, an ISP can alter its pricing structure and bandwidth prioritization based on type and source of traffic.
There are two sides to net neutrality: charges to the consumer and charges to the content provider. Without net neutrality it would be possible for an ISP to charge someone more for having VoIP telecommunication services with another telecommunications provider. Further, the ISP would also be able to prioritize the data sent to and from this other telecommunications provider as less important, thereby lowering overall call stability. The ISP would also be able to charge VoIP companies more regarding the amount of data it transmitted. This could increase the overall price of VoIP communications.
Many companies do not contract services for VoIP telecommunications directly with their Internet Service Provider; commercial VoIP services tend to be contracted specifically through telecommunications companies, while residential services are more likely to be contracted through an ISP. Should ISPs desire to limit this type of traffic or promote their own commercial services, a lack of net neutrality could become costly for corporate VoIP clients. Other clients may see the stability or the speed of their telecommunications service slow down drastically.
Restricting external VoIP services in this way may seem unlikely, but it’s exactly what many individuals are concerned ISPs will do regarding streaming video services, which have become competitive with the television services provided by cable-based Internet service providers. At the same time, Internet Service Providers are assuring consumers that a lack of net neutrality will not significantly alter their product offerings .
From Disaster to Recovery (Business Tips for Disaster Recovery)
Fires, floods, tornadoes, oh my! Let’s face it, as business owners and representatives there are many outside factors in which we have little-to-no control over that can create a dip in profit for a few days, or eradicate an entire business structure in a matter of minutes. It’s important to prepare for disasters and protect the assets of your company and your customers. Equipping your company with a pragmatic recovery plan requires knowledge of probable complications that can occur, as well as the necessary steps to implement and test before a disaster strikes. Here are a few questions and points to mull over while preparing your company for disaster:
How much money are you willing to spend to protect your business?
Although no specific number can ever represent the dream of your business, the people, or the work put in, it’s time to get realistic and determine how much of a budget you can carve out to plan and implement a concrete disaster recovery plan.
How much money will your company lose on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis if and when a disaster occurs?
Be sure to weigh the difference of your companies’ profit with how much money to put into a recovery plan. A small business who can survive a while on their existing customer base may only need to endure a small cost for a few recovery operations; however, a larger corporation, hospital, bank, and so on, will need a more complex blueprint, therefore, requiring more of a disaster recovery budget.
Total Recovery Considerations
What are the most important business assets that need to be accounted for and replaced in order to restore your business and maintain the least possible downtime?
Think about your daily operations and what is utilized in order to minimally and maximally function.
– Office Space: If you already have or will need back-up files hosted in the cloud for all of your business data, how will you access that data? How will your employees?
Consider a budget for a small office space in the case of an emergency that your key employees can work from if need be.
– Equipment: What if all of your phones and computers are damaged? Do you have recovery for your equipment ready in the event no repairs can be made or all equipment is lost?
Perhaps educating yourself on VoIP phone systems will allow you easy and quick access to a phone system for as many employees as necessary. A product such as Velocity Telephone’s Virtual Office can be effortlessly procured in the case of an emergency and will allow for quick voice uptime with an easy plug-and-play functionality. Check out a review on the Velocity Telephone Product: https://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/
So you have a disaster recovery plan in place. Your employees have all been notified where to go in the event of an emergency, your carrier has provided you with redundancy in case the power shuts-down, and you’ve got Dave Johnson on standby incase mother nature strikes and you need new phones a.s.a.p. Now what?
Quite simply, test. Practice really does make perfect. Be sure to keep your employees safe first and foremost by providing drills for different disasters. Next, make sure to coordinate with your telecom agent and test your voice and data redundancy. Lastly, touch-base with all of your equipment vendors, customers, etc… to provide them with who to contact in case of an emergency, and how you will contact, inform, and connect with them when a disaster occurs.
Contact us for more information on the types of voice and data back-ups we can offer your company to help you protect your best assets in the face of disaster.
What is VoIP?
What is VoIP?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) literally translates to a call being made over the same set of rules as the Internet uses; a phone call over your Internet connectivity. However, VoIP is no longer strictly operable through means of the internet alone, like it once was; rather it operates with the same protocol (a set of rules) as the Internet does.
