Friday, May 30, 2008

When Does OC3 Bandwidth Make Sense As Your Business Network Backbone??

Several factors could come into play, including the need for that type of bandwidth, latency factors, and resiliency. If a client needs an extremely resilient connection with low latency, and high bandwidth, a protected SONET OC3 solution is the best choice, due to the nature of the architecture.

If you have strict requirements in regard to latency and line quality OC3 could be a good choice as an alternative to ethernet services.

With OC3 you can have complete end-2-end monitoring of bit errors, and it is also dedicated 100% for your usage. Ethernet services lack the full end-2-end monitoring capabillity, as frames could get dropped alog the way.

The CPE equipment will cost you more for OC3, than for ethernet. The built in redundancy in SONET/SDH can provide sub 50ms switchover easily, but to harvest the full potential of redundancy you must offcourse have redunant fiber to your location.

Conditions to consider

1) Data usage requirements
2) Redundancy is a feature, not a requirement. Therefore the architecture dictates the requirement and fees.
3) Other (possibly concatenated) options that are available to provide similar bandwidth

Optimal Conditions

1) Several key hub locations (forming the OC3 ring) that are well connected to the remaining network
2) A CONTINUOUS bandwidth requirement of more than DS3 24x7
3) A well integrated voice and data architecture that can run across this backbone and therefore reduce PSTN and Dedicated Access Data line cost.
4) Existing purchasing relationships with the CPE equipment vendors, allowing you to reduce CPE costs

I think everyone would agree on a monetary standpoint that when the costs of DS3's exceed the costs of having the OC-x circuitry then it's time to begin to think about a switch. The problem lies in the fact that you have already heavily invested in the DS3 hardware and now will have to purchase OC-x hardware to begin a migration. So you have to factor in hardware costs with the overall cost equation.

Secondly you have to keep in mind redundancy and latency. If your network is mission critical and requires no downtime then it becomes a bit more complicated. Ordering 1 OC3 on sonet still does not guarantee no downtime. To ensure that this downtime is kept to a minimum you have to order 2 OC3 circuits. When ordering the first one you want it to be the primary with the lowest latency/jitter between two points. Your redundant circuit will not be this way. This circuit will NEVER touch any hardware, CO, line across a barren field, that your primary circuit uses. This will mean a slower and lower quality circuit, but you ensure that connectivity will be maintained in the event your primary circuit takes a hit.

Once again even that will begin to affect the cost equation. If management begins to worry about the costs they should be reminded how much it would cost them to have any kind of outage. Todays consumers do not tolerate disruption of services of any kind anymore so the longer your services are unavailable the higher your churn may end up being. There is a big difference between degraded service and no service to the customer. If it's slow they will normally shrug it off unless it's always slow. The second it's down they will begin to agitate.

Since most LANs are Ethernet, WAN connectivity is most efficient by creating an Ethernet internet (lower case "i" meaning a network built out of smaller networks, but not necessarily the Internet (upper case "I") your home PC is connected to ). There is no translation, like with an OC3 and there is very little overhead like there is with ATM solutions.

Most voice applications still use TDM (the OC3 Protocol) and TDM natively breaks any sized circuit into individual 64K voice channels, generally using 56K for payload and 8K for signalling (although ISDN uses 64K for payload and reserves separate channels for signalling). The great thing aboput TDM is that, it is very reliable. If the circuit is passing less than the rated throughput, it is broken and goes into alarm. Under Ethernet, its possible to have a loss of throughput without an alarm.

Both TDM and Ethernet can be oversubscribed by the carrier, however, and equipment can drop information without causing either to go into alarm.

The rub here is that more and more voice applications are using voice-over-internet (lower case "i") -protocol, which is more effective over Ethernet. That is not to say that enterprises are using the Internet (upper case "I", the thing your home computer is hooked up to); it means that they are using the same protocol to deliver voice via private Ethernet circuits.

VoIP is now the main protocol for long distance.

So, if you are a telco with a legacy switching fabric that cannot be replaced, an OC3 makes huge sense.

If you are building a data network or voice network and local carriers have Ethernet available AND the Ethernet service includes your required level of redundancy, then Ethernet is overwhelmingly preferred.

