Category Archives: Cloud Services

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4 beneficial cloud-based services you haven’t thought of

Business owners understand the benefits of the Cloud. We’ve all seen it in action to some degree or another. Cloud hosted websites, Gmail/Google Apps, Social networking sites, dropbox are all common services available to the average person. Most businesses have hear of Salesforce, Zoho, Office 365, Azure and Amazon Web Services. However, there are many more beneficial services emerging as cloud computing makes its way to the mainstream. You may have even benefited from some of these services without even noticing it.

 

1. Wireless Networking

When managing a facility that is larger than one access point can support, or when several advanced features are needed, such as Active Directory integration, multiple SSID’s, roaming and Guest Services, a cloud based wireless LAN can be a very inexpensive way to achieve an Enterprise level services. For Hotels, office buildings, Airports and resorts (to name a few) that need to have continuous coverage across the facility and provide different guest services where customers can logon to a less secure WiFi access point with little more than a room number and password to authenticate to, consider this. Managing access control on multiple access points and allowing mobile users to drop one access point and instantly pickup on another when roaming from on location to another, you would need several access points, a management server and middleware application that translates security from each access point to a central authentication system.

In contrast, a cloud based system will allow you to have all these features with just the access points. From a central website, you configure the features and security you wish, then use profiles to automatically push that configuration to the access points in real time. All you need is the access points and the service. There is no other equipment to buy and best of all, you can manage access in multiple locations even if the locations span geographical areas that are not even connected to one another!

2. Point of Sale

We’ve all seen the new form of cash register these days. The ones that look like an iPad on a stick with a credit card swipe and a cash drawer, but did you know that many of those are cloud based? The service is turnkey. You sign the contract and get an online ID, all the equipment and a web-based account to track all your transactions, subscriptions, gift cards & coupons. There is virtually no equipment to buy and all you financial transactions are centralized. This is especially beneficial if you have aging hardware, struggle to meet the new PCI requirements or need to integrate your sales with an online store. The systems can further integrate with popular book keeping applications weather in the cloud or on premise. Since its a managed system, you spend less time manually doing you financials and more time running your business.

3. Office Telephone Systems

Hosted PBX is the latest cloud based service to reach the common business. Instead of buying a complex phone system that includes voicemail servers, line switching cards, inter-office controller boards, proprietary phones and paging systems, a Hosted PBX system gives you all the features of an Enterprise system for little setup and a per-user monthly rate. You don’t have to buy any equipment and new services can be turned up in an instant.

This is by far one of the most beneficial uses for the cloud yet. With a Hosted PBX, you’re instantly integrated with all your remote sites, home users and mobile phones. All your upgrades and security concerns are just taken care of  and there’s no need to hire an expensive phone technician every time you have to make a change. Also, since the voice traffic is Internet based, there is no wait time when moving offices. There are way more benefits to list from this exciting service. For more information read What Can A Hosted PBX Offer You?

4. Internet Scalability

When it comes to Internet speed and reliability, the service alone is not the only answer. Sure, providers are always ready to promise high speed and low downtime, but can they really deliver? One type of often overlooked cloud service is known as Software Defined Wide Area Networking, or SD-WAN. That sounds like a mouthful but it’s actually quite simple. An SD-WAN provider knows about the common cloud services you utilize such as Salesforce, Amazon, Azure, Office 365 and so on. They also know your location. Through intelligent software, they monitor all the hops between each point and create the fastest route from you to your providers. This maximizes speed and steers you around Internet traffic jams that aren’t your providers fault.

Also, an SD-WAN solution will make sure you always have a route to your destination. Traffic is dynamically re-routed to avoid outages. You can utilize any number of providers. Another name for this type of service is Redundant Internet Service Provider, or RSIP. RSIP services boast a 600x increase in speed.

Want to know more, contact us today and let us show you the possibilities.

CBC Solutions
Trusted Procurement Advisors
Internet • Voice • Cloud
(619) 784-5211
info@cbcsolutions.biz


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Using an RISP to ensure maximum uptime and a 600x increase in speed

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Is your Internet connection a dependency for your business? Do you suffer from outages? Do you use Cloud based services that need to running at peak efficiency? If so, then an RISP can help. RISP is an acronym for Redundant Internet Service Provider. The service includes a device that sits between your internal network and your firewall. It manages connectivity to multiple Internet connections of your choosing.

