Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Colocation Hosting Offers Lower Costs and More

By: John Shepler

Traditionally, having your own data center has been the way to go for medium and larger businesses. It may still be the best answer for your needs. However, there are advantages to moving at least some of your equipment and data to a colocation hosting facility. Let’s have a look at why this might be a great idea.

Colocation Hosting offers advantages for your business. Just What is Colocation?
Colocation sounds like it means having two or more operations in one location. That’s pretty much it. Colocation facilities were originally called carrier hotels. Multiple service providers would locate equipment in the same building run by one of the carriers or a third party who provided common services such as HVAC, AC power, backup generator power, and connectivity as needed. It was a way for carriers to easily exchange traffic on neutral turf and not have to each pay for their own building.

Nowadays colocation facilities or “colos” serve businesses as well as carriers. They are still a great way to connect to the Internet with as much bandwidth as you need at the best prices and connect to various carriers who also happen to be in the facility. Compare that with trying to get 10 Gbps or 100 Gbps out in the boonies.

In addition to bandwidth, colocation centers offer rack space, cabinets, cages and the power, cooling and connections to go with them. You generally bring your own servers and storage and take responsibility for maintaining your equipment. Many colos also now offer expanded tech services to monitor and service equipment 24/7 and may even lease you servers and other equipment you would normally buy.

Why Pay Someone Else to Host My Servers?
It may seem logical to keep everything under one roof, but that doesn’t necessarily give you everything you need. For one thing, you have no redundancy in the event of a disaster. A tornado, hurricane, earthquake or flood can wipe out your data center and you’ll be out of business for awhile. If you keep all your backups in the same data center, that could take a long while and very expensive to recreate all the data you need.

By having at least some of your servers and storage offsite, you gain the advantage of redundant facilities. It works even better if your sites are geographically dispersed.

As mentioned previously, you’ll likely find much better connectivity at better prices in a colocation center. Carriers go where many potential customers are clustered so that they can quickly and easily provide service. It’s just a cable run in the colo.

Are you able to provide tech service 24/7? Most colocation facilities have their own tech staffs available round the clock to handle their equipment and often provide a suite of services to their customers.

Think about the cost of expansion. If you are running out of space now, you have a make or buy decision to face. Making means building or leasing a larger facility to accommodate your growing needs, including more backup power, tech support, and security. Buying means avoiding the capital investment in facilities and leasing from a colo, likely at much lower cost that doing it all yourself.

Another area where colos shine is being physically close to your customers to reduce transmission latency. That’s more important if you have latency sensitive real-time applications and if you are selling your service nationwide or worldwide. Some of the larger colos have multiple sites so that you can disperse your equipment as needed.

Is your business growing and creating a need for additional data center capacity or would you simply prefer to lease rather than buy the IT facilities you need? If so, consider the advantages of colocation hosting and get competitive quotes now.

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

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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Advantages of Dedicated Point to Point Fiber

By: John Shepler

If you are running a business and your broadband connections are driving you crazy, you may want to take a look at an alternate solution called dedicated point to point lines. Let’s have a look at what they are and what they can do for you.

Connect you business locations with dedicated point to point fiber.What Does Dedicated Mean?
Dedicated means that the bandwidth you are paying for is dedicated to your operations only.

But isn’t all bandwidth dedicated if you pay for it?

This is where it gets a little tricky. If you look closely at what broadband providers offer, they say something like “bandwidth up to 300 Mbps” or a similar disclaimer. Yes, the service you bought is capable of running at 300 Mbps. When you run a speed test, you may well see it clock-in at 300 Mbps… but not necessarily every time you test.

Why is that? It is because the bandwidth you got for such a bargain price is shared, not dedicated. You and multiple other users, including other businesses and consumers, are all connected to the same access line. When demand is low, you get screaming speeds. When everybody wants to download or upload files at the same time, that available bandwidth will be divvied up fairly so that everybody gets a share but nobody gets the line all to themselves. You might be waiting a bit.

If you want the line all to yourself and your business, you need to order a dedicated service. With dedicated bandwidth there won’t be other users outside of your organization competing for your line bandwidth. Whatever you aren’t using at the moment simply sits there idle for the time being.

You can greatly improve the stability of your Internet service with what is called DIA or Dedicated Internet Access. That’s a dedicated line from your company to your Internet Service Provider, where it connects to the Internet itself.

