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Tag: Hosted Voip

Why Transparency Into Your On-Premise Equipment Is Important

by on Sep.09, 2015, under Cloud Services, Unified Communications

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The Key Benefits for a Worry-Free Hosted VoIP Experience

 

In our last post, we talked about how companies should prepare to support a variety of media. Today, we’re going to discuss the importance of providing transparency when it comes to your on-premise equipment.

 

The fundamental reason most companies move to the cloud is to eliminate as much on-site equipment as possible in order to simplify, streamline, and improve the overall dial tone or Unified Communications (UC) experience. In order to make the transition work, companies need to think very carefully about the types of circuits deployed at the site, whether at company headquarters or another branch; what level of redundancy is needed; how much throughput is required; and, what codecs of voice and video are going to be used. The answers to these questions have a direct impact on the WAN throughput, as well as the types of equipment companies have on the edge – router, firewall, or switch.

 

Physical vs. Logical Separation
How you choose to set up your configuration depends on a variety of factors – most notably your equipment, budget, and the size of the environment. In most cases, having a quality configuration also means you’ll be deploying some type of managed service, which is one of the main reasons customer premise equipment (CPE) is so important. The service provider you select needs to have access to a device that can be managed. At iCore, we work with Cisco and Juniper quite a bit as both have flexible, reliable technology solutions.

 

Configuring a network is different for every company. There are two ways companies do this: physical and logical separation. Physical separation means different switching equipment for voice and data. This involves two drops, which obviously directly impacts equipment in the office, and the switches terminate on the edge of the device – firewall, router or both – significantly impacting UC and tone performance.

 

Since all firewalls are created equal, it’s important to consider the full feature set and use functions of various products to identify whether a product is for the benefit of VoIP security or IT security. While VoIP and IT security may coexist conceptually, they do not share the same security equipment.. Older firewalls and most new firewalls actually degrade the quality of VoIP traffic in their effort to secure it. Therefore, security features like ALG (Application Layer Gateway) should be turned OFF to minimize issues with VoIP traffic, and prevent roadblocks inVoIP traffic that are often times caused by a firewall.

 

Using VLAN, logical separation starts at the IP phone, with each port on the switch separating voice and video data traffic. VLAN only requires one single drop per user, enabling you to put all voice, video and data over a single data connection in the closet.

 

Sometimes a managed router or firewall is good enough, but if you want a bulletproof network with a hiccup-free deployment, the ideal solution is a managed switch. This can mean physical or logically separate – we at iCore recommend logical. Less equipment to purchase and manage, and separate VLANs make it a great solution.

 

Best Practices for Customers
Sometimes, how your network is configured at the home office is completely different from how it looks at smaller branch offices. Deploying a managed switch, a managed router, or some type of managed device (firewall or router) at the smaller offices offers a complete topology map of all the locations. This allows your service provider to monitor all IP’s, thus enabling them to diagnose where network traffic problems arise and promptly fix them before they affect your business.

 

When making the switch to the cloud, it’s always better to have a service provider that can help manage your network and equipment to ensure that both the transition to the cloud and its ongoing usage are smooth.

 

To learn more, feel free to read the full whitepaper here, or contact us at marketing@icore.com.

 

In our next blog post, we’ll talk about putting strong internal project management in place to ensure a successful transition from your old system to the new one.

8 Critical Steps for Ensuring a Smooth Transition to Hosted VoIP | Step 4: Being Prepared To Support A Variety Of Media

by on Aug.24, 2015, under Cloud Services, Unified Communications

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Last week, we talked getting assurance about service availability and documented uptime. This week, we’re focusing on the importance of preparing your hosted VoIP network to support a variety of media.
 
When planning for the needs of your network, you should first determine the number of users that will need to access it, how you want to be able to interact with each other internally, and how you want to communicate with other outside audiences, such as your customers. There are certain protocols, called codecs, which are tied to the amount of bandwidth you use on different devices, as well as the quality of the call itself. As such, the variety of codecs used in a network directly impact the amount of bandwidth required to sustain a clean, crisp voice call.
 
Firewall Requirements
A regular onslaught of new hardware and applications being added to the network means it needs to be more flexible. It’s important to do your research by looking at the logs and the types of security protocols you want for your firewall. Applications that are running with voice, video, IM and presence, for example, need to have open ports on the firewall. This is why, when looking for a Hosted VoIP vendor, it’s important to have one that brings the equipment on site, installs it, and runs a demo pilot. This is key to how we operate at iCore, which means our customers are assured that their firewall is configured to block the ports it needs to, is open for other services, and can reach our data center to get the proper information needed to run properly.
 
Other considerations include what services are managed vs. unmanaged, since quality of service internally vs. externally needs to be able to optimize your business’ use of resources such as equipment installed and money spent on the WAN.
 
