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Tailoring Unified Communications to Fit Your Small Business

These 3 steps will ensure you get the right solution to meet your needs now—and in the future.

A unified communications (UC) solution means different things to different people. In a broad sense, it integrates your voice and data networks. It can show up as a simple integration of your email with your voicemail into a single messaging inbox. It can be far more complex with presence and instant messaging technologies, fax, SMS, video and web conferencing applications all tying employees together. Or, you can have a UC solution somewhere in between—one that is tailored specifically to the needs of your small business.

No matter which components you choose, all unified communications solutions offer the same benefits to your employees: they can reach one another on the first try, they can be more productive, and they can collaborate more effectively. As a result, UC can reduce network and communications costs.

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Help Keep Company Data Safe on Employees’ Personal Devices

Securing smartphones and tablets used for work protects both the employee and the business.

More of your employees are using personal consumer devices for work than you may realize. The majority of them probably carry an Internet-enabled smartphone, like an iPhone, a BlackBerry, or an Android phone, and some may even be using an iPad for work, too. And employees are using these devices to access and work with the company data they need to do their jobs. Like the computers at your office, employees’ personal devices should be secured to protect both the business assets on your network and any sensitive data on employees’ personal devices.

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5 Workshops to Help Solve Your Business Challenges

Our friends at SCORE have produced 5 useful workshops, about how technology and the web can help you accelerate your small businesses. They are also hosting an in-person event in Anaheim on April 12, 2011!

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High-Performance, Highly Secure Connectivity for the Small Office

Connecting your employees and your business to the world is an absolute requirement in today’s always-on environ­ment. As large files and streaming video become more common, even a small office needs a combination of performance and security to help keep employees productive, whether they are working in the office or on the road.

The Cisco RV220W Network Security Firewall delivers high-performance, highly secure, flexible wired and wireless connectivity—to the Internet, other offices, and employees working remotely—in a device that is easy to use and affordable for a small office.

RV220W includes:

  • Gigabit Ethernet connections on all ports and a built-in wireless-N access point, provide high throughput for transferring large files and rich media content, to improve productivity
  • High Speed Selectable dual-band wireless access point, improves throughput and coverage and helps reduce interference
  • Flexible, highly secure VPN Connectivity -- Hybrid VPN (IPsec and SSL VPN) features enable secure access for other offices, employees working remotely, and business partners
  • Cisco web security service (optional), delivers cloud-based URL flitting and web threat protection for added security
  • Intuitive, browser-based device manager makes installation and use easy

Don’t believe us? Please check out this great review for RV220W on SmallNetBuilder.com for yourself!

Cisco’s RV 220W is positioned to become the go-to router for small business”

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Get More Control Over Your Network with a Smart Switch

This entry-level managed switch provides basic features like QoS and security, but at a more cost-effective price.

We’ve written before about the difference between managed and unmanaged switches and choosing the one that’s right for your small business. However, there’s a third option you should consider if you’ve outgrown your unmanaged switch but don’t need the more advanced functionality of a managed switch: It’s a smart switch.

Think of a smart switch as an entry-level managed switch. Smart switches provide basic managed switch features—like Quality of Service (QoS), security, and web management—butwithout the advanced features of  their fully-managed counterparts. With less granular capabilities, smart switches are also less expensive than managed devices.

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