In your business right now, you might have a high-speed connection of 30-100MBs for your main Internet already. By installing a second Internet connection, like a cable modem or DSL that is less expensive, the RISP will monitor both connections to determine which is the best one to send traffic on. In the event of an outage by one of the providers, the RISP can re-route traffic to the secondary connection in a seamless manner.

Additional services that the RISP provides is the ability to determine the best path to route traffic for a majority of cloud services. This provides an up to 600x increase in speed to services like Salesforce & other CRM services, Office365, Microsoft Azure and others.

By performing this monitoring, the RISP also monitors your providers connectivity in reference to the Service Level Agreement you have with them. In the event that your ISP has an outage, the RISP will provide a report that helps you get a credit from your service provider.

Pricing for this service starts at $49 a month and is highly scalable for larger deployments.

Technology like this used to be an expensive proposition, but now it’s affordable to virtually anyone.

If your business is dependent on the Internet, like most are, let us know. We can help CBC Solutions can architect a redundant service for you and broker a deal with you and the best RISP for your business. There is not obligation. Contact us for a risk-free assessment today.

CBC Solutions
619-784-5211
info@cbcsolutions.biz


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5 steps to unclutter your I.T.

Information systems can become complicated machines and grow out of control in a very rapid manner for even the smallest businesses. Indeed, even the individual person can fall into this trap. In an era of Smart Phones, GPS, Smart Watches and even connected appliances, the average person can have a plethora of technology without even realizing it. Businesses face the same dilema on a much stronger scale.

For businesses, everything is connected. You can’t even get your car smogged without a shop full of computers connected to the Internet. Cloud Computing has helped this reality by making Enterprise level services available to the average small company at an affordable cost. However, this poses a problem. With all these affordable and scalable services, it’s too easy for companies to get locked into a long term contract with a service that may or may not work for them in 2 or 3 years. It’s also too easy to get distracted with the latest bells and whistles and miss the bigger picture.

As Technology Consultants, we often find ourselves in the business of helping companies sort through the minutia and get their IT costs under control. We do this by following some simple guidelines to approaching a new or existing solution.

1. Document your business process:
A good business process should be documented well to define the flow of information throughout the organisation. Prospects -> Leads -> Opportunities -> Accounts -> Invoicing, etc. Having well documented flow helps to define the technical solution. This ensures that the process defines the application.

2. Understand the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):
Base price and monthly rates are good, but is that really the overall cost of the service in question? No normally. Initial setup fees, switching costs, learning curves, support and downtime all need to be considered when calculating TCO.

3. Look at the big picture:
Instead of focusing on the problem you’re trying to solve today, think about what your business going to look like in 3 years? Defining the overall picture can help you define business requirements in a way that scales with growth. Specking of business requirements,

4. Define Business requirements outside of the technology:
Define your business requirements without any specific technology in mind. Your business process should define the technology rather than the technology defining the business process. Why? because if the technical solution drives, the business process, your business becomes a slave to the technology. It should be the other way around. The technology should work for the business.

5. Integration is key:
In this day and age, you shouldn’t really have to manually copy information from a field in one application to a similar field in another. For example, if you own a CRM system that contains contact information, you shouldn’t also have to enter the same information into your invoicing system. It should be the same information. Otherwise your doubling efforts.

Taking a holistic, systemic approach to the way your business used Information Technology is a critical first step in controlling costs, streamlining operations and making your business run like a well oiled machine. Technology is put in our lives to simplify them, not to complicate things. However, many businesses fall into the trap of complexity disguised as convenience.

Don’t make the same mistake as millions of businesses. Contact CBC Solutions today to find out how we can help.

 

CBS Solutions
(619) 784-5211
info@cbcsolutions.biz


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5 Points about data storage you should be thinking about

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For a business owner, managing storage is probably not on the top of your radar. However there are big consequences to neglecting this task.

You should be aware of your storage management policies regardless of whether you store data onsite or in the cloud. Even if you sub out your storage management to a third party, in fact especially then.

Not managing storage can result in higher than normal costs, delayed response from your business as people spend time searching for information. Poor data management can also put you at risk from security threats as well as compliance and legal issues.

