January 26, 2017 Elizabeth Schneider

These days you can’t send a text or any written form of communication without including some sort of abbreviation.  Whether it be LOL, TTYL or JK on a tweet, text or Facebook post, the way we articulate is laden with this type of rhetoric.  Let’s face it, we at MNJ (Max, Nick and Jake), love our acronyms too.  The technology realm is no different.  For the seasoned technology professional, the day-to-day telco-jargon is easy to decipher.  However, many business owners aren’t “in the know” on many of these terms.  Below are the Top 10 telecommunication acronyms you need to know.  BTW (by the way), did you know that MNJ is equipped to provide all of these services to our customers?

1)   MPLS (multi-protocol label switching)  Does your company have more than one office?  If so, as an organization, how do you connect your locations?  An MPLS network allows businesses the ability to create a private network between all sites.  This enables them to direct their data (or voice) from one network node to the next prioritizing based on importance.

2)   SIP (session initiation protocol)  Over the last decade the voice industry has endured many changes.  We have seen the analog and digital phone age come and go.  However, as we shift towards being reliant on high-speed data networks, we find that voice is making that transition as well.  SIP is the protocol for signaling of multimedia communications utilizing an IP or data network.

3)   VoIP (voice over internet protocol)  SIP is the foundation of a VOIP network.  These two acronyms can be interchangeable.  As companies move away from a digital infrastructure that can be costly, they find tremendous cost savings by switching to SIP or VOIP.  Since the voice traffic passes over the internet, the cost for an additional circuit at each site is not necessary to provide dial tone to the business.

4)   UCaaS (unified communications as a service)  Unified Communications is taking over the way we communicate.  As companies shift to more of a work from home mentality, the need to collaborate is of utmost importance.  From Jabber, single number reach, voicemail to email, and conferencing, UCaaS allows companies and their road warriors to stay connected on any device, over any medium at any time.

5)   IaaS (infrastructure as a service)  With the era of virtualization, companies no longer need to have their networking equipment in house.  IaaS allows companies a computing infrastructure, to utilize resources on-demand from their large pools of equipment located in data centers.

6)   SD-WAN (software defined wide area network)  As MPLS can be costly, SD-WAN can be the answer to organizations looking to decrease costs, but also increase redundancy and reliability.  The SD-WAN appliance can bond two internet connections together.  It brings redundancy by introducing an alternate data network, but decreases costs by allowing companies to use two bulk internet connections (DSL or Broadband).  In the past, a company wouldn’t want to risk running mission critical data over a public bulk internet option.  However, with the SD-WAN solution, it creates an MPLS-like environment for a fraction of the cost.

7)   DIA (direct internet access)  A wired dedicated symmetrical internet access.  Where broadband and DSL can give you fluctuating speeds, a DIA will provide a secure reliable connection that maintains the same speed at all times.  These circuits offer both QOS and an SLA.

8)   QoS (quality of service)  Have you ever picked up the phone and felt that you were reliving your youth talking into a tin can?  Jitter, Packet Loss, and Latency are many of the reasons voice quality is subpar.  By running voice over an MPLS or DIA, QOS can be guaranteed to meet industry regulated standards on voice.

9)   SLA (service level agreement)  You just signed an industry standard three-year agreement with a company that will be providing the life source of your business – your voice and data network.  Many thoughts might run through your head at that exact moment.  The first one being, “What happens if the service is not good?”  Well my friend, meet your best friend, the SLA.  This agreement ensures that your network is up and running 99.999% of the time (also referred to as the “5 nines”).  If it does not hit the federally regulated requirements, this document will legally allow you to get out of your contract.

10)   VPN (virtual private network)  For some companies, an MPLS network might be overkill.  They need the ability to connect to their network, but they don’t require all of the nuances an MPLS network might bring them.  A VPN can create a private network across the public internet.  This allows applications to function outside of the main site with the utmost security.

June 11, 2016 Nick Kozak

The technology around circuitry is evolving. As a service provider, much of our business is involved in circuits. We feel the pain you feel when there is an outage. Recently in the Chicagoland area, there was an accidental fiber cut with Comcast that resulted in a six-hour outage for some of our clients. Not only does this bring our project work to a halt as we look at all solutions possible to bring clients back up, it exposes networks that do not have a back-up circuit. Many organizations site cost as the reason they do not have a back-up. There are ways of reducing that cost through Active/Active strategies.

MPLS has its place in the world, but it can be expensive. The reference to Public Internet is any non-guaranteed/bulk internet provider such as Comcast Business Class or Cogent. This also pertains to DIA circuits as well. To set a baseline, some obvious positives of these services are below.

MPLS:

  • SLA’s and performance guarantees
  • Secure route traffic and control
  • Easily monitored, maintained, and to troubleshoot

 

Public Internet/DIA:

  • Inexpensive per MB
  • Quick to install/turn up
  • Great way to handle non-mission critical traffic (Social Media, Streaming, etc.)

 

MPLS is needed for critical activities, especially with technologies such as voice, video, or anything that requires a secure, controlled circuit. Many of our clients use MPLS for their primary and their back-up with a larger MPLS as the primary for cost control. There are two ways to rethink this model; one is to use a Public Internet circuit for your bulk traffic and use an MPLS as a backup, and a way to route mission critical traffic.

The other way to rethink this model is a little more risky, but can save your organization money in the long run. One of our clients is using two Public Internet circuits at the majority of their sites, and only MPLS at a select few, larger sites. The purpose of this was to save money over the staggering rates they were paying for a nearly 100 site MPLS deployment. How did we do it? How does it work?

MNJ leveraged three existing technologies into one box. We used Cisco’s iWAN, DMVPN, and WAAS on a Cisco router, and put a router at each location. We put a central DMVPN hub into our core and centralized all routing protocols at this location. Utilizing WAAS, we are able to cover de-duplication and bandwidth optimization. Utilizing iWAN, the router is smart enough to determine which circuit is operating best and send traffic across the more effective circuit with performance based routing. Utilizing DMVPN, we were able to create a mesh network so that we did not have to place static routes at any of the client sites and we could simplify new site deployment

The benefit of this deployment is the client is able to save a great deal of money. By leveraging these technologies, the sites will perform nearly as effective as their MPLS circuits did previously, but at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, the DMVPN is smart enough to redirect traffic between locations directly instead of sending the traffic back to the core/hub every time, which saves on some bandwidth usage. While this solution may not be perfect for every organization, it is a good way to rethink WAN design when approaching the end of your existing circuit contracts.