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How 5G Broadband Will Improve Unified Communications

Wireless, Unified CommunicationsThe unified communications experience could significantly improve with the advent of 5G wireless broadband infrastructure, expected to hit the market in 2020. There’s excitement across the industry, with many anticipating that faster speeds and expanded coverage could be just the beginning. 5G may also create a launching point for new technologies.

Among unified communications subscribers, the expected launch of 5G will add significant improvements for mobile users:

Better voice and video: Unified communications gives office dwellers a significant improvement in voice quality over traditional private branch exchange (PBX) systems, but mobile employees have not enjoyed that same advantage. With the implementation of 5G wireless broadband, however, mobile users will appreciate better voice and video quality for improved communications.

Robust mobile experience: While much of the workforce is on the move and doing business anytime and from anywhere, the experience can be a bit inconsistent. Most companies push through and don’t let this affect whether they are encouraging employees to work in a mobile setting.

Once 5G is in place, mobile broadband will be on more equal footing with unified communications in the office. Connections will be consistent and reliable, eliminating drops in coverage. The connection will also be richer, integrating unified communications with key business applications available through the cloud. While some businesses already make mobile productivity a focus of their workforce environment, the launch of 5G will expand this focus and introduce it in companies that have needed a more reliable and rich mobile experience.

Connection with artificial intelligence (AI): The use of 5G broadband wireless will support unified communications as it integrates AI technology. Mobile employees will be able to set up AI support for routine customer questions. The introduction of 5G will also integrate with digital assistants that will be able to schedule appointments and set up reminders with relevant information.

The connection with 5G is anticipated to feature data-transfer rates from 10 to 20 gigabytes per second, which should result in 10 to 100 times faster connections than those experienced with 4G. This will provide the infrastructure to create game-changing innovations like an AI assistant that can assess a problem, perform a full analysis, then report back to a mobile employee through a video connection or quick chat.

Want to know more about the benefits expected with the launch of 5G wireless broadband connection? Talk with our consultants at T2, where we can not only discuss 5G, but also help you make the most of your current unified communications system.

SD-WAN Is Providing the Connection Necessary for Cloud Migration

SD-WANWide area network (WAN) has been a beneficial tool, but as cloud technology becomes more prevalent, companies need more flexibility and better performance. A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) provides the fast connection speed and management visibility that enterprises want.

Why You Need More Than WAN

There are several factors influencing the interest in SD-WAN versus the continued use of WAN. Enterprises need more flexibility as they expand cloud resources, driven by a customer-focused view of business goals. The best and most user-friendly customer interfaces are through apps that run in the cloud, so in order to remain competitive, companies are implementing cloud software.

Another factor contributing to demand for SD-WAN is the increased need for bandwidth. Employees are dependent on mobile access to networks. In some cases, workers carry a company device plus a personal one, so from the time they enter the building, businesses are often supporting more bandwidth than initially planned for.

How SD-WAN Answers Your Network Concerns

Software-defined networking (SDN) increases the agility of your overall network system by decoupling the control plane (the control and decision-making surrounding your traffic) from the underlying traffic forwarding, also known as the data plane. SD-WAN applies the principles of SDN to WAN in order to connect medium and large corporations’ branch offices to data centers, headquarters, and to the private and public cloud where software applications are housed.

SD-WAN is gaining serious momentum with enterprises. The ability to have a new branch up and running quickly as companies expand, the increased need for mobile technology, and the migration to the cloud are all making SD-WAN an increasingly appropriate means to gain better agility and flexibility.

IT professionals are frustrated with WAN’s inability to handle cloud-era technology with the speed and performance necessary to support cloud applications. SD-WAN accesses multiple types of connections between locations, data centers, and cloud sources to allow for greater speed, increased productivity, and better management of bandwidth requirements.

One consideration that makes SD-WAN an attractive alternative to growing enterprises is that it doesn’t require a complete overhaul of the network, nor does it demand a major investment in hardware. Instead, SD-WAN can be implemented gradually, utilizing the existing WAN configuration as you transition to an SD-WAN structure.

As more services transition to the cloud, it’s important to have the network you need for optimal performance, speed, and infrastructure management. You also need a partner you can trust. Call us today at T2 to find out which types of solutions are the best fit for your company’s current and future requirements.

