Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Gigabit Metro Fiber Ethernet Means Business

By: John Shepler

More and more companies are running out of bandwidth as demanding applications eat up every Mbps of LAN, MAN and WAN bandwidth they can access. Are you doomed to fight a losing battle or is there a good technical solution available?

Look into Metro Ethernet bandwidth service for your business and beat the slow bandwidth blues!More Bandwidth to the Rescue
Don’t expect to roll back the clock and be able to do business today and tomorrow with the connections you ordered yesterday. X.25 is long gone. T1 lines have about had their last hurrah. Ethernet over Copper is a temporary solution, at best, to buy you time for what you really need to do. That is, connect to the world via fiber optic bandwidth

But What About Cable?
Cable broadband, also called D3 or DOCSIS 3 for the technical standard, is actually a good solution for some applications. Just don’t kid yourself. That cable connection doesn’t really go very far until it hooks up with the cable company’s metro fiber plant. The junction box may be a few blocks away or it might be handing on the utility pole you can see from your office.

The same is true for T3 or DS3 bandwidth, the longstanding upgrade path from T1 lines. The connection to your equipment may be a pair of coaxial cables, but they only go out to the street. At they point they join up with a SONET fiber optic system owned and maintained by the local telephone company.

What’s Special About MetroE Fiber?
Ethernet is the newer and future-proof technology for carrying digital traffic on fiber optic systems. It is based on the same Ethernet standards used for your local area networks. Certain standards have been added to fit with carrier operations, but otherwise it is switched Ethernet.

That means the interface between your LAN and the carrier’s MAN or WAN is trivially simple. Just plug in and go, like you would with any router or switch. No special interface cards are needed. Chances are that the carrier who is providing your service will install a managed router at your business to define the network edge.

Metro vs Internet
Metro Ethernet, strictly speaking, is a network that serves a particular city or city plus suburbs. The most common use has been to interconnect business locations that are geographically close. These may include headquarters, data centers, warehouses and branch offices. Some companies choose to include suppliers and important customers on their MetroE network for high connection speed and security.

Metro Ethernet is a point to point or multipoint service that directly connects particular locations. You can elect to order ELAN service that actually extends your local network to the other locations. It’s just like you ran your own cables across town, but without the prohibitive expense of doing so.

The Internet is another animal. It’s actually a massive worldwide network made up of national, regional and city-wide networks that all agree to a common standard. Metro Ethernet is not the Internet, but it can connect to it. MetroE networks can also connect to each other over longer distances, especially when ordered through the same carrier.

Why Order Metro Ethernet?
You can think of Carrier Ethernet or Metro Ethernet as the new gold standard in telecommunications. It gives you high bandwidth connections that are easily scalable and low in latency, jitter and packet loss. You have exclusive use of the bandwidth you’ve ordered. It’s also generally covered by a service level agreement to ensure that you get the highest level of availability.

That’s important because the tradeoff between Metro Ethernet and Cable Broadband is not so much in the connection method. Cable provides you with a shared bandwidth service that varies in speed depending on how heavy the usage is. Service is generally on a “best effort” basis rather than any particular guarantees of performance or availability. Thus, the lower price for a given bandwidth level. Some businesses, especially smaller ones, find this tradeoff well worth making. Others with large user bases and critical applications may find that only dedicated service is acceptable.

By the way, many Cable companies also offer Metro Ethernet service on their fiber backbones. It’s a different class of service with a different pricing structure than the coax connected business broadband offering.

Is Metro Ethernet For You?
If you are running out of bandwidth or already at the limit, or simply want a service that can easily be upgraded in the future, you should take a serious look at Metro Ethernet for your business. You may be able to get a break on construction costs or even have them waived if you sign a long term contract, have high enough bandwidth requirements or can join forces with other business customers in your building. There are likely multiple carriers serving your area. Find out what each can offer with a set of competitive quotes for Metro Ethernet service now.

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



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Monday, May 23, 2016

Private Point to Point Connections

By: John Shepler

Sometimes you need to get your traffic from Point A to Point B with as much security and transparency as possible. Let’s look at popular options to do just that.

Point to point dedicated private linesWhat Are Dedicated Private Lines?
You can think of a dedicated private line as a connection between two locations that goes through a carrier. This is what you need if you can't just string the wires between buildings on your own campus. The private line acts like your own wiring, except that it is provided by another company. Private lines can go across town, between cities, or even around the world.

T1 Dedicated Lines
T1 lines are the digital equivalent of the old “dry loops” or “equalized loops” that phone companies leased to radio stations and burglar alarm companies. A dedicated T1 point to point line goes between two locations using telco twisted pair wiring. You need routers or other equipment with the T1 interface at each end.

T1 dedicated lines offer 1.5 Mbps in both directions with no usage limits. A popular application is audio transport such as studio to transmitter links (STL) for radio stations.

