Thursday, March 16, 2023

On Ramps That Improve Cloud Performance

By: John Shepler

IT infrastructure is now key to your business. It’s a lot more than a few servers in a closet down the hall these days. Chances are that you are using Software as a Service (SaaS) running on popular public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure plus your own private data center. What once was an easy interconnect to everything on a company LAN is now a worrying mix of local and remote connections. Are you stuck with performance that varies constantly and nightmares of security breaches, or is there a much better solution?

Cloud On-Ramps boost performanceWeak Links In The Chain
When equipment or services are remotely located, the first thing everybody thinks of is connecting through the Internet. Broadband is readily available nearly everywhere and very reasonably priced. This is especially true if you just connect through a Cable broadband service. Reliability of HFC (Hybrid Fiber Cable) networks has gotten very good and prices are as low as you’ll find.

The massive adoption of consumer broadband is what has kept prices low even for business broadband. The tradeoff is that you are sharing that connection with dozens or even hundreds of other users. You can’t see them, but you can feel the effect as the Internet speeds up and slows down.

Dedicated Access Improves Performance
The Internet is an amazing data superhighway, but the on and off ramps are where a lot of the congestion is. A good solution is get a private ramp, called Dedicated Internet Access or DIA, between you and your Internet service provider. This is most likely a fiber Ethernet connection but could be Fixed Wireless as long as the path you are using is dedicated for your use only.

Why Not All Private Access?
The next step up is a completely private line from your local network to your cloud service provider. Once again, this would be a fiber optic Ethernet running 100 Mbps to 100 Gbps with guaranteed performance. This is like having your own highway with no traffic other than your company data. It’s the closest thing to a LAN that stretches across the country to include your cloud services.

The drawback to dedicated private lines is the cost, as you might suspect. There is no one else sharing the pipe, so there is no one else helping to pay for it. You have all the bandwidth and the security of a walled-off connection, but you have all the costs too.

An intermediate solution that maintains connection performance and offers high security over long distances is the MPLS network with dedicated access lines. The MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching network is a private Wide Area Network with costs that are shared among many subscribers, but with performance guarantees instead of the “best effort” you get on the Internet. Security is better than the Internet because the network uses a proprietary label switching protocol and not the easier to hack TCP/IP.

Move Next Door To Really Improve Performance
Remember how easily it was to get all the network performance you needed when everything was in the same building and all you needed was runs of Ethernet cabling? You can replicate that by choosing to move your equipment to a colocation center that also houses your software service providers or has dedicated cloud on-ramps.

This is an example of a hybrid cloud. Your servers and storage are in racks in the colo building that supplies power and cooling. It also has direct cable or fiber connections to service providers housed in the same building. Other direct connections go to points of presence for large public cloud services that are located in multiple data centers around the world. By accessing one of these cloud on-ramps you avoid the vagaries of the Internet and connect your private cloud to their public cloud to create the hybrid cloud arrangement.

Of course, this can be expanded to include multiple services providers as long as they have a physical presence or on-ramps available in the data center. Connect to as many as make sense to create a multi-cloud that give you all the services you need. The connection to your business is then through a dedicated private line or Dedicated Internet Access from your colocated equipment back to your offices. This is considerably more cost effective than having many dedicated private lines to widely scattered service providers.

Do you need higher performance than your current connections can provide or have a requirement to interconnect multiple service providers? If so, find out what mix of dedicated, dedicated access and cloud on-ramps would work best for your company.

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

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Colocation Hosting vs Cloud Data Centers

By: John Shepler

You’ve run your own in-house data center for years, but business is growing and you’ve hit the limit on what your server room can support. Now you’ve got a choice to make. Lease new space for the additional servers, storage and other appliances you need or consider moving everything to the cloud. It’s a big decision and one that needs careful consideration before funds are committed.

Choose colocation instead of cloud hosting.Isn’t Everyone in the Cloud?
If you read the tech headlines and articles, it looks like everyone is clearing out the old server room and simply leasing cloud services. That does have a lot of attraction. With your data and applications deep within the cloud, you no longer have any capital investment, no power bills, no physical security worries, no HVAC worries, and perhaps less IT support staffing. If you need more bandwidth, server processing or storage, you simply ask the cloud to increase your allowance, perhaps even automaticlly.

Why Wouldn’t You Join the Stampede to the Cloud?
Perhaps you’re feeling a little uncomfortable. You’ve heard that joke: “There is no cloud. It’s just somebody else’s computer.” What it really amounts to is somebody else’s thousands of computers, all nicely divvied-up to share among thousands or millions of clients. The promise of the cloud is that it looks to you like you have your own computing resources all by themselves.

