Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Encrypted Wavelengths Offer High Bandwidth and High Security

By: John Shepler

With data security becoming more and more of an issue, every weak link in the IT infrastructure needs to be identified and hardened. If your network extends beyond your premises, like most every one does, those MAN and WAN connections represent a vulnerability that has to be addressed. A relatively new service does that now for very high bandwidth users. It’s called Wavelength Encryption or Encrypted Waves.

Encrypted Wavelengths offer high bandwidth and high securitySecurity of Dedicated Lines
The vulnerability of your connection can vary dramatically, depending on how your packets are getting from point A to point B. Back when the connectivity standard was a point to point T1 line, you had pretty decent security. A single line consisting of 2 twisted pair was dedicated to your use only. It was “nailed up”, as they say, meaning it was as close to a hard wire between two points that you could get. Only when you discontinued service was the connection “torn down” and the resources assigned to someone else.

Fiber Optic WAN and Multi-Tenant Networks
That’s not the way it is today. Unless you own a complete dark fiber run and light it yourself, you are sharing facilities with some and probably many other users. Note that you aren’t sharing bandwidth itself if you order a dedicated line. It’s just that high bandwidth fiber, be it SONET or Carrier Ethernet, is multiplexed to transport multiple streams of data and yours is simply stripped off the stream when it is delivered to your door.

It gets even more complicated in MPLS networks. These networks are multi-tenant by nature. The operator routes your data and that of other customers on the same core network and hands yours and only yours to you at the network edge.

Then, there's the Internet...
The security issues of the Internet need hardly be mentioned. You would have a hard time building a network that is less secure. But you don’t use the Internet for anything critical, right? If you have SDN connections over Cable Broadband or 4G Cellular, you probably are using the Internet for transport without realizing it.

Making the Insecure Secure
The answer to security jitters is encryption. On public networks, these encrypted data streams are said to be going through a “tunnel”. You can do the encryption and decryption yourself, or you can have your managed service provider take care of it.

Who Needs Encrypted Waves?
When it comes to high demand, high stakes uses, like medical data within hospital groups, there is a need for very high bandwidth channels that also have high security built-in. Level 3 Communications is at the frontier of a relatively new high performance connection called encrypted waves. These are based on the same wavelengths that are generated by coarse (CWDM) or dense (DWDM) wavelength division multiplexing. Each wavelength or set of wavelengths can deliver 10 to 100 Gbps of dedicated bandwidth. The multiplexing refers to multiple wavelengths, called colors or Lambdas, traveling over the same fiber strand. While leasing an entire wavelength does improve your security, encrypting that wavelength really adds security.

It’s simple in concept. The new wrinkle is that Level 3 is providing you with the wavelength already encrypted and protocol agnostic. Send whatever you want down the channel without having to worry about the nuts and bolts of securing that data stream.

Encrypted Wave Services Available Now
Here’s what Level 3’s Encrypted Wavelength service offers. The encryption is AES-256, the gold standard. You handle key management through your separate MyLevel3 portal that has two form factor authentication access. Ethernet speeds are supported at 10, 40 and 100 Gbps. SONET / SDH 10 Gbps is supported, as is OTU 2, 2e, 3 and 4. FICON and Fiber Channel (metro only) is supported at 8, 10 and 16 Gbps SAN. Low latency routes are optionally available for the highest performance.

Do you have high bandwidth needs that also require high security? You should take a closer look at what encrypted wavelength services have to offer. You may also be interested in dark fiber solutions. See what bandwidth options are available for your business locations now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Replacements for GigaMAN and Other Discontinued Line Services

By: John Shepler

AT&T announced that it is going to discontinue some of its line services because the demand just isn’t there anymore. “Ho, Hum,” you say, “Who needs telegraph lines anymore anyway?”

Are your line connections about to disappear due to obsolescence? See what else is available here.Not So Old-Timey
Well, it turns out that the services in question are not corroding copper lines in the middle of nowhere. They are cutting edge technology from not so long ago. I’m talking about GigaMAN Gigabit Ethernet point to point service and DecaMAN 10 Gigabit Ethernet service that interconnects geographically separate LANs.

The affected customers include those in 11 states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

Take a second and pick your jaw up off the floor. How is it possible that high speed fiber optic Ethernet service could be on the discontinue list so soon? Even more important, what replacement options are available?

