Tag Archive for: Business Continuity

GeoLinks News Archives – Business Continuity

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Should Your Business Upgrade to Hosted VoIP?

Have you considered upgrading your business phone system? If so, there’s a good chance you recognize hosted VoIP as a modern, cloud-based solution. Hosted VoIP solutions – sometimes referred to as hosted PBX solutions – offer many advantages over traditional on-site PBXs or other analog setups, which is why it’s a favorite among businesses looking to upgrade their phone systems. Let’s cover a few key differences between those systems before we dive into those advantages.

Traditional PBX Phone Systems

Many businesses leverage a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to manage their voice network. PBX phone systems create an internal exchange network that connects all phones within a business location, creating a cost-benefit as businesses can have more phones than phone lines. They also facilitate free calls between users. PBX phone systems also allow companies to utilize other essential call features like call transfers, conferencing, auto-attendants and more. PBX phone systems can use several types of transmission protocols, including VoIP, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), session-initiated protocol (SIP) or analog connections. Traditionally, PBX phone systems consist of on-premises hardware that’s monitored and maintained in-house.

What Is Hosted VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) refers to a specific protocol used to convert phone calls into data packets that transmit calls over networks. VoIP is widely considered an application rather than a piece of hardware, like a traditional PBX, which explains why some PBX frameworks use VoIP as an application for voice transmission.

Hosted VoIP phone systems do not require an on-premise PBX to work. A hosted VoIP solution migrates all of an on-site PBX’s duties to an off-site VoIP provider’s platform. (Note: Hosted VoIP solutions are also known as hosted PBX solutions). Using a “hosted” solution delivers communications as a paid service – often tracked as an operating expense (OpEx) rather than a capital expenditure (CapEx).

The Advantages of Hosted VoIP

Hosted VoIP services deliver many tangible benefits, including:

  1. Business Continuity. From global pandemics to severe weather, external events can bring business operations to a halt quickly—sometimes instantly. With these risks in mind, cloud-based phone systems can deliver vital business continuity, allowing your business to transition communications to another location or a work-from-home environment promptly.
  2. No Up-Front Capital Costs. Removing the need for on-premise phone systems eliminates the need for the heavy up-front capital requirements for on-site equipment and installation. This transition to a pay-as-you-go operational expense is an attractive feature for many businesses.
  3. No Hardware, No Maintenance. Hosted VoIP moves hardware (except for desktop phones and handsets) maintenance and upgrades off-site to be handled by a trusted VoIP provider. This outsourcing of routine maintenance frees up your internal IT resources for high-value projects and ensures that your system is always up to date.
  4. Scale at Will. As your business grows, your need to scale communications systems is essential, whether it’s a matter of adding more seats and phones or adding new features. While on-premises systems require seat purchasing in volume-based increments or over-purchasing in advance in an attempt to “future-proof” them, hosted VoIP providers can scale precisely to your needs. No empty seats. No wasted money.
  5. Always Up to Date. Your hosted VoIP provider remotely manages your system, ensuring that you’re always running the latest technology and security patches and are never out of date.
  6. Customized Functionality. Hosted VoIP empowers your business to customize phone functionality based on how and where you want to use it, tailorable to an individual user or department needs.

Hosted VoIP Systems for Business

Hosted VoIP systems provide essential contact center features, ensuring (and often enhancing) operational capabilities. Features include:

  • Call Queues
  • Conference Calling
  • Music on Hold
  • Voicemail to Email
  • Fax to Email
  • Toll-Free Numbers
  • Softphone
  • Auto Attendant
  • Follow Me
  • Etc.

So, Is Hosted VoIP Right for Your Business?

Since hosted VoIP is a proven solution that delivers tangible benefits on many fronts, the answer to this question is almost certainly “yes.” Still, the provider you choose is vital to getting the most from your upgrade. As one of the industry’s top digital voice solutions providers, we’d love to provide you with a quote or schedule a demo to show you how our hosted VoIP solution can help your company.

Ready to Upgrade to Hosted VoIP?

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Why Internet Failover is a Must-Have for Business Continuity

Internet Failover for Business Continuity
 

Redundant Internet Connections Will Keep Your Business Going

Network outages are costly. When your Internet connection is down, you’re cut off from suppliers, customers, distributors, sales partners, cloud applications and, of course, revenue.

While the costs of all of this activity grinding to a halt are staggering for enterprise customers – pegged at $5,600 per minute according to Gartner – outages can be just as devastating to small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). And not just in the direct costs of idle employees and lost sales, but in reputation and future revenue as well. Frustrated customers that cannot complete purchases or reach your service team during an outage become lost customers quickly.

