If strengthening communications has become a regular conversation at your company, it’s time to take a look at Hosted PBX. Utilizing cloud, it has become more than just a phone system and can be especially beneficial for those businesses with distributed workforces. Here’s how.
New technology trends come and go daily, often without making any real mark on business or industry. A new feature catching the attention of both consumers and corporations today is Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC). This innovative service could potentially revolutionize company communications while concurrently helping reduce IT spending.
Real Time Communication (RTC) is now part of every device from smartphones to televisions to tablets, allowing companies who use WebRTC to appeal to a wide variety of users. Before this service came along, users had to utilize independent apps (Skype for example) or expensive unified communications (UC) systems. Not only could these be costly, but they also came with a significant learning curve.
WebRTC helps bring in audio and video to an application or website quickly and easily. It is open source and adapts to accommodate specific business requirements. Customers aren’t burdened with the need to learn new software to access business applications, and IT implementers find it much simpler to install and manage than UC systems.
Improved Customer Interaction
A major advantage of using WebRTC for customer service is that it requires no downloads or training for customers to rapidly access the support or sales teams. The tool can be used to deliver presentations or training information and provide assistance to customers. As a result, the customer experience is enhanced from the first contact and satisfaction increases, leading to better customer retention and revenue growth over time.
Cutting expenses is a critical mission, and IT is one of the biggest spending categories in an organization. WebRTC allows businesses to save thousands of dollars over UC systems that may have limited functionality and usefulness. The fact that the technology is open source means that companies can enjoy robust features for a fraction of the cost of many basic Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or UC packages. Even if the organization purchases add-on libraries or additional services from a WebRTC company, the price tag is quite low. In addition, after the initial deployment there are fewer ongoing fees than for VoIP or UC solutions.
Better Team Collaboration
More effective communication tools help employees, too. Consider how brainstorming and problem solving could be improved by using live video rather than just a text chat. WebRTC can help bridge continents and facilitate discussion as if global colleagues were in the same room. Plan and execute projects with far less friction and miscommunication, and catch important non-verbal cues from teammates.
Cross-departmental work becomes simple since employees have immediate access to one another. Providing easier access to the right resources and information also results in a far less frustrating work day and happier, more productive employees.
Data breaches are common and can cost into the billions to remediate. Companies must do all they can to lock down sensitive data and plug any possible security holes. Historically, IT managers have been suspicious of audio/video communications. A benefit of WebRTC is that it has utilized Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) to relay communication from its early stages. This protocol is far more secure than the alternative versions used by many VoIP systems on the market today and lessens the risk of an incident.
Businesses can enjoy a long list of benefits from implementing WebRTC for their audio and video needs. From sales to support to employee management, the possibilities are many. For more information on how this new feature can optimize company communications, contact us today.
A frequent topic of current IT conversation is fabric networking (FN). This innovative architecture has the potential to overhaul business networks for the better and should be considered whenever infrastructure is in question. Following are some facts about FN to help start an educated conversation.
What Is Fabric Networking?
A term that is unfamiliar to even some highly technical professionals, FN is best understood by visualizing a piece of fabric or cloth. Just as the many individual threads of cloth form a tightly woven mesh architecture, so too does a fabric network. It’s scalable, flexible, metamorphic, and uses a comprehensive layer to accomplish its tasks. By nature of its meshy construction, FN supports an immense number of device connections and networking switches.
Today’s intelligent networks operate through software-defined networking (SDN) to allow all devices to be centrally managed. Fabric networks are extremely supportive of the SDN model which means that management of any device, role, permission, or app can be rapidly performed. Policies for any or all items on the network may be easily created and applied, and new objects are able to be added without complication. Over time, the fabric will actually learn and evolve as policies are configured.
Benefits of Fabric Networks
Given the power and flexibility of fabric networks, businesses that implement this type of infrastructure quickly realize a number of benefits.
- Save time. When the time it takes to make a change on one or all devices on a network is minimized, skilled IT professionals are free to focus on more meaningful work.
- Increase agility. Switch traffic, add new devices, and integrate new apps and services rapidly. As long as new devices are equipped with Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) and are SDN-enabled, they can be migrated to a fabric network with little effort.
- Benefit from scalability. Need to expand the network to accommodate the growth of the company? Not a problem when using a fabric network.
- Improve network function. Sometimes larger networks with many connections get bogged down. Using a fabric network leads to more effective load balancing and distribution, allows for faster recovery in the event of a device or connection outage, and decreases the time required for troubleshooting or management tasks.
Available FN Solutions
There are many vendors who wish to capitalize on this powerful technology. That said, one of the more noteworthy and reputable providers of FN is Avaya. An industry leader of many technical solutions, Avaya’s goal is to make networks simple and elegant while increasing their function to offer greater benefit to organizations.
Jeff Hiebert, CEO of ROI Networks, states, “Avaya remains the only networking player who can deploy a fabric solution from the core to the edge, deploy a single protocol, and offer best-in-class edge-only provisioning for dramatic simplification of the network. This offers customers a lower overall TCO, network agility, and faster time to deploy new services and applications, creating a superior performing network.”
Fabric networking has the potential to improve the most complex of networks while saving time and money. For more information on how a fabric network can optimize a company’s infrastructure, contact us today.