Replacement Technology
It turns out that technology really is moving this fast. GigaMAN and DecaMAN serve very useful purposes for companies that need dedicated high bandwidth, low latency connections they can count on. AT&T has come up with an even better technical solution called ADE or AT&T Dedicated Ethernet that goes beyond the GigaMAN and DecaMAN solutions. ADE offers speeds ranging from 1 Gbps up to 100 Gbps.

The new AT&T technology supports not only Ethernet formats, but other protocols as well. Their system embeds data signals within an Optical Transport Network (OTN). That network offers a standardized way to “wrap” various protocols in containers that can all be carried on the same industry standard format fiber optic wavelengths.

Where is This All Going
The two digital transport technologies that are growing rapidly are fiber and wireless. Fiber demand is being pushed by ever increasing amounts of video content being generated and exchanged. It is being pushed even more by the move from local data centers to remote cloud services. High connection speeds with low latency are essential if you want the same or better productivity from your applications when they are cloud hosted as when they are in the server room down the hall.

Ironically, perhaps, another huge demand for fiber optic transport capacity is the move to higher speed wireless services. Older generation cell towers could be served well by copper-based T1 lines that were almost universally available and provisioned over the same twisted pair cables that provide landline telephone service. LTE 4G and the coming 5G bandwidths far exceed the capacity of even multiple bonded T1 lines. Only point to point wireless and fiber optic lines have the necessary bandwidth to support 4G, 5G and beyond.

Is Copper a Goner?
Twisted pair copper connections have served the telecommunications industry well for over a century. Even T1 digital has been widely deployed for half a century. Will it still be with us half a century from now? I seriously doubt it.

Cellular phones are now so ubiquitous that the majority of consumers see no need for the old wired landline anymore. Businesses are dropping POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) for VoIP telephony and Unified Communications. Both of these newer protocols run on computer networks, not traditional telephone wiring. Smaller companies may opt to connect to their service providers via cable broadband, but medium and larger companies connect directly with fiber optic lines.

It has gotten so bad that telephone companies are petitioning the FCC to let them abandon their old copper lines in the ground rather than having to deal with ever corroding connections for fewer and fewer paying customers. It will no doubt begin as a refusal to connect new locations, but how long before even existing customers are told that they’ll no longer have dial tone? Months? A few years?

That leaves the interesting situation of businesses who still have analog POTS phone service, ISDN PRI multiple phone lines, T1 dedicated data lines and Ethernet over Copper point to point and dedicated Internet service. These connections may still be widely available while demand is high. You know, though, as more and more buildings are lit for fiber, business will quickly jump on the fiber links that offer higher bandwidth options and lower costs per Mbps. It’s likely that line of sight and 5G cellular wireless will fill the gaps where fiber construction costs are just too high for some locations.

How To Ensure Continuing Service
The best way to ensure that your business will have the voice, data and video transport services that you need is to make sure you have options. That’s easier today than ever before. A generation ago, the incumbent local telephone companies ruled the roost and you took whatever they had available and paid whatever the bill said. No more.

Deregulation has spawned a wealth of competition. Initially that meant new companies renting those same telephone company lines to deliver alternative service, often at a better price. Fiber optics has changed that landscape. Now there are many fiber optic network companies that own the fiber in the ground and will connect you directly to their networks, avoiding the phone company facilities completely. The result is price competition that is reducing the cost of bandwidth by an order of magnitude or more. Get 10 Mbps Ethernet for what you used to pay for a 1.5 Mbps T1 line. Get 100 Mbps for a few times that price. Gigabit Ethernet is now affordable for many if not most businesses. Even 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps are within reason if you need that much capacity.

Are you concerned about upcoming loss of your voice, video or data connections or what might be in the planning stages? How would you like to get more bandwidth for less cost that you pay now? If that sounds interesting, see just how many competitive bandwidth options are available right now for your business locations.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

How SD-WAN Hands-Off Seamlessly

By: John Shepler

It would be nice if WAN network connections were uninterruptible. Of course, they aren’t. Even the best copper, fiber or wireless Internet or point to point dedicated lines goes down eventually. With it goes your phone calls and other work in progress. You lose productivity and perhaps even sales. But, what if you had a magic box that made sure your connections never experienced more than a glitch for a fraction of a second no matter what the problem?

