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Solving Four Challenges of Enterprise Network Deployments

by Chris Stevens, Cradlepoint

How to Address Common Barriers During the Router Rollout Process

Planning a network deployment is a complex process requiring coordination between many vendors and service providers. These challenges compound when the enterprise is under tight deadlines; often, deploying the network is the last thing stopping a company from opening a new location or launching a new revenue stream.

Whether in a mobile context or at a fixed location, there are several challenges that arise at every stage of network deployment — and there are next-generation ways to solve those challenges.

Deployment Planning Overview

To understand the challenges of network deployment, it’s worth briefly reviewing the deployment process. While each situation will play out with slight differences, the process generally follows these steps:

  • Stage 1: Evaluating and vetting solutions
  • Stage 2: Setting up equipment and provisioning connectivity
  • Stage 3: Actual deployment
  • Stage 4: Initial and ongoing monitoring

Evaluating & Vetting Network Solutions

For mobile contexts, or in cases when wired connectivity isn’t available (such as at a street kiosk) LTE generally is the connectivity source of choice. In fixed deployment situations, LTE connectivity might be utilized as failover for a wired network; some leading-edge companies are choosing to go completely wireless even when wired connectivity is available. In any of these situations, choosing the right LTE carrier can be tricky. In some cases, a site survey reveals that no available carrier can provide the level of reliability and service needed for the application in question.

Many of Cradlepoint’s routers offer dual-SIM or dual-modem functionality. Depending on your organization’s specific needs, it may be sufficient to choose a router with two SIM ports, with a single SIM activated at one time. In this case, the IT team can deactivate the primary SIM and activate the card for the secondary carrier, gaining a certain level of flexibility and redundancy without incurring the costs associated with utilizing two cellular data plans simultaneously.

On the other hand, it may be necessary to utilize two modems at once, whereby the router is constantly connected to two carriers, allowing for wireless-to-wireless failover and WAN redundancy. In this case, the switch from the primary carrier to the backup carrier takes place automatically and in mere seconds.

Often our customers come to us after having tried to put in place a solution that at the time appeared inexpensive and easy to deploy. Generally, when IT teams make their solution choices based only on how quickly they believe they can deploy the product in question, they actually end up slowing themselves down with solutions that are not future-proof and don’t last long.

For example, the engineer might not have thought ahead about the need for additional port capacity, or whether he or she might need power-over-Ethernet capability later. As the 2.4 GHz range becomes increasingly saturated, solutions that aren’t compatible with 5 GHz will need to be replaced. In mobile deployments, we sometimes come across enterprises that choose a solution but later realize they didn’t test it for interoperability with their GPS tracking (AVL) system.

Setting up Equipment & Provisioning Connectivity

Perhaps the most common headache when it comes to provisioning a new network is the task of getting wired broadband installed at a new location. Wired-line providers might take two or three months to install a new line once an internet service provider has been chosen and contacted.

Conversely, Cradlepoint routers allow companies to enjoy enterprise-grade connectivity on Day 1. Later in this post, we will cover some of the remote deployment and ease-of-use features that make this possible, but the mere fact that there’s no need to provision a wired line allows customers to seize business opportunities sooner.

Mobile use cases obviously are geared toward wireless connectivity rather than wired. These situations also call for careful consideration regarding how to power the wireless router. It’s important to factor this into planning timelines. For in-vehicle applications, it’s also critical to evaluate what sort of power conversion needs to take place to avoid power surges and eventual damage to the router. For more on this, review our Vehicle Best Practices Installation Guide.

Network Deployment

When it’s time to install router at new locations, organizations typically have two choices: hire a third-party vendor to execute deployment, or send someone from the in-house IT team to the sites. Third-party vendors can be very expensive, while sending someone from the IT team means diverting valuable resources from other important projects. It’s usually critical that someone with technical expertise is on site, given that the routers must be configured and may need firmware updates.

Earlier in this post, we mentioned that Cradlepoint wireless routers enable Day-1 connectivity. Additionally, Cradlepoint’s Enterprise Cloud Manager — part of the Cradlepoint NetCloud platform — makes it possible to get routers up and running without sending anyone with technical expertise to those locations. It’s only necessary that whoever’s on site can plug the router in and turn it on. Back at headquarters, the IT team can load the router configuration, update firmware, and modify settings.

With Cradlepoint’s all-in-one routers, enterprises can use the same router to manage and monitor the wired connectivity once it is installed and ready to use.

