High Bandwidth Consumption is Back in Session as Students Go Online

As another summer comes to an end, businesses need to prepare themselves for the upcoming spike in Internet activity as students return to school. Internet technologies are being adopted by an increasing number Primary Schoolof educational institutes, including primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. It’s also important to recognize that it’s not only the students who are consuming bandwidth, but the school officials as well.

It’s no secret that we’re moving more and more materials online. Therefore, educational institutes need to ensure they have a reliable Internet service that provides them with the capability to send and receive a great deal of data. Items such as email communication, video conferencing, student records, learning materials, and tests are now frequently used by teachers, professors, and school board members. Primary and secondary schools use their Internet connection primarily for communicating with their regional school board via email or accessing a virtual private network. However, teachers have also begun to integrate online materials into their classrooms as well.

Post-secondary schools have fully embraced the use of Internet Technologies in their establishments, with several professors using the Internet to communicate directly with their students through email, online chat, or university onlinestudent portals. A large number of post-secondary schools are also using the Internet for class registration, where students log on to a private network to select their courses. And every student is now assigned a student number as well as an email address upon successful registration. Most universities and colleges also assign each student with a username and password that are used to log-in to an online portal. Typically, these portals allow for students to view their class schedule, network with other students, obtain class notes, submit assignments, and communicate with their professors or instructors.

Taking into consideration the number of students who connect to their school’s Internet service for compulsory reasons, such as submitting an assignment or getting the class notes, one can only imagine how much bandwidth is being used. Add to that all the students who do research for their assignments online, are killing time in between class, or live in residence, and we’re talking some serious bandwidth consumption. During the school year, there are a significant number of users consuming a substantial amount of bandwidth. It’s important for schools to have an understanding of how much bandwidth is needed before school is in session in order to avoid a slow connection as students log on.

Businesses also need to be aware of any schools in the surrounding area since, in many circumstances, they’ll be sharing an Internet service with them. A majority of providers don’t make the distinction between business and residential, so the two types of customers are left sharing the same connection. This can result in an extremely slow connection once school begins, which can have a negative impact on your productivity.

To learn more about obtaining an Internet service that is exclusively for business, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Network Presents: The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has the potential to drastically change the way we do business. But what exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT)? The term is quite ambiguous, but IoT is quickly becoming a tangible technology that can be used to collect information on pretty much anything. In other words, it’s another aspect of the digital transformation of the world.

IoT

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system in which unique identifiers are assigned to objects, people, or animals. These unique identifiers then transfer the data they’ve collected about their assigned “thing” over a network, without the need for human interaction. IoT uses machine-to-machine (M2M) so that the objects, people, or animals are able to communicate with one another. So far, the Internet of Things has primarily existed in the manufacturing and power, oil, and gas industries. However, there is plenty of opportunity to expand into all industries.

For example, a “thing” can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a car that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when the tire pressure is low, or any other object that can be assigned an IP address and is provided with the ability to transfer data.

Why is the Internet of Things Important?

It’s no secret that we’re turning in to a virtualized world, but the development of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) has increased the rate in which this transformation is taking place. IPv6 is an important factor in the advancement of IoT because it provides a seemingly endless number of IP addresses that can be assigned to objects, people, or animals.

Currently, we depend primarily on people to input data on our computers and upload information to the Internet. In fact, nearly all the information available on the Internet today was captured and created by people. However, the problem is that people can be impacted and influenced by outside factors, such as time, attention, and accuracy. By automating the process and allowing computers to gather information on their own without human assistance, we would be able to input and track everything while also reducing waste, cost, and loss of data.

Most importantly, IoT provides businesses with a vast amount of reliable information on their customers and products. Working with real time, digitized information that has been input directly from a “thing” (object, animal, or person) is a very accurate way of determining how your customers are interacting with your product.

Is your company ready to manage a significant amount of data? Your business should have a reliable, fast Internet service in order to obtain the data quickly, as well as place to store the data, such as a data center.

Next week, I will be discussing the security and privacy concerns of businesses and customers regarding the Internet of Things.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – What is Virtualization?