Why Ethernet Is the Best Choice for Business

For businesses that are considering a network upgrade, the implementation of a new network, or the addition of brand new functionality to an existing system, Ethernet is becoming the de facto standard. Ethernet comes in three main varieties: Standard, Fast, and Gigabit. Standard will provide up to 10 megabits per second (Mbps), Fast runs at up to 100 Mbps, and Gigabit can push up to 1,000 Mbps. With software tweaks and hardware settings, it is possible to provide almost any speed between 10 and 1000 Mbps.

There are numerous advantages to utilizing Ethernet for a corporate network, including ease of implementation, scalability, and flexibility. It also allows for the implementation of a host of useful features like virtual private networks (VPNs), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), both audio and video teleconferencing, and shared whiteboards.

Easy to Implement

The corporate network is the foundation on which all other services are built, and Ethernet provides the strongest foundation for the greatest variety of services. An Ethernet local area network (LAN) connects seamlessly to the wide area network (WAN), making it much easier for IT to extend functionality to the local level.

Scalable

In addition to the enormous bandwidth range it makes available, Ethernet allows for easy incremental bandwidth scaling. A company isn’t limited to the 10, 100, and 1,000 Mbps solutions mentioned above. Increases or decreases in bandwidth are possible in increments of 100 Mbps or even 10 Mbps.

Bandwidth Independent

Ethernet is bandwidth independent. Increasing or decreasing the size of the data pipe doesn’t generally affect the hardware used at all; the same wires and switches can be used for almost any speed of network.

Ethernet is, justifiably, the standard for business networks. Its ubiquity is the direct result of its ease of implementation, scalability, and flexibility, in addition to the laundry list of valuable functionality it enables. That’s not to say, however, that all implementations are the same. Different business situations require different combinations of hardware, software, and bandwidth, and determining what combination of those elements is right for a particular business can be challenging.

For more specific information on the options that are best for your business,contact us today.

Important Considerations When Setting up a Data Center

shutterstock_388249231The requirements for storage and handling of business data have changed rapidly and dramatically over the past decade, and the amount of data and the number of ways in which businesses need to interact with it will continue to increase. This is why data centers are becoming a more vital part of business strategy every day. The decisions made when implementing a data center can mean the difference between success and failure. Following are some issues to keep in mind when setting up a data center.

​Location

There are two location options available for data centers: in-house or off-site. The need to lower costs and increase reliability and security is quickly turning the in-house data center into a thing of the past. Unless a business has specific needs that can only be met by having its data center on-site, there is really no reason to take on the equipment, setup, and maintenance costs that go along with it.

​Reliability

When selecting an off-site data center, make sure to consider the provider’s track record and infrastructure with regard to power supply, networking, and geographic location – both in terms of how likely natural disasters are to affect the data, and how easy it is for IT staff to physically visit and inspect the site. Ask about a service level agreement (SLA) and guaranteed uptime, keeping in mind that 99.999% uptime is an industry standard.

Security

In addition to the standard questions about point to point encryption, firewalls, and other software-based security measures, make sure to look into the physical security employed by off-site data centers. All the network security in the world won’t help if it is easy to gain physical access to a company’s data.

Network Capacity

In addition to looking at current bandwidth needs when setting up data centers, consider future needs based on growth projections. Further, be aware of the possibility of changing needs due to increased functionality.

​Scalability

As the business grows, downsizes, or shifts from one market to another, how easy would it be to make changes to the data center? It is important that data centers are as responsive as possible to accommodate changing needs.

Backup

One of the key components of a data center is data backup. If disaster strikes, are there copies of the data? How many iterations are kept? Are backups stored at a separate physical location?

Every business has its own unique needs that must be taken into consideration. Contact us for more specific advice on how to account for your business’s data center requirements.

What Exactly Is a Hybrid Cloud?

shutterstock_105784313With the new digital age upon us, the “hybrid cloud” term is everywhere. In fact, hybrid models continue to rank high among the top 10 strategic technology trends. The current craze has prompted several infrastructure providers to define what “hybrid” really means, but definitions may differ according to varying interpretations and limitations. Channel partners are struggling to find the best hybrid solutions to meet their customers’ needs.

​Hybrid Cloud Defined

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the focus should primarily be on the cloud when defining hybrid environments. NIST describes the hybrid cloud as a combination of public, private, and community clouds that are intertwined for optimal compatibility and performance. These clouds feature cutting-edge and innovative technologies that enable data and application portability.

While this effectively describes the hybrid cloud as a whole, it does not include managing and transferring applications across cloud and non-cloud environments. This is known as hybridization, which enables a comprehensive and cohesive platform for on-premise and hosted or remote cloud solutions, and creates a unified network that incorporates applications, programs, and features across on-site and remote cloud servers and environments.

