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Network Services

Software Defined Secure Branch is a purpose built solution designed for businesses and organizations with complex multi-location IT management needs and the desire for more visibility, security protection, and control of their network. Once in place, it helps keep the network secure and accessible through a combination of simplified management, the intuitive software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution, and security.

Branch or remote office network architectures have barely changed for 15+ years. The digital enterprises of today need a network landscape that is built for the demands of the workloads of today – a network that is agile, intelligent, secure and reduces operational complexity while being cost-effective.  By 2021, 10% of midsize and large enterprises will have transitioned from piloting (during 2017) to using on-demand SDN-enabled services (Gartner, 2018 SAM Market Opportunity Forecast Readout – Network).

“Software Defined Secure Branch lets our customers focus on their business or organization as first priority, leaving the IT to us,” said Victoria Lonker, Verizon’s vice president of global products and solutions. “The simple, intuitive experience delivers rapid provisioning of new branch locations, a mobile management app, service health, application visibility and the security controls needed to protect the business.”

Verizon’s Software Defined Secure Branch, offered with Versa Networks, provides:

  • Video and cloud-based service performance leveraging SD-WAN to automatically adapt the network to help improve application performance.
  • Business continuity benefits through enterprise-grade connectivity and Verizon’s robust 4G LTEnetwork for active backup.
  • Bundled security through Verizon’s comprehensive threat management and end-to-end network encryption.
  • An application-centric network on Verizon’s sophisticated and managed infrastructure driving an enhanced user experience.
  • Intuitive mobile app-based service management and continuous monitoring capabilities for the service.
  • The service is easily accessible through the Verizon Enterprise Center online user experience portal that unifies the purchase, deployment, and management. The visibility provided through the portal gives business owners the tools needed to deliver on a better customer experience.
  • “SD-WAN is a powerful and complex solution with many moving parts. Verizon’s offer is a simple yet flexible way for businesses and partners to get technology at the level of features they need, and expand into new features as they need them,” said Brian Washburn, Practice Leader, Network Transformation and Cloud, Ovum.

Adopting Verizon’s Software Defined Secure Branch gives organizations a network landscape that is built for the digital enterprises of today. It maintains application performance and delivery, provides flexibility to easily integrate and scale the right security functions alongside advanced networking capabilities, and offers agility and better cost management.

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Network Services

ATI’s partner, Zach Renkert with TBI, takes you through Cisco Meraki’s cloud managed wireless and switching infrastructure including: MS220-8P Switch, MR30H Wireless Access Point, MR33 Wireless Access Point.

 

Watch the video for:

 

  • Overview of each devices and items included
  • Features and functions of the devices
  • Use cases

About Meraki Cloud Managed Switches:

 

Cisco Meraki provides high performance switching infrastructure suited for everything from small branch office access switches to the large enterprise with stackable Layer 3 aggregation switches. Meraki makes it easy for IT staff with a fully cloud-managed dashboard to quickly pre-stage and deployng switches seamlessly from any web browser or mobile device. The Meraki dashboard allows you to quickly configure and tag ports with voice and data VLANs, 802.1X authentication, dynamic Layer 3 routing and create robust reporting metrics on device health and behavior all in a sleek, highly visual GUI.

 

About Meraki Cloud Managed Wireless:

 

Wireless AP deployments are made simple with Meraki. With an entirely cloud-based management platform, IT teams can quickly deploy access points and configure them entirely within a web browser or mobile device. All Meraki wireless devices currently support 802.11ac Wave 2, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radios, and models operating 2×2:2 MU-MIMO with others using 3×3:3 or 4×4:4, Meraki has APs ranging from basic office coverage to ruggedized high-density coverage for any application. All Meraki APs include the robust analytics and reporting via Meraki dashboard allowing IT staff to quickly identify coverage and foot traffic patterns on their wireless network.

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Network Services
Article by ATI partner Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO – Bigleaf Networks

IT leaders at today’s cloud-enabled businesses are expected to provide the same predictable performance that they did with on-prem systems. Downtime is unacceptable, and these cloud applications need to work the way they were meant to. They need to be responsive, fast, and not frustrate users. And they must do all of this in a way that scales – working consistently as business needs change, revenue grows, and locations expand.