The term “virtualization” has been generating some buzz in the technology community as IT professionals look for ways to maximize their resources. But what exactly is virtualization? And how can it benefit your business? This blog post breaks down the history and functionality of virtualization.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization refers to the technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them.  Since virtualization provides a logical view of computing resources instead of a physical view, it provides you with the capability to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. Virtualization also allows for you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single machine.

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At its roots, virtualization is essentially partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server has been divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently.

Historically, virtualization has been around for several years. It was first used in the 1960’s as a way to partition large mainframe hardware. Back then, engineers faced the same problems that are faced today, such as too many underutilized servers. The team at IBM pioneered virtualization by providing the capability for engineers to partition mainframes, allowing tasks to multitask.

After the popularity of virtualization faded for a long period of time, it experienced a rebirth in the 1990s. Server virtualization on the Intel based x86 platform was invented in the 90s primarily by VMware. Since then, many other companies have entered into the x86 hardware and software virtualization market, but it was VMware that developed the first hypervisor for the x86 architecture, planting the seeds for the recent virtualization boom.

So what exactly is x86? It’s the generic name for Intel processors released after the original 8086 processor. The “x” in x86 stands for a range of possible numbers. If a computer’s technical specifications state that it’s based on the x86 architecture, it means that it uses an Intel processor, not AMD or PowerPC.

One of the aspects driving the increased popularity of virtualization is the shrinking availability of data center space. Many companies are also using virtualization as a money-saving initiative. By reducing the numbers and types of servers that support business applications, companies are looking at a significant cost savings.

Next week, we will discuss the benefits and features of virtualization.

To learn more about data center options, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Top 5 Benefits of Using a Data Centre for Business

More and more businesses are starting to recognize the benefits of colocation. By relocating their mission critical information and equipment to a data center, they can save time and money. Colocation data centers provide solutions to companies of any size, whether you only need 1U of space or if you need a whole cage. No matter how much space your business requires, your company will greatly benefit from the services offered by colocation data centers. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top five advantages of colocation for business.

1. Physical Security: Data center facilities are equipped with multiple onsite security measures. This typically includes closed-circuit television (CCTV), 24/7 monitoring systems, and security personnel. Additionally, many data centers employ biometric security measures and pass cards for those who need to enter the premise.

2. Connectivity: A majority of data centers have fully redundant network connections to ensure that their customers’ business critical applications are uninterrupted.

3. Network Security: Colocation data centers have extensive network security measures, including the latest and greatest firewalls/IDS systems to detect and prevent any unauthorized access to customer data.

4. Redundant Power Supply: Data center facilities employ a combination of multiple power grids, generators, and battery systems in order to ensure that there is a constant source of power. Many centers also have an extensive maintenance process in place to ensure each power source is operating at optimal levels.

5. Customization: Colocation facilities offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of the amount of bandwidth or space your company needs. If your business needs to increase its bandwidth levels, or burst up to a higher bandwidth level, data centers can easily accommodate the increased activity. Additionally, if your company needs more space to store its data, you can easily upgrade your service to meet your storage requirements.

In summary, any business that stores its data offsite at a colocation facility stands to gain considerably from the greater security and performance levels provided without incurring any significant costs. Data center locations are equipped with resilient power and cooling systems, in addition to the high level of security that ensures its customer’s data and IT infrastructure is operating 24/7.

To learn more about data centers, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Cloud Security: Customer FAQs

Concerns surrounding the security of cloud computing have been prevalent since its inception, and this is having an impact on users as well as providers. Any reservations or anxieties that potential users are experiencing can impact a provider’s ability to sell their cloud services. It is in a provider’s best interest to address any apprehensions that a potential customer may have.

By compiling a list of the most frequently asked questions, cloud service providers can anticipate questions that customers may ask and provide accurate answers. Identifying the primary concerns of potential customers will help providers devise a strategy for addressing and overcoming these hurdles. Below are three examples of frequently asked questions that customers have regarding cloud security, as well as the possible answers.

Which elements of a cloud computing service are most vulnerable to external attacks? As with any virtual service, there is a variety of external threats that could impact the cloud. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools and practices available to assist providers in securing their virtual cloud environment. Providers can install security software, utilize best practices, and educate themselves on any potential threats. Providers who inform their customers on the security measures they have in place to protect the cloud are more likely to win new business by putting their customer’s mind at ease.

