Q: My company has been trying to figure out how we can do better at connecting our remote users to our main site, as well as making our other location seem like it’s right next door. Any advice?
Before you take the leap into unified communications, make sure your top choice will meet business and users’ needs
Despite its inception as enterprise technology, unified communications (UC)—with its convergence of voice, video, and data communications on a single IP-based network—offers small businesses several benefits. Users can easily make a call, send an email or instant message, or launch a voice or video conference through a single interface on their computers. In addition, UC can help- keep mobile workers more closely connected to the rest of your employees and enable better collaboration among everyone in your company.
Companies are recognizing these benefits and turning to UC more and more. In fact, according to research firm AMI-Partners, small to medium-size businesses in the U.S. are expected to double their spending on UC solutions by 2015.
If you’re among the many small businesses planning to add UC to your network, you may be shopping around for a solution right now. Before you decide, you’ll want to take these five considerations into account:
Plug PoE devices into your network for easy, anywhere electrical power
Have you ever needed to plug in a new phone, but you were all out of electrical outlets? Or maybe you’ve tried to install a wireless access point close to the ceiling, but no outlets were nearby. When you first start building your small business network, powering up hardware is the least of your worries. But after you’ve laid some cables and maxed out even your power strips, you may find outlets a precious commodity. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is the easy way to get around wiring when you need electricity for new devices. PoE provides a way to deliver power over your network to a variety of network-attached devices.
PoE allows electrical power to pass over standard Ethernet cables along with data traffic. Hardware equipped with PoE can be plugged directly into the network for a power source—no wall socket necessary. There’s a wide range of these network-attached devices that provide PoE support, including switches, wireless access points (WAPs), IP phones, video cameras, point-of-sale devices, and more.
Many small businesses opt for wireless networks; they provide the connection you need and are easier and less expensive to set up than a wired network. But that convenience can cost your company in compromised security and lost data if the network isn’t appropriately encrypted.small_business, wireless, wireless network, WLAN, security
Although most wireless LAN (WLAN) equipment comes with many settings preconfigured, encryption isn’t one of them. In this latest installment of Mythbusters, we explain why the encryption protocol you choose—Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)—makes a difference.
A password manager can encourage users to adopt unbreakable passwords
As users, we know that we should use complex, secure passwords that aren’t easily guessed words from the dictionary like ”admin” or personal dates to protect our systems. Nonsensical words and phrases that substitute digits and symbols for letters, such as ”45Monk3y t1m3 fun!,” are the most secure. But we also know how difficult it can be to create several unique, strong passwords—and even harder to remember them all.
To encourage employees to create passwords that are hard to crack but easily remembered and used, you can provide them with a password management system. Password management is both a standard company-wide policy for developing passwords, and, for many companies, a password manager application you add to your security arsenal as part of your small business security policy.