Initial & Ongoing Monitoring

As with router installation, initial monitoring and troubleshooting typically requires a third-party vendor. Companies that use Enterprise Cloud Manager, however, can handle manage, monitor and troubleshoot networks in house, even if the IT team is small and stretched thin.

Thanks to the cloud-based management platform’s real-time alerting and reporting, IT teams can be notified of issues as soon as they arise — sometimes even before customers or on-site staff notice anything is wrong. Further, if a Cradlepoint router is being utilized as a failover router, its Out-of-Band Management capability allows organizations to see beyond the Cradlepoint device to remotely diagnose problems and repair the primary router, too.

ALE Announces Hybrid Communications Blueprint to Accelerate UCaaS and CPaaS Usage

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is introducing its hybrid communications blueprint to help businesses adopt Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Rainbow™ Connected Platform, the ALE “relationship machine”, is an overlay service that connects ALE and third-party communications platforms in a hybrid approach, enabling businesses to protect and leverage existing systems while accessing new unified communications services.

The new Rainbow Connector links any PBX (ALE or non-ALE) to the cloud and extends Rainbow UC capabilities (IM, Voice, Video, Screen and File sharing) as it enables calling via the PSTN, with Rainbow assuring call completion beyond the Rainbow community.

ALE is introducing OTEC-S, a multi-tenant cloud-based offer aimed at providing small and midsized companies with the benefits of Telephony as-a-Service coupled with Rainbow’s UCaaS capabilities. This expansion of the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch® Enterprise Cloud (OTEC) offer further extends the ALE strategy to deliver connected platforms by enabling enterprises of any size to take advantage of new subscription-based models. Large enterprises have benefited from the OTEC multi-instance architecture since its introduction three years ago. All OTEC customers benefit from the latest release with no upgrade costs, while the providers help manage the subscription from their data center.

In parallel, ALE will introduce OTEC Flex, a unique offer delivering cloud flexibility to Large and X-Large customers. OTEC Flex enables these customers to deploy communications in a flexible and adaptable private cloud environment from one location to another, while dramatically reducing the cost of resources, operations and maintenance.

Rainbow also acts as a CPaaS platform, where everything connects, by using APIs to integrate with business processes and in-house and third-party apps, allowing multiple customers to access the platform at the same time within a separate secure environment.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Business Partners who deliver Rainbow services can offer applications that create greater value in communications via Rainbow Hub APIs portal. For example, a school district can take advantage of a broadcast lockdown and response application in a crisis, a hotel can leverage the Rainbow services integrated into their customer loyalty program application, or a bank can use Rainbow to integrate messaging and notifications over their customer relationship applications.

How To Engage Spontaneously With My Entire Business Community?

Did you know that most of companies want to find other ways to engage with their business community and, by doing so, develop creative solutions together?

Rainbow

 

Rainbow from Alcatel Lucent allows you to easily chat and share files. Get the best messaging for your business and instantly make audio or video calls and share your screen with just a click. Lead your business with enterprise-grade control.

Rainbow Essential Package
Free of charge
  • Collaboration Services
  • User self-enrolment & profile management
  • Search engine / Conversations management
  • Contact lists / Guest management
  • Instant Messaging / Presence
  • File transfer / Storage per user 1GB
  • Audio / Video / Screen Sharing  1 to 1
  • Bubbles up to 20 participants
    PBX Services (available from Telspan)
  • Telephony Presence
  • Click-to-call (dial by name, answer, release)
  • Call logs
    Management
  • Company administration  1 admin
  • FAQ Service desk
Rainbow Business Package
  • Collaboration Services
  • User self-enrolment & profile management
  • Search engine / Conversations management
  • Contact lists / Guest management
  • Instant Messaging / Presence
  • File transfer / Storage per user 1GB
  • Audio / Video / Screen Sharing 1 to 1
  • Bubbles up to 20 participants
    PBX Services (available from Telspan)
  • Telephony Presence
  • Click-to-call (dial by name, answer, release)
  • Call logs
  • PBX Advanced Call control
  • PBX Voice-mail
  • Nomadism (multi-device management)
  • Skype for Business connector
  • 3rd party PBX connector
    Management
  • Company administration and control Multiple admin
  • FAQ Service desk
  • Company name & logo customization
  • Company domain name management
  • Active Directory integration
  • Analytics dashboard
Enterprise Package
  • Collaboration Services
  • User self-enrolment & profile management
  • Search engine / Conversations management
  • Contact lists / Guest management
  • Instant Messaging / Presence
  • File transfer / Storage per user 20GB
  • Audio / Video / Screen Sharing up to 10 participants
  • Bubbles up to 100 participants
  • MS Exchange Calendar Presence
  • MS Outlook plug-in
    PBX Services (Available from Telspan)
  • Telephony Presence
  • Click-to-call (dial by name, answer, release)
  • Call logs
  • PBX Advanced Call control
  • PBX Voice-mail
  • Nomadism (multi-device management)
  • Skype for Business connector
  • 3rd party PBX connector
    Management
  • Company administration and control Multiple admin
  • FAQ Service desk
  • Company name & logo customization
  • Company domain name management
  • Active Directory integration
  • Analytics dashboard

