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Leased Line Connectivity: What is it?

If your organisation needs connectivity to support business critical data and applications, it’s important to find a solution that works for you, and a leased line connection is often part of that. Leased lines provide connections between networks that require data to ease communication. This could mean they connect offices to the Internet, or to other geographically distant offices and sites, or they might even carry telephony data such as a call centre.

In short:

A leased line is a dedicated, uncontended, symmetric, resilient data connection often used by businesses or distributed organisations.

Since that contains a lot of technical jargon, let’s run through those terms individually:

Leased Line Features


Dedicated

This means your leased line connection is solely used for your data.

This is important for two reasons. Firstly it’s better for data security as your data doesn’t travel on public routes. But it also means other users don’t affect the quality of your connection.

Uncontended

Contention ratio is the maximum potential demand at any one time, over the actual available bandwidth.

Often with shared Internet connections such as home broadband there are peaks and troughs in terms of bandwidth. You may notice in the evenings that Internet seems ‘slower’. The higher the ratio, the more likely that your connection will be affected and ‘slowed down’ at peak times.

A dedicated leased line will have a 1:1 contention ratio. This means that the provider can guarantee a fixed speed or bandwidth, regardless of the time of day.

Symmetric

This means the downloads speeds are the same as the upload speeds. This is useful for a number of common activities such as:

  • Online Backups
  • Desktop as a Service
  • Video Conferencing
  • IP Telephony
  • Uploading large files

Additionally, leased line connections usually come at higher bandwidths than ordinary connections with up to 10Gbps capacity available.

Resilient

Resilience means that the connection doesn’t go wrong, and if it does, it has the ability the quickly recover. Most leased line connections have around 99.99% uptime. That’s about 60 seconds of downtime a week.

If your organisation is dependent on connection to the outside world, then it is vulnerable if this connection is lost. Having a connection with resilience mitigates this and provides business continuity.

A resilient leased line solution will ensure there is no single point of failure. This can be done by incorporating secondary lines to increase diversity, which means using multiple providers, fibre routes, and entry points. If connectivity is at the forefront of your operations, then a diverse leased line solution provides much better protection against interruptions or outages.

Leased Line Benefits


Save Time & Money

An improved connection provides an excellent return on investment, and enables organisations to take full advantage of cost-saving cloud services. Additionally the increased resilience of leased line connections means that the impact of costly downtime is mitigated.

Improve Productivity

Work smarter, not harder. Every organisation is somewhere on the way to being on the cloud, if not already fully cloud based. Cloud based software and collaboration services improves the way people work, and link them more effectively to sites or customers located in other sites or even across the globe.

Security & Continuity

Enjoy peace of mind with secure private virtual cloud. Mitigate both cost challenges and migration risks with flexibility and ensure business critical functions stay online around the clock with high availability backed by SLAs.

How do you get one?


Serviceteam IT have enterprise solutions for organisations of any size. We offer scalability and flexibility that would otherwise be unavailable from legacy services, and deliver dedicated, secure, uncontended fibre connections for all your voice and data traffic. What Serviceteam IT offer is:

  • Extensibility – Our infrastructure can grow, adapt and scale to your business
  • Continuity – Network designed with contingency options for business continuity
  • Cost Savings – Do away with expensive hardware, switching, and set-up costs
  • Fully managed – Eliminate admin and billing headaches
  • Proactively monitored SLA – with up to 99.999% uptime
  • Maintainence – Hardware maintenance included in standard service
  • 24/7 Support – From a dedicated fault management team

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Fibre Internet from Serviceteam IT Helps Substrakt Accelerate Ahead

Thanks to an existing customer, BanaBay Limited, giving a whole-hearted recommendation of how we at Serviceteam IT support them, we’ve added another fantastic new customer. We provide BanaBay with IP Telephony, Continuity, Office 365, IT Support and of course Fibre Internet. BanaBay were very gracious, in allowing their potential next door neighbours to assess the quality of the leased line services provided by Serviceteam IT, by enabling secured access for Substrakt to evaluate.

Birmingham, U.K., February 1st, 2017

Midlands-based connectivity specialists Serviceteam IT have secured a lucrative contract to provide a resilient gigabit fibre internet to industry-leading digital design house, Substrakt.