Will that guarantee smooth performance? Not really. Remember that the Internet is a shared service by its nature. There will be congestion and failure points from time to time no matter how you connect. The next step up is dedicated point to point fiber service.

Dedicated Point to Point Fiber
Dedicated lines have been available for decades using copper pairs and legacy telecom fiber called SONET for Synchronous Optical NETwork. Nowadays the best value is Ethernet over Fiber or EOF.

Fiber optic Ethernet services, sometimes called Metro Ethernet Fiber, are directly compatible with your servers using standard Ethernet interfaces. Unlike the Internet, you specify what two locations you want connected. The provider installs ports at each location and you have an always-on dedicated point to point fiber connection between them. You can order service starting at 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps and go up to 10 Gbps easily. In metro areas 100 Gbps bandwidth is available if you need it.

Advantages of dedicated point to point or P2P lines include solid bandwidth that is not affected by what other customers are doing. The link is inherently more secure than the Internet because there is no public access. Your bandwidth is usually symmetrical, meaning that it is the same for upload and download. That’s important if you are accessing remote servers to upload and download large files. Most shared bandwidth services are asymmetrical with download speeds typically 10x what you get for upload.

What are good uses for dedicated P2P fiber? The traditional application is linking multiple business locations. You may want to connect your headquarters and branch offices on the same private network so that someone across the country seems like they are just down the hall. Remote servers in colocation facilities or your own remote data center can also benefit from “extending the LAN” using dedicated P2P. Today that’s extended to the cloud, be it public, private or hybrid cloud services.

Do you need the stability and performance that dedicated point to point fiber line services can provide? If so, find out what fiber optic services are available for your business locations.

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

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Monday, December 18, 2023

Cost Saving Shared Fiber, Wireless and Coax

By: John Shepler

You need connectivity but are feeling the pinch of inflation. Is there any way to get a business online and not break the bank? Sure there is. If they work for you, shared bandwidth wireless, cable coax and fiber optic connections are available at bargain prices. Let’s have a look at these.

Low cost shared bandwidth options for your business.What is Shared Bandwidth?
You are probably too young to remember telephone party lines, but how about roommates at school? That’s the sharing economy. It’s based on the idea that if something is expensive you can still have it as long as you join with others to foot the bill.

Internet connections can be had the same way. A fully dedicated high speed symmetrical fiber optic link can run into the big bucks every month. If that’s what you must have, then you’ll just have to come up with the lease fee. But, if your usage isn’t all that demanding, you can probably share the line with others, not limited to users within your company, to split the cost.

Now, this is where shared bandwidth services differ from the old party lines. Back in the day, a single analog phone line would serve multiple households in the same area. When you picked up the handset, you might hear a dial tone or you might hear someone else’s conversation already in progress.

The polite thing to do was hang up and wait awhile before you tried again. More often that not, curious individuals would simply cover the mouthpiece and eavesdrop on the call.

Shared bandwidth isn’t really like that… for the most part. You and another customer aren’t going to see each other’s traffic on your screen. The routing in the system keeps your data streams separate. However, all your bits are intermingled on the same line. A clever hacker can figure out how to monitor whatever traffic they can access.

The way around that limitation is encryption. Encrypt all your traffic and you’ve created a secure tunnel through the public Internet. That’s critical for using WiFi hotspots, but important for any shared access or easily tapped-into connection. Most websites and email services have gone to secure connections that are encrypted, but all your file transfers should also have this layer of security.

Shared Bandwidth Via Coax
Cable broadband is the originator of the coaxial copper connection. This standard was originally designed for analog cable TV and community antennas. Eventually a cable connector came standard on the back of TV sets. Later, Cable providers became Internet Service Providers by developing a modem that could connect to their coaxial line and share the bandwidth between TV and Internet.

The modem technology that does this is called DOCSIS for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. The most common version is 3.1, which is capable of multiple Gigabits on the downline side. The newest is 4.0, which can support 10 Gbps downstream and 6 Gbps upstream.

Shared Bandwidth Via Wireless
Smartphones have had excellent Internet service starting with 3G and 4G LTE. The small screen requirements are easily supported and were quite useful even with the old 2G standard. The standards also serve tablet computers, laptops and in some cases desktop computers, especially when other ISPs are offline. The bandwidth is often enough from a shared smartphone connection. The one limitation for desktop usage is that you might run up against monthly data limits.

