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Tag: Unified Communications

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 2: Exploring Network Options and Network Management Capabilities

by on Aug.04, 2015, under Cloud Services, Trends, Unified Communications

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In our last blog post, we talked about how to determine your needs – dial tone vs. Unified Communications. Today, we’ll discuss step 2 – exploring the network options available to your business and how to determine which network management capabilities are best.
 
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what businesses need in order for their networks to operate smoothly – but with so many services available it’s easy to see why. While email, web, video, and voice are all run over the network, voice is the most essential and needs to be prioritized accordingly. That’s where the right managed Hosted VoIP solution is key. It should not only be capable of handling any packet that comes over the network – large or small, simple or complex – but should also be engineered to separate voice and data traffic, prioritizing voice, to ensure the highest quality.
 

World-Class Network For Any Sized Business

Do businesses have to invest in large amounts of infrastructure in order to benefit from a high quality network? What about size – is this just for large, Fortune 500 companies? The short answer: no. You don’t need to buy expensive network infrastructure to enjoy the best in LAN/WAN capabilities. With several options available from industry leaders such as Nutanix, VMware, Juniper and Cisco, businesses of all sizes have the opportunity to select a network management solution that works best for them.
 
This includes companies making the switch from one Hosted VoIP provider to another. Reasons for the change vary, but very often it’s because they weren’t receiving an all-in-one managed business communications solution. At iCore, for example, we come on-site to assess the existing network used by our customers and make recommendations on virtualizing and optimizing your network for best-in-class service and better ROI. With voice and data managed in iCore’s cloud, businesses of all sizes are able to take advantage of redundancy, security and higher bandwidth within a world-class data center.
 
In addition, iCore can support a variety of applications, providing better levels of integration with services like video that need to be flexible, easily deployable and configurable. Many of the network capabilities and network management requirements customers want are also baked into the iCore offering, so right out of the gate our customers are given a deeper level of support they’re simply not going to find anywhere else.
 

Stability and Security Matter

Making the transition to a Hosted VoIP provider with strong management capabilities gives companies the peace of mind that comes from knowing any and all of their business-critical services – from voice, network security, access, video, remote desktop, and more – will operate exactly how they’re supposed to, day or night and are secure 24/7.
 
To learn more, access the full TechTarget whitepaper here.
 
Next week we’ll talk about how to determine service availability and choose a provider with documented uptime.

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!
 

registerwebinar

VDI vs VPN Part II- Do I Need a Virtualization Solution?

by on Jul.16, 2015, under Cloud Services, Unified Communications

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Last week we kicked off our VDI vs VPN blog series with a high level overview of the importance of virtualization and it’s place in the modern office. This week we’ll tell you the key benefits of both to help you see how a virtualization solution can benefit your business.
 
So…What is VDI?
 
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure also known as VDI is a form of virtualization that hosts a desktop operating system with a virtual machine (VM) that runs on centralized servers through the cloud. It allows applications such as Outlook, Office and Internet Explorer to be stored on a central server rather than on the clients physical machine. This, in turn, allows users to access all the network resources giving the business centralized management, increased security and reduced overhead costs.
 
What is so great about this? VDI has many advantages including centralized management, increased security, and reduced costs.
 
Let’s break it down.
 
Centralized Management: Adding RAM, pushing out new software, or disabling temporary and former employees can be deployed at the server level in the administrative location saving IT departments countless hours.
 
Increased Security: All valuable data of the business would now be stored and located in the data center instead of the local device. This translates into fewer chances of data leaks via malware and viruses.
 
Reduced Costs: Businesses can now look forward to less upfront costs by not purchasing equipment, software and licenses. This in turn lowers the number of IT staff who provision virus removals and configuration issues.
 
Now that we’ve learned a little about VDI, let’s dive into VPN…
 
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a private extension of the Local Area Network (LAN) available over the Wide Area Network (WAN). This is designed to provide a private encrypted tunnel connection to ensure privacy of information that is transmitted between the two locations.
 
What is so great about this? VPN’s advantages include online anonymity, the ability to unblock websites and bypass filters, and secured Wi-Fi hotspots.
 
Let’s break it down.
 
Online Anonymity: VPN allows browsing with complete anonymity. This allows the IP address connected to a desktop computer, laptop or any other mobile device to be hidden from privacy invasion or hackers.
 
Unblock websites and bypass filters: This is an advantage for those who are doing business with countries who have firewalls and restrictions on what content their residents can see or exchange with other countries.
 
Secured Wi-Fi hotspots: When using any Wi-Fi hotspots, the VPN will create an encrypted firewall link for your mobile device so that browsing is completely privatized.
 
Now that you know the benefits of each, which do you think is right for your business? Next week we’ll conclude this blog series with a discussion on the key differences between VDI and VPN. Interested in learning more now? Click here for a free demo of VPN OR here for a free demo of VDI.

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