A Cisco fired network can deliver the same 50 ms failover as SONET on 2 fibers with multiple failover routes with very small latency (One network we provision has 1ms in the core and 2 ms each at the serial ports, for a total of five milliseconds of latency). Ethernet can also be designed for point-to-multipoint applications at layer 2 or Layer 3 using very simple equipment. OC3s (TDM) requires use of a large Ethernet router, ATM Switch or Frame Switch with huge operational overheads and the need to program visibility ( the ability for any location to communicate directly with another location).

So . . . An OC3 makes sense if you need more than 45 mbps but less than 163 mbps, Ethernet is not available or is not available in an adequately robust configuration or if your network uses legacy protocols that cannot be replaced.

Price of a complete solution will be based on requirements and specifications, but Ethernet is generally much less expensive.

For help in finding the best solution for your situation and applications .... whether it's ethernet or OC3 bandwidth .... simply submit a request via OC3 Bandwidth Solution. By the way .... their assistance is free.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Say Hello to OneSim!

OneSIMcard is a prepaid international SIM card that allows you to take your GSM mobile phone overseas, without incurring high roaming charges from your current wireless service provider.

It is VERY SIMPLE - all you need to do is replace your phone's existing SIM card with international SIM card when you travel.

Save up to 85% compared with your regular mobile phone service and even receive calls for FREE in more than 54 countries. Plus ..... OneSimCard international mobile service works in over 150 countries.

If you want to know more go here: OneSim

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Is Business VoIP A "Nice To Have" .... Or A "Must Have"?

If you were considering a new phone system for your office, would VOIP be a "nice to have" or a "must-have" and why?

Answers to questions like this are never EVER simple. Though for me it's not a technology question as there is always a technology solution.

1. What are business outcomes to be achieved?
2. What critical issues?
3. What redundancy do you need in your comms?
4. How critical are your comms to your business?
5. Are you trying to integrate your "phones" into other systems?
6. Are you trying to reduce costs?

... the list goes on ...

There are good and bad technologies in both the keyed, hybrid or IP systems.

You can us IPTel just inside the office and still use a T1 or other PSTN trunk to the outside world, you and use an IP pipe and a gateway.

While the trunking side of IPTelephony is still it's Achilles heel with the right design it can work.

So in the end what is the business problem you are trying to solve .... and once you know that do you have the budget and will you achieve an acceptable ROI. (There are a 1000 different ways in IPTel to show ROI - very few are acceptable to the "bean counters").

I have been down this road with clients many times. Sometimes it's been a 'no brainer' and other times a much more difficult decision.

It comes back to "WHAT IS THE BUSINESS ISSUE"?

I vote for 'must have' for any office. assuming the budget is there. There is no question that VOIP is for real and here to stay. If the budget can't afford it, then a reasonable priced key system is a good option for smaller offices, 20 stations or less.

Now for the why? The primary reason is a VOIP system is software based and not hardware based. Therefore, you are not limited to certain applications or features based upon hardware requirements. The problem with a traditional (digital) key system or PBX is that is it hardware intense. You grow the system by adding station cards and cabinets. "Rack'em and stack'em" they say. Hardware fails, software doesn't.

Implementation should not be a problem if you do your homework first. You MUST perform an on-site network assessment to insure that a VOIP deployment will work. With the network assessment checked off, you can then get back to the features and applications that you want on your phone system.

VoIP versus POTS has more pros then cons when done correctly however, when there are cons, no one wants their mission critical equipment see-sawing

The recurring problem with VoIP is its implementation. Many times it is just wrong from the design phase on up. When its problematic there (beginning) it will be problematic on the install, and people will hate it. When done correctly though, it can be a powerful tool.

Most businesses switch over from POTS to VoIP because they're usually in search of saving money and keeping in tune with technology. The cost savings can be phenomenal and if done correctly from the design implementation, developmental testing phase, etc., as opposed to running out like a deer in headlights at the acronym "VoIP".

I've been involved in deployment of countless systems now. I've seen some beautiful deployments, then I've seen the horrors. As time goes on, things get easier but when things are bad, no one wants a phone system that doesn't function.

VoIP systems are pretty much here to stay, what's happening now is, vendors and providers are etching their marks. Traditional phone systems don't have a fraction of the capabilities that mini computers do. Keep in mind, most VoIP phones are nothing more then mini-computers, e.g., Linux, etc.

