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A Virtual Private Network Can Fuel Cost-Effective Growth

With VPN, you can secure your network and also offer secure access to remote partners and employees.

Technology—no small business can succeed without it. Your network not only provides secure connectivity to your employees, but also to your community of partners, suppliers, and customers. Although your network is the lifeline of your business, you probably view it as a cost center, buying equipment as necessary—sometimes on the fly when a problem or immediate need arises. However, your network can be a source of cost-effective growth for your company.

If you installed a VPN as part of your infrastructure, it was most likely to provide employees with secure access to your network while working at home or on the road.  Apart from the obvious productivity gains that companies can achieve by providing employees with the ability to work from anywhere anytime, VPNs can also make it easier to expand your business and share pre-existing network resources and information.

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Public vs. Private IP-Based Voice Systems

Skype and Google Voice may seem like attractive, inexpensive options, but business-class IP phone systems offer secure service and investment protection.

I recently wrote about private IP PBX phone systems and the benefits they offer to small businesses, including cost savings compared to traditional PBX systems, easier deployment, and expandability. For small businesses on a tight budget, a free IP phone service, such as Skype or Google Voice, may seem like a more attractive option than having to shell out cash for a business-class IP phone system.

Similar to a private IP PBX, Skype and Google Voice are easy to deploy and offer a variety of voice and data features. In addition, there’s no cost involved up front; they’re free to download. However, both services use the public Internet to make and receive calls, and therefore pose risks in call quality and network security.

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6 Steps for Ensuring Small Business Network Security

Securing your network is a journey of ongoing vigilance to stay one step ahead of the latest threats, changing technologies.

There’s no such thing as a static network. Just as your company is evolving, your small business network is constantly changing—and your network security must be equally adaptable. Installing a firewall and anti-virus software is just the first step in keeping malicious traffic, hackers, and other security threats out of your network.

Security is a journey. You must continuously monitor your infrastructure so you can adjust to changes in your company’s business, changes in technology, and changes in employee behavior. It’s important to remember that any conversation about security doesn’t usually start with a security issue. It starts with your next business objective.

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Cloud Aggregators: What Are They and Should I Care?

Guest Post by Contributing Author Ken Presti

The tech industry is a virtual cavalcade of buzz words and acronyms. So it’s not surprising when small business leaders who are more concerned with day-to-day functions around pleasing customers and making payroll lose patience with the terminology.

I used the term, “cloud aggregator” in a conversation with a retail executive. Yes, I know. Not my best choice of terms, and this point was reinforced when the man looked at me like I had antennas growing out of my head. He then reeled-off three questions in rapid succession: Who are they? Why should he care? And would I mind carrying on the rest of the conversation in English?

Sure, I can do that.

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Web Conferencing Keeps You Connected While Cutting Costs

Meetings become more productive when employees can participate anywhere, any time

It’s no secret that most people dislike meetings. Employees often equate meetings with sitting around stuffy conference rooms, wasting valuable time in unproductive ways, and even hustling through airports to catch a red-eye flight. It’s easy to forget that meetings are important for building consensus, making decisions, and getting your product or service to market. So what’s the best way to ensure meetings are productive and cost effective? Simply, web conferencing.

A web conferencing solution elevates meetings into streamlined, collaborative sessions. The technology requirements are minimal, especially if you choose a hosted or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, and most employees already have the necessary phone, computer, and Internet connection (a webcam is optional). This means that employees can easily meet with anyone from any location, share data quickly, and collaborate in real time. For many smaller businesses, eliminating the need to travel for meetings is the greatest cost- and time-saving benefits.

WebEx, Cisco’s SaaS web conferencing solution, has been leading the market for 15 years. That means there’s very little risk to a small business adopting this technology for the first time.

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