With 5G service, cellular providers have begun promoting the use of their Internet service at fixed locations. They even have a name for this: Fixed Wireless Access. Instead of sharing your phone with your desktop, you buy a 5G gateway that may offer an Ethernet port for your network or WiFi hotspot. It connects to the provider like a phone, but without the mobility or voice service. There is simply an incremental charge to your cellphone bill each month. If you have good signal strength, you may get bandwidth of a hundred or two hundred Mbps without a wired connection.

Shared Bandwidth Via Fiber
Fiber optic service used to be only for major corporations and priced accordingly. Now fiber is so widespread that you can get Ethernet over Fiber Dedicated Internet Access in most reasonably populated areas. Bandwidths are available from 10 Mbps up to 10 Gbps and even 100 Gbps in major metro locations.

Fiber Internet is highly desirable and prices have dropped dramatically over the years. Even so, you may still want a lower cost option. Did you know that you can still have fiber for a bargain price? The technology involved is called PON or Passive Optical Networking. The provider takes that high bandwidth dedicated fiber line and divvies it up among 32 users using a passive splitter. Each customer still gets a fiber line, but the bandwidth on that line is being shared among multiple users just like cable broadband. In fact, cable companies are pioneers in building out this technology. You get fiber bandwidths, but with pricing that is more similar to cable services.

Limitations of Shared Bandwidth
While you won’t be seeing your neighbors messages popping up on your screen, you will likely still feel the effects of sharing. During periods of heavy usage, the service slows down. You might even detect congestion that brings everything to a crawl and then, just like with traffic jams, magically disappears. VoIP phone calls can break up. Video conferences can stutter or freeze. Cloud applications can become sluggish.

Another characteristic of shared bandwidth connections is that they are usually asymmetrical. That means that the download speed is much higher than the upload speed. Typically, a factor of ten or so. For Internet browsing or email, this may make no difference. It could impact video conferences and large file transfers up to cloud storage.

You can improve on this with a dedicated Internet access or with a software defined wide area network or SD-WAN. This is a technique for combining multiple Internet connections. The SD-WAN controller assigns traffic to the most appropriate link, with sensitive applications like phone calls getting the highest priority on the fastest paths. SD-WAN can let you combine a fast shared and low cost line with a small dedicated line. The result can be a service that gives you all the performance you need at a lower cost than a high speed dedicated fiber line.

What bandwidth service is most appropriate for your business? Find out what shared and dedicated Internet and private line services are available at better prices for your particular location.

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

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Friday, November 10, 2023

When It Comes to Computer Networks, Trust No One and No Thing

By: John Shepler

Network security is a major headache for business. It almost makes one long for the days of one computer per desk and nothing connected to anything else.

Almost. Those air-gapped computers weren’t all that secure either. Sneaker networks, meaning running around with floppy discs, allowed malware to spread and sensitive files to be copied. It’s just that today’s networks with LANs, local data centers, multi-clouds, and the Internet make it really hard to know who’s sneaking in where and what they are up to.

One breach in a corporate network can run up a cost in the millions. If ransomware is involved, the bill can be a lot higher… and a lot more disruptive. What can you do? Don’t be so trustful. Make sure your system is suspicious of everybody and everything all the time. The buzzword for that is “zero trust security.”

Protect your castle with better network securityWhat is Zero Trust and How is it Different?
Traditional network security is sometimes compared to a castle with a moat. The castle is your corporate network. Everybody inside the castle is considered to be friendly and trustworthy. Everybody beyond that moat is suspected to be an enemy. The drawbridge is your firewall. It works to keep the bad actors away from the castle while allowing trustworthy visitors access. It assumes that everything bad is going to come through the Internet.

There are a couple of weak links with this approach. First is that some bad actors can already be inside the castle. There are spies and infiltrators and even trusted employees that have turned rogue. Of course we want to trust our colleagues, and that’s how we get in trouble. Even worse when we automatically trust our vendors and customers.

Then there is the famous tale of the Trojan Horse. Gee, it sure looks safe enough. Let’s open the firewall and bring it in. You can just imagine some well-meaning but naive individual in your company doing just that. Of course the gullible Trojans got the worst of that deal since once the Greeks were inside they had the run of the city.

Moral of the story: It’s too easy to have your organization destroyed by one little misstep. Trust no one and no thing. Network security is not an insult to your integrity. It’s a way to make everyone more secure and prevent little slips from becoming major disasters. That means high security processes both inside and outside the network.

What Makes Zero Trust Work?
It starts with having everybody and every thing, meaning anything attached to the network, prove that it is approved for access and what they are approved for. You can’t really say that because someone has been cleared by, say, logging-on, that they should be able to access all the files and every peripheral on the net.