Companies love features! It seems many now want to be followed, emailed, Blackberried, etc., and this is something I haven't seen any non VoIP based system do with ease. Outside of this, VoIP systems have an easier mechanism to program them to do the most insane things. Can your POTS go out on the Internet, grab the weather, your stock quotes, a headline and play it back for you via a wake-up call?

An inherent flaw with many providers eager to sell a system is the design phase. Not much attention is given to what the client's network infrastructure is capable of. It's too common to deploy systems blindly and play catch up on the fly. Some companies do not like disclosing their topology....rightly so.

These are the companies that still don't get what VoIP is. The have an idea, but they don't understand things like: This system is not *really* going to play well with NAT. This system is not going to give you the guaranteed 48 calls per data T1 because you never iterated you were going to use tunneling, nor were you going to use g711 codecs, etc. Again, as time goes on, more companies will go the way of VoIP. After all, even CLEC's are pushing VoIP in their backbones now.

VoIP is a "nice to have" because it's not 100% necessary although any big business would be stupid to not go VoIP because of all the cost saving benefits it offers like eliminating calling costs between offices and increased efficiency by integrating with 3rd party applications. So really... for a big business of 100+ I'd say VoIP is a must have. For small business it's a "nice to have" because an IP PBX typically costs more than a key system and a small business will typically not take advantage of the same features a big business would.

I will argue till the sun explodes or until the internet is dramatically improved that running your business voice service over the internet is typically a bad idea for a big business because call quality can not be guaranteed.

Moving a business from a TDM system to an IP PBX typically requires more wiring making the investment in VoIP even greater. You might have wiring already for the computers and although it's a bad idea from a network engineering perspective, you can still daisy chain the computers through the phones and eliminate the need for separate voice cabling... but this I don't recommend.

Another thing.. depending on the size of your business, an IP PBX can be a much better investment than an old key system because of administration. Most phone systems now have very easy administration interfaces allowing even the most non-technical business owner to administer their phone system without having to pay their phone vendor to come in and make the change themselves.

Even for small businesses there are so many cost effective VoIP systems like the Asterisk based Switchvox that even getting an IP PBX can cost less than an old TDM phone system.

This being the case, although VoIP is a "nice to have" why would you not get it? It's like buying a VCR instead of a DVD player.... who in their right mind would do that! Sorry Grandpa....

To make it easier to answer this question specificly for YOUR business ..... take advantage of the no cost assistance available at: Business VoIP

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When Should You Choose T1 Over DSL Bandwidth For Your Network .... With Security In Mind?

You may think the answer to this question is complicated.

Well ..... not really.

But there are some important factors to consider in order to make the best decision .... especially when it comes to network security.

THE NON-OBVIOUS ANSWER T1 OVER DSL: PCI Compliance

If you have a retail business that has to comply with PCI Compliance and Retail Data Security......be careful. Ignoring the PCI Compliance standard is risky. Retailers can be fined and even lose card processing privileges.

Network Security Compliance is Mandatory for Retailers, Banks, and other Financial Institutions .... and any companies saving or transmitting personal data over the internet. Identity theft is the main driver behind this compliance. So when you are networking with DSL, often the cheap routers, access devices, firewalls, VPN appliances, and Wireless LAN's that come bundled with them will fail a PCI Audit. But there are some exceptions.

THE OBVIOUS ANSWER:

You ask "When would you choose a T1 over DSL?"

Bandwidth is transmission capacity. But when your needs for a more robust, dedicated circuit with an SLA OUTWEIGH the additional costs, then you pick a T1.

DSL Pros: Inexpensive, most bandwidth for the buck.
DSL Cons: Weaker SLAs, Slow Mean Time To Repair, Aggregated service.

T1 Pros: Dedicated 1.544Mbps, Good SLA, Most problems fixed remotely.
T1 Cons: More expensive to to the cost of the local loop to the central office.

DS3 Pros: 45Mbps is as fast as 29 T1s, you are riding on Fiber over Sonet not copper like DSL and T1s so you are not subject to copper corrosion and degradation.
DS3 Cons: It may be overkill for a SMB and the Cost of the Local loop is far more.

For help in finding the best voice / data network solution for your business .... especially with consideration for the various T1 Bandwidth configurations .... take advantage of the free help from here: T1 Bandwidth Solutions

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Special Deals For T1, DS3, Metro Ethernet, & MPLS Bandwidth Pkgs

These special price deals for T1, DS3, Metro Ethernet, & MPLS bandwidth packages will save your company a ton of cash.