But cloud is creating new challenges for the network, challenges not readily solved through traditional networking technology that rely on static policies.

The first challenge is that, by nature, cloud technologies rely on the Internet, and no matter what kind of internet circuit you look to use, performance is unpredictable. We monitor thousands of internet connections ten times per second and can tell you very simply that it doesn’t matter what kind of connection you have; fiber, cable, wireless, etc., they all can experience business-affecting degradation. This can mean downtime or brownouts, and both can be expensive, frustrating to users, and potentially job-threatening to the people responsible for networking. Our data shows that on average, an ISP connection will experience 3.5 hours of downtime per month and 23 hours of major performance-affecting brownouts per month. This can be at 2 AM, so if you’re not a 24/7 business maybe that hasn’t hit you hard yet, but it can also be during the middle of the day.

The second challenge comes from the ever-shifting application landscape. If your users are leveraging the cloud well, procuring and consuming new applications all the time and shifting their use of current applications, how does the network keep up? There’s no way for network administrators to know exactly the makeup of their traffic 6 months from now (if they even know what it looks like today). This means that it’s impossible to create static network policies that can provide a good user experience over time.

Finally, the third challenge is that IT is no longer the sole gatekeeper of software provisioning. This means that, even with plentiful IT resources, there are critical technologies being used in businesses that IT doesn’t know about and has no policies to manage.

These challenges lead to an all-too-familiar game of policy whack-a-mole. Users get frustrated by application outages or poor performance. They contact IT in a huff, and now IT must decide if they’re going to ignore the problem, say it’s not a supported application, try to fix it with some new network policy, or maybe contact a vendor so that vendor can implement a new policy. At the end of the day, no one is happy, and the cloud is a point of frustration rather than empowerment.

Here’s what I think is at the root of the situation: It used to be that IT controlled every application. IT was the bottleneck and was able to control the experience. Sometimes that worked out well, but that’s not the way the world is moving.

In this new cloud era, IT is now a facilitator, end-users are interacting directly with their applications. They’re procuring, configuring, using, and troubleshooting them. Yes, they’ll still come to blame IT when they don’t work right, but the interaction model has fundamentally changed. IT leaders need network technologies that support this new model, that enable their users to be nimble and efficient with applications.

If their network is built upon a set of static, human-controlled policies, how do companies ensure performance and reliability when new applications can be added into the environment at any time? They can probably configure policies for 80 or 90 percent of their business needs. That’s pretty good, and they’ll feel like they’ve done their job, the box is checked, they can say they have failover or application prioritization. But what about when one of those new applications uses a ton of bandwidth – how does that impact their existing business-critical applications? Or when their CEO gets sent an invite to use some random videoconferencing tool they’ve never heard of for a key meeting, are their network policies going to ensure he or she can communicate effectively, or will they get a frustrated email after the call?

Beyond simple frustrations and inconvenience, if a business relies on static network policies, it’s exposed to the risk of falling behind competitors who are using the intelligent software in their network. The solution to this lack of control isn’t more policies, it’s a smarter network.

At Bigleaf, we don’t want our users to have to think about how the network will handle new applications. Frankly, everyone wants their voice calls to sound clear, their video to play smoothly, their web applications to be snappy, and their databases to be reliable. We’ve built smart software that auto-detects every type of application, classifies them into six priority categories, and automatically ensures they behave how they’re supposed to, even when the network is congested. Our users don’t need policies to get the outcome they want. It’s wonderful.

Article by ATI partner Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO – Bigleaf Networks

Learn more about SD-WAN for Enterprises here.
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Network Services

The rise of IoT, emerging technologies and increased demand for edge computing will present new security and data center challenges. Conversations will begin taking a different shape starting 2019.

“Digital business across the enterprise is now a full C-suite team pursuit,” according to Chris Pemberton in his recap of 8 top findings to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018-19. Digital initiatives topped the list of priorities for CIOs in 2019, with 33% of businesses now in the scaling or refining stages of digital maturity — up from 17% last year (Gartner, 2018). 