Oh, no. You must have a need to know for everything you want to access. That leads to segmenting the network into much small pieces that each have to be accessed separately. You may have access to one set of information to be able to do your job, but no way are you getting into some of the companies trade secrets or even financial data. Access to HR files? Fat chance… unless you are specifically authorized to see them.

Each use and each device will have a profile constructed that says what they can do and where they can do it. These lists will be used by the network administration to grant or refuse access. You may find that your access times out and you have to log in again to keep using a particular resource. Multi-Factor Authentication, like password plus a code sent to a mobile phone or a hardware key that must be plugged-in, is especially valuable for access through the Internet or to highly sensitive data.

Zero Trust Security does take some doing to implement and maintain, but it can also be the means that keeps hackers and scammers of all sorts from stealing your information or damaging your systems. Are you feeling vulnerable? Learn more about how to secure and safeguard your network and get a complementary quote appropriate for your business.

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

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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Metro Fiber Ethernet

By: John Shepler

Have you ever wished that you could stretch your LAN to cover other locations around the block or around an entire city and suburbs? You can. Best of all, you don’t have to do it personally. A Metro Fiber Ethernet connection will plug into your LAN at one location and plug into your LAN at another location.

Get quotes on Metro Fiber EthernetThe Problem Connecting Multiple LANs
Most all private networks are now Ethernet LANs or Local Area Networks. Within your realm, you have complete control. You string the cabling. You provide the switches and routers. You hook up the user equipment. You manage the entire network operations.

It doesn’t matter what the company next door or across town is doing. They won’t be bothering your network. They have their own to serve their employees.

This is all well and good until you get another location that is not on your campus. What are you going to do to tie them together? You could go into the business of pulling a fiber bundle across town. Just get the rights of way, bring in the trenching equipment and get to work. It keeps you in control, but it gets really expensive really fast. It also takes forever and may be blocked by city organizations that just don’t want you doing it.

The Internet Will Interconnect Your Locations… Sort of
Hey, the Internet is available. It goes everywhere. You probably have service at each of your locations already. Why not simply exchange files and route phone calls over the Internet?

Actually, this works after a fashion. You can connect anything to anything over the Internet. However, you need to be mindful about how you do this or you’ll find out it is nowhere near the expectation of a transparent line connection.

The Internet is so available and so cheap because of scale. It does connect everybody to everybody else, and they are all on one big party line. No way do you have any say over priority of traffic or who is accessing that traffic. It’s a big happy family and everybody potentially has their nose in everybody’s business.

There are ways to make this work better. First, get dedicated access. No, you won’t have a private connection through the Internet, but you can order a private line to the Internet. That helps greatly with keeping your service consistent.

Also, make sure you encrypt the daylights out of anything you send through a public network. If not, you are just asking for eavesdroppers to lick their chops as they read through all your sensitive documents or tap into your phone calls and video conferences.

To really make the Internet seem like your private lane, take a look into SD-WAN, or Software Defined Wide Area Networking. This is a technique of combining multiple internet connections of different types, such as wireless, fiber, copper, and cable, using software to pick the best path for each packet despite constantly changing network conditions. It sets priorities and knows that data backups take a back seat to interactive cloud services.

Better Yet, Go Private
Now we’re getting to Metro Fiber Ethernet. It’s a service provided by a commercial carrier but not part of the Internet. You get a LAN to LAN connection between your locations. You can set it up as point to point, like a direct line. You can also set it up as multipoint to multipoint for any number of locations in the area. They’ll all be on that one big LAN. Another flavor of this service is a direct to cloud connection that connects you to your cloud service provider through a local data center.

Sometimes the Metro designation is a bit limiting. You need to connect to cloud services or branch offices in another city, state or even country. Many fiber optic network providers have connections that go far beyond your city and may have interconnections with other networks to extend the reach across International borders.

You can also contract with a private service provider called an MPLS or Multi Protocol Label Switching network. These are wide area service providers that are privately owned and not accessible by the general public. They will guarantee performance and connect your far flung empire with low latency and high bandwidth. Security is enchanted because this type of network has its own protocol that differs from what runs on the Internet.

Do you have a need to interconnect business locations with speed, reliability and privacy? Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Metro Fiber Ethernet might be just what you need at a reasonable cost. For even higher performance 100 Gbps bandwidth are also supported in key metro areas.

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

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