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Network Services, Voice

If you don’t know already, your POTS (plain old telephone service) and coppers lines that plug into your phone system, fax machine, security system, fire alarm, etc., are in the process of being phased out. This process started back in 2014 and was finalized in 2015 by the FCC. The Big Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have likely notified you of this in the past in some way, shape, or form. No fear, they are obligated to give you at least some sort of notice (3-6 months) if they do turn off your service. So what’s the deal? The carriers are taking a “slow roll” approach to phasing out their copper lines. Instead of cutting everyone off immediately, over the next 5-10 years they will increase maintenance, surcharges and other fees to help pay for the upkeep of the lines that are either rotting in the ground or hanging on the telephone pole that have been beaten by the conditions for 60 + years.

Your carrier invoices will only continue to rise from here on out. We are seeing bills for a handful of POTS lines that normally are a few hundred to close to several thousand dollars, particularly when you include the usage on them. Our goal with clients (current and new) is to be proactive. It begins with where you are contractually and what is being used/what isn’t. We will quote alternatives that are more cost effective (perhaps peeling of a few POTS lines on your newly sourced fiber circuit through us, or combining with other services), or look at cloud based alternatives to completely eliminate any legacy and antiquated tech lines you still may be leveraging on the premise. Beyond saving money, eliminating your copper lines will help reduce “RoBo” and spam calls, increase redundancy via SIP failover and call forwarding, and enable you to consume better technology that will have a positive impact on your business.

Solution Alternatives

– Source POTS lines for alternative carrier. There are a few out there that can still deliver POTS lines at cost effective rates
– Sourcing a new ISP that can deliver a POTS line handoff from either their fiber or cable transport
– Deploy an ATA (analog telephone adapter) through a UCaaS or SIP provider

All of these solution alternatives can be sourced and contracted through your leading local technology partner, ATI.

Contact us here to learn more…


Network Services
Article originally by ATI partner Ken Presti, Research VP, AVANT Research & Analytics

Like everything in this world of technology, effective security needs to be baked in to virtually every value proposition put on the table. This is important to today’s enterprise technology buyers who evaluate different offerings and build the internal consensus to either accept or decline and offered solution.

According to AVANT’s State of Disruption Report, 74 percent of surveyed technology decision makers fear that a successful cyberattack could cost them their jobs. Fewer than half believed that their companies were well prepared to handle an attack and mitigate the results.

SD-WAN solutions typically include their own security protections, such as stateful firewall capabilities, site-to-site encryption, application policy control, segmentation for VLANs and split tunneling, and authentication between edge devices and the controller. How SD-WAN companies deliver security solutions varies widely, with some becoming security technology providers with their own technology and development as a core part of their SD-WAN value proposition, while others are partnering with market leaders to embed security solutions within their product. Most will interoperate effectively with third-party security tools and services, although some may interoperate better than others. Therefore, your current set up of firewalls and other security gear may not need to be displaced with the advent of SD-WAN, but it does make sense to review the technical notes of the specific SD-WAN company for their preferred recommendations.

The addition of new technologies and infrastructure almost always expands the attack surface. Thus, technology buyers as well as technology sellers need to be keenly aware of their level of exposure. This is especially true of companies leveraging local Internet breakout, rather than backhauling through a data center. As the data travels across the Internet, protections for layer 4 through layer 7 of the OSI stack will likely be necessary. Security technologies of particular focus should include next-generation firewall with intrusion prevention, web filtering, and DNS security. These, however, can become quite costly when being applied to a large number of remote facilities. Looking at the other side of the coin, it’s also true that a successful breach at a remote office can often be used as an effective bridgehead to gain access to central corporate resources.

“Security continues to be the number one concern that IT decision makers have when considering migration to SD-WAN,” said Ray Watson, Vice President of Innovation at Masergy. “This ultimately favors solutions which tightly integrate and support unified threat management as well as managed detection and response.”

According to AVANT’s Assessment Data, 54 percent of customers entering the SD-WAN decision discussion are uncertain of how to approach security, while 22 percent are planning to install a next-generation firewall at each site. Another 14 percent are planning to use a cloud-based firewall service. Those who are uncertain would be well advised to work closely with her Trusted Advisor to ascertain the best solution for their needs.