To address changing consumer and employee behavior, businesses are growing and adapting not just with new technologies, but by implementing new ways of accessing and connecting to them. Technology predictions for 2019 and beyond like: autonomous things, augmented analytics, AI as part of almost all development like Natural Language Processing for BI and analytics, fog and edge computing, immersive experiences with VR/AR and Mixed Reality, the continued proliferation of blockchain and as a service (cloud services) and smart things all require greater bandwidth and faster communications.

Connected systems are our new reality. And according to Cisco, global IP traffic will triple by 2021 (Cisco, 2018). With new, connected devices, traffic is crowded and the foundation of the telecommunication channel will continue to grow as it supports future technologies. In other words, much as the channel is changing with new technology, selling network and connectivity will remain the most constant and stable sales.

New technologies, interconnected devices, streaming applications, both business and personal applications running simultaneously during business hours, are all putting pressure on traditional MPLS networks. As businesses struggle to support ever-growing connectivity demands with cloud-based apps or to maintain seamless access to mission critical systems, bandwidth becomes an issue. Many networks can’t handle the increased demand, lacking speed, high capacity pipes, smart connections and adequate last mile connections. Now, connections to the cloud, branch locations, data centers, etc., require hybrid network configurations or SD-WAN to utilize gigabyte last mile options.

Prediction: Network transport should remain a key topic in customers digital transformation journeys. As more applications and workloads migrate to the cloud, the last-mile will determine the performance and user experience. Ultimately, it’s important for a selling partner to recommend direct connections to the Internet and pathways that guarantee performance, security and reliability. IoT, mobility and conferencing/collab technologies will only lead to greater sales of fiber, coax or both. The combination and innovation of SDN and gigabyte broadband will help shape enterprise networks and enable digital transformation.

5G wireless backup will be incredibly beneficial when it comes to data center connections, connections to clouds, each other/disparate locations.

Prediction: 5G connectivity will begin taking center stage as we all face a congested, traffic-filled Internet. 5G is expected to become commercial reality in 2019; it provides wireless connectivity options (e.g. back up and capitalizing on gigabyte speeds for last mile, eliminating the need for wires). It will also enable more hybrid and cloud applications with newer technologies such as machine learning, graphics rendering in the cloud for mixed reality and innovations as a result of higher bandwidth and lower latency. 5G will be a game changer on all fronts: networks, devices and allowing for new use cases for technology, applications, business processes and models.

Prediction: Data center business will look different to accommodate real-time mission critical data particularly when it comes to IoT. Fog and edge computing, which is the way data is processed and the network connections needed to bring data from the edge to the end point (mainly being the cloud), is going to become more popular. It has to be. FuturumResearch asks “if you were driving an autonomous car, would you want its communication to battle through a mess of data from users making online purchases or uploading files for their company? Or would you rather it makes a clear beeline directly to your car’s data processing center?” Futurum goes onto say, “…as we’re using augmented reality for training, smart vehicles to manage our transportation needs, millions of IoT devices and even remote robotic surgeries to save lives, we’re at a point where we can’t risk the chance of data getting stuck in digital traffic. In many cases, data delay could mean the difference between life and death.” (Futurum, 2018). 

Emerging technology like AI, IoT and 5G will increase data production and real-time, mission critical data will now need to be stored in closer, smaller data centers. An IDC study sponsored by Seagate, DataAge 2025, found that by 2025 almost 20% of data created will be real-time in nature. Hence, needing the ability to process and securely store data at the edge rather than sent to the network core for processing. The data center prediction by many telecom experts is that data center infrastructure will become more distributed with regional storage hubs and smaller city locations. These micro data centers will be bolted onto existing communication structures like telecom towers with the rollout and commercialization of 5G.

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Network Services

As advancements in technology open doors to opportunity, the business landscape has forever changed.  As new ecosystems form in the business landscape the race to compete, to satisfy client needs faster and to extend digital services farther is at an all time high. Industry lines are blurring, organizations are becoming more and more interdependent on one another and they now look to technology to make it all work. As more businesses adopt the cloud, IoT, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, lack of mission-critical connectivity means lack of progress.