1. Storage is expensive

This may sound counter-intuitive if you’ve always heard the mantra that “storage is cheap”. The fact is, Hard Drives and Storage Media is cheap, storage is Expensive.

Costs of storing data may look inexpensive with vendors practically giving storage away these days, but the management of that data is where the hidden costs are.

Backing up, restoring, searching for data, verifying it’s authenticity, managing permissions and even moving the data to a new provider in the future add huge costs to the organization.

2. Data integrity is extremely important

Documentation that isn’t accurate can often be worse than no documentation at all. Either way, it’s never better.

If you can’t verify that stored documents are the latest version and up to date with changing situations, you could be spending more time verifying the information than you would rewriting it.

When financial or legal documentation is incorrect, it could result in poor financial calculations, compliance violations and additional legal trouble.

3. Data retention is a balancing act

Every organization should have a data retention policy. Without it, documents pile up until they are completely unmanageable. A data retention policy instructs team members on when and how to archive and delete data.

However, there’s another point to be made here.

The lack of a documented retention policy can get you into trouble in other ways. For example. I worked for a company once that was named in a lawsuit. The lawsuit wasn’t about them, but the case demanded that they retrieve documents from 10+ years ago. This became a very time consuming task for the company and put a strain on Legal, Sales and IT departments that had to put off or delay other operations in order to respond properly.

If that company had a documented 7 year retention policy, they would have been able to avoid all that.

Likewise, data retention policies that are two short can cause compliance and legal issues as well. Hence, it’s a balancing act.

4. There are compliances your company needs to follow

Most people know that financial documents should be retained for 7 years, but there are other compliances to consider as well.

If your company is required to meet HIPAA, SOX, ISO, SSAE or PCI standards, you could be non-compliant if your retention policy isn’t properly aligned.

Since these compliances usually pertain to a specific type of data, it must be handled properly. Access may need to be controlled tighter than you’re aware.

5. Not all information is equal

Stored information should be prioritized on two levels. First, there should be a security hierarchy to how data is managed. Team members should be allowed the minimal permissions to the documents they need. Secondly, heavily critical data should be stored in the most reliable and fastest media, while less critical data can be archived to less expensive and even slower media.

With these points in mind, you should be able to work with your technology staff and/or providers to develop a comprehensive storage management plan. This plan should encompass the classification, organization, security and retention of each document type.

Using Document Libraries, Folders, Groups and Metadata, documents can be organized in a logical way so that they’re easy to find and secure. Version controls allow you to track and store multiple versions of critical documents without having to double up your storage.

There are many tools available to help you manage storage efficiently today. Using these tools wisely can help you save money, increase business efficiency, and avoid legal issues in the long run.

 

CBC Solutions is a Trusted Advisor of IT strategy and technology procurement. We can help design an efficient storage management policy as well position you will some of the best solutions and providers in the industry. Call now for a free consultation to help us save you time and money!

 

CBC Solutions
Trusted Procurement Advisors
Internet • Voice • Cloud
(619) 784-5211
info@cbcsolutions.biz


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What’s in your toolbox?

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I pondered this question while doing some DIY projects around the house. Being an ex-carpenter, I have a lot of tools from the trade.

As a Carpenter, I had two assets that defined the excellence of my work. My skills at the craft, and the tools in my possession were equally important to ensure the job was done right.

Business works the same way. The right tools are essential to an effective business. When we talk about tools in business, we usually refer to technology (at least for the purpose of this discussion).

Your Business Toolbox might hold a good CRM system for managing customers, or an ERP system if you’re in Manufacturing. Your Marketing department probably owns a Website and a couple of good Graphic Arts applications. You probably have a collaboration platform.

But buying technical tools is quite different than running down to Home Depot to buy pick up a new hammer.

Purchases need to be planned as a strategic business decision, adequately budgeted and the right subject matter experts need to be involved. A carpenter doesn’t need an expert to know what type of hammer to buy, but a business might.

There are several options to finding a subject matter expert:

1. Use in-house staff to research products online: Not a bad plan if you trust your IT staff. However, sometimes working within a specific toolset for a long time can cause a narrow viewpoint. Why? Because the technology changes too rapidly for the average IT person to keep up with and still do their day to day job effectively.