Note:

* Business only
* No residential
* No DSL

We're currently running specials for T1 (all types), DS3 (fractional, full, and bonded), OC3, OC48, MPLS, and Metro Ethernet (GigE etc.) from multiple providers (over 20 Tier 1 sources).

Simply identify your requirements and installation location(s)......providing the details here:

Special Price Bandwidth Deals

[note: Please provide complete, detailed, and accurate information. Incomplete or bogus RFQs will be ignored. In other words no response or support from us.]

At a minimum the providers covered will include: ACC Business, Aire Spring, AT&T, Broad Sky Networks, Covad, Level 3, Megapath, New Edge Networks, Network Innovations, Nuvox Communications, One Communications, Power Net Global, Qwest, Splice Communications, TelePacific Communications, Telenes Broadband, Time Warner, UCN, US LEC, and XO. Others will be included depending on the location(s) and your intended/required application(s).

We'll provide a preliminary assessment via email immediately. Then follow-up with more in-depth detail.

We'll be in immediate contact to discuss the details, help determine exact application parameters and needs, confirm the best pricing available, and assist with the acquisition process. We'll negotiate on your behalf, ensure the best SLA (Service Level Agreement) and QOS (Quality of Service), do the paperwork, monitor provisioning and installation, and even run interference for you with your chosen provider for the life of the contract.

We guarantee you won't get a better price going to the provider directly yourself.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Podcast ..... Internet Security Threat Report

With over 1 Million identified Internet security threats, we've passed a 'Tipping Point', where instances of Malicious Code now outnumber legitimate applications.

In addition, trusted sites, such as Social Networks, are increasingly being targeted by hackers and identity thieves.

This week on 'The Connections Show', my friend Stan Relihan talks with Craig Scroggie, Managing Director of Symantec, about these issues, as well as some of the tools, tips & strategies users should be employing to ensure the safety of their personal information online.

Can you afford NOT to listen to this Episode?

Internet Security Threat Report

FYI - 'The Connections Show' is now #3 on the list of Most Popular Business Podcasts (ahead of BusinessWeek & WIRED Magazine) at The Connections Show

For more about Stan visit his Linked-In profile at Stan Relihan

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Friday, May 16, 2008

How To Save On Internet, TV, And Phone Bundled Together - The Amazing "Triple Play"

High-speed internet, TV, and digital phone bundle .... or the famous "Triple-play" .... is now available through River Offers. River Offers is the cutting edge provider of online search and compare tools for telecommunications services and products.

This is not what you might expect from typical "company" web portals either. It's NOT a 1 package offering from 1 company. No one trick pony here.

As you've come to expect from River Offers (the former Cognigen) there's not just one provider to choose from. Rather there's multiple providers AND the ability to search and compare who's available in your specific location. Saving you time, effort, AND money in finding just the right solution for you.

You can get the latest and the best rates available in your area from major service providers, right here, right now by using their state of the art real-time online lookup form!

It's so easy .... all the work is done FOR you.

Works for BOTH residential AND business use.

Take advantage of this amazing tool .... and the savings you'll find with it .... by simply visiting this website: Triple Play - Internet, TV, And Phone For LESS

Includes such providers as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, and more.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When Should You Add More Bandwidth To Your Business Network (e.g. WAN) ??

Many businesses ask this question. It's common ..... so don't feel alone.

Is there a general rule of thumb, a percentage of bandwidth usage, that is an indicator that it is time to lease more bandwidth?

The true answer here is, "It depends".

Of course you need to know how many users you have ..... and what they're using the network for (e.g. CAD, Multi-media applications, sharing large data files, medical imagery, etc.). That's a factor in your ultimate decision obviously. As is what is the operation, are users on one side and servers on the other, are servers and users on both sides, how many points? Plus .... are either of those categories (number of users, applications) going to grow in the near future.

If growth of users and/or applications is in the distant future ..... you have more room to plan and maybe go with a gradual solution in the interim. In this case you may be able to go with a bonded T1 or burstable DS3 bandwidth rather than a full DS3 or OC3 bandwidth.