Can newly formed ecosystems thrive without consistent access to mission-critical bandwidth? Can physicians seamlessly connect with health systems and hospitals? Can universities share research and information with other institutions and businesses in real time? Some cannot.

Why? Because not all enterprise buildings have access to fiber.

Across the U.S., almost all enterprise buildings with 250 employees or more are fiber-lit, while less than half of buildings with 20 to 50 employees have access to fiber, according to  Vertical Systems Group. Yet the need for fiber bandwidth is just as important at these locations. With digital infrastructure opening opportunity to companies of all sizes, this access gap translates into significant challenges for growing ecosystems.

Today, access to fiber is fundamental to the progress of every organization across every industry. As organizations become more interconnected, more instrumented and more dependent on connectivity, their networks don’t just support their businesses, their networks are their businesses.

That’s why Spectrum is investing more than one billion dollars to increase client access to their national fiber network.

They’re closing the gap for clients by absorbing the costs of fiber construction for the majority of enterprise buildings within our footprint. We believe that every enterprise should have the opportunity to reach its full potential. In fact, they’ve been adding more than 50 fiber-lit buildings to the national network every day.

Access to fiber is too important. Connectivity, too mission-critical. And digital infrastructure too fundamental to progress.


See if your building is lit for Spectrum Fiber.

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Network Services

The availability of fiber has exploded in the past year or so, a result of massive efforts and capital investments by all the major telecom and cable companies in a bid to replace their current network assets, which are costly to maintain and rapidly becoming outdated.

Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) have been taking a beating by local cable companies offering inexpensive big-bandwidth cable solutions. As a result, these carriers, with their older and more unreliable copper network assets, are often hard-pressed to deliver comparable connectivity speeds and have decided to fight back with fiber, often waiving the large up-front construction fees that have previously made the investment in fiber cost-prohibitive.

ILECs have also established Network Peering Relationships that enable them to participate in the increasingly competitive marketplace across the country. In other words, rather than only one option for fiber in your neighborhood, there could be multiple providers able to offer the same services, thus making pricing more competitive. 

Here, we’ve complied six reasons that you should discuss the switch to fiber from coax with your team and what types of businesses can benefit from this change, now.

1. Speed

Sandisk research indicates that slow internet connections cost employees one week per year in productivity. Think about that. While delays due to slow internet may seem negligible, over time, they add up. An organization shouldn’t notice Internet slow-downs during periods of high demand; similarly, Internet connections should never inhibit productivity.  

Fiber-optic Internet is exponentially faster than even the highest-speed coax connection, with options ranging from 5Mbps to 100 Gbps.

2. Reliability

Fiber Internet connectivity is stronger than copper coax and therefore has significant advantages in reliability, such as negligible vulnerability to inclement weather conditions. In a coax situation, however; weather can damage or stall data transmissions via copper cabling. Additionally, unless the fibers are physically cut, fiber is resistant to human or electrical interference, and fiber Internet signals do not degrade or disappear due to electromagnetic interference.

Indisputably, unreliable Internet connections can have real costs to businesses. If a business requires a reliable Internet connection to make phone calls or access applications, reliability is an absolute necessity. For any business, really, unplanned downtime can bring operations to a screeching halt, impacting productivity and potentially revenue.

3. Bandwidth

Although fiber-optic Internet for business isn’t truly unlimited, the bandwidth availability is substantially higher than cable Internet bandwidth where it’s fairly easy to “hit the cap” on your monthly bandwidth allotment, particularly for businesses with a high need for data transmissions.

If your users habitually perform any of the following activities, a considerable amount of demand is repeatedly being placed on the company’s bandwidth:

  • File sharing
  • Web conferencing
  • Streaming HD video
  • Accessing cloud applications
  • SIP trunking


Look out for the warning sings of low bandwidth availability: delays, slow speeds and pixelated video quality. If a company’s current Internet connection just isn’t cutting the mustard, they could benefit significantly from an upgrade to a fiber-optic Internet connection.