2. Talk to Vendors: Who knows more about the product than the Vendor that sells it, right? Wrong. Unless the vendor is truly unbiased and sees each implementation though to know the pros and cons of their solution, and is willing to tell you that.

3. Hire a Consultant to find the right tool: This idea works well, but is by far the most expensive option. Usually you’ll pay a billable rate or retainer for the Consultant to learn your business model, research the right tools and create a project plan to implement it. Though they will be in a position to gauge the effectiveness of the solution.

4. Contact a Procurement Advisor:  The least expensive path to getting the right tools is generally through Procurement Advisors. A good Procurement Advisor will look at your business, then find the best tools based continual research in the market. As Advisors, we need to constantly have our fingers on the pulse of the industry and know what tools are effective for the job at hand.

When a deal is brokered through a Procurement Advisor, it generally doesn’t cost you anything upfront for their services. If you have trust your advisor, that’s even better. Your IT staff doesn’t have to spend the time with vendors and service providers to make sure they get the best rate, the broker has already done that.

But how do you know you can trust your advisor? That is a good question and you better be asking it. Here are some ways you can gain trust in your advisor.

1. Review their track record: Has your advisor always been an advisor? Or do they also have experience in Consulting and IT? An advisor who’s sat you your side of the table will have a better understanding of what it takes to earn your trust.

2. Make sure their recommendations are truly unbiased: Ask for quotes from multiple vendors. The advisor should be able to give you comparable quotes. You may even want to pick a couple vendors you know of to see how their prices compare. Look for honesty and openness from the advisor.

3. Find out what the end-goal is of the advisor: If you feel your advisor just wants to close the deal and move on, they probably do. This does not instill trust. A trusted advisor will want to be with you throughout the process and earn your long-term business.

This is a key distinguisher. Your Trusted Advisor will be close to your business and involved in the whole process from beginning to end. The best Trusted Advisors and Consultants understand one thing above all. Your success is their success!

Nothing else stands out more. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in business, how big their company is, or what their stocks are doing on Wall Street. It matters how they rate their success. It must align with yours.

Getting back to the toolbox metaphor, your business is more than the knowledge and skill set of the people in your organization. The right tools are essential for keeping up with the competition and energizing your business.

A Trusted Advisor can help you find the best tools with the least amount of effort on your part.

One last parting thought. The technical tools in your organization have to do one thing above all else. They must save you money! Either directly or indirectly.

And so I ask you, what’s in your toolbox?


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Cloud Computing

To Cloud or not To Cloud

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Don’t worry, this isn’t just another (OPx vs CAPx) discussion on Cloud Computing. The financial benefits of a scalable architecture as a service have been discussed before. If you want more on that, see my Keys to a healthy technology budget.

No, this discussion is about the other types of fears that hold people back from taking advantage of this technology and/or running into it blindly and making big mistakes.

I’m talking about the real and valid fears illustrated in this article published by Infoweek: http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/9-spectacular-cloud-computing-fails/d/d-id/1321305

Questions like “How secure it the cloud?” and “what if the cloud goes down?” or “what if I can’t get to the Internet?”. All of these are real and valid fears, but you shouldn’t let analysis lead to paralysis.

The Cloud is just like any other technology, it’s a platform that needs to be architected and designed just like any other infrastructure. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cloud computing.

To adequately take advantage of this technology, lower costs, reduce risk and free up time for you IT department, careful planning needs to take place first.

To start with, real business needs must be defined from the process level. Security is as much a concern in the cloud as it is on your local network. If you’re connected to the Internet, you’re vulnerable, period. The question is how vulnerable and how are you mitigating those risks. More on that in the paragraphs to come, or see “5 Questions to ask your Cloud provider about security“.

Another great consideration is “what if the cloud goes down?” The answers to this comes down to the provider. Are you covered for emergencies? Do you and the cloud provider have a Disaster Recovery plan? Is it clear what the cloud providers responsibility is and what yours is? Do you have a direct support rep or do you call an 800 number and roll the dice?

Guess what, the same concern goes for your Internet carrier, local computer systems, even car insurance. Knowing the details of the contract is key.

In some cases, your cloud solution makes you more dependent on your Internet connection, but not in all cases. Think about what your business would do if all your local computers worked, but you were without Internet access for a day.