Before you can make a real decision on increasing your bandwidth though (thus increasing your expenses) the first step is to log/record your bandwidth usage patterns for a specific period of time - I'd say at least a month (30 day period). This will create a decent benchmark on where you stand in regards to your bandwidth needs.

Ignore occassional spikes -- spikes will happen, this is a reality of networking. However if you have sustained spikes lasting for several minutes at a time and this occurs at least once every day that is a hint of a larger problem.

(If that happened I'd note the time of day such spiking occurs, then correlate the times if they match up to any specific task the company is doing during that time period each day).

However, as a general rule ..... look at the bandwidth usage throughout the day. If the average usage is at 50% then start to talk about increasing the bandwidth. If it's at 70%, you will start seeing major trouble, don't just talk about increasing bandwidth then, DO IT.

If you want to be a bit more lenient rather than conservative on your benchmarks ..... get excited about increasing bandwidth when you consistently see usage at 75% bandwidth, when it hits 85% there is no debate, no talking ..... just order more bandwidth.

But, remember to base your decision on the average usage ..... not the spikes that may occur during the day. Again, spikes will happen no matter what your bandwidth is.

Here's another tip (or two) .......

Much of the time bandwith is not the problem, but the amount of clutter and the lack of optomization at the machine level.

So ..... on every computer on the network do the following:

First, delete any temporary files (even temporary system files) in the c:\windows\temp directory and in their profile under local settings.

Second, get rid of any unused applications.

Third, ensure that the swap file is optomized.

Fourth, Stick more memory in the system if possible.

Last, Defrag the hard drive!

Following the above you should be able to reclaim some speed. If speed is your main issue (it isn't always).

Also .... if you get your files of a network server don't forget to optomize that as well. But the first rule we tell users is do not work off server copies if you can help it.

Now, if after going through all of the above you still decide you do need more bandwidth ..... you can get free assistance to find the right solution (at the best price too) here: Bandwidth Solution

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Cisco vs Nortel vs ?? ..... Who Would You Choose And Why?

Here's the scenario..... you've been tasked with a design and installation of the network infrastructure for a new location in your company. For the purposes of this question your choices for equipment at the new site are between Cisco and Nortel and ?? (routers, switches, hubs, etc.) .... and the network backbone will be DS3 bandwidth with connectivity to other company locations (WAN). Note: you can substitute OC3 bandwidth if it's more applicable to you .... but realize it changes the network equipment configurations for the scenario somewhat due to the application of SONET technology.

For a general philosophy ..... when you need business critical spend the money and make it perfect (Cisco). When at the edge and not business critical, (e.g. you can afford a little downtime if needed) buy solid products that compete directly with Cisco but cost a bit less.

In one case a friend uses HP at the edge and in wireless situations where uptime is not critical. They use Cisco at the core and with wireless where uptime is essential. All that being said, the HP performs just as well, costs about 25%-50% less and has a lifetime guarantee. So to answer the question, in this case I would suggest vendor three (HP) for all the switches, hubs, etc... and Cisco at the core, but if you only have two choices, then really I think you only have one, Cisco. They're the biggest in the U.S. for a reason.

Here's a tip ..... take a look at the ProCurve product line from HP. Another friend recently switched from a mix of Cisco and Netgear to all HP and had no failures. When they needed support, their question was answered the same day from a very knowledgeable service representative. They did have one piece of equipment that was DOA but had a replacement the next day.

As far as backbone connectivity - the Cisco MGX 8800 Series switch is a superior product to the Nortel 15K WAN switch,.but that is only aplicable if you are using ATM or FR as a layer 2 transport protocol in the core. If you are using MPLS or some other protocol over IP I would suggest one of the Cisco 12 K routers running IOS XR - Nortel dosent even have a comptable product (Juniper however does but that is outside the scope of this discussion.

The difference between Cisco HTTS support and Nortel Support is night and day - that should influence your decision right there.

As far as LAN switching - the Cisco 6500 Catalyst platform is the winner hands down against the Nortel 8600. Thee 8600 is easier to configure but is simply not for the enterprise never mind a carrier class soloution. The 6500 is faster, but much more complex, but out performs the 8600 and is infinitely more flexible as far as module options. The 6500 series also has the edge as far as max number of Gig-E ports.

As far as hubs - get a switch or otherwise segment the broadcast domain.