Transparency and Cloud Security Policies: Where to draw the line? As mentioned in the sample question above – educating customers on the types of tools and practices used to keep the cloud secure can help make a sale, but how much information is too much? The ideal security policy should include a description of their practices and procedures without revealing all the technology at work behind the scenes. It’s important for customers to be informed on the types of cloud security measures in place, but it’s equally important for providers to ensure that they don’t give away too much information. Communicating intricate security details may do more harm than good, since external threats could use the information to compromise the cloud service. It is up to the cloud provider to decide where to draw the line when it comes security details.

Is there a way for providers to ensure that highly sensitive data will be safe? As with any data storage system, there will always be risks. For example, even if you were to print off all of your company’s sensitive data and lock it in away in a basement safe, there’s still the possibility of a tornado coming through and destroying everything. However, if you stayed up to date on the current weather conditions, you would be able to better protect your data by bolting the safe to the floor or reinforcing the house around the safe. The point is that there is no possible way for providers to guarantee 100% protection, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t offer a security level of 99%. There’s always going to be a chance that cybercriminals and hackers can gain access to sensitive data, but if providers evaluate and implement various security methods, they can significantly heighten their defenses.

Those are just a few examples of the type of questions potential customers may have when considering cloud computing. By compiling a list of frequently asked questions and clearly defining the answers, providers can put their prospect’s minds at ease.

To learn more about cloud security, read our previous blog posting.

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – How Fibre Works

Businesses are on the lookout for technologies that are capable of providing a high speed Internet connection. The faster the connection, the faster a company’s employees can work, and as we’re all aware – time is money. Having the capability to perform at optimal efficiency levels is essential for businesses, and high speed Internet provides companies with the capability to conduct their Internet based operations at an increased rate. Fibre is one of the ways in which businesses can obtain a high speed connection, but how does fibre actually work? What makes it so fast? And if it’s so great – why doesn’t every company have a fibre Internet connection?

Fibre, or fibre optic, uses pulses of light to create an electromagnetic carrier wave that can be used to send data at very high speeds. Instead of using copper cables to transmit, fibre optics uses a medium called “fibre” to do the exact same thing with light. The light travels through the fibre-optic strands of optically pure lines to reach their destination. To break this process down into steps:

·         The optical signal is created by a transmitter

·         The signal then travels along the fibre optic cable

·         Once the signal is received, it is turned into an electrical signal that passes through to the receiver’s device

Fibre is capable of transmitting data at high speeds because it has a higher frequency range. When data is transferred over a wire line service, the throughput of data is determined by the frequency range that a cable will carry. The higher the frequency range the greater the bandwidth – and the more data that can be put through per unit time. In comparison to copper lines, fibre technology is far less susceptible to noise and electromagnetic interference. For example, if you were to transmit data over 300 kilometers on a fibre line the signal wouldn’t experience any real loss of quality, while a copper line typically suffers a great deal of degradation over such a long distance.

Although fibre is capable of transmitting data over a vast distance without compromising quality, businesses are still looking to other technologies to support any long haul data transfers. This is because laying a fibre line from Toronto to Vancouver, for example, can be quite costly and time consuming. Many companies choose to utilize other methods, such as fixed wireless radio technology, to send their data over greater distances. Adopting a hybrid model, such as fibre and fixed wireless, can be very efficient and save on costs. 

To learn more about high speed internet, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Top IT Priorities for 2013

The results are in – research professionals from a variety of companies have published their findings on the trends and priorities of IT professionals in 2013. With an ever-shrinking budget, IT staff members need to identify the main items that they wish to invest their limited resources on. After analyzing four different studies, we found that the results seemed to vary slightly across the board, but 5 key items remained prevalent throughout the findings. Below is a list of these items, in no discernible order, as well as brief summary of the results.