Most businesses would either grind to a screeching halt or at least, be severely impacted. Email can’t go out, credit card transactions won’t go through and a majority of your communication to the outside world is cut off. Put the servers in the cloud and the question is simply, how can I get connected while my office is down. A short walk to the nearest Starbucks be a viable solution.

Furthermore, network redundancy isn’t that hard to come by these days and a good network architect or consultant can design one for a lot less than you think. See Worry free connectivity on a small business budget.

Finally we come to security. What if you cloud provider was hacked and your data was stolen or your service was taken offline?

My question is, what if that happened to the servers in your office? Same answer, but the cloud provider is generally going to have more resources to throw at the problem.

Not always, but it’s a good question to ask them…

Getting the risk management plan from your Cloud Provider is not the easiest task. For best results, see a cloud consultant about the options out there the risk management plans for the various providers. There are many Cloud Brokers that can quote the “best deals” in cloud, but make sure they’re also consultants that understand the technology.

We’re here to help. CBC Solutions is a Consulting company with members that have over 25 years of experience performing risk management plans and a deep understanding about cloud and telecommunications. The best deals are waiting for you and at phenomenal rates. Give us a call, our initial consultations are free!

CBC Solutions
619-784-5211
info@cbcsolutions.biz


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How to cut telecommunications costs by 20-30%

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“If you haven’t completed a detailed analysis of your telephone bills in the past two years, there’s a 90% chance you are being overcharged—possibly as much as 20%.” — FCC

“Rather than getting better as a result of computerization, utility bills seem to be getting worse. They are indecipherable, lack itemization, contain inflated or phony charges, and cost customers billions of dollars a year.” — Ralph Nader

With the rise in Telecommunications costs, it becomes increasingly important to analyse your costs for errors, overages and omissions. Additionally, as the market gets more competitive, carriers are offering better and better deals. This, combined with changing business needs causes companies to have to re-analyze their current contracts on an ongoing basis.

CBC Solutions offers a 5 step process to help businesses find the best cost savings they can get while meeting the business needs of the organization.

  1. Assess business processes & determine voice and data needs
  2. Audit contracts and latest invoices
  3. Identify alternate vendors for service needs
  4. Provide a formal recommendation & assist with implementation
  5. Track invoicing and manage contract renewals

On average, CBC Solutions can find 20-30% or more savings on a telecommunication budget and drive down operating costs. With CBC Solutions at your side, you can be sure your getting the best possible rates. We cut through the loopholes and get the vendors competing for your business.

Our Commitment:

  • Absolute Neutrality – Our network of over 100 carriers contains no underlying commitments or quotas. We negotiate the best rates with your best interests at heart.
  • No Risk – CBC Solutions employ a risk-free auditing technique. We find the best rates for your organization so you can focus on your core business.
  • Lifetime Support – We want to earn your trust. As a result, we treat your account as if it is our own. Our vendor relationships allow us to get better support than the average person and we will support you as long as your contract lasts.

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What Can a Hosted PBX Offer You?

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In today’s fast paced environment, many businesses are turning to Telephony (the integration of voice, data and computing) to keep in contact with customers, suppliers and business partners.

Legacy business phone systems are being replaced with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Hosted PBX systems at a very fast pace.

Major phone system vendors are pushing their Telephony products over the traditional onsite, digital phone system model.

With all the new features and vendors on the market, how do you decide what to buy and keep from getting locked into the wrong contracts or systems?

Fortunately, there are some great options now. Hosted services like Hosted PBX, Hosted VoIP and SIP Trunking are allowing companies to tap into the market with lower risk and at a fraction of the cost.

What is VoIP?
The term “Voice over Internet Protocol” defines a system where normal voice communications are converted to digital data that can be sent across your existing PC network, then converted back into voice on the other end. It allows for low-level integration with the computer. This in turn allows applications such as Outlook, CRM systems and other software to gain insight to calling patterns.

VoIP can benefit your business by offering many features you wouldn’t ordinarily have:

  • Detailed Call Tracking
  • Customer Relations Management
  • User-level call routing
  • Voicemail to email
  • Status based call routing
  • Call center management
  • Mobility

What is Hosted PBX?
There are many ways to convert to VoIP. The fastest and most scalable method is through a Hosted PBX service. Hosted PBX is a from of Cloud Computing service where a carrier provides alll the features of an enterprise phone system from their location. With a hosted system, there is no equipment to buy and the system is managed and upgraded by another party. This architecture is also sometimes referred to as Hosted VoIP.