Serviceteam IT, based in Birmingham, landed the contract with Substrakt after delivering a fibre connection in an impressive turnaround time of 26 working days. The contract follows another successful year for the company, which has trebled its client base after three years of consecutive growth. Some of the company’s most notable clients include First Utility, GAB Robins, and Barrhead Travel.

Serviceteam IT attributes its fast turnaround times as the key to its success. “The main advantage we have over our competitors is we deliver fibre internet into an office in around 30 days, which is often half the time of our competitors” said its director Sebastian Jesson-Ward. “We have developed strong relationships with our suppliers and we push them harder to deliver quicker results and address our clients’ needs.”

Mr Jesson-Ward, who has over 20 years of experience in the communications sector, said securing the contract with Substrakt presents Serviceteam IT with a fantastic opportunity to add another prestigious client to its rapidly expanding client base. “Substrakt work with some of the country’s biggest brands, so it is essential that their connectivity is secure and reliable,” he said. “We are privileged that they have come on board, and we are looking forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Substrakt designs and develops digital solutions within the creative, cultural and tourism sectors with high-profile clients, including the English National Opera, Modern Art Oxford, and the Birmingham Hippodrome. The partnership between Serviceteam IT and Substrakt will help Substrakt accelerate its growth and better serve its clients through improved connectivity. Scott Whitehouse, Head of Technical Delivery for Substrakt, said: “Having a reliable connection for our staff, and with our high-profile clients, it is absolutely vital for us. We are delighted to be teaming up with Serviceteam IT to provide this.”

We’re proud to provide quality and value to our customers, and would like to thank Banabay for giving us such a good recommendation. If your organisation is moving premises or expanding, Serviceteam IT can provide a free, no-obligation network and communications consultation, ensuring your organisation has the tools it requires, for the level of service it needs.

To find out more, feel free to contact us on the number provided below.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Office 365 Email Continuity & Disaster Recovery | HowTo

Email continuity is critical. Learn how to protect email with simple, and old hat, methods in tandem with Exchange Online for email continuity & email disaster recovery.

Email continuity & Email Disaster Recovery: I’m not sure if it’s just me, but there does seem to be an incessant whine regarding the demise of email. Usually from some thought leader or other, who quite possibly only reads his emails in Outlook and has never had to configure a monitoring service, a notification tracker or a Line of Business Application for email continuity.

Of course in order for humans to communicate there are many other channels available, such as Slack, which I use for notifications that I’ve arrived at the office, but not left;). Skype for Business too, which is our go-to application for video conferences, chat with end users and to see if someone is both sentient and available. I even have a mobile phone and an IP Telephony desk phone, plus FaceTime, iMessage, Zoiper and many more. There are those other things, such as Social Media, where I occasionally play in the LinkedIn pool. Personally, I prefer an actual face to face conversation, sometimes involving a pen and paper and a cup of coffee.

Declaring the demise of email is a rather bold, personally I’d say a little ignorant. Not merely because of the pervasive implementation in things that don’t actually get read, but also because it is still a mechanism where you can write something, attach something and consider something prior to sending it. Radical Group reports that approximately 205 billion email messages are sent per day.  That is 2,372,685 emails per second. I had to turn my phone sideways to calculate that. One of our own customers sends and receives several million emails each month. On balance, email is not about to cease anytime soon.

Why implement Email Continuity & Email Disaster Recovery for Office 365 Exchange Online?

Okay, email can sometimes feel like an annoyance, however, imagine if email were suddenly cut off? Most organisations rely on email to not only conduct day-to-day business, but to also ensure the wheels in the background are turning. Loss of email access or usability can not only slow productivity, it can also cost money.

I recently read a post where it was suggested that an emergency inbox in the cloud was an ideal solution in order to achieve email continuity. It’s not. Look at the numbers above. It would be impractical to have a days worth of the several million emails per month for one business delivered in to one big bucket. How would you make sense of them? What would you do with them if you could? Where would they be stored? When would you be able to restore them to the primary mailboxes? Whilst I’m not laughing and pointing at the idea, much, there is a far better solution.

MX Fallback for Email Continuity & Email Disaster Recovery for Office 365 Exchange Online

Aside from having a reliable, enterprise designed provider, such as Microsoft Office 365, I have to confess to being a little distrusting of any particular service as the only resource. The very nature of technology means it will break or cease to operate correctly for some reason or other and email continuity is too important to ignore.