Contact Telspan to sign up for Rainbow.

Report: LTE’s Popularity Among Enterprises Continues to Rise

CradlepointIn Cradlepoint’s new State of the Network 2017 Business Intelligence Report, one trend is quite clear: Legacy WANs, which are predominately based on wired lines, hardware-defined, and resource-intensive infrastructures, can’t keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of today’s lean and agile connected enterprise.

This report, featuring data from more than 100 surveyed enterprise decision-makers, explores how companies of all sizes are being challenged to expand their networks to more people, places, and things. Several key findings emerged from the research, including:

Approximately 60 percent of IT pros indicated they were already deploying LTE as a WAN connectivity solution.

Our research — and experience — indicates that the majority of enterprises have indeed deployed LTE for primary or backup WAN connectivity. But what that looks like can vary across industries as well as within a company itself. Individual departments may be setting up applications for lead generation or customer analytics as they work to determine how to better engage customers and create a better customer experience.

For example, because marketing departments have such an impact on company revenue, a marketing team’s IT budget often is separate from the IT department’s budget. Sometimes referred to as “Marketing IT,” this type of arrangement can be beneficial for the entire company. A bank can set up a physically separate and secure network connection using 4G LTE to deploy digital signage throughout its branches without requiring the IT department to go through a lengthy security review, because the application is on a separate network. With 4G LTE, marketing teams can quickly, cost-effectively, and securely set up customer-facing applications that directly drive additional revenue.

This type of deployment doesn’t necessarily mean a company or department is bypassing IT or giving short shrift to security; it simply means everyone is using technology solutions to increase profits and efficiency for the company.

The 40 percent of IT teams who, according to our research, indicated they are not yet deploying LTE as a WAN connectivity solution may simply not realize that such a deployment is possible or how much easier LTE depoyment has become in recent years. Many customers discover the benefits of LTE as WAN after speaking with their wireless carrier representative.

Many of the 40 percent who are falling behind aren’t constrained by technology barriers, but instead a lack of up-to-date information. Staying competitive requires staying informed on wireless broadband solutions.

Bandwidth (30 percent) and cost (30 percent) are considered the dominant WAN connectivity challenges, according to respondents.

Many CIOs have built their networks around traditional connectivity. Many of them are using legacy MPLS networks, which are fairly expensive wired connectivity solutions with constrained throughput. The throughput offered through MPLS may have seemed impressive 10 years ago, but it’s no longer adequate to run all of the new data-hungry applications, including video and customer WiFi.

As companies add new applications to their networks, CIOs often classify them into two key areas: core applications and noncore applications. Those classified as core traditionally involve the essentials for keeping a business up and running, such as processing credit card payments.

As the amount of noncore applications continues to grow, a company’s legacy WAN network faces increasing pressure. Applications such as security systems, video surveillance, and customer WiFi all strain bandwidth. Yet if a company looks to increase bandwidth on its MPLS, the costs can be significant.

Consequently, companies are instead looking to add multi-WAN capabilities. They may still choose to keep MPLS for critical functions, such as processing credit cards, but also are looking to offload noncore applications to the traditional internet. This reduces bandwidth pressure while allowing you to offload these applications to lower-cost WAN options such as LTE.

Approximately 57 percent of IT pros cite security as the most important feature they would look for in an SD-WAN solution.

Many IT teams are paying for MPLS networks because they have the perception of being secure, and because it’s the way things have been done for quite some time. Yet using SD-WAN — i.e., using multiple WANs at the same time and securely steering traffic based on application-specific policies — can leverage lower-cost, higher-bandwidth broadband Internet while maintaining high levels of security.

Solutions such as Cradlepoint NetCloud leverage the Internet and virtual technologies to extend the traditional enterprise network. This integrated platform provides an entirely new way to build, secure, control, and manage end-to-end private networks in the cloud using wired and wireless broadband Internet services.