If I were looking for a voice switch or anything capable of interfacing with the world of TDM voice, I would go Nortel over Cisco...If those were my only two choices.

While Nortel makes great voice equipment, their policies and procedures are not very customer friendly.

Cisco has better support, and for any data-centric needs, I would definitely go with Cisco.

If I were building a VOIP network, I would use Cisco for my core routing, but I would use Nortel over Cisco for my softswitching and media gateway.

Now, Nortel supports MPLS networks and has been engaged in supporting standardization in MPLS before 1998. See Nortel & MPLS

A recent article shows that the Nortel ERS 8300 bests the Cisco 4500 ...... showing between 75%-301% higher forwarding rate and 12% greater power efficiency. See Nortel Over Cisco

Of course, there's the fact that the New York Stock Exchange runs on a Nortel data network (4 year old Nortel press release )

While I feel I could probably spec out a dozen network designs that would lean towards Nortel, there are clearly good reasons to go Cisco, such as if you implement a Cisco Call Manager. Likewise, there are reasons for which you would clearly choose Nortel (being power efficient is one of them).

I will opine that you well always get a sub-optimum outcome if you select a vendor first and sort out the product selections and configurations subsequently. Unless you have almost no time to do so, write up a specification which everyone except Americans know as a request for tender and issue it to the suppliers concerned, and I don't see why you wouldn't include Avaya and others in there as well. Word the specifics definitively (e.g. the system shall be able to operate for a minimum of four hours following the loss of mains power. Comply/does not comply/partially
complies), include a scope of works and get vendors to respond with compliance statements, warranties (i.e. FREE maintenance for six months), maintenance contract proposals and pricing. Not only can you compare the various systems feature by feature (features you have listed because they are important for your business) but it's amazing how much pricing tends to be reduced when vendors know there's genuine competition.

Regarding these two, part of Cisco's strategy is to make it very inconvenient to attempt to integrate any non-Cisco components into a Cisco network. One of your requirements could be interworkability.

Cisco is the best and the least risk for you from a long-term perspective. I have found Cisco switches to be extremely stable, some switches I have seen had been up since 4+ years without a reboot. With Cisco you also have the advantage of excellent documentation, and plenty of skilled people to support your or share information online. Also, at the L3 switch level Cisco has no peer as the code used on the switches is based on their legendary routing platforms.

If Cisco is too expensive or you would like to diversify, look at Foundry or HP. Or better yet use Cisco at your L3 and core, and deploy HP chassis switches for your user connections. HP chassis switches are priced similarly to other vendor's stacking solutions, and they come with a lifetime warranty and free software updates. The CLI is also quite Cisco-like.

Given the choice of two, I would have to say Cisco, purely from a support angle - both from a vendor support perspective and from recruiting qualified staff (permanent or contract) for in-house support. CCNA/DA, CCNP/DP, CCIE - the streets are littered with them, but Nortel-accredited engineers are few and far between, and consequently a more expensive commodity.

In terms of features, functionality and performance, I would say it was too close to call, that specific model ranges would have to compared directly (port densities, PoE and multi-Gbps support for example). Besides Cisco, Nortel, and HP you could also make various cases for more cost-effective solutions from the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Foundry etc.....

To boil it all down ..... this is a religious question. Those of us who have been around long enough remember this "No one was ever fired for buying IBM". This was a marketing strategy that IBM used for quite a while. It worked! Cisco is using this same strategy now.

Cisco makes some amazing products, and they support them amazingly well. There are several other manufacturers of fabulous equipment on the market too though. HP, 3com, Extreme, and Nortel are a few. Here is what I believe. 3com and HP both make great equipment, Extreme equipment is on par with Cisco as far as capabilities, and Nortel is good.

I love the 3com 5500 series stackable switches, and they are only about ½ the price of comparable Cisco switches. HP also has great stackables, but I don't feel the quality is quit up to par with 3com. Extreme isn't Cisco but is considered to be very high end. I believe Nortel to be an also ran.

If you need to call the factory for tech support often, Buy Cisco period. The tech support is the best in the industry. If you are capable of designing and maintaining a network based on industry standard protocols, and are good at figuring things out on your own, buy 3com or HP.

No one was ever fired for buying Cisco. (I hope that someday this changes just as it did for IBM. But today it is still true).