It’s also a good idea to more fully assess what types of data your company needs to store, and the duration of that storage. While some people believe that virtually all data is worth keeping, it’s also true that limiting stored data can vastly reduce your attack surface and, ultimately reduce security costs while increasing peace of mind. So many companies are taking a fresh look at what data deserves to be kept and what data should be discarded.

For more information on SD-WAN, download AVANT’s free 6-12 Report at

Network Services
According to IDG Research , The SD-WAN market is expected to reach $8B by 2021. SD-WAN sales and implementations are growing. The report indicates that adoption rates increased from 35% to 54% over the past two years, with 90% of their respondents saying they are actively researching, piloting or about to upgrade to SD-WAN. And the reason for growth is to solve for a few business challenges, mainly: optimizing networks to support cloud technologies, simplifying network management and improving application performance which all, in turn, help deliver on a better customer experience.

In predictions for 2019, Gartner wrote that improving the customer experience will be a top business priority for companies as 2018 revealed little movement in the Customer Experience Index. They attribute CX Quality being flat due to poor CX management. As customer expectations increase, there is a lot of pressure for companies to improve operations and communications. From a technology standpoint, businesses are focusing on hybrid cloud services, network and application security and SD-WAN to drive improvement.

Under performing networks, with not enough bandwidth, latency issues, throughput, error rate and jitter can cost businesses in the form of lost productivity and negative customer experiences, all of which can negatively impact the bottom line. As MPLS contracts come up for renewals, analysts predict a decline in the number of new installations or price erosion on MPLS links as the number of SD-WAN implementations continue to grow. This is particularly true due to SD-WAN’s ability to route traffic with application priority and the additional benefits of augmenting the network with secondary and tertiary best effort connections.

Other driving forces of SD-WAN adoption:

Digital transformation initiatives, implementing cloud-based applications, doing more with big data, the increase in the mobile workforce, etc. Traditional WANs were not designed for cloud-based applications (the security requirements associated) and connectivity to cloud environments. MPLS networks, can’t deliver on bandwidth intensive applications on-demand.

Reductions: Companies want to reduce the number of physical devices built to support applications.

Options: Service provider options and managed SD-WAN offerings as well as various deployment options are plentiful and now based on how the business is structured and internal talent.

Edge Computing (the main element needed to enable IoT devices) Traffic can be automatically and intelligently managed from a central console with SD-WAN.

Speaking of IoT, connected devices produce a lot of data and require a lot more bandwidth, more than traditional MPLS can handle. SD-WAN allows for intelligent routing and prioritization of traffic so applications can run smoothly.

You can’t bring up IoT without 5G. And 5G, which will power IoT devices, requires SD-WAN as a complementary service, to intelligently direct traffic, distribute bandwidth and provide security at the edge of the network.

Enhanced security. Vendors including SD-WAN capabilities inside security appliances and vice versa like with Cisco unifying their security and SD-WAN products, make SD-WAN more attractive.

According to Network Computing, another trend driving SD-WAN adoption is the growing adoption of network monitoring or Network Performance Management and Diagnostics (NPMD) which provides visibility into performance and conditions of the underlying network– validating telco SLAs, accessing quality of paths and VPNs, providing visuals into connections, status as well as displaying SD-WAN views, site-to-site maps, public and private clouds, and applications.

Enhanced network routing. A concept still in infancy, but the idea is cloud-based controls/automation combined with intelligence derived from machine learning creates intent-based networking and policies that route application data and traffic on the fly.


Network Services
Why is everyone talking about edge computing?

In the next year, billions of new devices will be connected to the internet, demanding ever-increasing, two-way bandwidth communication. In just the next few years, 600 zetabytes of data will be transmitted across networks every single day!

User experience for speech recognition, rich media content, artificial intelligence- the expectations are instantaneous. And for healthcare, gaming, safety, and retail, industries utilizing mass amounts of data are desperate for a smarter way to process this ever-increasing torrent through networks.

Traditional networks route data to a central data center or hyperscale cloud. This method subjects real-time expectations to latency and the inconsistency of network reliability. User loss can be measured in latency times quicker than the blink of an eye.

Enter the strategy of Edge computing. Edge computing allows applications and devices to respond almost instantaneously by processing data in local data centers, near the edge of your network.