Half of IT pros said increased flexibility/agility gives LTE an advantage over traditional wired connectivity solutions, while 39 percent said efficiency is another key advantage.

Flexibility/agility, redundancy/reliability, and efficiency are interconnected. As LTE networks evolve, the speeds that companies can get out of their LTE networks have surpassed the speeds they get from traditional wired networking. As standards continue to evolve every 18 months or so, speeds continue to increase significantly.

Actually, companies can make the entire connectivity process more efficient. Enterprises with multiple locations — such as convenience stores or banks with branches — may end up contracting with dozens of wired line service providers. Switching the entire company, including these remote branches, to wireless 4G LTE eliminates the problems associated with wired connections, minimizes the number of monthly invoices, and reduces the number of support calls while improving reliability in the process.

In the past, few IT analyst firms  anticipated LTE’s rapid rise as an enterprise WAN option. Today, however, some of the top enterprise IT research firms are actively recommending 4G LTE for the enterprise.

Alcatel-Lucent Opentouch Business Edition

otbe_rel_photoThe Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch™ Business Edition, Release 2.0, delivers a range of communication services on a single platform, from world-class business telephony to the most advanced multimedia collaboration and mobility services.

In a competitive marketplace, enterprises need their IT tools to have the same advanced functionality, reliability and sophistication as that of their larger competitors. At the same time, they need to optimize their costs and simplify implementation and maintenance.

OpenTouch Business Edition addresses the communication requirements of enter- prises of up to 1500 employees and 3000 devices by providing advanced business communications, multimedia collaboration at the of ce and on the go, contact center functionality and management services. OpenTouch Business Edition delivers all these services on a single platform to improve the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Employees who primarily work on company premises and make extensive use voice communications bene t from OpenTouch Connection, the advanced business communications experience available on reliable desk phones, sturdy DECT or WLAN mobile handsets, and on software clients for PCs, tablets or smartphones.

Users can pick the telephony features that suit their of ce work style from the comprehensive list of telephony features offered by the embedded Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCXTM Enterprise Communication Server.

Of ce workers enjoy high-quality, wideband voice communications with easy audio and visual guidance, and ultra-fast directory look-up from the phone keyboard.

Employees who need powerful interactive visual communication will bene t from OpenTouch Conversation, the multi-device, multiparty, multimedia experience for easy collaboration at the of ce and on the go.

OpenTouch Conversation sessions feature voice, video, instant messaging (IM), pre- sentation sharing and natural conferencing capabilities to help users better engage with customers, partners and colleagues.

Users can shift their sessions between devices when they move to another location. They can also turn a two person session into a multiparty and multimedia conference in a few clicks.

The platform also offers a scalable and reliable contact center application. This application ef ciently supports the organization’s interaction with current and potential customers.

OpenTouch Business Edition can be provided as pre-installed appliances or
as a software-only version running on VMware®. Its single-server design is ideal for enterprises that want to reduce the cost and effort of provisioning, testing and managing new servers and don’t want to install additional software with every new communication application deployment.

ORGANIZATIONAL NEED

OPENTOUCH BUSINESS EDITION APPROACH

BENEFITS

OpenTouch Connection experience

Enterprise-grade communication services, including state-of-the-art telephony and a wide range of professional terminals

Comprehensive advanced business telephony services, including exible auto-attendant, screening, group, routing and messaging services

Instant business response: all important calls are identi ed and answered.

Rapid directory lookup and speed-dial

Save time when dialing contacts

Multi-platform support: desk phones, mobile handsets, and PC, tablet and smartphone software clients

Flexible options: business continuity with always-on desk phones and with robust handsets for roaming employees, supports BYOD policies with software clients

OpenTouch Conversation experience

Innovative multimedia collaboration solutions that boost productivity, facilitate mobility and decrease travel costs

Single business identity with multi-device routing pro les and rapid session shift between desk phones, smartphones, tablets and PCs

Employees are reachable anywhere and on the device best suited for their location

Easy access to multiparty conferences with audio, video, IM and content sharing

Ef cient interactions between geographically-dispersed teams and reduced travel expenses

Easy addition of multimedia, including IM, voice, video and content sharing

Instant business response with multitasking between IM and voice sessions. Better engagement with contextual video and content sharing interactions

Web conferencing with customers, partners and colleagues

New ways to communicate with customers, partners and colleagues

Integrated conferencing capabilities easily accessible from any phone or browser. Shared documents stay within the enterprise premises

Customers, partners and colleagues can easily and securely join OpenTouch voice and content-sharing sessions from outside the enterprise rewall