Whatever direction you decide to go for similar situations with YOUR business ..... or if you've decided and are looking for a local vendor ..... you can get help finding the right fit for local support from multiple vendors including Cisco, Nortel, HP et al right here: Computer Network Equipment

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Friday, May 09, 2008

If Not DSL Or T1 For Your Business ..... Then What??

When you choose a T1 based product, you are also choosing a higher level of service and support over a DSL based product. T1 bandwidth (and it's larger TDM counterpart, DS3 bandwidth) are considered to be the standard means to deliver business class services for the incumbent carrier. This is really what you are paying for.

The underlying technology used to deliver the service is really less important. For small businesses, cost may be a primary factor in making a decision. As a business grows larger, the need for reliable service is often much greater. T1 to DS3 is the most common growth pattern .... although OC3 bandwidth is also a consideration for larger growth and applications.

There is a large move afoot within the industry to deliver traditional telephone services over packet based neworks along with data services. This model has not been completely embraced by the incumbents, primarily because of the revenue tied to the legacy T1 based business products.

The new products are typically Ethernet based and offer higher speeds for data along with telephone service. They may offer other features available due to the new network design (such as VPN). As a business, you can expect to see a greater variety of offerings of this type as competitive and alternate carriers seek to compete with the incumbent for this revenue.

For assistance in finding an ethernet solution for your voice / data network .... if that is the direction your business chooses to go .... you can get free help here:

Ethernet Solution

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

T1 Or DS3 Bandwidth .... Which Should Your Business Choose?

When deciding whether your business should choose T1 Or DS3 Bandwidth ....

The real answer is: It depends

1. It depends on your location and what other alternatives you have including the cost

2. It depends on the business need and the SLA requirements in terms of latency, scalability, service availability, etc.

Depending on the need, there are more and more solutions out there which you can choose or blend to come up with the best fit to meet your needs. I would not look at the world only in terms of T1 and DS3. Consider 3G, FIOS, cable, DSL, ethernet, etc...

Think about what your needs are and maybe pose a more specific question including what you are trying to accomplish, where, and at what budget. Then use this website to ask for a free RFQ (Request For Quote): Bandwidth Solution

For Example .... you'll need to have a good handle on the following to make a smart decision :

* Is the purpose to run video, VoIP or some other real-time application?
* What is acceptable latency?
* Is the application/service mission critical?
* What access alternatives are offered in your area?
* How much are they and what is your budget?
* What are future business needs that this solution will need to meet?
* Where will the network need to connect to? Is it DIA, point-to-point or MPLS?
* Do you expect high paced future growth? If so plan for expansion into possibly OC3 bandwidth but do NOT go that route yet. It's too soon.

All of these questions (and probably more) need to be considered when providing an answer otherwise you will inevitably come up short.

For example an enterprise may find it sufficient to use DSL bandwidth if it is only for cafeteria internet access, while a small business may not be able to afford to use a DSL for mission-critical access to its hosted PBX and systems. It really depends.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Who Would You Choose For Your Business Voice/Data Network Switches, Hubs, Etc. .... Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, Foundry, 3Com, Lucent, Juniper Or ??

No matter your situation ..... in the end the real answer is what you're going to be most comfortable with in a support and operations perspective. There's much to choose from so don't be overwhelmed by your options ..... Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, Foundry, 3Com, Lucent, JuniperMitel, Vodavi, ShorTel, Fonality, and a host of others are at your finger tips. Simply think it through and match your need to the capability of each.

Here's a few suggestions ...............

A Cisco 3800 series router would be perfect for terminating a DS3 connection at a branch location. If you're backbone is Cisco then it's best to stick with Cisco for end to end connectivity. You never want to get into the situation where Cisco is blaming Nortel and vice versa.

Going down the line of other things you would end up using at this location just by going with Cisco can save you some money.

16 Port switch modules in the router can save you big on switching if the needs are small and can be migrated to a bigger dedicated switch later down the road. These are great when you have a small telco closet that you have to squeeze everything into. After that you're looking at 3550 switches with POE so you can power WiFi and business VoIP if the office is to use those technologies. I am not sure if the 16 port switch modules can support POE so that would be a consideration.

If you want to justify the choice of any particular vendor look at any group of job postings. They ask for Cisco network experience not Nortel experience. Makes things much easier when trying to find tech's who are able to work on the equipment.

