January 1, 2012 Bandwidth, Ethernet, Hosted Systems, Phone Systems, The Cloud, Virtualization The world of business technology has seen the rapid evolution of many products and services in the past few years, including virtualization, Cloud services and the expansion of different types of cabling infrastructure. As a result, businesses today now have a wide range of quality, cost-effective options to choose from when it comes to building and updating their voice and data infrastructure. While we could go on and on talking about the abundance of choices available, there are three specific areas that really demonstrate the widened range of options out there for businesses: Ethernet, Energy and Efficiency in Systems. Ethernet – Until recently, T1 lines were the most widely used and recommended Internet connection. However, Internet demands have grown so rapidly that T1s often aren’t sufficient to handle increased bandwidth capacity. That’s why many businesses are turning to Internet over Ethernet. In fact, so many businesses rely on Ethernet that it’s currently the most widely-deployed Local Area Network (LAN) transport technology in the world, and is being widely referred to as “the new T1”. However, between fiber optic, Ethernet over Copper and data transfer rates, there are, as with any good solution, educated decisions to be made: Choice of Speed: On average, Ethernet service is delivered to a customer with a minimum speed of 10 Mbps (which, to compare, is more than six T1s bonded together) and can go all the way up to 1 Gbps and beyond. However, choosing one speed doesn’t lock you in; because Ethernet is scalable, it provides you with incremental bandwidth options. This way, you only purchase the bandwidth you need and it’s able to grow with your business. Choice of Infrastructure: Ethernet over Copper (EoC): EoC uses bonded copper lines to deliver Internet service. Even though the reliability of EoC and bonded T1 circuits is much the same, pricing is lower for EoC. Ethernet over fiber: While EoC uses copper lines to deliver Internet service, Ethernet over fiber uses fiber lines to deliver Internet. Fiber lines are resistant to cross-talk and electromagnetic interference, which can be a consideration when setting up cabling for an Internet connection, particularly when that connection operates at high speeds. So, fiber can provide much more reliable data transmission when working with Gigabit speeds. However, a drawback to fiber cabling is that it can have a higher initial cost. In the past, Ethernet could only be utilized within one company’s network. But with the expansion of Ethernet into the carrier world, a company’s locations across the state, across the country, or even across the world can connect through the Wide Area Network (WAN). This connection provides a transparent service that bridges LANs in separate locations together as if they were one network, thereby maximizing your LAN/WAN resources. Whether point-to-point or point-to-multipoint, Ethernet is a reliable way to connect. But don’t forget that there are other connectivity options out there as well, such as Broadband, T1 lines and more, and that it’s important to understand what technology makes sense for your business and explore all your choices. Energy – Energy has been deregulated in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware (in addition to 13 other states). Just as when telephone services were deregulated in the 80s, there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about what this really means for your business. So, let’s break it down. A deregulated energy market simply means that all electricity customers in the state are allowed to shop among numerous suppliers for the best deal. This includes your business. This is a big move for those in the energy business and for energy consumers because it means that, instead of being locked into one energy supplier, you can shop your options. In addition to energy supplier, you’re able to decide what type of pricing is best for your business: Choices of Pricing: Variable (Index) Pricing: The best value over long periods of time, this solution fits the needs for cost-conscious companies who can tolerate the risk of fluctuating market conditions. Fixed Pricing: Receive a guaranteed rate for electricity or natural gas for a “no surprises” budget solution. Blended Pricing: A combination of Fixed and Variable, this option creates a balanced approach to budget certainty while still benefitting from positive market performance. Efficiency in Systems Whether it’s massive amounts of bandwidth, adhering to technology regulations or sticking to a budget, the details and scope of your business’ voice and data needs are largely unique to your situation. But thanks to a range of different types of infrastructures – Premise-based, Virtualized, Cloud-based and Hosted – anyone can find a system, or combination of systems, that will maximize functionality and space on a budget. Premise-based: Premise-based voice and data infrastructures are solutions where the equipment – including servers, cabling and routers – are installed and maintained locally at your company’s place of business. System providers are typically affiliated with large, national or multi-national manufacturers with substantial staff dedicated to product development and engineering. This high level of support helps ensure system hardware and applications are constantly updated to meet the emerging needs of the marketplace. Virtualized: Server virtualization is a method of condensing infrastructure and maximizing computer performance by allowing two or more virtual machines to co-exist on one server. This transforms what was previously strictly a “one server, one application” structure, into a “one server, multiple applications” model. Thanks to Mitel and VMware, you can virtualize your voice system right along with your computing hardware. Cloud-based: A cloud infrastructure is a newer model for delivering IT services that provides you with on-demand network access to configurable resources, such as networks, servers, storage, and more. These resources are delivered through a data center that supports multiple users. Hosted: One type of Cloud service is Hosted PBX, or Hosted VoIP (Voice over IP), which represents the latest wave in phone system technology. With Hosted PBX, the phone system server resides in the provider’s data center instead of in your office. Voice and data traffic is routed over the public switched telephone network, or PSTN, to the hosted system. Since the system itself is offsite, Hosted PBXs offer Web-based access to configure the system, define how you want calls to flow, view call detail records and billing information, listen to and delete voice mail, and more. Regardless of the technology you’re looking into, always make sure to understand all of your options, even if you know you won’t be able to take advantage of them until later down the road. If you’d like to learn more about anything we discussed above, or if you need help exploring the array of business technology options available to you, simply contact us by clicking on the “Reach Out Today!” form.