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An IP Voice System Can Save You Money and Grow With Your Business

IP-based phone systems offer better convenience and expandability versus traditional PBX

Small businesses have so many more options now when it comes to business technologies, many of which have evolved to meet the specific needs of smaller companies. Even Voice over IP (VoIP) phone systems are now well within reach for companies that are looking for enterprise features on a small business budget. An IP-based voice system provides a business-class phone solution that is more affordable, convenient, and expandable than a traditional PBX phone system.

According to research from AMI Partners, small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. will step up their adoption of VoIP solutions in 2011, including IP PBX systems. AMI states, ”Over 30 percent of small businesses (1 – 99 employees) and 50 percent of medium businesses (100-999 employees) say that VoIP will become critical to their business operations.” AMI also found that smaller companies are choosing VoIP systems for advanced IP features as well as for cost savings.

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Reading Partner Contracts

Guest Post by Contributing Author Ken Presti

Okay, so you’ve shopped around, evaluated partners, evaluated solutions, and checked out the technology vendors. You think you’ve found what you’re looking for, and now it’s time to do the paperwork. Your expectations of what comes next should be largely dependent on the types of services to be rendered.

On one level, we can segment the contracts into two basic categories: The first category would be contracts to enhance and expand your IT infrastructure; the second category would be contracts to keep your IT infrastructure up and running. Of course, the two are often combined into a unified contract, most often in situations where the IT capabilities are being expanded, and it just makes sense to add the back-end maintenance piece. Sometimes maintenance will be managed through some sort of master agreement that also puts in place most of the primary terms and conditions for any subsequent additional projects that could then be commissioned with relatively simple paperwork.

Some of the key points to consider when reviewing any of these contracts would include the following:

Does the contract adequately describe the services to be rendered? In projects for network upgrades, you’ll definitely need to see a pretty formidable task list. Should the contract include training your people to operate the new gear? That answer will depend on the nature of the upgrade, but it’s something to think about. In maintenance contracts, individual tasks can be a lot more difficult to specify. The main objective is that they will address issues as they occur.

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The Help You Need—When You Need It

The Small Business Support Community puts experts at your fingertips to provide assistance and resolve problems

As a small business owner, you rely on the technology that runs your business. Time is money and you can’t afford to lose either because a switch, storage device, or security appliance that’s critical to your business is down. You need help, and fast, to get your business up and running again – one way is to turn to an online support community.

Similarly, you wouldn’t consult a single source for a technology recommendation if, for example, your company needed a wireless guest access solution. You want input and experiences from multiple sources so you can make the right choice for your business.

The tech community has a long history of leveraging advice and help from their peers. Online bulletin boards and chat rooms have provided support and solutions for more than 10 years. Fast forward to 2011 where advances in web and social media technologies have enhanced the possibilities of these tools. Now, you can poll your peers, independent experts, and even company product managers to get assistance and find information.

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Protect Your Business From Data Loss With Network Storage

A NAS device can make data backups simple, automated, and secure

Lost data is the stuff of any business owner’s nightmares. The power goes out, a hard drive fails, a laptop gets forgotten at the airport, a hacker breaks through your network defenses; and, in that single moment, data that you rely on to run your small business disappears. Whether it’s a list of new customer leads, this year’s tax documents, or a user manual for a new product, it doesn’t matter—losing that data can be devastating to your business.

Have you lived this nightmare?

You can chase the fear of data loss from your dreams by deploying an automated backup system. Surprisingly, though, many smaller businesses don’t protect their data with regular backups, according to a recent research from Symantec. The 2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Global Survey found that half of respondents back up just 60 percent of their data, less than half back up their data every week or more frequently, and approximately 20 percent run daily backups. The survey also reveals that many small businesses don’t back up their most important data: 31 percent don’t back up email, 21 percent don’t back up application data, and 17 percent don’t back up customer data.

Do you have the cold sweats yet?

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Get Cash Back When You Upgrade Your Network

Receive as much as $999 in rebates when you trade in your used networking products

Are you considering upgrading your network? If so, you’re among a growing majority. According to the Jan 2011 CDW IT Monitor, 49 percent of U.S. small businesses expect to install new hardware in the next six months.

Perhaps you want to add wireless services to your network with a high-performance switch or you need to bolster network defenses with a security appliance. Whatever your small business’s networking needs, now is the ideal time to meet them. The Cisco Rebate Program lets you trade in your used networking products and get as much as $999 in cash-back rebates when you purchase new Cisco gear. You also have the opportunity to receive three years of Smart Foundation services for the price of one on select Cisco products.

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