Category Archives: Internet

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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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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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How a telecom agent can help you save money

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When reviewing a technology budget, look at the cost of Telecommunications. High-speed Internet, private lines, phone services, PBX, long distance and even cloud servers. These are all monthly costs that quickly add up. Many business leaders miss these costs when calculating budgets or working to reduce operating costs. They add up quickly.

To add to this problem, there are new technologies and better pricing popping up every day. This leads to added confusion and budgets can get outdated very quickly. Fortunately there is hope. A growing field in the industry today is that of a Telecom Agent. This person has good ties to multiple vendors and can readily get the best pricing and help you navigate through the noise.

A Telecom Agent that is connected to multiple vendors and is familiar with the industry can save you thousands of dollars a month, often without billing you for their services. They do this through integrated provider networks where they can submit your needs and get the best pricing from multiple vendors. The agent then collects a commission through either the provider or the partner network and never has to bill you for that service.

Here’s how it works. 

The Telecom Agent should ask a few questions to get an idea of what you need from a technology standpoint. They may even review your current billing to get an idea of what you’re actually using as far as Internet bandwidth, voice services, long distance minutes, and even Cloud Servers. Then, the agent contacts a list of providers in your area to get the best deals. In some cases they may package services to save you even more money and simplify deployment.

Once the proper quotes are received, the agent will send them to you and hopefully explain the various options to help you make the right decision. If you don’t like any of the options, that’s OK. If you do, you sign the agreement with the carrier, not the agent. The carrier and/or partner network works out commission with the agent.

Another benefit to agents is that they usually have better contacts within the carriers so they can assist with deployment, contract negotiation and support. Consider this. Say you have a long distance service that is $5 / minute. A typical monthly bill shows usage of 80 minutes of long distance. That equates to $400 / month or $4,800.00 per year. Now say the agent can get your long distance down to $1.9 / minute either by finding another provider or through 100 minute blocks bundled in with another service. Now your monthly costs go down to $152 / month and you save an average of $2,976.00 ever year. This same practice can be placed on voice lines and Internet access which, when bundled, can save even more.


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Why you need a Cloud Consultant

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“Cloud Computing” has got to be the most misunderstood term since the technological revolution began. Not to mention all the sub-terms and acronyms that go with it.

With all these different flavors of computing, how a business leader know which one to pursue?

The good news is, you don’t have to. All you need to do is adequately define what your real requirements are and find the service that meet those needs. A Cloud Consultant can help.

 A business computing environment can be broken down to three parts. Processes, Data, & Services. Applications align with your business processes, store & retrieve data then deliver it to the user through a service. The questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • How is my data stored?

  • Are the processes aligned with my business?

  • How fast & reliable should the service be?

A Cloud Consultant should ask you some critical questions to help you define requirements. Do you care where you data is stored and how secure it is? Are your business processes well defined and are they efficient? How much downtime and delay can your business handle?

 Knowing these questions will help the consultant find the best services for your business. A good consultant will address these issues before getting into cost.

 Speaking of cost. The draw to Cloud Computing isn’t always that it’s cheaper, though that’s often the case. The real reward comes in the fact that the costs are predictable and scale up and down with utilization. With the right set of services, the costs will be more predictable and help drive down your bottom line.

 Internal solutions usually start with a costly investment in hardware, software, services & infrastructure. These costs generate negative value when they’re fist deployed. The value doesn’t come until the utilization of the services hits a certain threshold. Once the business starts using the solution, there’s a brief value add and the investment pays off.

Eventually the utilization will out live the capacity of the solution, and upgrades will be required. What happens then? Another large investment. The costs of upgrading, migrating and shutting down the old systems come in to play and now it’s even longer before you recuperate the costs.

 In contrast, a solution “As A Service” doesn’t usually require a lot of up front costs. A monthly fee is applied based on utilization so that the costs will scale with the value the solution provides. As your organization uses the service, the costs will rise. If the service doesn’t add value and it’s used less, the costs go down. It’s much easier to retire a service and the upgrades are handled by someone else.

CBC Solutions is a product agnostic organization that specializes in defining the business requirements and aligning solutions up that meet those needs with a predictable cost model with verifiable efficiency metrics.


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