The magic box has a name. It is called SD-WAN or Software Defined Wide Area Networking. The box itself controls multiple redundant broadband links and has the intelligence to analyze the quality of each link and assign or remove traffic instantly.

Think this fiction? Have a look at a real time demonstration from Telarus, a leader in deploying this networking technology:

Did you notice that each link was different? Once was cable broadband, one was high speed fiber, and one was LTE wireless. An SD-WAN system will work with whatever links you have available, ranging from DSL to T1, DS3, Satellite, line of sight wireless and so on.

There’s an advantage in not having all your links the exact same type. All it takes is one backhoe to chop through a copper or fiber bundle and you can be out of business for hours, days or even weeks before they can patch it all back together.

If your business needs both speed and reliability in its digital connections to maximize productivity and profit, you should take a closer look at what SD-WAN from Telarus can do for you at a very reasonable cost. Find out what SD-WAN systems and connections are available for your business location now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WANs That Act Like LANs

We take our Local Area Networks (LANs) for granted. Every business has them, but they are seldom seen except for that network connector on the wall. You plug-in your computer, printer, phone, etc. and it just works.

Find better Wide Area Network Connections now!Networks vs Utilities
In a way, LANs are now the data equivalent of AC power. You don’t think about it. You just use it. Connections and operations were long ago standardized. You don’t worry about different flavors of Ethernet any more than you stop and think what voltage is coming out of that wall socket.

Now, how about those Wide Area Networks (WANs)? It’s the WAN that gets you out of the building and connected to your other business locations, your cloud services and everyone else in the world. We don’t think about the fact that electrical power is transformed to higher voltages and that there are switching centers between your location and the power generation. It’s just as invisible as the wires running through the walls. If only Wide Area Networks worked the same way (sigh!)

The Difference Between LANs and WANs
The big difference between local and metro or wide area networks is that the local nets tend to be invisible and the longer haul connections may not be. You probably don’t have to be concerned about bandwidth, jitter, latency or packet loss on an in-house network. Wired LANs, especially, do a good job of keeping these issues out of your way. As you leave the premises, those characteristics degrade. Ideally it is not enough to get in your way, but sometimes it’s a major stumbling block.

Where WANs Go Bad
Take the most common WAN we use: The Internet. The Internet is an amazing infrastructure that connects nearly everyone to everyone else. It was designed from the beginning to be extremely robust, so that line cuts and equipment outages are automatically worked around. Its design philosophy and popularity are its limitations. The speed and quality of your connection can vary from minute to minute depending on traffic levels. The least costly connections, like cable and cellular, are shared, increasing the variability even more.

Invisible WANs
If you want the same performance over long distances that you have in-house, you need to order dedicated symmetrical wired, wireless and fiber point-to-point or multipoint services. Yes, a dedicated connection will help Internet performance greatly because most of the issues are in the “last mile” connection to your facility. Dedicated direct lines may make a huge difference in how business critical systems like VoIP telephone and software as a service in the cloud perform. MPLS networks provide similar high performance among multiple business locations, including remote data centers and cloud service providers.

The Almost Invisible WAN
The one sore point with dedicated lines is that can be a bit pricey, especially if you need a lot of bandwidth over very long distances. It’s a cost/benefit tradeoff. Dedicated wins for most medium and larger size businesses, where productivity losses and poor quality voice services are intolerable.

For smaller businesses and less critical applications, however, there is a fairly new alternative that makes the Internet perform more like a direct connection. This is called SDN or Software Defined Network, sometimes also referred to as a SD-WAN or Software Defined Wide Area Network. What the software does is combine multiple lower performing connections to produce a composite service that works much better. The SD-WAN monitors each WAN connection packet-by-packet and routes the most critical packets over the best performing links at that instant. It goes a long way toward making very noticeable Internet services more like invisible direct connections.

Are you frustrated by unacceptably poor Internet or other WAN services or have just hit the limit of your current bandwidth? Discover the range of competitive Wide Are Network connections that are now available for your business locations.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Faster Internet Connectivity

By: John Shepler

More is often better when it comes to Internet access speed. Yes, at some point the bandwidth of the line is so wide and the latency so low that your connection appears to be transparent. That’s not the case for most of us. We’re bandwidth limited to what we can afford and what is available. So, do we have to settle for limited throughput? Not necessarily, and certainly not until we’ve checked out all the options now available.