Instead of shipping every single byte of data to and from a distant central warehouse, edge data centers are local hubs providing rapid delivery and response to user requests. Edge nodes select data to be processed locally, allowing you to connect more users to your realtime applications, bringing Tier 1 services to underserved Tier 2 markets

In an accelerated world, an optimized edge computing network can be the backbone to help you handle the exponential increases in data demand. Edge computing doesn’t just make networks faster- it makes people faster, as realtime response has the exponential potential to improve not just technology but quality of life.

How centralized is your network? In what ways do your applications take advantage of network distribution?

How have you architected your application to be distributed to the edge?

What challenges are you seeing in your locations near the edge?

What is your business exposure to high latency networks?

How are you measuring this loss?

What are your internal users and end customers opinions of your network experience?

For more information on how Edge computing can help your business grow, contact ATI.

Network Services
Before diving into network soup and getting a better grasp on how the various solutions work together, it is imperative to understand them individually.

What is SD-WAN?

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) enables the dynamic routing of network traffic based on the current network status. Traditional branch routers are replaced with applications that evaluate and leverage various transport technologies based on their performance. This enables network administrators to route high priority traffic, such as video and voice, over MPLS links or a dedicated Internet access (DIA) connection—essentially any solution with an SLA attached, while the majority of their more standard traffic is routed to more cost-effective services, like broadband, DSL and wireless—basically any solution without an SLA attached.

SD-WAN can be deployed as either a hardware/software combination with WAN edge devices placed at the individual physical locations or as a solely software-based solution. Because each device is centrally managed, application-based routing policies (also referred to as performance-based routing) and security rules are created by WAN managers and can be updated real-time based on network requirements.

What is SDN?

Software-defined networking (SDN) is a type of dynamic networking architecture in which the control is separated from hardware and instead executed through the software; this is known as the separation of the data plane from the control plane.

In a traditional network architecture firmware is directing hardware where to forward the data packet upon its arrival at a switch or server and sends all the information to the same destination. SDN removes the control from the networking hardware’s firmware and instead gives it to the network administrator to direct network traffic from a central control console without changing the setting of individual switches. This, in turn, allows the administrator to change network rules, prioritizing as needed or even blocking specific packets. Because cloud computing has a multi-tenant architecture, SDN is important as it enables more agile and efficient control of traffic loads as well as the ability to scale both quickly and dynamically.

What is NFV?

Rather than relying on hardware, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) uses virtualization technologies to manage core networking functions via software. Running on one or more virtual machines in addition to the hardware networking infrastructure, NFV manages specific network functions—both wired and wireless—like routers, switches, servers, and cloud computing systems. Other examples include firewall, load balancers, and WAN optimization.

What is VNF?

Although frequently used interchangeably with NFV, Virtual network functions (VNFs) move individual network functions from proprietary hardware to software that runs on agnostic hardware, ultimately leading to more agile networks. Individual VNFs are a primary component of an overall NFV architecture. Used by both businesses as well as network service providers, these tasks can include firewalls, caching, DNS (domain name system), or NAT (network address translation) and can be run as virtual machines.

VNFs can help increase network scalability and agility, while also enabling better use of network resources. Often referred to as the building blocks of SDN, VNFs can be linked together by a concept known as service chaining. Rather than services/network functions being installed manually, and each being configured with their proprietary hardware (which would require them to be cabled together manually to perform a dedicated sequence) VNF’s virtualize these functions, allowing new functions to be deployed as virtual machines quickly and efficiently. Since VNF’s replace physical hardware, they reduce power consumption and increase the available physical space, increasing network scalability and agility, resulting in reduced capital and operational expenditure.

Network Soup

Although SDN and NFV are frequently thought of as interchangeable, this is not correct, though they are similar, primarily in that they both employ network abstraction. Both SDN and NFV rely heavily on virtualization; however, where SDN’s primary focus is to separate network control functions from network forwarding functions, NFV’s primary focus is the abstraction of network forwarding and other network function from the hardware on which it runs.

The hand-in-hand combination of NFV and SDN allows simple, consistent policy control and network status, as well as the ensuring data flows, are distributed in the context of local network parameters, independent of location or hardware platform.