T1 dedicated lines are still used for cellular traffic backhaul. They were extremely popular prior to 4G LTE, which really needs more bandwidth than you get with T1. In some cases, multiple T1 lines can be bonded together to create a larger bandwidth solution. Where fiber is unavailable, it is possible to get 10 or 12 Mbps from bonded T1 lines.

DS3 Dedicated
The next step up in traditional TDM telecom circuits is the T3 or DS3 dedicated line. These offer 45 Mbps upload / download private links. DS3/T3 is considered a copper-based service. In actuality, most of the transmission distance is handled over OC3 or other SONET fiber optic circuits, with only the curb connection carried by dual coaxial copper cables.

Ethernet over Copper
Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is a technical improvement on T1, while using the same twisted pair infrastructure. EoC easily offers bandwidths in the 1 to 10 Mbps range, with some systems delivering up to 50 or even 100 Mbps over relatively short distances. If available, you may find that you can replace a bonded T1 solution or DS3 circuit with EoC for a considerable cost savings.

Fiber Optic Dedicated Lines
Higher bandwidths are more and more in demand. Fortunately, fiber optic private lines are more affordable than in years past. There are two technologies of interest, although it may not make much difference in performance which you choose. SONET is the legacy telco standard, with services such as OC3, OC12 and OC48 providing different bandwidth options. Ethernet over Fiber is the technical upgrade to SONET. It offers advantages of being easily scalable from 10 Mbps up to 10 Gbps or higher, and is usually the lower cost solution.

Virtual Private Lines
The Internet offers lower cost solutions to interconnect multiple locations, but it is far from dedicated or private. The attractive pricing comes from being a shared resource with universal connectivity available nearly everywhere in the world. You can’t do much about the fact that the bandwidth is shared and not dedicated to your own use, which might affect the performance of your applications. The lack of privacy can be addressed by encrypting your traffic which effectively creates a private “tunnel” or VPN through the Internet.

A more robust solution is provided by MPLS networks. These can be thought of as privately run versions of the Internet that connect only businesses and not the general public. Proprietary protocols are used for routing traffic on the network, which adds security to the transmissions. MPLS networks are often described as MPLS VPN. Network capacity and performance are actively managed by the network operator so that a shared core network can perform like a private line, Over long distances, MPLS offers considerable cost savings over a dedicated copper or fiber connection.

Do you need a high performance dedicated private line connection to support your critical application? If so, get pricing and tradeoffs available for a variety of private line solutions available to your business locations.

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



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Monday, March 28, 2016

VXSuite Takes the Scary Out of VoIP

By: John Shepler

You know that Unified Communications based on VoIP telephony is the future of business communications. You also know that it is likely a good UC solution can improve the productivity of your business. You’ve been hesitating, though, because ripping everything out and moving to the new technology is downright scary. The phones work fine on their old twisted pair wiring. Well, if by fine you mean you can make and receive calls on your desk phones. That’s pretty much the end of the road for analog and TDM technology. If you want more, you’ll have to make the leap to IP networking all the way around.

Not So Fast...
Oh, but you’ve heard horror stories about companies merging their phones onto the computer network. All of sudden, voices get distorted, calls get dropped. Who wants that? Perhaps it’s better just to stay old school and let somebody else take on the new technology.

Can You Afford Not To?
OK, but you are also letting them take the profits that come with the increased efficiency of having your business apps, desk phones, smartphones, video conferencing, and call center all on one integrated system. Wait long enough and your competitors responsiveness will improve so much that they’ll run circles around your company and start siphoning off customers, then employees.

Looking Under the Hood
What if there were tools that could take the guesswork out of implementing VoIP and UC on your network? Most of the issues you’ll encounter arise from the fact that a network set up for computers can work just fine for file transfers but be a disaster when it comes to handling real-time apps like voice and video. You need to protect those interactive streams from getting crushed by mountains of data moving around. To do that you need to look inside the network and see what is happening.

VXSuite network monitor. Click to request more informaiton.

VXSuite is a toolset ideally qualified to analyze your currenct legacy network and report if you have bandwidth, latency, jitter or congestion issues that will make a mess out of VoIP. You’ll need to implement class of service on your network so that each type of packet stream has the priority and other characteristics it needs to perform optimally.

Before the Move
First, use VXSuite to analyze your system before your make any changes. VXSuite will report on your current voice call volume and usage. It uses that data to calculated min, max and average bandwidth requirements that will support VoIP when you switch. Find and fix problems here and you’ll have a much smoother transition.

A Quality of Experience Assessment is an automated test that deploys software agents on your network to create VoIP test calls to see what bottlenecks arise. Each test call is analyzed for delay, jitter & packet loss and then assigned an MOS score that indicates the quality of the voice communications.

After the Move
Once you deploy your new VoIP and/or UC system, you are not left in the dark. VXSuite monitors call quality and network issues during the rollout phase that can include both VoIP and legacy PBX systems simultaneously. You’ll get reports on how things are working and alarms if there is trouble.

