Give your network a sporting chance this summer

This summer sees a number of high profile sporting events taking place, from the Fifa World Cup which kicks off in just under a month, to Wimbledon, right the way through to the Ryder Cup in September. While there are those who follow sport keenly every summer, the World Cup is an event that draws in football fans and non-football fans alike, and that means more people trying to stream and keep up to date with every goal, dribble, and moment of drama.

We’ve seen a number of requests from organisations bracing themselves for the impact this will no doubt have on their network, with many IT departments facing up to the inevitable fact that many of their users will (often against corporate IT policy) be using services like Sky Go and BBC iPlayer across multiple devices to keep up to the minute on their favourite sports.

So how do you ensure that this extra traffic doesn’t end up slowing your mission critical applications and processes down?

How FTTC can help your business to optimise remote working practise

The advent of high speed broadband services has always been a hot topic amongst our partners, customers and the media at large. ADSL Max and ADSL2+ are great technologies which BT has rolled out to most of the UK. But, having recently moved to a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connection myself, it dawned on me that some of the features it offers are a real game changer for organisations wanting to enable or further improve connectivity to remote home office users. Interestingly this has nothing to do with the part of the service everyone seems so focused on: the download speed.

Why you should consider an integrated cloud and network provider

If you lack control over the performance and reliability of the network that connects you to the cloud capability, then no amount of resilience and technical wizardry on the part of your cloud provider will be of any value at all.

Typically, cloud providers do not own or provide the network connection. Net neutrality on the public internet backbone means that neither you nor your cloud provider will have any control over how your data packets are handled. If someone or something suddenly uses more bandwidth than expected, you may see a significant degradation of your application performance. If the application in question is mission-critical this could have a serious impact on the business. The importance of the network to cloud services means that a strong Service Level Agreement (SLA) and appropriate monitoring are vital in order to maintain optimal business continuity.

Reliance upon the network for access and application performance makes it essential to find a cloud infrastructure provider that understands and has expertise in networking and IT security. An Integrated Cloud Provider can deliver both the cloud resources and a fully controlled network. This means that you can set priorities on your traffic, as the link is direct from your in-house network fabric straight to the cloud provider, with no reliance on the public internet or an intermediate ISP. So as part of your cloud agreement, you can reserve a certain minimum network capacity for each of your mission critical applications.

2013: year of the IPv6 apocalypse?

‘IPv6 (and this time we mean it). The backbone of the Internet is straining. And we’re running out of time.’

Deloitte’s recent Tech Trends 2013 report throws up a title and tagline which sounds as if it’s been lifted from a science fiction film. Perhaps this hyperbole is borne out of frustration that the uptake of IPv6 has been slow from a customer and enterprise perspective, despite various adoption pushes, and that this all important group needs to buy-in, driving a lucrative new market. Equally, could it be that analysts, infrastructure providers and the like have seen the future and are moving to avert a global catastrophe? It is probably a mixture of both and while the ratio will vary depending on your perspective, there are some things we do know for certain: more devices accessing the internet means more need for IP addresses, the world will run out of IPv4 addresses, the future lies with IPv6 and making sure your organisation is ready once this new protocol becomes a standard will ensure your business isn’t left behind.

The adoption of mobile working practises are set to increase in 2013 – what does it mean for your business?

2013 promises to be an interesting year for businesses as they increasingly adopt new technologies and correspondingly adapt their strategies and operational practises. 75% of the 250 senior IT decision-makers recently interviewed as part of the Claranet Research Programme predict the use of mobile working to increase over the next 18 months. This statistic indicates a clear shift toward the adoption of mobile working practises in 2013, but what do companies thinking about adopting and adapting need to consider?

Firstly: the benefits. There are numerous advantages to an organisation adopting mobile working capabilities, including increased productivity, the ability to work in real time, a reduction in the necessity for office space and happier employees with a better work/life balance. All of which can affect the bottom line in a positive way.

Some of the reluctance to fully embrace mobile working is due to the inherent problems it creates. A company must resolve these issues completely in order to facilitate a successful strategy, because a half-baked solution only creates issues of its own. If the move toward mobile working isn’t handled correctly security, functionality and accessibility issues can cause both employees and organisations to suffer.

Key considerations for SMBs choosing a cloud computing provider

It’s evident that smaller enterprises can really benefit from cloud computing but there are several key considerations to take into account in order to maximise its effectiveness.

The first thing to note is that ‘cloud computing’ can be quite a nebulous term. It is not a new technology, but a new way to deliver IT. At its heart, rather than buying hardware or software as an asset, it is now possible to have IT on a pay-per-use basis.

SMB's tend to find this lack of upfront costs particularly attractive as they often have less capital available. They also tend to be changing a lot faster than their bigger competitors, making it advantageous to have IT that can keep up with this level of flexibility.

However, cloud adoption can pose particular challenges for SMBs that the wise procurer needs to consider.

Firstly, SMBs usually have limited internal resource to dedicate to IT. Skills, experience and financial restrictions often result in a greater level of dependence on the IT supplier to support not only the migration process, but also the maintenance when the new cloud service is in place.

Network and the cloud

While the business case for cloud hosted IT infrastructure and applications is quite clear and evidence shows many companies have started the journey towards deploying IT infrastructure and applications, the importance of the network in the cloud computing scenario has not been as clearly articulated.

Crucially: without a network, there is no cloud service.

The importance of the network is starting to come under increased scrutiny as more organizations access their IT needs through the cloud and the number of devices and their related applications needs grow. Global IP traffic is set to quadruple between 2009 to 2014 overall, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34 percent. As early as 2015, over 800 million terabytes of mobile data traffic will be offloaded to the fixed network by means of dual-mode devices and femtocells whilst Business IP traffic is growing at a CAGR of 21 percent (source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology). These new requirements placed on enterprise networks will force IT organizations to increase capital investment and resources to support highly available network performance. These changes are also requiring CIOs and IT managers to revaluate what they are comfortable to outsource.

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