4. Latency

The delays that occur while processing data over an Internet connection are considered latency. Users can experience many delays on cable Internet, most notably when uploading or downloading video or high-definition content. Though they may not be streaming House of Cards on Netflix in their office, latency impacts a business in a variety of ways. Decreasing latency can benefit your business by:

  • Improved collaboration between employees
  • Upload and download large files without disruption or delays
  • Move more applications to the cloud
  • Improved voice quality for VoIP users


5. Security

The average cost to a business from an information security breach is $3.8 million, and companies who have protected information leaked can face stiff financial penalties and customer defection.

Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy for hackers and other nefarious cyber-criminals to gain access to sensitive information with cable Internet as a result of cable tapping or other fairly simple techniques. On the other hand, the only way to infiltrate a fiber-optic Internet is to physically cut the wires, causing the signal to vanish; therefore, a fiber Internet connection is one of the single most powerful ways to increase a company’s protection against cyber-crime.

Although the media might focus on breaches of high-profile enterprise corporations, companies of all sizes are vulnerable to attack. Numerous SMB’s lack the money and resources to invest heavily in security, and many also have an “it can’t happen to me” type of mentality. The truth is quite the opposite, though. In reality, the likelihood of an SMB experiencing a cyber-attack or data breach is over 50% (Penemon Institute, 2017).


While upgrading to fiber Internet connectivity won’t prevent all risks, it can certainly be an initial step to protect them. Like a suit of armor, the knight may still get struck with his opponent’s sword, but he’s far less likely to be hit in a vital organ.

6. Cost-Efficiency

As previously mentioned, ILEC’s are taking strides to make the transition to fiber more affordable with Network Peering Relationships as well as a willingness to, in some cases, absorb the initial construction costs, which could save thousands of dollars in up-front capital expenditure.

While still more expensive than coax, fast Internet is frequently thought of as a “productivity tool” for business—and a necessary one at that. Loss of productivity can multiply across an organization: the number of employees that a slow Internet connection impacts relative to an average of a week’s lost wages for each of them over the course of a year…suddenly an investment in fiber sounds more affordable.

Additionally, businesses can gain flexibility and scalability with fiber. As an ever-increasing number of business functions are being moved to the cloud—a fiber connection can better serve these initiatives, saving time and money.

Understanding what pain points fiber Internet can address as well as the numerous benefits that can be had is key to knowing if you are ready to make a move to fiber. 

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Network Services
Article by ATI partner Nitel & the Power of SD-WAN for Hospitality 

The number one goal of the hospitality industry is to please customers. Hotel chains are always looking for ways to go above and beyond to improve the customer experience. This regional hotel chain was looking to reinvent itself as a business destination. They had recently remodeled all of their meeting rooms and installed smart-TVs in order to attract conferences and on-site meetings. They also built a new on-site work center where guests could use their laptops in a designated workspace.

Upgrading Facilities & Technologies

In making these upgrades, the hotel chain knew they would also need to reevaluate their current network infrastructure. They knew that their current MPLS network would not deliver enough bandwidth to handle the increased traffic.

Just as important, managing the internet access and firewalls that were deployed at each site proved to be a bigger job than they would want their limited on-site IT staff to handle. With a mishmash of security policies, no centralized security strategy or administration, and a lack of confidence around their ability to monitor their security environment around the clock, the customer was concerned about being embarrassed by a breach.

With the chain in growth mode, they were looking for a scalable solution that could grow with them. As a result, this customer approached Nitel to:

  • Increase bandwidth to support the new initiatives
  • Simplify administration of their security environment
  • Complement IT staff’s ability to keep an eye on network security


Choosing the Right SD-WAN Platform

Upon realizing that an SD-WAN solution would address the customer’s needs, they took time to examine which of Nitel’s SD-WAN platforms would best suit the customer. With multiple platforms to choose from, Nitel can create a more custom-tailored solution for customers. In this case, the platform that enabled a more user-friendly, robust analytics and reporting platform fit with what they were looking to accomplish.