Move up to high speed Internet connectivityTimes Have Changed
One thing that holds us back in achieving faster Internet connectivity is the status quo. We’re comfortable with our Internet service provider and may not give it much thought. You might have just lucked into a good broadband service years ago or did a thorough search before selecting your current provider and service level. Just remember… that was years ago. In Internet years, that’s forever!

The Oldies: T1 and DSL
T1 lines and DSL were once the hot tech services. In fact, they may have been the only thing affordable at the time. Sure, there were T3 lines (also called DS3 service) and telco provided SONET fiber, but those were grossly expensive and only ordered if you REALLY needed them.

DSL is pretty much yesterday’s tech. T1 lines, however are still alive and well. They’re either on very old contracts that haven’t been reviewed in years or for special needs like rural locations where there isn’t much else. Todays T1 lines cost about half what they did a decade ago and you can bond them to create higher bandwidths. For most of us, though, there are better choices.

Cable Business Broadband
Today’s most popular entry level broadband service is business cable. It’s 10x to 20x the speed of a T1 line for less cost… if you can get it. In metro areas, no problem. Outside of town, not so much. The DOCSIS standard has been upgraded over the years so that 100 Mbps bandwidth is fairly easy to find. Even 1,000 Mbps is possible with DOCSIS 3.0, the current standard. A max speed of 10 Gbps is possible with the latest release, DOCSIS 3.1.

Note that these speeds are typically only available for download. Upstream capacity is often a tenth the downstream bandwidth. That works great for typical Internet access, but can be a limitation if you upload large files extensively. Also, cable broadband is a shared service. You share the available bandwidth with others on the cable rather than having it all to yourself.

Fiber Optic Ethernet
If future-proof highly reliable high speed Internet access with nearly unlimited dedicated bandwidth and low latency is what you really want, then fiber optic Internet connections are the real answer. The pioneering but expensive legacy SONET fiber services, such as OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48, are being quickly replaced by Ethernet over Fiber or EoF.

Carrier Ethernet is a perfect match to your local area network and offers scalable bandwidth from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, and up to 100 Gbps in select areas. It’s the most cost effective service you can get in terms of $ per Mbps. You also have the option of starting with the bandwidth you need today and quickly scaling up as needed in the future, usually with no hardware changes required.

High Speed Wireless
While fiber is the most desirable connectivity, it isn’t available everywhere. This is especially true in rural areas or even just beyond the metro limits. If fiber lines run to or close by your building, then you are in luck. Otherwise construction costs might be totally unacceptable regardless of the monthly lease fees.

If wires, including cable and fiber, aren’t the answer for you, then wireless may get the job done. There are two good options to consider. One is fixed point business Internet that picks up the tower signal using a small antenna on your building. The other is two-way business satellite that uses a small dish pointed at the southern sky to do the same thing.

Fixed Point Wireless
These providers are also known as WISPs or Wireless Internet Service Providers. Small Business Internet is similar to cable broadband but without the cable. You may get up to 50/5 Mbps of shared bandwidth for a very reasonable monthly price with no data caps. Enterprise Business Internet offers symmetrical dedicated bandwidth like Ethernet Fiber from 10 Mbps up to 1 Gbps with low latency for sensitive traffic like voice and video. Like other services, you’ll need to be in a location that is served by a strong WISP signal.

Satellite Wireless
The one nearly universal Internet connectivity service is broadband business satellite. Perched thousands of miles over the equator, satellites the size of school busses beam strong signals that blanket the USA and beyond, including islands and ships at sea. Two-way satellite has long been used by gas stations, restaurants, bank branches and other small commercial locations that have limited access needs. The new generations of “birds” are serious contenders with wireline and fiber. Look for bandwidth options around 15 Mbps now and up to 100 Mbps soon. Latency is pretty much stuck around half a second due to the enormous distances involved. That may or may not be a factor depending on how sensitive your applications, like voice, video and cloud services, are to these time delays.

Did you know that there were so many options to get faster Internet connectivity for your business? Whether you are a large, medium or small organization, check out your options for high speed broadband Internet service at your location.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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