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Talkin’ Tech: Switches

A new series that defines the terms behind the technologies that run your business.

When it comes to technology, there’s so much to know that it’s often overwhelming. As a small business owner, your brain is already overflowing with the myriad details and tasks involved in running your company. With our new Talkin’ Tech series, we define the basic terms behind a product category so that you can more easily understand and make decisions about the technologies that run your business.

In this first Talkin’ Tech, we tackle switches. The cornerstone of any reliable network, switches are the glue that connect your business to your employees, giving them access to the resources they need to do their jobs, including laptops, servers, printers, and storage devices. Switches are used to create a local area network (LAN). Although there are many different types of switches, the list below provides a glossary of the essential terms common to this category.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Talkin’ Tech series next month, when we’ll take a look at the terms behind unified communications. If there’s a product category you’re interested in having defined, we’d love to hear from you.

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Something Stopped Working. Should I Call Someone, or Give It My Best Shot?

Guest Post by Contributing Author Ken Presti

It would be hard to believe that any user of technology has not faced this question at one time or another. Something stopped doing what it is supposed to do, and we’re wondering whether to raise the white flag or try to fix it. In many cases, the answer is a long way from clear-cut. Part of us wants to take a crack at it. That same part of us doesn’t want to come across as less than knowledgeable. Also, that same part of us might not want to wait for someone to come in and fix it. After all, we are very busy.

On the other hand, just as a horse can perceive a nervous rider, technology issues often have an uncanny ability to go from bad to worse when someone with just a little knowledge goes “under the hood.” But depending on your skill level, there are certain things you might be able to do in order to try to get things up and running again.

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Virtual Storage Has Real Benefits for Small Businesses

Improve hardware use and manageability as well as reduce costs with storage virtualization.

Virtualization was initially developed for large companies to make their infrastructure, particularly servers and storage, operate more efficiently and to cut spending costs on new hardware. Like many technologies, server and storage virtualization products are now being developed for small businesses to bring the same benefits to their networks.

Many smaller companies start by creating a virtualized server environment. Using hypervisor software, you can divide a single server into multiple virtual servers, each one running its own operating system and associated workload. This lets one server run many more different applications than the one operating system, one workload model of an un-virtualized server.

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3 steps for Implementing VoIP in Your Small Business

The right IP phone system can help improve customer service and employee collaboration.

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a technology that seems tailor-made for small businesses, especially now that IP networks are as common as landline telephones, and broadband Internet access is within anyone’s budget. And the benefits of VoIP for small businesses are many, including reduced phone expenses, improved customer service, and enhanced employee productivity.

Small business VoIP solutions include hardware and software dedicated to handling voice traffic and offer a variety of calling features previously out of reach for smaller companies using a traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network) phone system. VoIP systems are designed to be flexible and scalable. So whichever system you choose now will grow along with your business, allowing you to easily add users, upgrade features, and expand into more sophisticated modules as you need them.

If you already have an IP network and a high-speed Internet connection, you can implement a VoIP phone system—and you can do it in three steps.

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Save Time Managing Your Wireless Network

Clustering technology lets you easily configure and manage your wireless access points.

The success of your business depends on the ability of your employees to stay connected to applications and customers, and to work productively throughout your business location. More and more small companies rely on wireless networks to give their employees greater mobility and flexibility, and to support partners and guests at the business site. But configuring, securing, and managing your growing wireless networks can be daunting, especially for small businesses without an IT department.

How can small companies cost-effectively address these demands and realize the full benefits of business-class wireless mobility? One way to simplify this task is to install a clustering wireless access point.

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