What is VoIP and How Does it Work?

If you don’t already know what a VoIP is and how it works, get ready to be informed!

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and it is the method of taking analog audio signals and converting them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. Ultimately VoIP will completely change the way you think about long-distance phone calls.

How is VoIP useful?

The general perception is that long distance phone calls are extremely expensive and if you stay on the line for more than a few minutes you can expect a nasty surprise when your bill drops through the door at the end of the month.

However, VoIP turns a standard Internet connection into a way to place free phone calls. Therefore the advantage is that you can essentially bypass the phone company and their inflated charges and instead use the Internet to make phone calls.

If you want to try out VoIP take a quick look online and you’ll be presented with a wealth of free VoIP software options. You’ll be able to download them in a few minutes and if you get a friend to do the same you’ll be able to start making calls and get a real taste for how VoIP works.

How is VoIP used?

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what VoIP is and how it is useful, the next step is to see exactly how you can use it in your day-to-day life.

The chances are that you are already using VoIP in some capacity each time you place a long-distance call. Many phone companies have started to use VoIP to streamline the networks.

It’s not just the phone companies that are using VoIP either; more and more businesses are installing VoIP systems as a way of communicating with contacts from around the world, so the technology is certainly catching on.

VoIP can be used anywhere you have broadband connectivity, which makes it ideal for business travellers who don’t want to have to be wary of making long distance calls whilst they try to close a big deal on the other side of the globe. As long as you have a headset and a microphone you are good to go, so whether it’s from the airport departures lounge, your hotel room or an Internet café you’ll always be able to make long distance calls at an extremely affordable rate.

It’s not just in businesses that you see VoIP being used; it is also becoming increasingly popular in homes as well. With the world being more accessible than ever and people having family scattered across all corners of the globe, there is a high demand for VoIP as people look to keep in touch with their families and friends.

How much does it cost?

The cost of VoIP will vary according to your individual needs. Certain suppliers will have more affordable rates than others, so it is important to shop around.

When selecting a VoIP company make sure you check exactly what is included in your plan. VoIP companies tend to provide features that you would normally have to pay extra for with a normal phone provider, but again this can vary from company to company.

Typically you’d expect VoIP services to include:

  • Caller ID
  • Call waiting
  • Call transfer
  • Repeat dial
  • Return call
  • Call forwarding

Looking to make phone-calls via the internet instead of using the conventional telephone system?

Our VoIP services are probably just what you’re looking for.

What is Virtualization? Because almost every business can leverage the benefits of virtualization

The short answer is, it’s pooling a few resources to accomplish the same tasks you once did with many. To put it a different way think of a company with 6 servers, each in charge of a different task like email, storage, etc. Now instead of these servers being computers think of them as people, each person has a different job, one does marketing, one is in charge of mail, another might be the receptionist, either way; each individual has a task and does only that task. While it might be beneficial to have each person doing there own task, the allocation of work is going to be skewed. If for some reason hundreds of phone calls come in today and only the receptionist can answer the phone (their dedicated task), the receptionist is overworked. Meanwhile, the mail room person has a small amount of mail to sort, so they sit idle.

This is essentially how a company with a few servers works, each with their own set of tasks; none of which intersect. But the problem is, how do we fix the fact that the phone receptionist is doing too much work? Well, you could hire another person to help with the workload, but this is going to increase cost and if this spike in activity is only an once in a while thing then it wouldn’t make much sense to keep a second person on hand at all times. The other problem is what about the employee that is underutilized? They still have a lot of potential tasks they could do, but are waiting for the instructions. This is the problem most companies faced before virtualization, how can we lower the workload of one server and increase the work load of another?

Virtualization fixed this issue by taking all the servers computer power and created what is known as an Hypervisor to help distribute the tasks, evenly. Think of this as having a project manager distribute tasks to each of his employees as equal as possible. If the manger sees one department being overworked, they have someone from a different department step in and help with the workload. I know what your thinking. “Well, of course! Any good business would be structured like this!  You’re right.  And the brilliant software engineers who designed Virtualization agree with you, too.  They successfully took this proven effecient business practice, and wrote software so technology could follow suit: Virtualization.

What the Hypervisor does, is figure out the processing power of the combined servers and allocate each task a portion of this total computing power, just as project manager might allocate a percentage of the employee’s total work hours that day. By doing this, the Hypervisor can change how much computer power each task gets instead of how many servers, just like a project manager can delegate how many hours of work will go to a certain task vs. how many people.

When you start your computer you probably open Outlook, word and maybe an Internet Browser, all from the same computer. It wouldn’t make sense to have three different computers running three different applications when one has the power to run all three. This is what the operating system is for, to let each task run next to each other. Well, a Virtualized Network is the same thing.