Continuing Support
As ongoing support, the VXSuite cloud-based analytics toolkit continues to monitor your network environment to ensure that voice quality is maintained and issues diagnosed and resolved. You can set threshold levels for delay, jitter, packet loss, MOS, CPU utilization, memory utilization and so on to enable your IT staff to know instantly when problems develop. No more worrying that trouble is sneaking up behind you.

The Toolset You Really Need
Have you been putting off making the technology changes you should because you are worried that things will get worse, not better, when you make the move to VoIP and Unified Communications? If so, now’s the time to get more information about how VXSuite tools and cloud based communications
can improve your productivity and likely reduce cost at the same time.

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



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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Your Options For Business Internet Broadband

By: John Shepler

The range of broadband Internet connectivity solutions available for your business location is greater than ever before. Let’s take a look at what’s available and appropriate for companies of all sizes.

WAN Man gift are available now. Click to see the collection.Starting at the Top
We’ll start at the top, since Gigabit Internet is the gold standard that everyone would really like to have… if they could afford it. Chances are, you probably can if you have a medium or larger size company in most locations or smaller businesses in select areas.

Where You Are Counts
This is an important point for all connectivity services. What you get and what you pay for it depends a lot on your particular business location. That’s because not all areas are built out equally. Major metro downtowns have a wealth of services and are highly competitive on price. Large business and office parks are also well connected. In smaller towns or out in rural areas, pickings are slim, as they say. Even so, you can get some form of broadband Internet connection no matter where you are.

Options at 1 Gbps
The most popular form of Gigabit Ethernet or GigE service for business right now is Gigabit Ethernet over Fiber. It is a more modern technology than SONET and excels in both ease of connectivity and price. The ease of connectivity comes from the fact that Carrier Ethernet is really just an extension of the same switched Ethernet that runs on your company LAN. Features necessary to long distance operation and maintenance have been added to the Ethernet standard. Otherwise it’s the same packets you already know and love.

Gigabit Ethernet is priced at a fraction of what traditional SONET OC3, OC12, OC48 etc costs. These are still viable options and are embedded into many, many regional and national networks. Ethernet can run over SONET or be natively hosted on the fiber. Competitive providers have pushed prices lower and lower, to the point that if you really need this much bandwidth you can probably afford it.

Another advantage of Carrier Ethernet is that it is easily scalable. You can install fiber services with a Gigabit speed port today but only take 100 Mbps service if that is all you need. The price will be considerably less and you can upgrade to 200, 500, 750 or 1,000 Mbps whenever you like. No equipment changes will be needed.

Even Higher Speeds
The relentless migration of data centers to the cloud and higher performance hosted business applications have pushed demands on WAN networks to higher and higher speeds. While most companies are getting used to the idea of having Gigabit connectivity, some, like video producers and larger medical complexes, find that bandwidth a bit limiting. No problem. If you can get Ethernet over Fiber, you can likely get 10 Gbps as easily as 1 Gbps. In larger markets, 100 Gbps is readily available for business use.

Fractional Gigabit Options
If your needs are more modest, say in the range of 50 to 500 Mbps, you have multiple options for service. Certainly, rate limited GigE can work in this range. You can also opt for traditional DS3 service at 45 Mbps. This bandwidth, which once was a corporate standard, is provisioned on copper coaxial cables. Most of the delivery is done over fiber, however, running as a service on OC3 fiber to the curb.

How about business cable broadband? The price is certainly right and you can easily get bandwidths to 100 Mbps, and often 300 Mbps. In some areas Gigabit service over cable is available. Limitations of this service are that the bandwidth is shared, and thus varies during the day. It is also asymmetrical with download speed 10x that of upload speed. Finally, there are usually no service level agreements. Its a best effort service. Even so, if the cable runs by your location and the service will meet your needs, you’ll pay only a fraction of what equivalent fiber bandwidth costs.

The Low End
Small businesses may find 50 Mbps more than they need, especially if the Internet is used primarily for email, purchasing, web browsing and similar applications. In this case, cable broadband at 30 Mbps can be your lowest cost option. Ethernet over Copper will give you symmetrical bandwidth from 5 to 50 Mbps and is also very cost effective.

Have you considered a T1 line? Yes, the bandwidth is only 1.5 Mbps, but it is rock solid and suitable for things like credit card verification and email. Not so much for video or other demanding applications. The beauty of T1 lines is that they have been around so long they are available just about everywhere you can get landline telephone service. That means out in rural areas where just about nothing else is available.

Business satellite broadband is another option for just about any location where power is available and you have a clear view of the Southern sky. The downsides of satellite are that usage is limited to a fixed number of GB per month, just like cellular, and the latency from the satellite being so far up make applications slow to respond and telephone calls more like two-way radio conversations.

How About SDN?
Software Defined Networks are taking the industry by storm. These are collections of similar or dissimilar broadband services that are managed by a special controller that makes instant decisions about which path each packet should take. The effect is that your WAN connection becomes more robust and even lower cost options can be integrated to create a high performing network.

Which business Internet option is right for your business? Get quote for multiple business Internet broadband services and see which fits best to your requirements.

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



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