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Do Small Businesses Really Need Network Management?

We meet a lot of small business owners who experience a LOT of business pain because of badly performing or just downright failing networks. Network connections, (or put more simply your broadband connection and the ability to transact and communicate) have become essential for all but the tiniest fraction of businesses nowadays. Of course, its been the dilemma for as long as technology has been a factor in business that small businesses simply cannot afford to support their technological infrastructure in the way that they know they need to.

So whats to do? Most people are just winging it to be fair. The systems we buy nowadays for business are pretty good but far from perfect.

Of course the real trouble is never expected until it arrives.

So when the perfect storm of unaffordable costs to cover the systems we need and systems failure hits, we need to make decisions we really don’t want to have to make. Unjustifiable costs suddenly become justifiable in the face of the totality of the eclipse and the value proposition changes dramatically until everything is fixed, the network goes back to sleep and calm is restored. Until the next time.

This is where a low cost management solution from Rustyice Solutions really becomes your greatest asset. Our small unobtrusive RCAD (Rustyice Control & Access Device) will sit quietly inside your network continuously monitoring the health of your network devices and also your connection to the outside world.

Our systems offer 24x7x365 real time visibility of a multitude of measurable metrics within your network ensuring that, when coupled with our realtime SMS, Email and Messenger alerts component you are always fully informed about the health of your network systems.

Imagine your business broadband connection goes down in the middle of the night. You don’t want to be in the position where you are making the necessary telephone calls having just realised the problem when you arrive at the office at 8.30. With an RCAP that process can begin via our automated systems while you sleep and can potentially be resolved by the time you get to your front door.

An RCAP is much more than a broadband & network monitor however. Through your RCAP you can monitor anything on your premises such as motion sensors, fire alarm panels, smoke alarms, in fact anything that can be measured by a sensor. You can collect statistics on printer paper use, ACU health, HVAC system performance and even the levels in the coffee machine. The RCAP from Rustyice solutions really does it all and, with a customised dashboard designed by our engineers you will have all the data you need at your fingertips, alerting you at precisely the trigger points you require to ensure your business runs smoothly.

At the superbly affordable price of £14.99 per month why wouldn’t you?

Interested? Contact us today for a test drive. With no contracts and no commitments it really is an offer you can’t afford to refuse.

Contact us today to order your new RCAP.

Cisco – Two LAN, Two WAN ISP and NAT

We recently received a request from a rural customer who was tired of their unreliable 1Mbps ADSL line to add a second ADSL line to their network. The line was ordered and installed and we then added a second ADSL wic interface to their router and set to work making it work. Our brief was to make it work so that each LAN was associated with one WAN link and only used that WAN link. This is how we went about it.

Clearly the second interface needed to be associated with a second dialer created to log in and manage the second connection. Furthermore, we needed to add a second DHCP pool. This new config is shown as follows:

DHCP config:-

ip dhcp pool pollux
   network 192.168.200.0 255.255.255.0
   default-router 192.168.200.1 
   dns-server 62.6.40.178 62.6.40.162 

As you can see this connection is using BT DNS servers.

Dialer config:-

interface Dialer1
 description btbusiness
 ip address negotiated
 ip mtu 1492
 ip nat outside
 ip virtual-reassembly
 encapsulation ppp
 dialer pool 2
 no cdp enable
 ppp authentication chap pap callin
 ppp chap hostname xxxxxxx
 ppp chap password xxxxxxx

We then needed to allocate a second default route to the router and this was achieved by means of the following command:-
ip route 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 Dialer1

We created an access list to handle the new traffic relating to the new DHCP network as follows:-
access-list 22 permit 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255

and then we added a new access list to ensure that the traffic on each LAN network remained segregated from the other LAN. This was done as follows:-

access-list 112 deny   ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 10.0.0.0 0.255.255.255
access-list 112 deny   ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 172.16.0.0 0.15.255.255
access-list 112 deny   ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 192.168.0.0 0.0.255.255
access-list 112 permit ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 any
access-list 122 deny   ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 10.0.0.0 0.255.255.255
access-list 122 deny   ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 172.16.0.0 0.15.255.255
access-list 122 deny   ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 192.168.0.0 0.0.255.255
access-list 122 permit ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 any