All in, it’s far less expensive for any business to establish redundant Internet connections than to suffer an outage.

What is Internet Failover?

Internet failover is essentially a backup Internet connection that creates redundancy so that your business is protected from the vulnerabilities of single-connection failure.

Thanks to SD-WAN technology, it’s never been easier – or more affordable – to establish Internet failover protection. With SD-WAN, network traffic is routed over a secondary connection when a business’s primary Internet connection fails, or experiences packet loss or latency spikes.

Some failover solutions incorporate wireless failover protection as either the secondary connection or a third failover connection if the first two connections fail. For example, GeoLinks’ Internet failover with Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) is a best-in-class choice for most businesses using fiber or fixed wireless connections.

 
What is Internet Failover?
 

When Does Your Business Need Internet Failover?

Since online connectivity is essential to today’s business models, nearly all businesses should view Internet failover as a vital component of network setup and business continuity. Systems in your organization that require an Internet connection include:

  • Email Access
  • Printers
  • Accounting Systems
  • Project Management Systems
  • File-Sharing Applications
  • Point of Sale Transaction Systems
  • Cloud Computing Systems and Apps
  • Collaboration Applications
  • Chat and IM Systems
  • VPNs
  • Portals and Inventory Management Systems
  • Firewalls
  • Video Conferencing
  • VoIP Communication Systems
  • More

What’s the Advantage of LTE Failover?

LTE failover is advantageous because the backup router links your devices to a fully functioning network with no noticeable service disruption – the data automatically switches over from Wi-Fi to LTE, preventing you from losing signal. Additionally, since the causes of outages that take out primary wireline (e.g., copper and fiber) connections can take out secondary wireline connections, wireless failover protection delivers superior failover diversification to wireline-only redundancy solutions.

What Industries Most Need Internet Failover?

While all businesses that are connected to the Internet can benefit from Internet failover protection, several industry verticals are acutely vulnerable to outages, including:

  • Healthcare – Technology in hospitals, including connectivity, is essential and needs to be always-on 24/7.
  • Retail – Retail businesses that lose their connections typically can’t make payments through their point-of-sale transaction systems. Customer service departments can also be affected if customers can’t reach them or when staff can’t access inventory catalogs, online help desk portals or employee schedules.
  • Restaurants and Food Services – These businesses have long been vulnerable to POS outages, lost revenue when customers cannot call in takeout orders, etc. But the adoption of food delivery services (e.g., Grubhubb, DoorDash, etc.), which skyrocketed as the COVID pandemic of 2020 took hold, has made outages potentially catastrophic to these businesses.
  • Agriculture – Irrigation systems, product transportation and communications are all structures that require always-on connectivity.
  • Finance – Latency alone can cause serious issues in the finance industry, never mind outages. Payment logging, transfers and tracking are all handled electronically online. The scale of vital activity in this industry ranges from massive global financial transactions to functionality at a retail banking location. Even physically opening a register at a local branch can be inhibited by a loss of Internet connectivity, depending on the security systems involved.
  • Transportation – Communications operations in the transportation industry are vital for safe navigation and direction of various forms of transportation including light rails, trains, subways, bus routes, taxi cabs and ride-sharing services.
  • Other – In today’s cloud-driven world, connectivity is essential for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Internet failover can be a vital part of building a business continuity and disaster recovery plan – learn more in our blog “Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity.

Ready to Disaster-Proof Your Connection?

Chat with a GeoLinks Internet Specialist Today!

Request a Quote
 
 

Need Internet Failover Immediately?

Get on the phone with a GeoLinks Internet Specialist Now.
Call 888.225.1571

Call GeoLinks

LTE + Destination Based Failover: How to keep your phones and POS system connected

October 16th, 2020 [UPDATED]
Originally published on June 15th, 2020

Ensure Point-of-Sale Transactions and VoIP Calls Always Go Through

Before we walk through 4G LTE failover for business Internet connections, let’s take a brief refresher on SD-WAN.

What is SD-WAN?

What is SD-WAN?

First, we need to briefly cover a software-defined network (SDN), as this is where SD-WAN has its roots. In an SDN, the control functionality is abstracted and separated from the network’s physical devices, so configuration and management are centralized. Instead of configuring a network box by box, the configuration is completed in one place and then pushed down to all the individual devices on the network simultaneously. The same principle applies to wide area networks (WANs) with SD-WAN.