Quality of Service – An Ongoing Priority
Another key factor when selecting a Hosted VoIP vendor for your network needs is the quality of service. This includes factors like response time, signal to noise ratio, cross talk, echo, interrupts, frequency noise, loudness and more. Different types of media require different levels of density, and each individual company has its own standards for success.
 
For some customers, this is irrelevant, given they’re solely focused on features like IM, presence and phone calls. But for others in the mid- to enterprise-level, they need to take into account several things:
 

  • The equipment being used.
  • Which devices are terminating on that equipment.
  • How that device is connecting to the edge of the network.
  • Making sure trunk ports are set up properly with VLANs.
  • Ensuring the data is sent through the firewall for all voice, and that the video traffic is totally bypassing the firewall.

 
Don’t Forget the Conference Room
Another area where many types of media reside, but companies often forget about when it comes to analyzing their network needs, is the conference room. Making sure the right equipment is in place – IP phones, dropdown mics, VTC options, and more – means they also need to be properly tied in so they can be segmented on the network and prioritized over another circuit if in fact they need the ability to connect to other offices.
 
At the end of the day, most customers have both a point-to-point and a broadband circuit, but in some cases customers put voice over managed network and video over broadband – especially if video is a nice to have, but not a must have. Video over broadband ensures the bigger video packets don’t interfere with – or interrupt – voice.
 
For these reasons and more, when transitioning your network and Hosted VoIP options, the media your company uses on a day-to-day basis really plays a big role.
 
To learn more, access teh full TechTarget whitepaper here.
 
In our next blog post, we’ll talk about providing visibility into your on-premise equipment.

8 Steps for Ensuring a Smooth Transition to Hosted VoIP | Step 1: Dialtone Business Phones vs. Unified Communications (UC)

by on Jul.21, 2015, under Trends, Unified Communications

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Communication is key to the success of any business, so as new technologies that enable easier and more efficient methods of communication have become available, companies in turn have improved the way they interact with their employees and customers. For many, this means finally making the transition from their traditional PBX systems to Voice Over Internet Protocol, or what’s commonly known as Hosted VoIP.
 
So problem solved – ditch the old PBX, move over to Hosted VoIP, and you’re all set, right? Or, maybe you’re already using a Hosted VoIP service, but don’t quite feel like you’re getting the most out of it.
In our newest whitepaper with TechTarget, we discuss eight critical steps to ensuring a seamless and worry-free transition to a new business phone system.
 
For this blog post, we’ll talk about number one: self-evaluation – how to identify what communications capabilities your company requires, or needs to improve, and use that information to help you select the best possible Hosted VoIP solution.
 

Determining Business Needs – Dialtone Business Phones vs Unified Communications

As a first step, companies need to thoroughly evaluate how they currently manage their business communications– and how they want to be connecting with their customers moving forward. Are they just looking for a static dial-tone PBX to make traditional phone calls? Or do they need more mobility?
 
While there are surely some still out there, in today’s business environment it’s safe to say that most businesses are using more than one form of communication that serve as collaboration tools – be that mobile applications, conference calling, local or long distance phone calls, video/web conferencing, or instant messenger (IM). Together, these services are known as Unified Communications (UC) or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
 

Moving to the Modern Office: Hosted VoIP and Unified Communications

Unifying the integration of these capabilities is vital to the execution of smooth day-to-day business functions, which is why choosing the right VoIP provider– especially one that can scale – is so important.
 
As the industry grows and companies continue to migrate toward Hosted VoIP that offers much more than just voice, they in turn move away from things like poor quality of service, different sets of equipment, and multiple pieces of IT hardware.
 
Moving to Hosted VoIP rather than on premise -based, or upgrading from your current hosted provider to one that offers more unified communications options, guarantees organizations the ability to upgrade, remove, or change features as they determine the level of user adoption.
 
To learn more, feel free to listen to our accompanying podcast on self-evaluation, which you can find by clicking here.
 
In our next blog post, we’ll talk about understanding what network options are currently available and how to determine which network management capabilities are best for your company.

Announcing UC & Cloud Connect, our Premier IT Networking Event in NYC

by on Jul.21, 2015, under Events

 

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If you missed our event in June at the Polycom Experience Center this is your chance to get in on the action! At our June event more than 50 of New York’s elite technology executives gathered at this premier IT networking event to discuss trends in hosted voip, unified communications, and cloud services. Guests also enjoyed an exclusive tour of the Polycom Experience Center (pictured below).
 
 

Polycom Experience Center

Polycom Experience Center


 

Join us Wednesday, August 12, 2015 from 5:00-8:00 p.m.for our second UC & Cloud Connect IT networking event at the Polycom Experience Center in Manhattan. Click the button below to reserve your space!
 

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