Ed Tittel, IT veteran in a Cisco blog says, “SDN rests on the notion that network control can be divorced from network infrastructure and physical devices. By applying programming and automation to network control, network operators can define, manage and manipulate logical networks directly and dynamically. NFV, by contrast,” Tittel continues, “is all about the network functions that must be performed at all levels and stages of a network – at the periphery, boundary, and core – to accept, forward, shape and filter network traffic as it courses through any given infrastructure.”

SDN virtualizes network management, separating network devices from the control plane handling network traffic. The software-defined network management enables organizations to have greater control and flexibility when scaling network resources and optimizing performance. sd-wan-blog

NFV replaces network services that have been typically done by hardware with virtualized software – think physical networking and appliances like routers and firewalls. Now, network services can be done on standard servers, reducing costs and providing capacity that can be increased or decreased on demand. NFV originated from the need to deploy faster network service for business growth. Many of the services are managed in a software-defined network.

Because NFV compliments or replaces traditional network appliances, it must guarantee the following:

  • High performance — 100Gbps +
  • Uptime of 99.999%
  • Scalability to millions of users
  • Low-latency delivery of real-time applications
  • Integration with legacy network architectures and link to existing operational and billing systems

NFV deployments haven’t really taken off, due to standards and instructions for implementations. However, new network configurations to support the adoption of SD-WAN, IoT, and 5G are forcing network operators to look at business architecture and begin to virtualize. Connected devices and sensors create new requirements for fixed and mobile networks.

Suppliers migrating to 5G are including NFV solutions as part of their architecture. Network operators are benefitting from cost savings— no longer purchasing network equipment and instead deploying software on standard servers. Additionally, NFV solutions save on space, power, and cooling, and have greater flexibility with capacity. NFV applications can be used for a myriad of things in addition to SD-WAN applications, including evolved packet core, IP multi-media subsystems, CDN, vCPE, video servers, network monitoring and slicing, service delivery, and some security functions.


Network Services
A combination of certain technologies can provide exponential benefits when bundled together; an example being SD-WAN, a natural fit for Unified Communications to improve voice and video call quality, providing more deployment options, efficient bandwidth use and potentially, lower costs.

Research firm IDC predicts that, over the next several years, cloud-driven solutions will present businesses with the potential to significantly improve performance or increase productivity. In addition to cost-effectiveness and quality of service, SD-WAN and UCaaS, both as-a-service solutions, allow a pay-as-you-grow model that can easily adapt to expanding teams and offices—and easily scale down during slow periods.

1. Better Routing:

SD-WAN addresses issues that contribute to lower QoS (quality-of-service) such as jitter, packet loss, and latency with dynamic traffic management across multiple network links in real-time. Some SD-WAN solutions provide both redundancy and QoS to networks and improve the quality of an organization’s connection via cloud-managed router capabilities.

2. Extra Reliability:

SD-WAN often serves as a cost-effective backup solution because it enables an active-active configuration, which enables operational continuity in case of link failure. This allows for near 100% up-times as well as superior voice and video quality.

3. Improved Security:

SD-WAN enables the security of UC solutions in several ways. Primarily, WAN segmentation, which can reduce the instances of some of the most prevalent cyber-attacks that can occur in UC systems. By isolating traffic by application, it’s also more difficult for some threats to identify and/or attack core applications. Not only does SD-WAN enable increased security protocols, but it also provides a cleaner flow for UC traffic.

4. Better Monitoring:

While emails, normal web browsing and most file transfers can handle jitter and packet loss with fairly minimal loss of productivity, with UCaaS, the same jitter and packet loss when dealing with voice or conference and video results in a noticeable slow-down of productivity and frustrates employees and customers alike. With SD-WAN, traffic prioritization can be managed so that tasks that can wait are automatically put on the back burner to highly prioritized traffic, such as a web conference or phone calls.

5. Compliance:

Together with UCaaS, SD-WAN helps to ensure that compliance regulations are met for industries such as healthcare and finance—even PCI-DS and GDPR—due to the inherent redundancy and traffic prioritization traits of the solution.

6. More Services:

Reliability and prioritization also make adding other cloud-based solutions easier without needing to increase the amount of bandwidth. This is particularly true for organizations utilizing SD-WAN in a multi-office environment.

Interested in learning more about UCaaS with SD-WAN specifically? Download our e-Book.