Software-defined wide area networks use software to control connectivity, management and services between data centers and remote branches or cloud instances. SD-WAN manages multiple connections—from LTE to broadband to MPLS and segments, partitions and secures traffic across an enterprise’s wide area network (WAN). Each business’ SD-WAN implementation is managed from a centralized orchestrator that monitors network activity and alerts your company and SD-WAN vendor to any issues.

GeoLinks’ SD-WAN solution supports network security features including restricting and allowing traffic to and from specific websites.

Two Types of SD-WAN Configuration: Active-Active VS Active-Passive

There are two main types of SD-WAN setups.

Active-Active Configuration

In an active-active configuration, your company will have two or more WAN sources connected and online at all times. With both network lines always-on, your network traffic is routed over whichever source is best optimized for each individual application you’re using. If one line fails or drops in quality, SD-WAN prioritizes mission-critical traffic and instantaneously (and automatically) routes the data to the other line without any data loss. You and your staff often won’t even know this has occurred because there is no service disruption.

Active-Passive Configuration

In an active-passive configuration, your company will have just one WAN source active at any given time. When the primary pathway fails, data will failover to the secondary pathway.

Benefits of SD-WAN

To learn more about SD-WAN and ways your business can leverage the technology, read our article “Size Doesn’t Matter: SD-WAN Benefits Every Business Network”.

Here are the highlighted top five benefits to your company when implementing SD-WAN:

  1. Cost Savings
  2. Bandwidth Elasticity
  3. Enhanced Quality of Service (QoS)
  4. Business Continuity
  5. Improved Data Security

The powerful cost benefits of SD-WAN dominate conversations, so it’s easy to forget that the impetus behind SD-WAN development was business continuity — Internet failover, to be specific.

What is Internet Failover?

Internet failover is just what it sounds like: When the primary Internet connection fails, experiences packet loss or latency spikes, SD-WAN technology switches traffic over to a secondary connection. At a time when your business is increasingly dependent upon Internet connections to access vital computing and communications infrastructure and applications, you can see why business continuity is critical. It’s not only essential to maintaining productivity, but also for the consistent delivery of service to your customers.

GeoLinks offers Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) wireless service as the recommended choice for Internet failover for most businesses using fiber optic or our own dedicated fixed wireless network.

Why Choose 4G LTE Failover

Why Choose 4G LTE Failover?

4G LTE wireless is particularly advantageous as an Internet failover connection for several reasons, including:

  • Diversity: 4G LTE wireless does not rely on last-mile wired connectivity and offers an entirely diverse connection from a primary wireline connection.
  • Speed: 4G LTE is the wireless equivalent to a physical line with speeds averaging 10-20Mbps, with download speeds in the U.S. approaching 30Mbps and in some areas nearing 45Mbps, according to January 2020 research from Open Signal.
  • Responsiveness: 4G LTE wireless has both low latency and low idle-to-active times.
  • Cost Efficiency: From a failover perspective, the cost benefits of 4G LTE are considerable compared to additional wireline connections.
  • Omnipresence: 94 percent of North American residents, and 98 percent of the U.S. population, in particular, have access to 4G LTE. The probability of 4G LTE reaching all of your business locations is very high, even in rural settings.
  • Simplicity: Deploying 4G LTE as a backup is plug-and-play.

How Can 4G LTE Failover Help You?

Having a disaster recovery plan is essential to today’s businesses. Human-caused outages (construction accidents, cyberattacks, etc.) and natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires are on the rise. LTE-driven business continuity is a proven, affordable option for businesses of all sizes.

Here are the most critical use cases for SD-WAN with 4G LTE wireless:

Point of Sale (PoS): If your business is a retailer, restaurant, hospitality or entertainment company, processing electronic payments is the lifeblood of your business. If there’s a fiber cut, loss of power or any other disruption to your connection, 4G LTE can kick in so you can still accept credit cards or digital payments.

VoIP Calls: If your business relies on data connections to carry voice calls (VoIP), you need to ensure that those calls continue to stay connected with high clarity. With SD-WAN and 4G LTE Wireless as a failover option, you can continue to make calls if there’s a disruption. Also, SD-WAN can enable primary and secondary circuits to be active simultaneously, enabling calls to proceed uninterrupted (i.e., session persistence) even if one of the connections goes down. (Plus, SD-WAN offers quality of service controls to make sure your voice calls are high fidelity.)

At GeoLinks, we leverage a configuration that allows for destination-based failover to address these two mission-critical scenarios. As a Verizon Wireless Preferred Partner, GeoLinks offers a high-quality LTE connection via a commercial-grade machine-to-machine router that plugs into our SD-WAN device at the customer location. Because VoIP and PoS systems are low bandwidth applications, GeoLinks is able to offer this solution for $49 per month without incurring data overages.

