This post is the second-half of a two-part series on how to best select a broadband connection for your business. In the first part, we went over why your business needs a broadband connection with a mission-critical class of service.
Here, we will discuss some of the bundled services you should expect from a good broadband service provider.
So what additional services should you look for? That depends on what your organisation needs. But if you are like most businesses, you’re looking for good sales support, security, performance, data redundancy, and solutions that are tailored to your business.
How do you ensure your business gets all of this? By ensuring your broadband provider can offer you services that include:
► Consultative and after sales support
► Managed VPN
► Load balancers
► Network monitoring dashboards
► Cloud storage
Let’s dive a little deeper into these services.
Consultative and after Sales Support. Deciding which broadband service provider (ISP) to go to is the first step to ensuring good connectivity. That’s why it’s crucial to look for one that can understand, advise and create solutions tailored to your business. Partnering service providers that can provide “one-stop” services also allow companies to benefit from having to work with only a single contact .
Every business is also different; some have offices in multiple cities, while others have all their employees under a single roof (with some employees working from home or on the road—such as sales people). Some organisations depend heavily on a few, central and compute-intensive applications, like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software; while others have a high number of relatively lighter applications.
Your network has to be aligned to how your business is structured. That’s why it’s crucial to have an (ISP) who can readily assist you to align your network to how your business is structured.
Managed VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network. It ensures that you can use a public network like the internet—with all the security and the functionalities of a private network.
Think of it like this: What happens when a VIP (the Prime Minister for example) uses public roads? Public roads (the internet) are free for everyone to use. But when VIPs (your data) come through, a portion of the road is cordoned off solely for them. This way, you can ensure that no one can attack the VIP (your data) and that all the protocols associated with the VIP are followed.
VPNs are especially useful if your business has employees who often work from outside the office—from home or airports. It enables them access to your company’s data and applications securely, through the very publicly used internet.
Load balancers. These solutions ensure that network traffic is distributed evenly and that the performance of applications is improved. Using the road example, it’s the equivalent of policemen directing traffic to other roads to ensure that one road isn’t clogged with traffic.
Network monitoring dashboards. How do policemen know where to send traffic to ensure roads are not jammed? They (hopefully) have a dashboard that gives them an overview of all the roads in the city, and also historical data like how much each road tends to be used at different times of the day.
That’s what a network monitoring dashboard or MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher) does. It helps you understand what the traffic on your network looks like. That can help you identify unusual traffic patterns and bottlenecks, diagnose network problems, plan capacity more effectively, and make informed decisions about bandwidth consumption in real-time.
Firewalls. With the right firewalls you can ensure that traffic from untrustworthy networks (such as the internet) is screened out, so that only the traffic you want coming into your private network is allowed. It’s much like the gatekeeper of a private building; a lot of cars might want to enter, but the gatekeeper only allows cars with the right credentials to enter.
Cloud Storage. Ensuring your data is saved on a cloud makes it easier for your employees to access it from anywhere. Having it easily accessible from anywhere also has the bonus effect of increasing collaboration between your employees.
Cloud storage allows employees to work with documents on any device and from any location, as long as they have an internet connection. Cloud storage is useful if data security is important to your business and you want to be able to back-up data effectively.
Business broadband packages differ from standard consumer deals. Does your ISP also offer you turnkey solutions with domain, email / web hosting, IP phone system, conferencing solution, cloud services all under one roof?
All these services are the essential managed solution to help you kick-start your business connectivity in a flash.
Before you invest in the next broadband connection for your business, you should go with an ISP that can offer you a comprehensive enterprise solution or that caters to your business infocomm technology (IT) needs. Remember, the internet you subscribe to will impact the performance of all your other business softwares and applications that drive your business operations, particularly if you are moving your resources to the cloud. Partner an ISP that is able to help you transform and adapt to the rapid technology changes every step of the way.