Does that sound exciting or does it give you a bit of a twinge? After all, you’re really happy with how responsive your IT staff is and the control you have over all the equipment and software. There are no other companies sharing your facilities. Security involves keeping bad actors out of the building and on the far side of the firewall. So, is your only choice to bite the bullet and lease a new building for expansion?

Consider the Colo Option
Perhaps a third option is best. Lease space in someone else’s specialized building but keep your computing resources to yourself. This is the idea behind Colo or colocation hosting. These facilities were once called carrier hotels when their tenants were primarily telecom carriers. Now colo is popular with businesses of all sizes.

A colocation facility provides the physical building with controlled access and security personnel. It is staffed 24/7, which may even be more than you are able to provide now. Massive redundant power lines feed the facility so there is never a question of having enough amps to power new equipment. Moreover, that power is backed up by emergency generators and often batteries to keep things running no matter what.

With all that power, you are also going to need to get rid of the heat generated by the electronics. That is handled by redundant HVAC equipment to provide cooling air to the servers and other equipment. Air filters keep the facility dust-free.

What about connectivity? That’s one reason why companies move out of their own facilities and to a colocation center. With so many clients wanting so much bandwidth, major carriers have a presence in the colo. Often you have multiple carriers to choose from and they each have multiple fiber links for dedicated access and Internet service. Not every business is served with high bandwidth fiber yet, but the colocation centers are. They’ll get you as many Gbps as you need along with IP addresses.

Moving to a Colo Facility
When you move to a colo, you lease racks with power and cooling plus connections for bandwidth. Want more security? You can have those racks installed within a locked cage that keeps everybody but your staff out. Your people can come and install their own equipment, do maintenance, and make upgrades as needed.

Many colo facilities also offer additional services if you want them. You can have the colo tech staff monitor, troubleshoot and repair your equipment. You can even lease servers and storage from the colo instead of buying them yourself.

Are you outgrowing your tech facilities but want to explore options other than simply relocating to a cloud? Consider colocation data center facilities as an option that gives you more control but saves money compared to leasing your own dedicated buildings.

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

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Monday, January 23, 2023

What Replaces DSL, T1, ISDN PRI, EoC?

By: John Shepler

Have you seen recent cost increases for your copper-based telecom services? Did you even get a letter saying that service will be discontinued? This situation will only get worse, as telcos sunset their aging copper wire assets in favor of more modern technologies such as fiber and wireless. It’s time to make a change.

Find copper line network replacements now. The Copper That Isn’t Going Anywhere
The copper that’s in trouble is twisted-pair analog copper telephone lines. They started the electronic communication revolution over a century ago and have run their course from innovation to obsolescence. There is another copper network line, however, that is still going strong. That is cable broadband using coaxial copper cable as a curb to premises connection.

The copper nature of cable services is something of a fooler. The vast majority of the network is fiber optic based. Only the last few hundred feet is the well known RG-6 terminated with an F-type connector. You might think of this wiring as old-school, but with the latest DOCSIS modems, it can easily deliver Gigabit broadband up to 10 Gbps.

Cable companies offer television, broadband and telephone service over the same cable line at a very reasonable cost that is attractive for small businesses, especially those that can use the TV feature for their customer waiting rooms.

Fiber Optic: The New and Improved Copper
The telephone and network industry standard that is replacing twisted pair copper is Ethernet based fiber optic service. The original standard, SONET, is still the backbone of many networks, but has actually transitioned from carrying channelized telephone calls to packet based Ethernet network traffic. Newer networks are all Ethernet, to reflect the standard Ethernet protocol used in the majority of digital networks worldwide.

Ethernet over Fiber has the advantage that it plugs directly into company routers and is vastly scalable, from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps just about everywhere, and up to 100 Gbps in many metro locations. Fiber takes over from copper data services, include DSL, T1, DS3 and even the newer Ethernet over Copper. EoC was meant to provide higher bandwidth using the same twisted-pair infrastructure, but is falling victim to the decommissioning of the copper bundles themselves.

Business telephone, which standardized its own analog and digital networks, is largely switching to a computer networking standard of Voice over IP or VoIP. This offers the benefit of supporting many newer technology features and allows computers and phones to share the same company Local Area Network.

To make VoIP work, your phones need to connect to the Public Switched Telephone Network to make and receive outside calls. This is done using a standard called SIP or Session Initiated Protocol that runs on the network and connects to your phone service provider over an Ethernet WAN connection, using fiber. Both the Internet and direct connections can be employed. SIP trunks replace analog phone lines and ISDN PRI trunks to carry telephone traffic to the PSTN.