Finally we needed to apply route maps to mechanise the access lists, putting them to work maintaining segregation and ensuring correct operation. The following two route maps were configured:-
route-map pollux permit 22
 match ip address 122
 set interface Dialer1
!
route-map castor permit 12
 match ip address 112
 set interface Dialer0

Putting it all together our new configuration was as follows:-

version 12.4
no service pad
service tcp-keepalives-in
service tcp-keepalives-out
service timestamps debug datetime msec
service timestamps log datetime msec
service password-encryption
service sequence-numbers
!
hostname xxx-core-router
!
boot-start-marker
boot-end-marker
!
security authentication failure rate 3 log
security passwords min-length 6
logging buffered 512000 debugging
enable secret xxxxxxx
!
no aaa new-model
no network-clock-participate slot 1 
no network-clock-participate wic 0 
ip cef
!
!
ip auth-proxy max-nodata-conns 3
ip admission max-nodata-conns 3
no ip dhcp use vrf connected
!
ip dhcp pool pollux
   network 192.168.200.0 255.255.255.0
   default-router 192.168.200.1 
   dns-server 62.6.40.178 62.6.40.162 
!
ip dhcp pool castor
   network 192.168.1.0 255.255.255.0
   default-router 192.168.1.1 
   dns-server 62.6.40.178 62.6.40.162 
!
!
ip flow-cache timeout active 1
ip name-server 212.159.13.49
ip name-server 212.159.13.50
ip name-server 141.1.1.1
!
!
!
archive
 log config
  hidekeys
!
!
! 
!
!
!
interface ATM0/0
 description btbusiness
 no ip address
 no ip redirects
 no ip unreachables
 no ip proxy-arp
 no atm ilmi-keepalive
 dsl operating-mode itu-dmt 
 pvc 0/38 
  encapsulation aal5mux ppp dialer
  dialer pool-member 1
 !
!
interface FastEthernet0/0
 ip address 192.168.1.1 255.255.255.0
 ip flow ingress
 ip flow egress
 ip nat inside
 ip virtual-reassembly
 ip route-cache flow
 ip policy route-map castor
 duplex auto
 speed auto
!
interface ATM0/1
 no ip address
 no ip redirects
 no ip unreachables
 no ip proxy-arp
 no atm ilmi-keepalive
 dsl operating-mode itu-dmt 
 pvc 0/38 
  encapsulation aal5mux ppp dialer
  dialer pool-member 2
 !
!
interface FastEthernet0/1
 ip address 192.168.200.1 255.255.255.0
 ip nat inside
 ip virtual-reassembly
 ip policy route-map pollux
 duplex auto
 speed auto
!
interface Dialer0
 ip address negotiated
 ip mtu 1492
 ip nat outside
 ip virtual-reassembly
 encapsulation ppp
 dialer pool 1
 no cdp enable
 ppp authentication chap pap callin
 ppp chap hostname xxxxxxx
 ppp chap password xxxxxxx
!
interface Dialer1
 description btbusiness
 ip address negotiated
 ip mtu 1492
 ip nat outside
 ip virtual-reassembly
 encapsulation ppp
 dialer pool 2
 no cdp enable
 ppp authentication chap pap callin
 ppp chap hostname xxxxxxx
 ppp chap password xxxxxxx
!
router rip
 version 2
 network 192.168.1.0
 network 192.168.200.0
!
ip forward-protocol nd
ip route 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 Dialer0
ip route 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 Dialer1
ip route 192.168.88.0 255.255.255.0 192.168.200.2
ip route 212.159.13.49 255.255.255.255 Dialer1
ip route 212.159.13.50 255.255.255.255 Dialer1
!
no ip http server
no ip http secure-server
ip nat inside source list 12 interface Dialer0 overload
ip nat inside source list 22 interface Dialer1 overload
ip nat inside source route-map castor interface Dialer1 overload
ip nat inside source route-map pollux interface Dialer0 overload
!
access-list 12 permit 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255
access-list 22 permit 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255
access-list 112 deny   ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 10.0.0.0 0.255.255.255
access-list 112 deny   ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 172.16.0.0 0.15.255.255
access-list 112 deny   ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 192.168.0.0 0.0.255.255
access-list 112 permit ip 192.168.1.0 0.0.0.255 any
access-list 122 deny   ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 10.0.0.0 0.255.255.255
access-list 122 deny   ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 172.16.0.0 0.15.255.255
access-list 122 deny   ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 192.168.0.0 0.0.255.255
access-list 122 permit ip 192.168.200.0 0.0.0.255 any
route-map pollux permit 22
 match ip address 122
 set interface Dialer1
!
route-map castor permit 12
 match ip address 112
 set interface Dialer0
!
!
!
control-plane
!
!
!
alias exec arp tclsh flash:arp.tcl
alias exec shutnoshut tclsh flash:shutnoshut.tcl
!
line con 0
line aux 0
line vty 0 4
 access-class 12 in
 password xxxxx
 login
 transport input telnet
!
ntp clock-period 17207966
ntp server 85.119.80.233
!
end