The architecture is very simple for the business. Pre-configured phones are plugged into the data network just like a computer, then configured with the users extension and contact info. from a dedicated web-based console.

Hosted PBX can offer many benefits to the business:

  • Easy to implement
  • Only pay for what you use
  • Bundled or free long distance rates
  • Fast setup
  • Enterprise level features at an affordable price

Enhanced Call Routing
A VoIP system allows you to be sure you’ll never miss a call (unless you want to). Every user on the system gets their own extension and voicemail box. As an additional option, everyone can have a direct inward dialing (DID) number as well.

Users manage their own extension through a call manager application installed on their computer and/or mobile device. The call manager allows them to:

  • Record voicemail messages
  • Handle voicemail routing
  • Instant message co-workers
  • Define call routing

Call routing features allow the user to configure how incoming calls are routed. This is done through profiles.

For example:

  • Standard – At your desk, ready to receive calls
  • In a Meeting – Don’t ring, send incoming calls to voicemail
  • Out of Office – Forward calls to mobile or an assistant
  • Extended Leave – Route calls to voicemail with a special announcement

These call profiles can be configured in any way you like. Once the profiles are configured, incoming calls will be handed in accordance with the Active Profile. A profile (otherwise known as “Presence”)  can be made active in a variety of way:

  • Manually set by the user
  • Manually set by a designated assistant
  • Automatically based on appointments in a calendar
  • Automatically by time of day, day of week, etc

Mobility solutions allow a user to place and receive calls from an app installed on a mobile device. This allows users to make calls from their designated extension without having to give out a mobile number. Also, callers only need to know one phone number to reach you no matter where you are.

Computer Integration
Integrating the Call Manager application with the computer allows additional features not found in legacy phone systems:

  • Enhanced call logging with notes
  • Dial from Outlook
  • Log calls in CRM
  • Easy forward and conference calling
  • Quickly find presence status of another employee

Hosted PBX Additional Features
Nationwide Hosted PBX providers add more features not found in an on premise system:

  • Multi-location disaster failover
  • Unlimited long distance
  • System upgrades
  • Pay only for what you use
  • New features automatically implemented
  • Bundled services with Internet access, calling plan, etc for even more savings

Conclusion
Business phone systems have come a long way since the days of calling a main number, then a 4 digit extension. Voice Over IP can greatly extend the features of the phone system to enhance the way you do business, improve productivity, and even low costs. Although there is some risk if you don’t get connected with the right provider, it still outweighs the risk of having the whole system onsite.

Have a question about Voice over IP? Want to know if it’s for you? Give us a call to discuss. We can help you decide if your business can benefit from a system like this and give you an idea of how much it will cost.


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Worry free connectivity on a small business budget

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How much does your business depend on connectivity? 80%, 90%, higher? It is virtually impossible to do business these days without connectivity to the outside world. Even businesses with only the slightest amount of technology need to be connected to the Internet to conduct business. Information Week estimated that IT outages cost roughly $26.5 Billion in lost revenue in 2011. It’s only getting worse. Add Cloud services, Voice over IP, & web services to your list and the dependency approaches 100%

The good news is that a resilient network is not the work of genius tech gurus who sit on mountain tops and come at a price that would make a Fortune 500 cringe. Creating a resilient, worry-free network is much easier than it used to be.

Vendor Fail-over
Internet connectivity is now so cheap, that it’s affordable to have a redundant Internet connection from a secondary provider. With even a low-cost, commercial security appliance, a secondary Internet connection can sit in a passive, stand-by state waiting for an outage on the primary line. Once this outage occurs, the secondary connection is made active and traffic flows seamlessly.

Cost of a solutions like this can run from $500 – $1,200 for a commercial appliance and an extra $60-$200 per month for a secondary Internet service (depending a lot on the size and scope of your company). Since this is a fail-over service, it doesn’t need to be as fast or reliable as your main connection, just enough to get you by until the primary service comes back on line.

Eliminating Single Points of Failure
While it it not 100% possible to eliminate all points of failure, the more redundancy that is put in place, the more resilient your network will be. A majority of the major players in small business network equipment offer “HA pricing” (high-availability) at a fraction of the cost of the primary device so you can double up on firewalls, routers or switches without doubling your cost.