VoIP capable products are considered “plug-and-play” and allow for a phone system to be plugged directly into your data network, allowing your employees to make phone calls from the data connection; keep in mind if you have high call volumes you may want more bandwidth depending on the call quality. While more bandwidth may not be necessary for call quality, ensuring that your voice comes before all other data will ensure business operable call quality.
Many telecom service providers are seasoned and well equipped for the VoIP future that ensues. These providers offer a phone system in order to use VoIP technology, referred to as IP phones. There are many types of IP phones, servicing businesses from a one-man shop to a multi-billion dollar organization with many complex needs and services. (Refer to https://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/ for a review on a VoIP phone system).
Your VoIP capable phone system also allows for your employees to take their IP phone-set ANYWHERE to work and/or make calls and bypass the long-distance toll by using their new plug-and-play phone and utilizing data connectivity to make their calls – an inter-operable product that works over multiple networks. How is this possible? Your IP phone system comes equip with its own IP address and can be accessed for use at any time and any place by means of the cloud – your service provider will allow for the phone to search the cloud to find the appropriate IP address, allowing for voice service through VoIP.
Be sure to gather information on the different VoIP products to find the one that best fits your company’s current and growing needs. VoIP is a service in which is becoming more relevant and readily accessible, and one we highly recommend here at Integrated Communications.
Ethernet Over Copper – Business Internet with Speed
Ethernet Over Copper – Business Internet (with speed)
The advancements of business internet connections are insurmountable. Just when we get used to a network connection that will bring us reliable speed, another product is released that claims MORE reliability and bandwidth, and all for a cheaper cost. No matter what situation your company is in – needing more bandwidth, having to cut costs, or wanting dedicated-lines without extreme build-costs, Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is a product worth investing in.
EoC is at a comparable price-point to your current T1s; furthermore, offering many of the same benefits of fiber optic internet. EoC is a symmetrical, dedicated, and secure product – definitely a viable market option.
Compare and contrast EoC to other business internet services available:
*Based off of major metropolitan areas (click on image to enlarge)
5 Biggest Benefits of Fiber Optic Internet
Fiber connectivity has some serious benefits for companies of ALL sizes and necessities. While the cost to build fiber can be extensive (depending on location and availability) the benefits are insurmountable. Here are a list of the top 5 benefits of fiber optic Internet for your company:
1. Security – Fiber is the MOST secure network: for example, it is quite possible to attach to a copper line in order to hack into the system, however, fiber connectivity is made out of glass, and the only way to penetrate the system is to break it, which would cause the whole system to go down and in turn would alert you that you have been hacked – rare disruption of connectivity.
2. Speed – Fiber optic internet runs at the speed of light – the fastest transport medium allowing for quick and instant data retrieval.
3. High Bandwidth – Symmetrical bandwidth (same upload speed as download speed) allowing for much longer transmission distances and high signal rates.
4. Private Connection – No other businesses run off the same line as you, hence a PRIVATE connection.
5. NO Electromagnetic Interference – If and when the fiber optic cables need to be run in close or nearby proximity to electrical machinery (especially ones with high-frequency noises), fiber connectivity allows the control signals to be carried without error or interference, making fiber a number one choice for factory and machinery companies.
Contact Integrated Communications for more information regarding fiber optics Internet and it’s availability for your company @ (763)201-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly Review: Velocity Telephone’s Virtual Office – a voip Product
Ever wonder about a product, its key features, other companies’ opinions, etc., BEFORE you go out and purchase it? The truth is, oftentimes businesses are wowed at demo’s with fast-talk, and lots of intrigue but never really have the chance to dig deep into a particular product. So, before you go and spend your businesses hard-earned cash on a less-than-ideal investment, be sure to get full reviews from un-biased persons, such as ourselves, and educate yourself on the product before you purchase it.
This month we will be reviewing Virtual Office – a voip Velocity Telephone product, and one we currently use at our own office! Besides product information, we will also provide personal likes on the product we use straight from the employees at Integrated Communications, as well as information on how you can schedule a demo for this business phone at your company.
