Choosing the Right Business Phone System

Following our previous blog posts about utilizing WAN, LAN, and VPN technologies to connect your office computers, the next step is connecting your office telephone system. Selecting the right phone system for your business is very important because it’s one of your main connections to customers, prospects, and fellow employees. To help you in your search for the right provider, we’ve compiled a list of 3 mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Basing Your Decision Solely on Price: Trying to save your company money where ever possible is only natural, but the best deal isn’t always the best service for your business. Although traditional phone systems may appear cheaper, there are additional upfront costs that you may not be aware of. A traditional land line system requires hardware, intrusive installation, and ongoing maintenance for each office location. As I’m sure you can image, this can really add up if your company has multiple locations or expands in size. Additionally, your call quality may be degraded if you choose to obtain a cheaper service, resulting in a poor connection or dropped calls.
  2. Wrongfully Estimating Your Company’s Growth: This can be a costly mistake, whether you over or under estimate your company’s potential growth. If your company does not grow as large as expected, you’re stuck paying for phone lines that aren’t in use. Conversely, if your company expands quicker than anticipated, you may need to pay an expedited cost to speed up installation. If you choose a cloud-based or VoIP phone system over a traditional wire line service, scaling your phone system to meet your needs is much easier. Since cloud-based and VoIP phone systems are operated through your internet connection, adjustments to your service can be done quickly and with little to no impact on your daily business operations.
  3. Not Considering Your Customers: Obviously, it’s important that your employees are able to communicate easily and efficiently with each other by phone, but what about your customers? You need to examine the type of experience your customers have when they dial your number. Starting from the moment they pick up the phone; what number will they dial? Is it a toll free number? Is there only one number to call for all inquiries? Once you have made a decision on what your company’s phone number will be, you will need to start examining the internal structure of your phone system. Will you provide them with a dial by name or department directory? Do you want certain customers to take priority over others when calling in? Would you like to be able to reroute your calls seamlessly from any location? Cloud-based or VoIP phone systems are capable of offering a wide range of features, such as one number to dial for all inquiries, no matter what part of the country customers are calling from. Additionally, internet based phone services can be easily configured to provide simple call routing, while a traditional phone system requires an IT manager to come out to the necessary changes.

It is important to choose the right phone system for your business because it can impact your company’s performance and productivity. Interrupting the work day to install or repair a traditional phone line can impact your office efficiency, as well as result in a loss of revenue. Finding a phone service that can be easily scaled too meet your company’s needs while also providing a positive customer experience is essential.

To learn about VoIP services offered by TeraGo Networks, click here.

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – WAN and LAN Networks

In our previous blog, The Technology behind Telecommuting, we discussed the functionality of a virtual private network (VPN) and its ability to connect remote employees to the corporate network. But what if you have remote office locations that need to be connected? A VPN isn’t the ideal tool for linking office locations together because it uses the public internet to operate, resulting in considerable slowdowns as each packet is encrypted.

Additionally, switching to an internet based VPN will force your business to use the local providers in each location, which can cause headaches when problems occur. A local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) provides businesses with the capability to connect their offices across a variety of distances through a single provider.

What is a LAN?

A local area network (LAN) is one of the most widely deployed types of network. It supplies network capability to a group of computers, or associated devices, that are in close proximity to each other (for example, in an office building). By establishing this type of network connection, computers on it can share files, resources, and even an internet connection, if they desire.

A LAN can be either wireless or wired. If the LAN is wired, an Ethernet cable is required to physically connect each computer on the network. If it is wireless, radios are used to provide communication between each device on your company’s LAN. Wireless LANs (WLANs) can also be cheaper to install and maintain in comparison to Ethernet.

What is a WAN?

A wide area network (WAN) is a geographically dispersed network. It is not limited to a building or specific vicinity. The best example of a WAN is the Internet, although the Internet would be considered a public WAN, while companies typically use a private WAN to connect their offices. A private WAN is essentially two or more LANs connected to each other. For example, a company with LANs set up at each of their offices in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal can connect all three LANs with a WAN – therefore allowing all three LANS to communicate with each other.

A WAN connection can be established in a variety of ways, including the use of leased lines, circuit switch network, packet switching, frame or packet relay, and cell relays. The most common method is packet switching, which creates a digital network. However, many businesses that require a WAN use an Internet Service Provider (ISP) because they are easily able to provide a reliable, secure connection.

WAN and LAN connections provide businesses with the capability to centralize their data and resources, increasing productivity. Additionally, it allows for businesses to provide the most recent and up to date data, ensuring that all employees are working with the latest resources. It also establishes a secure connection between each office or branch location, allowing for the safe distribution of private company information.

To learn about TeraGo Network’s WAN technology, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Protecting Your Company’s Virtual Private Network

Our post last week, The Technology behind Telecommuting, discussed the technology that enables employees to connect with their office remotely. It’s relatively easy to control security within the physical walls of your company, but providing secure remote access to internal resources is more difficult. We have previously discussed the use of Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect the virtual private network (VPN) from non-employee internet users, but what is the difference between IPsec and SSL?

What is IPSec?

IPSec is a standard suite of protocols that are designed to secure network communication through cryptography. Its primary goals are data confidentiality, data integrity, and host authentication, which it achieves through tunneling, encryption, and authentication. IPsec establishes a “tunnel” over the internet to connect employees that are outside of a corporate firewall or gateway to internal corporate resources.

Advantages of IPSec

When properly configured, IPSec VPNs permit highly secure site-to-site connectivity. It is also capable of providing security and communication with a variety of different networks from around the world, making it very versatile. Additionally, since IPSec operates at the network layer, it provides remote users with virtually full access to corporate network resources, making it ideal for telecommuters and workers in branch offices.

Disadvantages of IPSec

IPSec may require large amounts of processing power on VPN endpoints in order to encrypt, decrypt, and authenticate traffic. The vast configuration options of IPSec make it very flexible, but that also makes it very complex. A single error in configuration could compromise the security of the VPN, leaving it vulnerable. Additionally, IPSec can become quite costly because it requires that corporations provide each employee with a home machine that has the appropriate client software installed in order for the user to access the corporate network.

What is SSL?

SSL is a protocol used to secure web-based communications over the internet at the application layer, using encryption and authentication to keep communications between two devices, typically a web server and a user machine, private. Similar to IPSec, SSL also provides flexibility in allowing companies to define the level of security that best meets their needs. Unlike IPSec, an SSL does not need specialized software on the end user’s computer.

Advantages of SSL

The major advantage of SSL is that is provides a secure and flexible way for employees to connect from any computer with a web browser and an internet connection to an internal network. Additionally, since no special client software licenses or other expensive hardware is needed, SSL is allows for a cheaper deployment in comparison to IPSec. SSL also provides finely detailed client access policies based on user identity and profile, allowing for administrators to be very specific when defining the corporate VPN.

Disadvantages of SSL

There can be additional security risks involved with the use of SSL since many employees use public or home computers to remotely log into the internal network. Personal computers may not have adequate anti-virus software and can therefore spread viruses to the larger network. Additionally, under extremely high loads, the corporate VPN gateway may become overtaxed, resulting in diminished performance.

While both methods are effective, there are a variety of factors your business should take into consideration when looking to deploy a remote access VPN. Application and end user accessibility, ease of use for non-technical workers, encryption and authentication security, deployment and management complexity, scalability and performance, and total costs should all be taken into account. However, the two major factors to consider are who the remote users are and what they need to access. Once you have assessed your company’s requirements and resources, you can make an educated decision on which method meets your needs.

For more information on connecting your offices remotely, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

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