Whether it is a business startup or a new remote branch office, then Cisco would be a great option. Today, it doesn't make much sense to have disparate networks. A network for voice and a network for data. In addition, many companies are running a wireless network and a video network. Security has to be addressed and it gets very complicated and expensive to maintain, manage, and operate all of these networks. Not to mention the cabling costs associated.

When it comes to IP Telephony and VoIP, voice is now treated like an application. Voice packets have to travel from point A to point B safely, securely, and without latency to insure best voice quality. In my opinion, no company moves data packets better than Cisco. The market share they have in regards to their switches, routers, and voice products back that up.

Cisco is flexible in this scenario as well because this location would just need a Cisco switch and a Cisco router which is needed anyway for the data network. The call processing and security can be imbedded in the the routerand there's your voice/data network on one platform...just add phones. Switch, Router, Phones. Switch, Router, Phones. As this company grows and more offices are utilizing the cisco platform for voice/video/data, all of call processing and managability can easily managed at 1 central location. IT Departments are streched to thin, why not provide them with a rock solid solution and make there lives easier? In regards to a prior comment, I would venture to say more people are promoted than fired when they go with Cisco.

In reality this decision is not straightforward and will depend on many factors. What is important to your project may not be important to others.

A couple of issues you should consider that tend to get forgotten when evaluating vendors:

1. How "manageable" is it?

What is your strategy for managing this platform? (If you haven't got one then you should formulate one). Will this strategy encompass other vendors and systems (like servers, applications, etc.) and if it does you should consider how you deal with this. This usually mandates moving beyond the vendor's own limited tools at some point.

If you do need to use third-party management tools, how easy will this be? Does the vendor (for instance) have good SNMP support. Some vendors have very poor SNMP support (not much more than MIB2) and this can make management of their equipment very difficult. Some vendors require you to interface to their element management system and this can be costly and problematic. If your network is simple, this may not be a major problem.

Remember, "management" encompasses not just configuring the system, but fault management and alerting, impact assessment, config management, performance monitoring, and reporting.

2. How easily can you get skilled resources?

Whether this is through training existing staff, recruitment of new staff, or contractors for specific projects or to help out in emergencies it is important to know how easily and cost-effectively it is to get skilled staff with knowledge and experience of your chosen equipment.

Whatever direction you decide to go for a computer network hardware solution with YOUR business ..... or if you've decided and are looking for a local vendor ..... you can get help finding the right fit for local support from multiple vendors including Cisco, Nortel, HP and more by using this convenient search and compare resource:

Network Hardware and PBX Phone Systems

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Is A T1 PRI Right For Your Business??

When looking for an answer to your business voice network requirements don't get caught in a "sky is falling" panic. You have plenty of options that will do what you need without breaking the bank. One oft overlooked or forgotten option ..... T1 PRI.

Plus keep this in mind .... T1 still exists for PRI usage with VoIP developers.

PRI or Primary Rate Interface provides 23 (on T1) or 30 (on E1) channels for "transmission of voice calls". I won't go deep into details, but thanks to Fibre, VDSL2 and other long stretch forms of bandwidth delivery is theoretically obsolete for the purpose of data transmission.

If you're in need of a modern T1 equivilent, I strongly recommend SHDSL which can be multiplexed either on a cell level (ideal) or on a Multilink PPP level for increased bandwidth.

SHDSL provides up to 2Mbit symmetrical bandwidth which exceeds T1 and in a business line circumstance costs far less, even for guaranteed bandwidth. It's cheaper and easier to configure and maintain as well. Using a relatively low cost Cisco or Juniper device, it's even easy to hook up 32 of these lines together.

I have also heard that most phone carriers are looking for test sites for VDSL2 technology which would be ideal for any organization that is actually considering the use of T1.

But by all means don't rule out getting an actual T1 line. There may be applications where this does make more business sense.

You certainly don't need a OC3 bandwidth, which is obvious overkill. That may sound like common sense to you. But I've actually experienced smaller companies asking for OC level circuits because they are confused about bandwidth speeds and circuit size.

If a T1 PRI appears to be the right fit for your business voice network .... then I suggest saving yourself time, effort, and money in tracking down the right solution and provider by having an independent advisor do the heavy lifting on your behalf (research, design, provider comparison, negotiation, etc.). You can have all the leg work for you (at no cost too) here: DS3 Bandwidth

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