MX, and the possibility of MX Fallback, was implemented in January 1986 in RFC973 and RFC974 and is perfect for email continuity with Office 365 Exchange Online. In simple terms, Mail Xchange was given a list, mail-1.serviceteamit.co.uk, mail-2.serviceteamit.co.uk and so on. Each MX can be given what is often referred to as a priority, but is in actual fact just an ordered list. Ordinarily your first entry is O, 1 or 10.

Adding MX Records to DNS

With Office 365 and Exchange Online there is only a single entry. Since the last update to Exchange Online the MX entry is in the form:

domain-suffix.mail.protection.outlook.com.

Prior to the previous update to Exchange Online the MX entry was in the form:

domain-suffix.mail.eo.outlook.com.

Both style entries work correctly and there are no current notices that the previous syntax will be deprecated.

For the purpose of fallback we want to add another MX record immediately following the main entry. For example our first two MX records are:

MX 0 serviceteamit-co-uk.mail.protection.outlook.com

MX 1 serviceteamit-co-uk.mail.eo.outlook.com

Our MX Fallback server records for email continuity and email disaster recovery are:

MX 11 mx00.1and1.co.uk

MX 12 mx01.1and1.co.uk

The first two entries. MX 0 and MX 1, are to our primary mail provider, Office 365 Exchange Online. Both of these records land on the same email servers and are of course not the fallback. The third and fourth entries are the Fallback servers. MX 11 or MX 12 will be chosen for delivery of email should either of the first two hosts not respond. There are a number of reasons the primary servers may not respond including network issues, DNS issues, DDoS issues, simply being offline and many others.

Adding recipients to the Fallback host

The simplest way to implement recipients is to enable a catch all on the Fallback server. Practically any email server has the functionality to receive at catch all, or catchall, denoted as *@serviceteamit.co.uk. This way any recipient for email disaster recovery,  firstname.lastname@serviceteamit.co.uk or random@serviceteamit.co.uk, will be delivered, albeit to one big bucket. The catch all instructions for 1&1 can be found here. A catch all is obviously not recommended as it’s merely a big bucket of email, the reasons not to have are outlined above.

The most sensible approach would be to add all users as mail recipients. All mail user recipients can be exported from Exchange Online as a CSV. Almost any mail server will support importing these users via the same CSV. You may need to alter the CSV headers.

In order to export your users:

1. Log in to your Office 365 Portal via https://portal.office.com.

2. Navigate to Admin and Exchange on the bottom-right of the page:
Exchange Online Admin for MX Fallback

 

3. Click on Mailboxes:
Exchange Online Recipients MX Fallback

 

4. Click on the three dots and select Export Data to a CSV file:
Exchange Online Export to CSV MX Fallback

 

5. A new window will have opened. Select the columns you wish to export, I prefer to select all of them. Then click Export:
Exchange Online Export to CSV Columns MX Fallback

 

You can now use this CSV file to import your user accounts in to your Fallback server as recipients for total email continuity with Office 365.

If you do not wish to import all users you can choose to only enable your highest priority accounts, whether they be individuals, groups, distribution or service accounts for monitoring and notification.

Once the accounts are imported you can now monitor the mail on the Fallback server in Office 365 Exchange Online in order to synchronise emails back to the primary account in Office 365 Exchange Online. This will ensure you have all the user emails in one place once the Office 365 Exchange Online service is available again. If I get time, I’ll update this post with the methods.

One final note regarding the MX Fallback method is that it is still subject to the availability of DNS, the Name Server for the DNS and the integrity of the Zone File. Please feel free to leave any comments you may have regarding High Availability DNS, in order to mitigate DDoS and Black Swan events. There are methods to almost completely protect your DNS integrity. Perhaps that’s for a future post?

In order to offer our clients complete peace of mind regarding email, we’re a Silver Productivity Partner with Microsoft and use Office 365 Exchange Online as the primary provider and select partners for Fallback and High Availability. Through our partnerships, you can choose from multiple service tiers to target specific security and email integrity requirements.

If you have any questions, or would like to speak to someone regarding Email Continuity and Email Disaster Recovery, please get in touch. Birmingham Research Park, 97 Vincent Drive, Birmingham, B15 2SQ. 0121 468 0101.