PRODUCT: Virtual Office; a Hosted VOIP system
COMPANY FIT: This product can fit companies of a large scale, from a 1-2 person at home office to a multi-site company with thousands of employees
FEATURES: Multiple line appearances, call transferring, 3-way conference call, mute, hold, forwarding, speed dials, flexibility in users – limitless expandability, and functions in many works spaces (including home offices, call centers, and virtual call centers), multiple handset options for virtual office, call recording, call blocking, system-wide busy lamp, unified messaging, caller ID, outbound call rejection, video-conferencing capability, admin login user information for customization of product, internal and external conference bridging, call center packaging options, and many other unique packaging and feature options to fit most business needs
HANDSET OPTIONS: Virtual office comes equip with 4 different handset options; Grandstream GXP2124 is a top choice phone featuring 4 dedicated line keys, HD audio quality, integrated web applications, back-lit LCD, key extensions, and many other customizable options and features; Grandstream GXP285 involves easy installation, hand-free duplex speakerphone, 2 call appearances, and is the most cost effective handset for small businesses; Grandstream GXP2100 is an easy-to-use 4 line telephone, supports integrated power-over-ethernet best for both small businesses and enterprise customers; Grandstream GXP2120 comes equip with a high resolution graphic LCD, best fit with executive offices and advanced enterprise users
EMPLOYEE REVIEWS: The users at Integrated Communications appreciate many of the products features, and all seem to have our personal favorite; a few key features liked about the Virtual Office Grandstream GXP2110 product includes:
– We are able to plug the phone in anywhere with an Internet connection and it configures up and works
– We enjoy the convenience of being able to forward to our cell-phone, but the message left will still be on our work phone rather than transferred over to our cell phone messaging system – it helps with keeping work and customers in an organized place but allowing us to pick-up the phone whenever and wherever to better assist our customers
– Users can be in charge of their own system with instant access to a web portal designed for easy-use
– Any call unanswered by a single user is placed in their missed-call cue, it’s a great way for us to keep track of who’s called in to the company
– I’m able to view call logs for all users at the company
– With virtual office we never have to pay another maintenance fee
– The company is covered for all software updates and handsets that need to be replaced
– All of the employees are given individual DID’s with our current main number
– The use of desk-top faxing is convenient and fast
– Users can twin their cell phone and their desk phone to ring at the same time
– We do a lot of conference calling and it’s nice to have the capability to conference in up to 4 people
Contact Integrated Communications to learn more about our personal experience with the Virtual Office product, for pricing options, and to see the phone system for yourself today – also call if you are interested in learning about other business phone options, network solutions, or to get reviews on any product you may currently be interested in!
Integrated Communications: (763) 201-8000
The Pros and Cons of Hosted pbx
These days, everyone wants to go hosted! From email and web hosting to phone systems in “the cloud”, hosted solutions are becoming more prevalent in technology and telecom. So, what does this mean for you as the business consumer and are you supposed to move to a hosted phone system in this ever-changing technological world? Well, there are definite advantages to going hosted, as well as some drawbacks. Learn more about hosted phone systems before making your decision by outweighing the pros and the cons, and depicting how it all pertains to your business.
PROS of Hosted pbx:
– Your business can get brand new phones with little to no capital investment
– There aren’t any on-going maintenance or service charges
– It is a very versatile system – allowing you to make changes “on-the-fly” through designated portals
– Often-times equip with the newest features, and consistent FREE ongoing software updates for cutting-edge technology
– If your Internet goes down, your incoming callers (potential customers) will still get your voice mail and you will be able to retrieve those messages
– Generally, hosted phone systems are a great choice for small businesses (5-10 employees) with potential growth
CONS of Hosted pbx:
– Without enough bandwidth and a stable Internet connection, you are prone to voice quality issues
– If your Internet goes down, you are without voice AND Internet, as they are all connected
– Often-times unable to “customize” aspects of the phone system
– May cost more over a longer period of time than a traditional premise-based phone system (if you plan on utilizing a phone system, or have owned one in the past for over 10 years, premised-based systems are the most cost effective)
– The provider hosting your phone system may not be able to make changes to your system fast enough, and may not provide you total control into a portal to do so yourself (dependent upon carrier)
– You are not in complete control to manage your phone system, as you are dependent upon the provider
Either way you take your business – hosted or premise-based – technology continues to thrive and strive as systems transform and change with every year; neither choice is the wrong choice, it’s all about finding the choice that fits your companies’ needs the best. Be sure you are working with the right provider who has your best interest in mind, and are well informed before you make your final decision.