XFER Blog

XFER has been serving Michigan since 1994, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

4 Steps to Better, Faster Connectivity

 

business communication

 

 One of the most frustrating technologies for most small to medium-size businesses  is cloud  connectivity.

 Connectivity is getting faster and faster every day. As speeds increase, prices are decreasing,  resulting in a virtual race to zero dollars in the marketplace. Of course, prices will never reach the  zero level but they are decreasing on a rapid basis. This means that more bandwidth is available at lower cost for all companies in the market. The problem is that faster Internet speeds do not necessarily translate into better performance for the end-user. This typically occurs because the local area network (LAN) is not properly configured to the usage patterns of the company. It also can occur if your provider is not delivering the speed the contracted for, and numerous other reasons that are not so easy to identify.

Regardless of whether your company relies on the cloud or on premise-based equipment for your operations, the need for fast Internet conductivity is still there. In many cases it is the backbone of the operation. For example, delivery of voice on analog lines is being phased out rapidly by all carriers. This means that most companies will need to look to alternatives such as VOIP in the not-too-distant future. Similarly, traditional software purchases that are placed on local machines are being replaced by cloud-based alternatives such as Microsoft 365 which is used for both email and the popular suite of Microsoft office programs (Word, Excel, etc).

Navigating through this new world of change requires a level of expertise that most small to medium-sized businesses just don’t have. They therefore rely on product vendors and circuit carriers for alternatives. Many times, while the alternatives may be good ones individually they do not come together in a way that provides a complete solution for the customer.

Here are the 4 steps to consider when adding, upgrading or changing carriers:

  • All carriers are not equal, and all sales people are not equal.  What this means to a business that only evaluates connectivity decisions every 3 to 5 years is that there may be alternatives and pricing that was not available only a short time ago.  This also means that there may be alternatives that are not presented by a product specific sales person because they don’t have them in their portfolio of products.  This means that you have to shop several alternatives for the full picture.
  • Are you considering a backup strategy?  If you are going to rely on a broadband carrier (Comcast, Time-Warner, Brighthouse, etc.) that does not have a service level agreement (SLA), are you comfortable with downtime that has no guaranteed response?  These circuits are more cost effective and certainly offer great “bang for the buck”, but how much down time can you afford?  If the answer is “not much” or “I like to sleep at night”, then you should consider an alternative provider for a back-up circuit.
  • Who puts the pieces together?  If you select a solid provider, and a great back up provider, you are still faced with three issues.  First, you need to make sure they play together with seamless failover and failback.  Second, you need to negotiate a contract with two carriers, who probably are competing to get more of your business. Third, you need to make sure that the technologies are different enough that a major outage on one will not affect the other (digital vs. cable vs. Metro wireless, etc.)
  • Assuming all of the first three steps go really well, you now are probably in a contract with two companies for at least 3 years.  In the current marketplace, that may not be the best situation.  True, bandwidth is bandwidth, but other services that layer on bandwidth like voice and video are offered by a lot more providers that the folks who supply bandwidth.  And they are competitive.  And they offer month to month deals.  And they let you seamlessly fail your services from one circuit to another.

XFER offers a 3600 Approach to evaluate your business and help you navigate the 4 steps, and more.  

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Wednesday, November 20 2019
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