 

The network worked beautifully. Another elegant solution from Rustyice Solutions.

A look at some useful PHP functions. isset() vs empty() vs is_null()

Were currently developing a new system in collaboration with our partners at 802 Works – Redefining Wireless. As a part of that, were designing a new system for administering Wireless systems and maximising the marketing leverage that can be gained from them. That job involves having to write quite a lot of PHP pages and scripts. We thought we’d share a short tip on PHP variable declaration.

We’re going to look at the different ways that variables can be empty in this post. PHP has many different operators which can be used to test a variable. Three useful operators used for this are isset(), empty() and is_null(). Each of these operators return a boolean value (either true or false).

Lets take a look at these operators in a little more detail:

isset()

From the bible of PHP, the PHP manual, isset’s job is to “determine if a variable is set and is not NULL”. In other words, it returns true only when the variable is not null.

empty()

Again from the PHP manual, empty’s job is to “determine whether a variable is empty”. In other words, it will return true if the variable is an empty string, false, array(), NULL, “0?, 0, and an unset variable.

is_null()

Finally, from the PHP manual, is_null’s jobis to “find whether a variable is NULL”. In other words, it returns true only when the variable is null.

You may now be thinking that is_null() is opposite of isset() and , broadly speaking you’d be correct however there is one difference and that is that isset() can be applied to unknown variables, but is_null() only to declared variables.

The table below is an easy reference for what these functions will return for different values.

 

Value of variable ($var) isset($var) empty($var) is_null($var)
“” (an empty string) bool(true) bool(true)  bool(false)
” ” (space) bool(true)  bool(false)  bool(false)
FALSE bool(true) bool(true)  bool(false)
TRUE bool(true)  bool(false)  bool(false)
array() (an empty array) bool(true) bool(true)  bool(false)
NULL  bool(false) bool(true) bool(true)
“0” (0 as a string) bool(true) bool(true)  bool(false)
0 (0 as an integer) bool(true) bool(true)  bool(false)
0.0 (0 as a float) bool(true) bool(true)  bool(false)
var $var; (a variable declared, but without a value)  bool(false) bool(true) bool(true)
NULL byte (“\ 0”) bool(true)  bool(false)  bool(false)

 

I have tested the above values in PHP 7.1.9 which was released on September 1, 2017.

Hosted Telephony From Rustyice Solutions

rs_logo-with-wordsRustyice Solutions Ltd. is helping to transform the way businesses communicate. We provide each customer with a single communications platform that addresses the needs of every employee, regardless of their location or the device they use.

Our cloud-based platform delivers a range of feature-rich voice, video and unifed communications solutions to your business. We help you to improve the way you communicate with your customers, increasing collaboration and ensuring maximum productivity from every employee.

JARGON BUSTER

WHAT IS HOSTED TELEPHONY?

Hosted Telephony, also known as Cloud Telephony, is where organisations access business telephony as a service. In essence, the capabilities of a traditional PBX are delivered as a service from the cloud, providing comprehensive telephony functionality directly to each extension, regardless of location.

This exible solution enables organisations to scale effortlessly and add functionality on a simple pay-as-you-use basis; including Advanced Hosted Telephony, Collaboration, Mobile Integration and Contact Centre capabilities.

Hosted Telephony is transforming the way companies communicate. Regardless of your company size or the physical location of your employees, you are able to deliver feature-rich business communications to every employee, from the cloud, wherever they may be in the world.

hosted-telepyThrough Hosted Telephony, businesses are easily able to react to change while maintaining best-in-class communications capability, enjoying:

REDUCED COSTS

With Rustyice Hosted Telephony there is no up-front capital investment required. Simply subscribe to one of our “All Inclusive” minutes bundles or take our “Pay-As-You-Use” service where you benefit from free calls between offices or employees working at home or significantly cheaper local, national and international call charges.