The Special Case of POTS Replacement
In many cases, the move to fiber optic private line and Dedicated Internet Access will handle business needs for voice, video and data traffic. There are special cases of FAX, fire alarms, burglar alarms, elevator phones, analog point of sale systems and some others that are specifically designed to phone company standards and don’t work well on packet based networks, such as the Internet.

For these uses, you may want to look into specialized POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) replacement options. These usually work wirelessly through private connections to the LTE cellular phone network and don’t traverse the Internet at all. An advantage of POTS replacement equipment is that it connects directly to the systems you already have.

Fixed Wireless Where There Is No Fiber
The day may come where fiber is everywhere, but today were are still in the build-out phase. Fiber is going into the ground at a rapid pace, but in more rural locations are still waiting for access. Even metro areas that don’t have lit fiber installed may be faced with huge construction costs to connect to the fiber access points.

The alternative is to skip the fiber but get high speed Ethernet bandwidth using Fixed Wireless Access. FWA is similar to cellular broadband but is intended to connect to in-house networks rather than cell phones. In fact, the major cellular companies are in competition to offer 5G Fixed Wireless broadband service to both residential and commercial users.

Other wireless companies, often called WISPs for Wireless Internet Service Providers, don’t handle cell traffic but have towers that serve a limited area with wireless Internet access.

Other microwave-based FWA providers focus on business customers with high bandwidths that can reach 10 Gbps. This can be private line as well and Internet service. An advantage to business FWA is that a small dish or other antenna can be installed on your building for reliable operation and service can get started in days rather than weeks or months for fiber construction.

Are you facing a loss of your traditional DSL, T1, ISDN PRI, EoC or analog telephone service and need replacement soon? If so, you may have an opportunity to upgrade your service and save money at the same time. Check out telephone and network replacement options now.

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

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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Fiber Without The Fiber

By: John Shepler

You’re stretched for bandwidth. Perhaps the telco is telling you that they won’t renew your T1 or ISDN lines, as they are dropping their support for copper telecom services. You know the solution to either of these dilemmas is an upgrade to fiber optic bandwidth. Once it is installed, you can get all the bandwidth you need now and upgrade easily in the future. One problem. There are no fiber buildouts near you.

That leaves you with two unpleasant possibilities. Either pay a small fortune in construction costs to have fiber pulled-in, or forget fiber because there is none to be had for your location. Not so fast. There is another possibility. Get fiber performance without the actual fiber.

Choose Fiber, Cable broadband, or Fixed Wireless AccessWhat Acts Like Fiber But Isn’t Fiber?

It isn’t those little glass strands that are so valuable to your business. It’s the bandwidth they carry. Your network doesn’t need to know or care how the traffic is carried in the metropolitan or wide area networks. There just needs to be enough bandwidth with low enough latency, jitter and packet loss. Anything that does that is virtually fiber.

Let’s take a look at two good options for high speed business Internet connectivity that can give you fiber optic performance but without the issue of having to install fiber where there isn’t any.

No fiber, No Wires At All
The first possibility is Fixed Wireless Access or FWA. Back in the day, this was known as microwave relay. Telephone companies put up massive towers with equally massive horn antennas to beam microwave signals from point to point. The traffic was bundles of telephone calls or television transmissions.

Today there are thousands of towers dotting the landscape in town and throughout rural areas. These were erected to support cell phone service. After several generations of technical advancement, we arrive at the newest standard: 5G or fifth generation. The 5G system uses a variety of bands in the megahertz and gigahertz range. The highest frequency or shortest wavelength equipment runs well into the microwave part of the spectrum and has massive bandwidth capability.

The higher the population density, the more 5G capability you’ll find. For smaller businesses, a fixed location cellular modem that plugs into your network can give you the reliable connection you need with lots of bandwidth available at reasonable prices. In other areas 4G LTE is a reasonable alternative and a very mature technology. If you need dozens of Mbps rather than hundreds or thousands, a 4G LTE modem with specially designed antennas for better signal capture can get the job done.

Not all fixed wireless is dedicated to the cellular phone industry. Some use licensed and unlicensed bands to deliver wireless Internet access over a limited area. You may have a small dish or other antenna installed on your building and aimed at the provider’s antenna. That gives you a strong signal regardless of weather conditions. Some private FWA providers can offer gigabit and higher bandwidths that feature low latency, jitter and packet loss just like fiber. Very high usage or even unlimited usage plans are available. Unlike new fiber installations, you can get service up and running in days rather than months or longer. Installation fees range from nothing to a reasonable one time fee.

It’s a Cable, But No Fiber Inside
The second good option to fiber optic service is cable broadband. Yes, this is the most recent incarnation of the Cable TV revolution. What’s new is that cable has gone far beyond its community antenna roots. Most of cable's infrastructure is now fiber. Surprised? Fiber is the only way these companies can transport all those TV channels and all the data.