Ready to Disaster-Proof Your VoIP or PoS Connection?

Talk with one of our in-house experts to see if 4G LTE failover is right for your business.
Request a Quote
 
 

Need Internet Failover Immediately?

Get on the phone with a GeoLinks Internet specialist now.
Call 888.225.1571
Call GeoLinks

Don’t Overlook Inbound Failover in Your Business Continuity Planning

It can happen any time. And these days, it happens too often. Maybe it’s a hurricane tearing down and overloading infrastructure. Or a wildfire. Or the third “thousand-year-flood in a row.” Maybe it’s just a construction crew with a backhoe.

Whatever the cause, your business connectivity flatlines, cutting off your organization from the rest of the world. Your on-site employees can’t access the cloud apps they need to run your operations and serve your customers. But the cost to your business is much higher than that, because the severed connection works in both directions. Suppliers can’t reach your intranet to validate inventory and fill orders, remote employees can’t access databases to do their jobs and customers can’t reach you for help.

All in, the cost of the outage is far greater than direct costs of idle employees. It’s costing you customers and brand reputation, making distributors afraid to recommend you going forward, and leaving you disadvantaged to competitors that are simply open and reachable at a time when your company is suffering an outage.

Fortunately, this hypothetical doesn’t have to be your future. New solutions can deliver affordable business continuity options to keep your operations running and competitors at bay. In fact, since few companies factor inbound continuity into their own business continuity plans, you can be in a stronger position than your competitors when an outage takes down an entire region.

 

New Tech for a New Age of Business Disruption Threats

The world is several years into meteoric adoption rates for SD-WAN, and there are no signs of uptake slowing down anytime soon. That’s for good reason, since SD-WAN can help businesses on the security, financial, operating and other fronts. Of course, the big “other” in “other fronts” is business continuity, where SD-WAN’s role in failover protection  is critical to business continuity planning.

The mantra “not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal” has become an almost cliché statement for providers with leading-edge SD-WAN solutions. But that doesn’t make it any less true. SD-WAN flexibility is vital, not just for optimizing current resources and ensuring that your failover solution actually work when you need them to, but in areas that many businesses overlook in their business continuity and disaster recovery planning—inbound failover.

Without inbound continuity, inbound traffic is limited to one connection. This means if the primary circuit drops, external sources can’t reach your site or VPN.

 

Cloud Dependence is Raising Redundancy Awareness

Every day’s a cloudy day for today’s businesses, and that’s a good thing. Cloud services have revolutionized business operations, delivering redundancy, always-updated solutions, scalability and, of course, the OpEx vs CapEX benefits that finance departments love. Extra attention to business continuity – particularly on the network side – has accompanied that adoption—and for good reason.

Way back in the olden days (you know, like, three years ago), when a company’s Internet connections went down, it was an inconvenience to the operation, but since mission-critical software was run on desktops or from on-premise servers, most company operations could continue. In today’s cloud-centric world, where even your telephone solution is an app, downtime can be devastatingly costly. So, businesses large and small have started to pay attention to terms that only their IT departments and people who wore pocket protectors in school previously cared about (or even knew), like “network redundancy,” “failover” and “business continuity.” It’s true…we’re all nerds now.

 

Inbound Failover and Business Continuity Matters, Too

But one area that’s often overlooked by today’s businesses—sometimes with catastrophic consequences – is inbound failover. With inbound continuity, static public IPs are provided between the core network and your gateway to support inbound failover for remote users and web traffic.

The right providers, with the right solutions can protect you from the consequences of inbound failure and protect you from costly outages when your company is hosting websites or applications that customers and employees rely on. Examples include:

  • Web traffic
  • E-commerce transactions
  • Remote employees
  • Supplier intranet access
  • Customer intranet access

 

Wireless Connectivity Gives Inbound Continuity Vital Diversification

Wireless connectivity options like GeoLinks ClearFiber™ offer added diversification protection that’s more resistant to construction accidents and natural disaster outages. In fact, many business and government offices rely on fixed-wireless solutions, which are better than today’s traditional fiber solutions, and then back those solutions with 4G LTE failover protection, for reliable, secure connectivity that, when paired with the right SD-WAN solution, can deliver inbound failover as well.

Military-grade encryption, greater redundancy, lower costs and failover for your inbound, not just your outbound, connections all add up to a solution that’s not just best-in-class, but smart business as well. So, when that fire, flood or backhoe takes all your wireline continuity options, your business avoids that connectivity flatline altogether, saving you productivity, reputation and your customers to boot.