ADVANCED FEATURES

Take advantage of enterprise level telephony features such as Auto Attendant, Receptionist Console, Call Centre and Call Recording. Improve the efficiency of your workforce through Presence, Click-to-Dial and Contact Database Integration. Take total control of your services using our sophisticated online management portal.

INCREASED AGILITY

Flex your usage up and down in response to demand or any season fluctuations. Scale rapidly without committing to long contracts. Deploy satellite workers and seamlessly transition between different locations and offices. Take calls on the move, anywhere around the world.

FUTURE PROOF TECHNOLOGY

At Rustyice Solutions we work with key technology partners to ensure that the platform adheres to the latest versions and industry standards. A constantly evolving roadmap allows our customers to benefit automatically from the latest features and developments.

Our customers are freed from the operational and financial burden of maintaining their own equipment and software.

ASSURED RELIABILITY

Use your own, or take a business grade Inclarity broadband or fibre connection for an assured telephony experience which does not touch the public Internet. Set up cloud-based call divert rules in advance – or in real time – to capture all of your incoming calls in the event that your office experiences any local network problems. The Inclarity platform offers 99.999% availability, and in fact we achieved 100% availability across the 12 months of 2015.

HOSTED VIDEO CAPABILITY

Cloud-hosted Pay-As-You-Use video conferencing capabilities mean that there is no need for expensive dedicated meeting room equipment, complex video bridges or changes to your network. Simply connect to a meeting using your desktop, tablet or smartphone and communicate with colleagues and clients wherever they are in the world with excellent sound and picture quality.

CALL CENTRE

Call Centre is an advanced telephony feature that allows a business to better manage its incoming calls, and to ensure that these calls are answered by the correct personnel.

  • Allow agents to control how they advertise their availability for receiving calls
  • Give each agent a specialised dashboard to better manage their calls
  • Queue inbound calls, and play announcements / estimated waiting times to the callers
  • Define busy, out of hours, holiday and emergency failover responses
  • Review the availability and productivity of agents using Rustyice Reporting
  • Define the skill levels of your agents for skills based routing (Premium only)CALL RECORDINGWith Inclarity Hosted Telephony there is no need for expensive on-premise call recording, this capability is embedded within our cloud and can be switched on for particular lines or particular users.
  • User-defined recording for inbound or outbound, external and internal calls
  • Recordings are retained for 6 months as standard (with the option to extend)
  • Simple storage, search, download and playback of calls
  • Fully FSA compliant

CALL REPORTING

Rustyice Call Reporting enables you to obtain a full picture of your inbound and outbound call history so you can manage your business communications.

• Powerful GUI enables you to de ne and run reports

• Comprehensive range of standard reports

• Ability to tailor reports for your specific needs

• Leverage account codes to enable customer billing

• Schedule reports to be sent automatically to you by email

• Select from a wide range of chart and graph options to show your report data in a graphical format

AUTO-ATTENDANT

Auto-Attendant provides the ability to automate the management of inbound calls using voice prompts to identify which services are required and directing the call appropriately.

  • Direct calls to specific extensions
  • Look up individuals in the corporate directory
  • Route calls based on department or service required

Rustyice Hosted Unified Communications (UC) delivers both improvements in the productivity of your staff and an increase in the level of collaboration across your entire organisation.

The Rustyice UC Client is a desktop application that helps you integrate your telephone activity with the rest of your business processes. UC users can access their contacts more easily, and can identify the context of incoming calls more effectively, leading to a boost in productivity and efficiency. When integrated with CRM, accounting or ticketing systems, UC users can instantly spawn or pop the relevant contact records to perform essential tasks more quickly.

UC users can also use the integral Telephone Presence dashboard to see the real-time telephone status of their colleagues, and can instantly identify when these users are not available to take calls or call transfers. User collaboration on projects is improved by knowing when everyone is available to speak.

CALL PREVIEW

Receive an alert on your desktop to notify you that you are making or receiving a call. If the called/calling number is on your Address Book, then you will also see your contact’s name.