The solution could easily accommodate the increased bandwidth the customer wanted – with the added benefit of delivering it over redundant access links that would provide better resiliency and uptime.

With Nitel’s integrated SD-Security, the customer would still have security policies carried out at each individual location, but they could be administered centrally, which would simplify administration and give them consistency across locations. This solution also brought a level of simplicity since the customer was also able to manage their network performance and security all through a single platform.

Through this solution the customer gained:

  • Centralized management with reduced network complexity
  • Increased visibility and management of application performance with built-in failover for multiple circuits
  • Improved application performance
  • SD-Security features layered over their network

Thanks to the solution designed by Nitel’s engineers, this customer was poised to continue its transformation by providing better technology solutions to its business customer while protecting their network efficiently and with ease.

Article by ATI partner Nitel & the Power of SD-WAN for Hospitality 


Learn more about SD-WAN.

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Network Services
Businesses are becoming smarter by using SD-WAN for a more agile and cost-effective network.

The next wave of networking technologies will transform how you virtualize your infrastructure. With AT&T FlexWare, you’ll be able to gain significant benefits that will let you make your business more agile and responsive.

Sign up for a no obligation AT&T SD-WAN Assessment today.
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Network Services

In the demonstration, two Cradlepoint CBA850 routers are setup as the primary WAN connections and tied back into a VeloCloud box to control data being passed through the Cradlepoint devices. 

Watch the video to learn:

  • How SD-WAN from VeloCloud prioritizes voice over data traffic, ensuring VoIP calls are clear and consistent
  • How SD-WAN from VeloCloud maintains voice quality in the event of a circuit failure
  • How a Cradlepoint LTE router is a viable backup connection (even for small VoIP environments)

Get a No Obligation SD-WAN Assessment Today

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Network Services

Article by ATI partner Michael Gough, VP Channel Sales – GTT

Cloud adoption places intense new demands on enterprise networks. Performance, security and scalable bandwidth are vital to running mission-critical applications hosted in the cloud. Network transformation is a priority on the CIO agenda to support a cloud strategy and a more distributed enterprise IT environment. The traditional wide area network (WAN) was not designed for cloud-based application performance, which is why SD-WAN now commands the attention of many CIOs. Industry research firm IDC estimates that 82 percent of enterprises will have implemented SD-WAN within the next 18 months, increasing from 38 percent in early 2017.

Below are four use cases highlighting the business benefits of SD-WAN:

Reduced costs. Enterprises need direct and cost-effective network access to applications hosted in the cloud. SD-WAN can route non-mission-critical application flows over less expensive broadband internet directly to the cloud by leveraging application-aware intelligent routing. This results in reduced WAN operating costs while ensuring appropriate security, reliability and performance for all applications.

Improved IT agility and simplicity. Enterprises seek reduced complexity, faster service provisioning and greater flexibility. SD-WAN’s centralized provisioning of WAN connectivity at a site level, aligned to business policies, reduce the complexity of managing network equipment at the branch level and relieves the burden on local IT resources.

Strengthened data security for all applications, especially those hosted in the cloud. Traditional WAN connectivity options guarantee the reliability and security of data traffic, while broadband internet or LTE may not offer the same assurances. SD-WAN solutions leverage integrated security features such as network address translation, IPSec tunnels and firewalls to enhance data security for all applications connecting to the cloud.

Enhanced customer engagement. Improving customer experience ranks high on the list of priorities for many CIOs. SD-WAN enables improvements in user experience by ensuring applications are available and performing well.

GTT’s managed SD-WAN service utilizes the company’s Tier 1 global IP backbone, ranked among the largest in the industry, securely connecting client locations to any destination on the internet and to any application in the cloud. GTT offers the widest range of access options with bundled network security, making it simple and cost-effective to add network locations and bandwidth as needed. Clients benefit from a flexible networking platform and a company culture that strives to say yes.

No obligation SD-WAN Assessment. WAN optimization analysis & application bandwidth evaluation.

Article by ATI partner Michael Gough, VP Channel Sales – GTT

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