So, if the cable companies use fiber why not just get them to connect you to their fiber network. They will, if you are close enough to a fiber access point and the construction issues aren’t too great. Otherwise, they’ll simply run the last few hundred feet or so with the familiar coaxial copper cable.

Can cable service on that coax really replace fiber? In a lot of cases, yes. The reason is that the cable modem standards have been massively upgraded over the years. Today’s DOCSIS 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0 modems deliver hundreds of Mbps up to 10 Gbps. That’s right. You can get some of the highest fiber optic speeds delivered via a DOCSIS 4.0 modem connected to a coax cable.

Will Non-Fiber Work For You?
In many, many cases, Fixed Wireless Access and cable broadband can make good substitutes for Ethernet over Fiber optic bandwidth. There are a couple of caveats, however. Wireless bandwidth isn’t as unlimited as what you can put through one or more fiber strands. As such, you may find that there are limits to your speed or usage, depending on what services are available for your location. Cable broadband is an inherently shared service, meaning that bandwidth may vary somewhat depending on how many users are on the cable and how much bandwidth they are using at any given time.

Even so, many businesses don’t need or need to pay for dedicated bandwidth of 1 to 100 Gbps. You may find that wireless and cable offer tremendous cost savings and can deliver all the performance you really need. Why not check out the range of bandwidth options available for your business now?

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

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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Ethernet Replacements For SONET

By: John Shepler

High bandwidth fiber optic Wide Area Networks have their basis in a decades old telephone company standard called SONET. Highly reliable, but highly expensive, SONET is giving way to the newer technology of Ethernet WAN. As demand for business bandwidth keeps increasing, so does the attractiveness of Ethernet for long distance connections.

Get competitive quotes on Ethernet fiber optic WAN service.Why SONET Ruled For So Long
SONET or Synchronous Optical Network was born out of a burgeoning demand for higher and higher levels of traffic. In this case, the traffic was long distance telephone calls. In the early days of telephony, this demand was met with dense webs of overhead copper lines.

Multi-channel analog technology made it possible for each copper pair to carry many phone conservations on a carrier-based system, much like many radio stations in a single band.

Digital technology eliminated the noise and crosstalk of carrier telephony by converting the analog conversations to pulse coded digital streams and multiplexing many together on a single pair. The transmission medium was still copper wire.

One thing about phone company standards is that they are all backwards compatible down to a single phone line. After all, that’s the telco business. So, the digital T1 lines were actually carrying 24 separate phone calls. A T3 line was 28 T1 lines or 672 phone calls.

When the fiber optic standard was developed, it picked up where copper left off. The OC3 SONET line is 155 Mbps and is equivalent to three T3 lines. Within all those multiplexed channels is the same 64 Kbps voice channel to support one phone call.

How did we get from really big phone lines to data transmission? Basically, SONET was the only game in town if you needed large amounts of bandwidth. So, all those voice channels in the line were combined to create one large data channel to carry packets of information. That requires protocol conversion circuitry to go from Ethernet network protocol to SONET telephone line protocol.

This works beautifully, but there are a few issues. For one thing, SONET levels are very specific and not scalable. If you want to move up from, say, a 155 Mbps OC3 to a 622 Mbps OC-12, you’ll at least need to swap out the termination controller or interface card in your router. Also, since analog phone traffic is now trivial compared to packet based data traffic, wouldn’t it be more efficient to just keep everything Ethernet from end to end? Indeed, it would.

Ethernet Replacements For SONET
Most competitive carriers and even many of the traditional telecom companies have adopted Ethernet as their network standard, as that’s where the traffic is. As a result, you can find much better pricing for Ethernet circuits than for traditional SONET. Ethernet WAN is also highly scalable. If you install a Gigabit Ethernet port, you can order service at any bandwidth level up to 1 Gbps. That covers OC-3 at 155 Mbps, OC-12 at 622 Mbps and pretty much OC-24 at 1.2 Gbps.

No hardware changes are needed until you require more 1 Gbps. At that point you may install a 10 Gbps port which will cover OC-24, plus OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps and OC-192 at 10 Gbps. Today, 100 Gbps is becoming more and more available to take the place of OC-768 at 40 Gbps.

If you are looking to upgrade your fiber optic WAN connections or are just curious about how much you might save by switching from SONET to Ethernet WAN service, you can easily get a set of competitive quotes from multiple service providers with no obligation. That applies to private line services, including cloud communications, as well as dedicated Internet access. Now would be a good time to make that inquiry.

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

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