OUTLOOK INTEGRATION

Automatically access your MS Outlook Contact Cards for Call Preview, and enable click-to-dial within the MS Outlook desktop application.

OTHER APPLICATION INTEGRATION

Open up lists of contacts from other 3rd party applications for Call Preview, Click-to-Dial and Screen Pop. Supported applications include common CRM packages such as ACT, Salesforce, Sage and MS Dynamics.

TELEPHONE PRESENCE DASHBOARD

Report your current telephone status to your fellow UC users, and access a dashboard showing the current telephone status of these users.

SKYPE FOR BUSINESS INTEGRATION

Push your telephone status so that it is visible to your MS Skype for Business environment. Dial fellow Skype users on their listed telephone numbers from the Inclarity platform.

BROWSER & CLIPBOARD CLICK-TO-DIAL

Enable your preferred desktop web browser so that any telephone numbers you see can be dialled with
a single click. Copy any number from any screen or application to your clipboard, so that it can be dialled with a single click.

IMPROVED CUSTOMER SERVICE

Automatically access customer details and presenting these along with the telephone call to enable a more professional service.

MORE EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION

Provide a real time view to each user showing who is available and so enable them to reach the right expert rst time.

IMPROVED USER EXPERIENCE

Making business telephony much easier to use and provide each user with the ability to work the way they want to work.

At Rustyice, we are proud of our track record of unrivalled customer support and service.

Based on industry leading Broadsoft cloud architecture, the Rustyice hosted telephony platform is recognised by our clients as one of the most reliable cloud services available.

99.999% service uptime

The platform offers 99.999% availability, and in fact it achieved 100% availability across the 12 months of 2015. Thanks to the resilient structure and key relationships with Broadsoft and other technology partners, our clients enjoy service continuity that is second to none.

Support calls answered within 5 seconds.

We like to practice what we preach, and as a telephony company, that means being at the end of the line when our customers call. Our Ayrshire based customer support team are available 24/7/365 to help you with any issues you have.

Most issues fixed in under 2 hours

We’ve been at the forefront of unified comms and telephony for over 12 years and our engineers and support staff have intimate knowledge and experience across our platform and the partner vendors we work with. This means issues are identified and rectified quickly and efficiently.

But it’s not just about the SLA

We constantly monitor both the availability and the quality of service of our hosted platform and ensure that not only do we resolve all issues against clearly defined SLAs, but we strongly believe that there’s more to customer support than complying with Service Level Agreements. We really care about offering the right service to our customers to suit their specific needs.

That means from the very outset, we take the time to understand each and every client’s unique business and communication needs. We then work with them and our network of technology partners to produce high-quality, hosted solutions that deliver genuine business value for the short-term and support business growth in the longer-term.

 41

Advanced management tools

System Management Tool (SMT)

A web based, real-time management interface which enables your IT administrator to easily and rapidly manage account settings and resources on-line. Dependent upon the provided system access level, you can use SMT to add new accounts and resources, edit existing account settings, allocate resources, produce reports and perform other administrative tasks. Administration can be specific to an individual user or terminal (e.g. IP phone), and general for multiple users, sites and companies.

Phone Manager

A simple, web-based interface which allows each end user to manage his or her own telephone number and associated service features. This interface is available and works the same way, regardless of what terminal (telephone) is deployed for the user to make and receive telephone calls.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP

ADVICE

Years of experience in deploying hosted telephony for hundreds of clients, across many industry sectors, enables us to add value to the relationship by advising on best practice. We provide guidance as to what works best for businesses like yours and how you can maximise the returns on your investment in cloud-based communications.

DEPLOYMENT

We focus on providing end-to-end solutions; from your connection to the public telephone network right the way through to the telephones on your employees’ desks. Our experience and expertise in VoIP is unrivalled, which enables us to seamlessly transition you to Rustyice Hosted Telephony and deliver the capabilities that you need to each and every user.

FLEXIBILITY

Where we differ from some of the larger players in the Unified Communications space is our ability and willingness to work to our customers’ needs. Our agility enables us to adapt our contract terms, our technical implementations and our SLAs to ensure they support customers’ specific needs, rather than imposing standard terms and standard functionality on them. While we can always provide advice on best practice, we’re always open to different ways of doing things if it’s of benefit to our customers.

If you’d like to know a little more, stick some detail into the form below and we will be in touch soon.