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5 Steps to Choosing a Videoconferencing Solution

The right system can connect employees, improve collaboration with partners, and enhance customer service

Videoconferencing, with entire conference rooms dedicated to the latest and greatest in audio and video broadcasting, may seem out of bounds for small businesses. But videoconferencing is useful for more than large-scale lecture-based training sessions or global executive announcements. Small businesses can use this communications technology to enable collaboration with employees and partners around the world, demonstrate products to potential customers at any time, and amp up their online customer service efforts. The bottom line is that videoconferencing offers a cost-effective way to hold face-to-face meetings with anyone, no travel required.

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Virtual LANs Can Offer Big Benefits for Small Businesses

Wireless VLANs can boost network security and protect business assets by segmenting traffic

Small business networks don’t have to be basic. In fact, they should apply some advanced networking technologies to their networks to get the same benefits as large enterprises, such as virtual LANs (VLANs). Just like larger companies, smaller businesses can use VLANs to bolster security, increase usability, and improve network performance. And with a wireless VLAN, you can segment wireless traffic on your network into groups that keep certain types of traffic separate from the rest of the traffic on your network.

A LAN is defined as all the devices that connect to each other in the same broadcast domain, whether that’s a wired or a wireless network. A VLAN uses software to create a virtual network of devices that are assigned to a broadcast domain; a wireless VLAN is like a separate, mini network within your wireless LAN. You can set up one or more wireless VLANs to support different groups of users, depending on their needs and the risks inherent to your company.

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Ask Cisco: What’s the difference between a warranty and service contract?

February 20, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Q: I have a business with 150 employees and am looking into upgrading some of my IT hardware. When evaluating products, the availability of a service contract is sometimes mentioned. If the hardware I’m purchasing already has a warranty, why would I need a service contract? Aren’t they the same thing?

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5 Steps for Assessing Your Wireless Network Security

Regularly checking your WLAN for vulnerabilities will help keep your network safe

Network security is a never-ending task; it requires ongoing vigilance. Securing your wireless network can be particularly tricky because unauthorized users can quietly sneak onto your network, unseen and possibly undetected. To keep your WLAN secure, it’s important to stay on top of new wireless vulnerabilities. By regularly performing a vulnerability assessment on your wireless network, you can identify and close any security holes before a hacker can slip through them.

With a WLAN vulnerability assessment, you’re figuring out what your wireless network looks like to the outside world on the Internet. Is there an easy way in to your network? Can unauthorized devices attach themselves to your network? A WLAN vulnerability assessment can answer these questions—and more.

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WAPs: More than Simple Wireless Network Access

An advanced wireless access point can bolster wireless security and improve network access

Most people have come to expect wireless network access almost everywhere they go, especially when they are at work or elsewhere. After all, if they can check their email on their smartphones from Starbucks, why shouldn’t they be able to do the same in a conference room at the office? Luckily, adding wireless access to your existing network isn’t difficult—but you must make some choices. You can opt for a basic wireless access point (WAP) for wireless network connectivity. Or, you can choose a more advanced small-business wireless router or WAP that adds sophisticated capabilities to your wireless network.

At their most basic, WAPs simply connect wireless devices to your local network through a standard wireless signal such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A WAP connects to your router, which connects users’ devices (including smartphones, tablets, and laptops) to the network and the Internet. But WAPs can also bolster your network security, provide users with better network access throughout your building, and give you additional installation flexibility.

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