Hybrid Environments

Even with the hybridization label, the line between on-site and off-site is rapidly diminishing. In fact, physical and local networks are now routinely extended across companies’ on-site data centers and third party sites to enhance network performance, security, and ease of use. This includes wide area networks (WANs), along with firewalls, storage gateways, and application-delivery controllers.

Hosting and cloud platforms are sometimes described as un-managed network links. This is during the initial connection, which must be streamlined and centralized to secure one consistent hybrid environment. Once the parameters and adjustments are set, the links are designed to foster network transparency across a myriad of environments.

While this is the ideal scenario and creates a more consistent and unified approach that engages partners, telecom agents, IT solution providers, and others involved in cloud deployment services, communication and compatibility problems are common. These issues include problems with linkage as well as difficulty in provisioning, managing, and monitoring all machines and applications across third-party cloud environments.

The Perfect Hybrid Cloud

With so many definitions and options, how does one select the right hybrid cloud service or environment? According to industry experts, clients must look for the following when assessing provider abilities to deploy fully-functional hybridized solutions.

Flexible Service Options

Hybrid cloud providers must offer services that can meet a full range of requirements, including application compatibility, managed hosting, and colocation services. Whether for public, private, or community based clouds, these services must be easy to access and ensure optimal performance and productivity across the cloud.

Unified Network Fabric

Hybrid specialists must ensure unified networks for deploying services across multiple environments. This includes computing, as well as storage and networking accessibility. Unified networks allow workloads operating in different environments to share the same network elements. This secures consistent connections that expedite workloads across hosting environments while reinforcing the level of security required.

User-Friendly Interfaces

With user-friendly interfaces, customers and partners are able to:

  • easily manage an entire IT infrastructure across a myriad of servers;
  • manage storage capacities and resources via one centralized portal; and
  • enable a single point of contact, which eliminates the need for multiple service providers.

How to Improve Cloud Network Performance

shutterstock_234708769Many companies tend to focus too exclusively on constructing their cloud platform, to the point where other crucial aspects of IT go overlooked. One of these important elements includes network management, making sure that performance is optimal.

Maintaining the Network

When companies are too concerned about cloud services, they might lose control over the network, resulting in poorer performance. With cloud technology, the network relies on smooth operation to handle the increased traffic that employees access over the cloud. Essentially, the network and the cloud merge together.

In order to prevent network crashes or generally poor performance, companies’ IT departments need to take steps to improve the network’s efficiency and work within budget constraints. Smaller businesses that are continually expanding will particularly want to avoid going over budget, as they will often require additional physical office space and network capacity to handle the addition of new employees. Even larger businesses will still search for ways to avoid spending more than they need to on their network, but optimizing network performance is required for cloud services to run smoothly.

There are several ways keep your network performing the way it should.

Managing Traffic with WAN

WAN optimization involves several aspects that companies should pay attention to in order to make WAN more efficient and more capable of handling heavy traffic. Some of the processes that WAN optimization involves include:

  • De-duplication, a process that helps remove backup-related traffic by backing up files only once, and gradually sending pieces of those files over a period of time as opposed to all at once.
  • Compression, which reduces the sizes of files by using algorithms to remove unneeded parts of files, subsequently helping further reduce network traffic.
  • Caching, which takes unsaved images and other items that Internet browsers request, and sends them to a remote locations. A local device then caches the item, and the device can then save it locally in order to avoid taking up bandwidth space.

In order to further manage traffic using WAN, companies should perform tasks such as traffic monitoring and traffic shaping to properly control network traffic and further maximize WAN efficiency. With a well-managed WAN connection, your network should benefit from more bandwidth as well as controlled traffic.

Using Broadband Bonding to Improve Efficiency

Broadband connections can provide plenty of bandwidth for larger businesses while remaining relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, broadband connections aren’t often that reliable or expansive, rendering them somewhat ineffective in networks. As a result, they aren’t typically very scalable and are prone to faults. This is a problem that companies can avoid by taking advantage of broadband bonding, which entails combining several different connections into a unified one. Broadband bonding will help ensure that each of your connections works as a single cohesive network.

Companies need to consider that as the cloud becomes increasingly popular and more advanced, both the network and the cloud are gradually combining together. As businesses come to rely even more on quality network connectivity, they will want to find ways to handle traffic and keep the network efficient at all times. Once companies have solid control over their networks, they will be able to use the cloud without running into issues that are likely to become a thing of the past.