Cloud Advantage
Making educated decisions about utilizing Cloud solutions can add to your resiliency. Many cloud providers replicate services to various locations so your services are up as much as possible. Did you know that Microsoft’s Office 365 services are replicated to data centers across the nation?

Good cloud providers offer guaranteed up-time measured in 9’s. For example, they might offer “three 9’s” or 99.9% up time. This means they can only be down for around 4 hours a year. Common guarantees are in the three – four 9 range, but some of the big players are even higher. Amazon Web Services guarantees eleven 9’s of up time, or 99.999999999%!

Monitoring – The forgotten necessity
One of the biggest mistakes commonly made when designing a fault-tolerant network is the lack of good monitoring. A good monitoring solution involves a 3rd party service, off your network that monitors up-time remotely. This way, if a redundant service kicks in, someone can be alerted so they troubleshoot the issue or call the appropriate vendor.

Without proper monitoring, you may not know you’re running in a crippled state.

Designing for Fault Tolerance
No matter what solutions you put in place, a fault-tolerant network is more than just a redundant service or device. Specific practices need to be put in place to ensure that devices are configured, proper services are ordered, systems are tested and proper monitoring & alerting is in place.

This takes a designer who can help you decide two metrics which will help budget for such a design. Return to Operation -time required to fail over to the redundant solution and Recovery Point Objective -specific services that need to fail over for business to run smoothly.

Summary
Designing a fault-tolerant network can take the worry out of service outages and equipment failure, but it needs to be designed properly. A good network architect will setup a recovery testing plan and simulate failures to make sure the system is redundant. These systems should be reviewed often to ensure they’re still functioning properly.

CBC Solutions offers Fault-Tolerant Network Design as a service. We perform a business analysis to help you decide the right budget. Then we provide best in industry solutions to take away the worry of your connectivity to the outside world so you can stay focused on your business.


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5 Ways You Can Benefit From A Technology Broker

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Technology Brokers are a unique type of technical consultant. They don’t generally sell any product. Instead they build strategic partnerships with vendors and service providers, then integrate their services into your business. Technology Brokers work on your behave to negotiate rates & contract terms. If the Broker is also a Consultant, they will help you find the right technologies and fit them into your business model. Below are 5 ways they can help:

 1. We have a large partner base to work with – It takes a lot of time to find the right vendor or reseller to work with. As a business leader, you may go out on your own to find a vendor through Internet search or word of mouth, and then take your chances that the vendor will be easy to work with, will keep your interest in mind, and will always strive to keep your business. A Broker has a much bigger landscape of trusted and true providers and they know who will work in your best interest.

2. Staying with the same old vendors can lead to stagnation – While vendors don’t like to lose clients, they can also get a bit complacent if they don’t feel there’s any danger of their customer switching to a competitor. A Broker will recognize this and know when to put pressure on the vendor to stay competitive.

3. Switching costs are minimized – The cost of switching providers include loss of customer incentives, learning curves, configuration / integration cost and time in re-establishing a business relationship. When you use a Broker, they can manage a good amount of this for you. Customer incentives are usually well known to the Broker and you may be able to take advantage of competitive upgrade deals, learning curves can be reduced when the Broker provides you with proper training, and the costs of deploying the solution may also be absorbed by the Broker by having them bundle configuration in with the product.

4. They can offer good contract negotiation – Since Technology Brokers work with contracts so often, they can spot issues in contracts and help you mitigate them with the vendor. Contract issues such as auto-renew clauses, termination fees, service levels and contract length can be negotiated by the Broker better since the Broker generally knows what vendors are willing to red-line and what adjustments should be proposed.

5. Anxiety is reduced – Brokers can remove the anxiety of switching to a different product or service. They have been in the business long enough to know what risks exist with certain product switching. They can generally help you be prepared for a hard learning curve, adjustments you need to make on related systems and any other dependencies that the vendor won’t tell you.

 CBC Solutions is a Technology Broker and Business Consultant. We analyze your business to find out not only where adjustments need to be made to your current services and products, but also what the total costs are of switching. We help businesses make a smooth transition and follow up frequently to make sure the services are working to improve business functions, reduce costs and manage risk.

 


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