Integrated customer service applications

Best-of-breed customer interaction services to increase sales and customer loyalty

Professional welcome services, from greeting and group calls, to centralized attendant applications

Increased customer satisfaction by answering all calls – centrally or in branch of ces

Contact center services, including a patented visual distribution matrix

Accelerate rst call resolution with a call distribution logic that can be adapted within days to evolving needs

Uni ed platform and operations

Decrease TCO while maximizing service continuity

Ready-to-use, pre-installed applications

Improved installation time when deploying the server or mobility and collaboration applications

Uni ed user management

Improved daily move, add, change and delete operations

Advanced, real-time thresholds and alerts

Instant noti cation of changes to communications quality, service availability and service-level-agreements

High-availability options

Improved business continuity for communication services during network outages or server failures

Proven multi-site support with bandwidth control

Improved voice-over IP quality in multi-site organizations, with centralized communications to improve operational expenditure

OmniAccess Access Point 1101

Multifunctional entry level access point for medium density and small business

OmniAccess® AP1101 indoor Wi-Fi access points provides high throughput wireless connectivity, seamless user experience and simplified management required by small enterprise WLAN deployment.  Featuring enhanced RF Radio Dynamic Adjustment™ (RDA) technology, AP-Group architecture design and user-role based management, OmniAccess AP101 delivers plug-and-play WLAN deployment ideal for any small and medium business.

OmniAccess AP1101 is a dual-radio, 5 GHz 802.11ac and 2.4 GHz 802.11n 2×2 MIMO, indoor wireless access point. Powered by multi-core CPU processor, the OmniAccess AP1101 has the fast encoding and decoding capability and provides reliable multiuser access. It supports up to 1.2Gbps wireless data rate and up to 64 simultaneous clients association.

Benefits: OmniAccess AP1101

  • Plug-and-play deployment, part of a simple LAN+WLAN+UC turn-key solution designed specifically for SMB
  • High performance access points with ability to fine-tune quality of service (QoS) delivered to each application
  • Competitively priced product with lifetime warranty gives peace of mind

Features: OmniAccess AP1101

  • Quality of service for real-time applications
    • VoWLAN support with QoS for each application (Voice, Video, Collaboration, etc..)
    • Seamless roaming for real-time applications
  • Integrated simple guest management
    • Built-in customizable captive portal
    • Support of role-based management access (Admin, Viewer and Guest Manager)
    • Simplified guest account creation & management, with no need of IT skills
  • Enhanced RF technology – Radio Dynamic Adjustment with DFS/TPC to deliver reliable, high-performance WLAN access

– See more at: http://enterprise.alcatel-lucent.com/?product=OmniAccessAP1101&page=overview#sthash.SmDeCFl4.dpuf

Open Touch Cloud Communications Solutions

Cloud models and services have emerged as a transformational opportunity to reduce the burden on IT of building and managing infrastructures. Companies can increase their focus on strategic business value and begin to shift to a scalable service model. The cloud offers rapid deployment, flexible and elastic cost structures, advanced applications and service delivery with improved user experience.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise doesn’t force customers to rip and replace their whole existing infrastructure. Instead they can embrace the cloud transformation at their own pace with a fully flexible consumption-based model.

So for small, medium and large enterprises who want to provide their employees with next generation communication tools that improve their productivity, the shift to the cloud represents an immediate opportunity to capitalize on state-of-the-art technologies and respond with agility through flexible business models. It means no upfront investments, reducing capital expenses and TCO.

OpenTouch Suite for Cloud is available in following versions:

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise also provides Rainbow, a cloud-based, enterprise-grade, Communication Platform (CPaaS) that connects people and systems.

5G Today vs. 5G Tomorrow

Among the more than 108,000 attendees at Mobile World Congress 2017, it wasn’t difficult to find the most buzz-worthy topic. At the forefront was 5G — what it means for people and enterprises today, and what it can potentially do for mobile networks within the next few years.

5G is rapidly climbing the hype cycle toward the peak of inflated expectations. Qualcomm has even claimed it could be as “transformative as electricity.” Officially named by the 3GPP global standards organization, 5G is supposed to combine all the aspects of 4G with massive mobile data, 3G with voice and video, 2G for M2M and IoT deployments, and WiFi spectrum, all with zero latency and gigabit throughput to become the next-generation WAN.

Watch this three minute video with Cradlepoint Product Manager, David Rush, to identify the hype around 5G, what 5G means today, and what it will be by 2019.