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Understanding Connectivity: A Small Business Checklist
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By Brent Cobb


Know your service level agreement, before you need to use it
When things are going great, everyone is happy. But when something goes wrong, that is when the true “customer experience” is solidified. In the world of Internet connectivity providers, you are likely to see terms like Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Service Guarantees.

Simply put, these are how you are treated when something breaks. Most business users cannot afford to be without Internet connectivity for more than a day – in fact, some small businesses cannot operate at all without Internet access.

Reputable providers should be able to respond to any service issues within 24 hours or less and will say so. If they are not willing to commit to this, carefully consider what the impact on your business might be if you could not access the Internet for multiple days at a time.

Having Norton installed on your office computers does not mean they are secure. Computer viruses, worms, spam and spyware are all examples of online threats that can negatively impact your business and unfortunately are par for the course in today’s Internet environment. However, that does not leave you defenseless.

Software programs like Norton will help protect individual computers if they are properly updated. Properly updating is where many small businesses fail. For that reason, you need to ensure your Internet provider offers spam filtering for unwanted email messages and virus protection to screen emails for computer viruses. When managed by a reputable provider, this ensures the latest security updates and patches are being used to help protect your business.

Beyond this minimum security “must have,” consider using a managed firewall to shield critical network resources, block unnecessary Internet traffic or restrict applications used on your network. An offering like this provides an increased level of security for your computer network.

Your Crib Sheet

To recap, here’s what you really need to know when evaluating and purchasing business-grade Internet connectivity:

• Bandwidth in the Mbps is a must for businesses of more than four employees.

• Symmetric connectivity, like that found in a T-1, will let you do more with the Internet.

• You must be able to use your company name in your email addresses.

• Employee mailboxes should have at least 100 Megabytes of storage.

• Email addresses and mailboxes should be easy to add and delete.

• Don’t settle for anything less than a 24-hour commitment to service outages.

• Spam filtering and virus scanning should be included with your service package.

• Consider providers that offer a managed firewall service so you don’t have to own and manage a complicated network firewall.

Armed with this information, you and your business are now ready to succeed in the wired world.




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Brent Cobb is the Vice President of Product Management, Product Development and the General Manager of Mobile Services for Cbeyond.
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