IT Services What is Virtualization

This is a basic conceptional way to think about Virtualization.  The practical way is:

Less hardware to manage.

More uptime, less down time.

Disaster Recovery is built in.

You can virtualize one server.

It is beneficial to almost any IT environment.

Less power consumption.

More flexibility.

Your competition is probaby using virtualization.

 

What is wireless internet (Wi-Fi)?

What is wireless internet (Wi-Fi)?

Wireless networking – which is often just known as Wi-Fi – is a way of getting broadband internet without wires.

Wi-Fi allows you to connect several computers at once, anywhere in the house – or if you have a laptop, to even use your computer in the garden. You don’t need to install extra phone lines or cables.

Millions of Scots already connect to the internet using Wi-Fi. It’s also known as ‘wireless networking’ or ‘wireless fidelity’.

Wi-Fi is widely installed in cafés, airports and many other public buildings. If you have seen someone at your local coffee shop surfing the internet on a laptop computer, they are probably using a Wi-Fi network..

How does Wi-Fi work?

Wi-Fi creates a network in your home or office – a little zone where computers can get broadband internet. It uses radio waves, just like TV or mobile phones. You may sometimes hear this zone referred to as a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network).

A device called a wireless transmitter receives information from the internet via your broadband connection. The transmitter converts the information into a radio signal and sends it.

Think of the transmitter as a mini radio station, broadcasting signals sent from the internet. The ‘audience’ for these transmissions is the computer (or computers, as more than one can connect at the same time) which receives the radio signal via something called a wireless adapter.

The whole process, meanwhile, works in reverse, with the computer sending information to the wireless transmitter. It then converts them and sends them via your broadband connection.

How do I set up Wi-Fi?

To use Wi-Fi you will need certain equipment:

A wireless transmitter, also known as a Wireless Access Point (WAP)
A Wi-Fi adapter on every computer that will use Wi-Fi

You may find that you already have a Wi-Fi network, as many ISPs (internet service providers) set up new customers with Wi-Fi from the outset. However you may find the equipment slow and outdate and this is where we come in.

CANS can set-up your company network with the correct Wi-Fi for your business. We can supply and configure the router and new laptops to get you going with your superfast new Wi-Fi network.

 

What is Cloud Computing, and what can it do for your business?

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing means that instead of all the computer hardware and software you’re using sitting on your desktop, or somewhere inside your company’s network, it’s provided for you as a service by another company and accessed over the Internet, usually in a completely seamless way. Exactly where the hardware and software is located and how it all works doesn’t matter to you, the user—it’s just somewhere up in the nebulous “cloud” that the Internet represents.

Cloud computing is a buzzword that means different things to different people. For some, it’s just another way of describing IT (information technology) “outsourcing”; others use it to mean any computing service provided over the Internet or a similar network; and some define it as any bought-in computer service you use that sits outside your firewall. However we define cloud computing, there’s no doubt it makes most sense when we stop talking about abstract definitions and look at some simple, real examples—so let’s do just that.

Simple examples of cloud computing

Most of us use cloud computing all day long without realizing it. When you sit at your PC and type a query into Google, the computer on your desk isn’t playing much part in finding the answers you need: it’s no more than a messenger. The words you type are swiftly shuttled over the Net to one of Google’s hundreds of thousandsof clustered PCs, which dig out your results and send them promptly back to you. When you do a Google search, the real work in finding your answers might be done by a computer sitting in California, Dublin, Tokyo, or Beijing; you don’t know—and most likely you don’t care!

The same applies to Web-based email. Once upon a time, email was something you could only send and receive using a program running on your PC (sometimes called a mail client). But then Web-based services such as Hotmail came along and carried email off into the cloud. Now we’re all used to the idea that emails can be stored and processed through a server in some remote part of the world, easily accessible from a Web browser, wherever we happen to be. Pushing email off into the cloud makes it supremely convenient for busy people, constantly on the move.

Preparing documents over the Net is a newer example of cloud computing. Simply log on to a web-based service such as Google Documents and you can create a document, spreadsheet, presentation, or whatever you like using Web-based software. Instead of typing your words into a program like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, running on your computer, you’re using similar software running on a PC at one of Google’s world-wide data centers. Like an email drafted on Hotmail, the document you produce is stored remotely, on a Web server, so you can access it from any Internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world, any time you like. Do you know where it’s stored? No! Do you care where it’s stored? Again, no! Using a Web-based service like this means you’re “contracting out” or “outsourcing” some of your computing needs to a company such as Google: they pay the cost of developing the software and keeping it up-to-date and they earn back the money to do this through advertising and other paid-for services.

What makes cloud computing different?