  • Cloud Computing (including SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS): It appears that cloud computing will continue to win over IT professionals, displacing traditional computing and storage methods. The studies revealed that cloud computing is taking a large portion of IT budgets, with a majority of respondents claiming that they plan to utilize external providers to implement cloud computing.
  • Virtualization: IT members are including virtualization as one of their primary infrastructure projects for 2013. One study found that virtualization increased in priority by 42% from last year. This rise in importance may be part of a long-term consolidation plan, or as preparation for migrating to the cloud.
  • Mobile: Mobile proved to be a high priority for IT professionals in all four studies, but it seems to be more about blending mobility into the enterprise; not mobile devices replacing desktops. However, IT seems to be straggling at the enterprise infrastructure level, with only 29% of respondents implementing mobile device management and 28% implementing mobile security.
  • Business Continuity: The occurrence of the many unfortunate natural disasters in the previous years seems to have had an impact on the mindset of IT professionals. More than ever, IT needs to plan for, and respond, to potential business disruptions and outages. One study revealed that the three top-of-mind priorities in this category are developing and maintaining business resumption plans, developing and maintaining IT disaster and recovering plans, and developing and maintaining crisis management plans. It’s not surprise that business continuity has been identified as a high priority for businesses since every minute a company is inactive, more money is lost.
  • Security and Risk Management: Security appears to be top-of-mind for many IT professionals, as 51% of respondents have identified it as a priority for 2013. Especially with the implementation of cloud computing, as well as the increased popularity of mobile, businesses need to do everything in their power to ensure their data is secure. The top security initiatives listed by IT professionals are data protection, network-based security, identity and access management, and mobile endpoint security.

Think we should have included another priority for 2013? Let us know by providing a comment.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Resources:

2013 IT Priorities: http://cdn.ttgtmedia.com/rms/computerweekly/2013%20IT%20Priorities%20Europe.pdf

2013 IT Priorities Survey: http://www.protiviti.com/en-US/Documents/Surveys/2013-IT-Priorities-Survey-Protiviti.pdf

CIO Priorities 2013: IT Budgets, Mobility and Cloud: http://mspmentor.net/managed-services/cio-priorities-2013-it-budgets-mobility-and-cloud

Technology Priorities for 2013: http://www.microscope.co.uk/magazineContent/Download-Technology-Priorities-for-2013

Top 3 Benefits of Video Conferencing

Businesses are continually on the search for technologies that will support their operations and productivity at a relatively low cost. Video conferencing platforms are a great tool for staying connected and communicating in real time with people all over the world. As working from home becomes more common and the price of video conferencing platforms decreases, the technology is quickly becoming a valuable resource for many companies. Below are the three main benefits of adopting video conferencing as a part of your operations.

1. Cut Costs: Traveling expenses can be greatly reduced, or even eliminated, by implementing video conferencing. With a video link, your employees can conduct business and maintain relations with customers across the globe without ever leaving the office. It also removes the cost of airline fares, accommodations, and meals, allowing for your company to use the money saved on other necessities.

Video conferencing also allows users to record and archive any important meetings, key strategy sessions, and training materials. This can cut down on training costs, as new employees can simply review the recorded material. Recorded materials can also be used to educate new employees on best practices by viewing real-world scenarios.

2. Customer Relations: Video conferencing allows for your company to connect with distant customers face to face, without the addition cost of travel. More importantly, a live, online video meeting allows for customers to see facial expressions and body language. This can help make meetings feel more personal, which can lead to a stronger relationship with your customers. By utilizing video conference technologies, meetings between employees and customers can occur more regularly, which can lead to better relations.

3. Employee Collaboration: Employees who work remotely can now connect to the office anytime instead of waiting for a quarterly team meeting. Video conferencing can also be used to share documents, such as power point presentations, or demonstrate new products and services. Employees can also get immediate feedback from conference participants, cutting down on approval times and increasing productivity.

As video conferencing is only expected to increase, businesses need to ensure that they have adequate bandwidth to support the application. Some video conferencing applications can hog bandwidth, slowing down your company’s network, so it is important to ensure that your company’s Internet service is providing enough bandwidth in order to maintain productivity. Additionally, without enough bandwidth, video conferencing quality can suffer, resulting in choppy images or application crashes.

To learn more about bandwidth for business, click here.  

