The Recipe for a Good SLA

SLA Recipe CardIn the world of purchasing a service, things aren’t always as clear as buying a product. Orange or purple, 32Gig or 64Gig is easy. There’s a certain guarantee that the product you’re receiving will live up to those attributes. In the realm of business services, it isn’t so black and white. With so many service providers and products to choose from in the bandwidth marketplace it’s often hard to understand if you’re getting an enforceable service level agreement (SLA) or a service based on “Best Effort.” An enforceable SLA has specific metrics that need to be met by the service provider, and if they are not met, the customer receives a credit. A “Best Effort” service has no predefined metrics to meet and is usually provisioned on an over-subscribed network. Obviously, that’s a big difference! To even further complicate matters, there are providers out there offering upstream speeds at one level and download speeds at another level. These types of guarantees are typical for a residential service, but should be cautiously avoided by business customers.

Now, let’s get back to basics. What exactly is a “Service Level Agreement”? According to the tele-management forum an SLA is defined as:

“Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines the availability, reliability and performance quality of delivered telecommunication services and networks to ensure the right information gets to the right person in the right location at the right time, safely and securely. The rapid evolution of the telecommunications market is leading to the introduction of new services and new networking technologies in ever-shorter time scales. SLAs are tools that help support and encourage customers to use these new technologies and services as they provide a commitment from SPs (Service Providers) for specified performance levels [TM Forum 2008].”

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Chicken or the Egg; Bandwidth or Technology.

Computer Egg HatchingJust as the chicken vs. the egg is an age-old debate, in this new ever-dynamic 21st century, so is the concept of bandwidth vs. technology. Essentially, is new technology driving the need for more bandwidth or is the availability of bandwidth driving advances in technology?

I am sure high school debate teams across the country could divide themselves up evenly and have a spirited debate on the above question. In our business, however, we find this a fairly straightforward answer.

When considering three of the major verticals we service: healthcare, higher education and K-12 network solutions, one can seamlessly pinpoint specific technology that is driving bandwidth consumption and thus providers to supply bigger, faster pipes. More secure as well, but that is a separate discussion. Read more of this post

Decoding DNA: Developing Networks to Handle Dynamic Data

DNA StrandWhen it comes to bandwidth hogs, where do we begin? There exists a plethora of daily-use applications that fall into this category; with many more yet to hit the hot list as technologies evolve. Some congestions using Internet-based solutions include social media, video streaming content or home automation access. The healthcare industry has no shortage of these bandwidth hoarders. With the ever-growing compliancy requirements for using IP to transfer data, there becomes some concern over the use of IP based connectivity. For now, let’s evaluate genome data, since more and more healthcare researchers are recovering data from a human genome.

A human genome is the complete set of nucleic acid sequence for humans; encoded as deoxyribonucleic acid, for short DNA, a molecule that carries our genetic instructions. So you may be thinking,

“What would genetic researchers need to do with data networking?”

Within this DNA, researchers are trying to pull the info from a single individual to isolate medicine to that specific individual. This means a more precise medication without all the side effects from taking it. I can almost guarantee, each of us has sat watching the TV commercials, which take longer to list the FDA-required side effects versus what the medication will actually do for your body. What if researchers could curb those side effects and individualize a treatment plan for that person? Read more of this post

We All Need Backhaul

Cell Signal Skyline“BYOD,” a name which created a buzz within the technology industry is now synonymous with the mobile workforce and its increased productivity.  The elevated cell phone usage during work hours, whether checking your e-mail on a stroll to the coffee station; an occasional text message to a family member; or downloading a spreadsheet from your mobile device, has expanded your organization’s need for in-building capacity and coverage.

Small cells, which create zones of cellular coverage, yield faster upload and download speeds by extending the signal closer to the end consumer and allows corporations the ability to control device information.  Extending the signal closer provides you with the information needed to enforce policies and target users more accurately.  By offering a cleaner signal and utilizing less power, Small cells have a positive effect on the environment, are more efficient in high-density areas, and provide a solution where cell towers cannot be built. Read more of this post

Inverting the Cost Curve – The Case for Fiber in the World of Enterprise

mountaingraphAs consumer applications multiply and are served via the “cloud,” bandwidth consumption continues to increase. We’ve seen this trend drive the cable companies to offer higher bandwidth connections to the home. It also has driven a dramatic increase in mobile bandwidth consumption – I’m sure you’ve felt the pain of a website failing to load on your smartphone or tablet while traveling.

This same trend is now impacting businesses of all sizes across various industries. Financial firms and traders were perhaps affected first – the move to computer trading platforms forced a bandwidth race and need for reliability and security. But now, large enterprises in particular, are moving to hosted email, ERP and CRM systems. Their employees need more bandwidth in office to interface with these cloud-based applications. Read more of this post

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