Virtualization has permeated just about every data center in operation. Current incarnations of the technology offer advanced capabilities, including the ability to unify and seamlessly scale up existing infrastructure. Today’s ready-for-enterprise virtualization suites are also compatible for use with a broad range of workloads, with enhanced security and load-balancing features.
Virtualization has come a long way, and it continues to improve as time goes on. Hardware strongly influences overall performance, though; better hardware yields benefits like improved efficiency, superior application density, the ability to manage more hosted virtual machines (VMs), and superior network management. Superior hardware also saves businesses money; it enables more users to be handled with fewer physical resources, saving space and reducing operating costs.
There are two key trends defining the current virtualization landscape. First, virtual images have grown enormously in popularity. They allow system administrators to:
- Balance workloads by instantly moving them between distributed sites
- Protect data for longer periods of time
- Access powerful built-in features that make tasks like replicating hot sites faster and easier
Second, virtualized networks are now highly integrated with data storage systems. This automates data backup processes, though it’s necessary to optimize storage architecture in the virtualized environment’s hypervisor.
Keys to Optimizing the Virtualized Environment
Paying close attention to the following details will enable users to get the most out of their virtualized systems:
- Choose hardware and other physical resources with great care, and be sure to factor size and scale needs into the equation at the outset.
- Manage the virtual workload with care. Remember: even virtualized systems have finite resources.
- Make continual tests of logs, system accessibility, and the overall health of connected VMs. Regular maintenance is key.
It’s also important to note that while virtualization is being widely used to manage servers, it also has important endpoint applications. Virtualizing endpoints enables system administrators to greatly reduce residual hardware footprints, centralize management, efficiently distribute workloads, minimize tampering, and reap the benefits of a thin-client approach to the virtual environment.
Endpoint virtualization typically uses one of two preferred methods of delivery:
- Application virtualization. This delivery method uses a centralized approach to deliver actual applications to end users.
- Desktop virtualization. The desktop itself can be virtualized, then delivered to an end user in lieu of the actual applications.
A hybrid method that blends elements of the two is also gaining traction as IT administrators continue to seek new ways to improve virtualized environment performance. Improved agility and adaptability remain the key objectives of virtualization, and businesses with pronounced needs in these areas stand to benefit a great deal from an optimization investment.
To learn more about how virtualization creates more optimized working environments, contact us today.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is positioned as an excellent solution for businesses in need of overhauling legacy networks encumbered with outdated architecture that requires manual upgrading. SD-WAN offers benefits that include:
- Centralized storage and management of network configurations
- On-the-go device reprogramming capabilities
- Simplified administration and reduced hardware infrastructure needs
One of the key byproducts of these benefits is that they free up critical resources that can be deployed elsewhere to improve optimization. For small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), SD-WAN strategies also deliver the many benefits of high-end network architecture without the need to maintain an in-house team of network engineers.
Originating in data centers, software-defined networking (SDN) technologies have matured into SD-WAN models that offer advanced capabilities including customized security, enhanced compliance requirements, the app-based routing of network traffic, and the optimization of existing infrastructure capabilities. However, it’s crucial to implement a sound management strategy to realize these benefits. This begins with choosing the right vendor model for the enterprise’s specific needs.
Three Types of SD-WAN Vendors
Currently, vendors can be grouped into three main types:
- Those that provide controller-centered solutions that support the automatic discovery and configuration of connected devices
- Overlay models that bridge connected devices across multiple networks through IP virtualization
- Change-control models that harness existing hardware to automate and control the SD-WAN network and the infrastructure that powers it
While overlay models are popular because they are relatively easy to get up and running, they pose troubleshooting limitations. The controller-centered approach is an excellent option if standardization is a key element of the network environment, while the change-control strategy is usually recommended in cases where a high degree of customization is desirable.
It’s difficult to fully avoid mistakes when transitioning to an SD-WAN network. An elaborate verification and validation process poses a major challenge, particularly when manual approaches to configuration are being used. In these cases, even extensive testing can come up short in predicting how the network will perform under heavy demand.
Another issue is that customization needs change constantly, meaning that analytical transition strategies are not the best option for businesses. Enterprises need automation levels with flexible capabilities, particularly when it comes to issues like managing the underlying infrastructure, identifying system dependencies, and predicting the results of configuration changes.
Orchestrating the SD-WAN Network
One of the key benefits of SD-WANs is that they create logical IT network configurations. However, they should also be designed to include the following capabilities to ensure reliable and desirable performance standards:
- The inclusion of built-in network architectures that support provisioning at the initial stage
- Carefully controlled manual access
- “Network awareness” that accurately anticipates the effects of configuration changes
- Dependent architecture that facilitates multiple simultaneous changes
- The ability to automatically monitor the configurations of all connected devices
- Verification processes that clearly show when changes are successful, and automatically revert the system to an earlier state when they are not
Implementing an SD-WAN is a major undertaking that requires careful planning and foresight, but paying close attention to the system’s performance needs during the design stage can minimize transition challenges. As SD-WAN models continue to evolve, they will show an improved ability to include new features and devices in the standardized environment, which will, in turn, position them well to make continued inroads in the IT world.