It’s managed

Most importantly, the service you use is provided by someone else and managed on your behalf. If you’re using Google Documents, you don’t have to worry about buying umpteen licenses for word-processing software or keeping them up-to-date. Nor do you have to worry about viruses that might affect your computer or about backing up the files you create. Google does all that for you. One basic principle of cloud computing is that you no longer need to worry how the service you’re buying is provided: with Web-based services, you simply concentrate on whatever your job is and leave the problem of providing dependable computing to someone else.

It’s “on-demand”

Cloud services are available on-demand and often bought on a “pay-as-you go” or subscription basis. So you typically buy cloud computing the same way you’d buy electricity, telephone services, or Internet access from a utility company. Sometimes cloud computing is free or paid-for in other ways (Hotmail is subsidized by advertising, for example). Just like electricity, you can buy as much or as little of a cloud computing service as you need from one day to the next. That’s great if your needs vary unpredictably: it means you don’t have to buy your own gigantic computer system and risk have it sitting there doing nothing.

It’s public or private

Now we all have PCs on our desks, we’re used to having complete control over our computer systems—and complete responsibility for them as well. Cloud computing changes all that. It comes in two basic flavors, public and private, which are the cloud equivalents of the Internet and Intranets. Web-based email and free services like the ones Google provides are the most familiar examples of public clouds. The world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon, became the world’s largest provider of public cloud computing in early 2006. When it found it was using only a fraction of its huge, global, computing power, it started renting out its spare capacity over the Net through a new entity called Amazon Web Services. Private cloud computing works in much the same way but you access the resources you use through secure network connections, much like an Intranet. Companies such as Amazon also let you use their publicly accessible cloud to make your own secure private cloud, known as a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), using virtual private network (VPN) connections.

Types of cloud computing

IT people talk about three different kinds of cloud computing, where different services are being provided for you. Note that there’s a certain amount of vagueness about how these things are defined and some overlap between them.

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) means you’re buying access to raw computing hardware over the Net, such as servers or storage. Since you buy what you need and pay-as-you-go, this is often referred to as utility computing. Ordinary web hosting is a simple example of IaaS: you pay a monthly subscription or a per-megabyte/gigabyte fee to have a hosting company serve up files for your website from their servers.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) means you use a complete application running on someone else’s system. Web-based email and Google Documents are perhaps the best-known examples. Zoho is another well-known SaaS provider offering a variety of office applications online.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) means you develop applications using Web-based tools so they run on systems software and hardware provided by another company. So, for example, you might develop your own ecommerce website but have the whole thing, including the shopping cart, checkout, and payment mechanism running on a merchant’s server. App Cloud (from salesforce.com) and the Google App Engine are examples of PaaS.

Advantages of cloud computing

 

Advantages

The pros of cloud computing are obvious and compelling. If your business is selling books or repairing shoes, why get involved in the nitty gritty of buying and maintaining a complex computer system? If you run an insurance office, do you really want your sales agents wasting time running anti-virus software, upgrading word-processors, or worrying about hard-drive crashes? Do you really want them cluttering your expensive computers with their personal emails, illegally shared MP3 files, and naughty YouTube videos—when you could leave that responsibility to someone else? Cloud computing allows you to buy in only the services you want, when you want them, cutting the upfront capital costs of computers and peripherals. You avoid equipment going out of date and other familiar IT problems like ensuring system security and reliability. You can add extra services (or take them away) at a moment’s notice as your business needs change. It’s really quick and easy to add new applications or services to your business without waiting weeks or months for the new computer (and its software) to arrive.

Drawbacks

Instant convenience comes at a price. Instead of purchasing computers and software, cloud computing means you buy services, so one-off, upfront capital costs become ongoing operating costs instead. That might work out much more expensive in the long-term.

If you’re using software as a service (for example, writing a report using an online word processor or sending emails through webmail), you need a reliable, high-speed, broadband Internet connection functioning the whole time you’re working. That’s something we take for granted in countries such as Scotland, but it’s much more of an issue in developing countries or rural areas where broadband is unavailable.

If you’re buying in services, you can buy only what people are providing, so you may be restricted to off-the-peg solutions rather than ones that precisely meet your needs. Not only that, but you’re completely at the mercy of your suppliers if they suddenly decide to stop supporting a product you’ve come to depend on. Critics charge that cloud-computing is a return to the bad-old days of mainframes and proprietary systems, where businesses are locked into unsuitable, long-term arrangements with big, inflexible companies. Instead of using “generative” systems (ones that can be added to and extended in exciting ways the developers never envisaged), you’re effectively using “dumb terminals” whose uses are severely limited by the supplier. Good for convenience and security, perhaps, but what will you lose in flexibility? And is such a restrained approach good for the future of the Internet as a whole?

Think of cloud computing as renting a fully serviced flat instead of buying a home of your own. Clearly there are advantages in terms of convenience, but there are huge restrictions on how you can live and what you can alter. Will it automatically work out better and cheaper for you in the long term?