Crucially, they will also expect the connection to be good; fast, consistent, reliable and capable of supporting a video-conference link with full interactivity and voice, as well as conventional VPN links for critical apps and the most demanding file transfers. What this means is that you need excellent connectivity and QoS right across the network. On Wi-Fi Access Points, on managed and unmanaged switches, on the security appliances and gateways that monitor all network traffic.
It’s the old ‘last mile’ problem that we’ve seen in the broadband market for years now. Your weakest link in the chain will dictate the overall experience that is delivered to the user, so the performance of whole network will need to be lifted. Deploying 802.11n wireless access points and hubs will give you much improved range, reliability and speed for Wi-Fi users, but if there is a bottleneck on the backbone, the users won’t get the full benefit. Similarly, if you deploy gigabit technology to the desktop, you’ll probably need 10 gigabit on the backbone. Putting in that kind of bandwidth at the core of the network won’t be any use if the links out to the client devices and access points at the network edge are not able to keep up with the pace.
Well, all that is great news if you are a networking reseller isn’t it? You can make a case for putting in a whole lot of new equipment on the basis that to make the investment in hosted VoIP, unified comms, collaboration and other services worthwhile. But how can you do that unless you are a networking reseller? There are two possible answers – partner with someone, or acquire the skills yourself.
Both options are perfectly viable. We have partners in our network whom we know would be only too willing to work with comms dealers to meet the wider needs of customers. The other choice would be acquiring the ability to sell, install and provide basic support to customers yourself. We’d urge any comms dealer that has at least some technical skills and understanding not to fight shy of this option. Training is available, you can learn at your own pace and you’ll get plenty of support in the early stages of customer engagement.
We can only really speak for our own solutions of course, but generally, networking switches, gateway appliances, wireless access points and hubs are very easy to understand and to set up.
Time to make the leap
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