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Increased Internet Use can Result in Bandwidth Bottlenecks

With an estimated one-third of the world’s population going online, it is no surprise that bandwidth demand is growing faster than it can be delivered. Data reviewed by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) over the past few years indicates that bandwidth demand is growing faster than our capacity to deliver it (John Brodkin, 2012).

In addition to the millions of users worldwide, new devices are also being used to access the internet, such as mobile phones and tablets. On top of the increased amount of users and devices accessing the Internet is the number of online applications available, such as games and social media.

The most notable application is video. Peer-to-peer video file sharing accounted for a majority of the Internet traffic in 2010. However, it is important to recognize that it is not strictly consumers who are using video applications; it’s businesses as well. Video conferencing is proving to be a useful tool for companies looking to communicate in real time with customers or employees who are not within proximity.

The cost of utilizing video conferencing is also minimal when compared to travel expenses, making it an attractive option for many businesses. However, it requires an adequate supply of bandwidth in order to operate effectively.

Concerns about the continued increase of users, devices and applications are so prevalent that it has driven some technology based companies, such as Cisco, to examine ways to combat it. According to a study done by Cisco, global IP traffic increased eightfold over the five years leading up to 2010 and will quadruple by 2015 (John Brodkin, 2012).

As a result, multiple organizations, including Cisco, are at work on the next generation of Internet and networking technologies. This includes advances in software-defined networking and advances in infrastructure. The question, of course, is whether or not these innovations can keep up with the growing bandwidth demand. Currently, a variety of network technologies are staying ahead of the requirements and delivering enough bandwidth to sustain the demand. Businesses can also minimize the number of users competing for bandwidth by obtaining their Internet from a business only provider.

To read the article written by John Brodkin, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Why IT Can’t Seem to Let Go of Traditional PBX Phone Systems

Letting go of traditional (PBX) phone systems is proving to be more difficult for some companies than expected. IP telephony adoption has been steady, but it’s occurring at a very slow rate. So why are IT departments dragging their feet? Below, I’ve broken down the three main reasons why IT professionals are seemingly reluctant to implement IP telephony.

  1. Trust and Reliability: Businesses have come to trust traditional phone systems because they have provided reliable and predictable service throughout the years. For many businesses, voice communication is critical to their overall success. Since traditional phone systems haven’t evolved over time, businesses feel that they don’t need to worry about any unexpected changes or problems. Implementing a new technology can be perceived as risky, which explains why IT professionals are not always eager to make the change. If the IP based phone system that they install does not operate the way they anticipate, it could reflect poorly on the IT staff member who recommended the switch.
  2. Knowledge: IT professionals may not be fully aware of the numerous benefits offered by IP phone systems. Legacy phone systems are only capable of transmitting voice, while IP based systems can carry voice, data, and video. This allows for companies to utilize features like video conferencing, which is quickly becoming a very popular communication tool because it allows for employees to communicate with other team members or customers face to face without ever leaving their office. Since IP phone systems use the internet to operate, the service can be easily scaled to meet the needs of the business. There is also minimal hardware costs associated with IP based phone systems because they use the Internet as the backbone of the network.
  3. Future Operations: Although traditional phone systems may be working well for business today, they won’t be effective for the ways that companies will need to communicate in the future. New technologies provide businesses with more communication methods, allowing for them to connect with employees and customers in a variety of ways. As more and more businesses migrate to IP based phone systems, traditional PBX support and vendors are declining. A recent study conducted by Infonetics Research found that the percentage of companies using IP phone systems will rise from 38% today to 58% by the year 2015. Researching IP based phone systems and starting the implementaiton process sooner, rather than later, will ensure that your business isn’t “left behind”.

Simply updating your existing traditional phone system is no longer enough, and businesses need to get serious about adopting an IP based phone system. As more and more companies make the switch, it will only get more difficult for IT employees to avoid the change. Although IT staff members may be concerned about implementing new technologies, it may be more damaging to wait. IT employees that are not on top of the latest technology trends could appear as though they’re falling behind, which would reflect poorly on their performance and expertise.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Sources: Infonetics Research Study: http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2013/SIP-Trunking-and-SBC-Enterprise-Survey-Highlights.asp

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