 

Ready to Disaster-Proof Your Connection with Inbound Continuity?

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Should You Bundle Business Internet Services?

Should You Bundle Business Internet Services? GeoLinks

Why bundling Business Internet services is critical for ensuring business continuity

With modern businesses becoming progressively reliant on the Internet, ensuring business continuity is becoming a major operational priority. Just as businesses understand the importance of manning the phone during business hours, assuring internal systems remain connected and operational is essential to a company’s success. So, what does it mean to ensure business continuity? Furthermore, how can you guarantee business continuity? This article will walk you through the whats, whys, and hows, and ultimately explain why bundling your business Internet services is a critical part of your overall business continuity plan.

What is Business Continuity?

By literal definition, “Business continuity is the result of proper execution of Business continuity planning and Disaster recovery.” Essentially, this means that your business will continue to operate regardless of potential outside disruptions. For example, if a massive rainstorm comes through your area and knocks out your company’s primary terrestrial Internet circuit, will your company still be able to operate without an Internet connection? If so, great – you have a proper business continuity plan in place; business is able to continue as usual. If not, it’s time to reevaluate, and make a plan. For details on the specifics that go into creating an overall successful business continuity plan, check out our blog post on Disaster Recovery Planning.

If we focus specifically on how to safeguard businesses’ telecom services, having true network redundancy, quick access to support, and routine systems backups all become essential.

How Network Redundancy is Vital to Business Continuity

When a network is truly redundant, it rarely, if ever, experiences a real or perceived outage. Instead, it’s engineered to failover to an alternative or backup connection when the primary fails (and so forth). A truly redundant network should integrate both air and ground technologies, such as a fixed wireless circuit and a fiber circuit. This prevents a single point of failure from potentially wiping out both circuits running through the same conduit.

Past that, it’s wise to have connections from multiple providers so again, if one experiences a network-wide outage, you can failsafe to the others’. However, the concept of managing multiple telecom contracts would make most bang their head against a wall (isn’t dealing with one major telco enough of a headache?!) Good news – there is a solution. Onboard your services with an aggregator, such as GeoLinks, so you can have multiple connections all managed by a single provider.

Benefits of Bundling Business Internet Services with a Single Provider

One Point of Contact for Project Management

Do you have a multi-location business? Project management can be an absolute nightmare. Office A may only have access to one telecom, while office B has access to another. Now you’re juggling not just one, but two providers. Want to have a backup circuit? We may be talking about juggling three or four at this point. When you onboard with an aggregator – a telecom who has wholesale agreements with other providers – they do the juggling for you. That way you only have to deal with one project management team.

One Point of Contact for Support

Having a problem with your network? Telecom companies are infamous for the blame game. It’s not me, it’s them. This consequently forces the client to call hop between, once again, multiple carriers. When you bundle with an aggregator, that headache and responsibility falls onto your provider to handle – behind the scenes. You, the client, then only have to work with a single point of contact, regardless of the issue!

One Bill

Past ensuring you have a redundant Internet connection, consider where you’re getting your other business services, like VoIP for example. Bundling with a single telecom provider condenses all of your business services onto a single bill. Trust us, your accounting team will thank you.

What Business Telecom Services should you bundle?

To ensure true business continuity, experts suggest bundling at least two Internet circuits, fixed wireless (air) and fiber (ground), and your business VoIP services. If you choose to onboard VoIP services, and have a redundant network, you’re assuring your business phone services stay connected when you need them most. Now, where do you find that magic aggregator?

Enter GeoLinks:

By cross-connecting with every major network in the country, GeoLinks provides truly redundant business Internet services. Understanding the importance of business continuity, GeoLinks offers business customers the ultimate IT disaster prevention plan – the GeoLit Bundle. Combining Flexible FiberOptic (wholesaled fiber managed by GeoLinks in-house), ClearFiber™ (GeoLinks’ proprietary fixed wireless network), and Hosted Voice services, the GeoLit Bundle streamlines and manages a businesses’ most important IT services. The result? Business continuity and peace of mind! Backed by a carrier-grade service level agreement (SLA), more and more businesses are getting GeoLit every day.

Yes, You Should Bundle Business Internet Services

All-in-all, today’s digital landscape is getting increasingly complicated and more robust. Day-to-day business operations and the rise of IoT are demanding more and more from our networks. Simultaneously, crowding of the airwaves and unavoidable natural disasters are becoming commonplace. To protect your business, it’s critical to have a disaster prevention and recovery plan in place. Bundling your business Internet services with a single telecom provider, specifically an aggregator, ensures effective and manageable business continuity.

Learn more about GeoLit Bundles today!