STAY INFORMED: START BILLING YOUR CUSTOMERS WISELY

Today most of the VoIP companies struggle with the challenge of how to efficiently charge for their services. Unlike traditional phone services, which was charged based on the recorded calls per minute, VoIP technology came up with a better VoIP Billing software working in conjunction with VoIP softswitches. It enabled instant charging for VoIP calls ensuring that customers can only make calls within their credit limit and only destinations prescribed by the Billing Administrator. There are numerous options for VoIP billing:
  • Connection charges
  • Disconnection charges
  • Variable incremental billing, which means that customers are charged for call duration that they did not use. 60/60 or 60/1 billing could well result in additional revenues between 10 and 30 percent given an average call duration of 2 minutes.
  • VoIP billing service can be either subscription based or stepped depending on the duration of the call (stepped billing minutes bundles).
It is also possible to charge the customer based on call data records, though it may cause bill shock problems for them. The main disadvantage of this method is that it is never known until the rating is complete how much traffic has been passed by the customer, thus there are basically no limits to the usage.

Why do you need VoIP Billing?

Integrating a billing module to their VoIP system allows providers and VoIP admins to cross-check minutes used by their agents. Moreover, in the case of fraudulant billing or overcharges by the VoIP provider, VoIP billing is an ideal solution to easily compare results and rectify the issues. Especially if you own multi-tenant VoIP system, billing integration is something you have to care about. To be more convincing let’s see what benefits you will gain integrating billing module to your VoIP phone system.
  • Setup and configure your own VoIP traffic limit based on campaign
  • Check and monitor VoIP usage real time in your system
  • Cross-check billing is done by VoIP provider in your own Billing platform
  • Bill your tenants based on their VoIP minute usage
  • Generate extra revenue by offering VoIP minutes along with Call center features

How does VoIP Billing work?

While your VoIP softswitch is properly installed, your provider can set their own calling rate for each destination. When the rate is set, the provider then sets the increments to round calls too up. Based on the settings that the provider configured, calls can be rounded based on either minutes or seconds. Here’s an example to make the process easy to map. Suppose a customer calls from India to the USA and maintains the call for 55 sec. If the settings are set by minutes the 55 sec call will be rounded to 1 minute and the customer will be charged for a minute instead of 55 seconds. You can also add the following to the cost:
  • Taxes
  • Surcharges
  • Fees
  • Issue credit
Billing software combined with VoIP softswitches provide AAA (Authentication, Authorisation, Accounting).

What are the main features of VoIP Billing?

Usually, open-source VoIP software provides the following features:
  • Multiple currencies
  • Prepaid or postpaid
  • Unlimited devices for users
  • Concurrent calls for users
  • Real-time balance update
  • Least cost routing
  • Payment gateway
  • Invoicing system
  • Multi routing system

The best VoIP Billing Platforms

The most popular VoIP billing software are: VoIP software with open-source architecture provides access to complex rating and charging engines, high-performance computing, and automatic invoice generators for both Prepaid and Postpaid subscribers.
  1. A2Billing
A2Billing is Asterisk-based open-source billing solution. Together, they are a physical Telecom Platform and Softswitch providing a wide range of telecom services using both traditional telephone technology and VoIP. It contains a real-time billing engine which rates,bills, invoices each call, and supports payment gateways.
  1. Freeside
Freeside is an open-source billing, ticketing and account administration package for Internet Service Providers that now includes support for VoIP CDR rating and billing. Freeside supports Asterisk and many other CDR formats. Freeside Internet Services also offer installation, integration, configuration, migration, training, and customization services.
  1. ASTPP
ASTPP is an advanced open-source VoIP billing solution. It provides class 4 and class 5 softswitch billing solutions for FreeSWITCH and FusionPBX supporting both prepaid and postpaid billing along with call rating and credit control. Have you picked your favorite VoIP billing solution yet? If not, then choose one of the available billing software, IP2Voice’s robust servers will handle your VoIP billing to ensure smooth VoIP billing system for your business.

OPEN SOURCE VS COMMERCIAL: WHICH IS THE BEST SOFTSWITCH FOR YOU?

In our previous article, we discussed what VoIP softswitch is and its types with their differences. When choosing a VoIP softswitch, businesses consider some important factors. In this article we are going discuss those factors and get to know the differences between open source and commercial VoIP softswitches and their benefits. So, let’s start with open source and commercial softswitch options. Both of them have almost the same features and functionalities. So, why do you think they are separated and how do you choose the one meeting your requirements? Let’s start digging deeper. Cost The most obvious difference between these two is cost. Sometimes the biggest drive to purchase open source softswitch is that it is free. Yep, absolutely free. No licensing required. Commercial software, on the other hand, requires not only to buy the software itself but also a license. Licensing is not as cheap as you’d think, the price fluctuates from several hundred to even thousands of dollars. Open source software itself cost nothing, although you may need to cover some hardware costs. No licensing enables resellers to create their own pricing structures based on their other expenditures. For example, Asterisk has both general licensing and commercial. However, both of them have great features and functionalities.

Customization

Another big difference between open source and commercial softswitch is customization. One of the best parts of open source softswitches is that it has community developers behind it. Anyone can add improvements to the source code. You can add as many features and functionalities as you need. In the case of open source softswitches, customization is endless. But what refers to commercial softswitches you only get an already pre-installed softswitch and you cannot make any changes to it. It is a good option if you don’t focus on innovations. You just get a simple installation packages on existing hardware.

Root access

Open source software gives you root-level access to the entire system. This means that you can make any kind of modifications, changes, and custom integrations. And all these come without any extra charges. However, if you are not quite tech-savvy you will need an IT expert or sometimes even an IT staff to be responsible for ensuring your software is up-and-running. In case of commercial software, you are only given access to online portal/client portal, where you can check your common operations. It will not give you access to any kind of modifications.

User-friendliness

Here we can say that both versions give the ability to customize your dashboard or client area. You can add your logo or change colors. Besides, you can add as many extensions and trunks as you need. With an open source version you can do it yourself, but with a commercial one you should ask your provider to do that for you.

Support

The biggest advantage of commercial software is support. As you buy commercial software you also get technical support because it is optimized to work with specific VoIP system. Yes, sometimes it is good, when things go well, or issues are quickly troubleshooted. But in case of more complicated issues when you need a quick resolution to the issue, you should wait for the mercy of a large corporation. You just need to sit and wait as you don’t have root access to solve the problem yourself.

Functionalities

Both softswitches come with a wide range of functionalities and features. It is completely at your disposal which to pick and choose. Sometimes commercial versions come with a wider range of features, but with your root access you can add any add-on feature by just adding the code. Could it be easier? VoIP softswitches have multiple functions. They are designed for billing, dialing, PBX, analyzing, SIP testing, GUIs, reporting, etc. All of them will automate a lot of manual work that you used to do: reporting, manual billing, monitoring, etc. 

Examples of VoIP softswitches

Here are some examples of VoIP softswitches (all of them have both commercial and open source versions):

Open source and commercial softswitch, examples of voip softswitches

<In our previous article, we discussed what VoIP softswitch is and its types with their differences. When choosing a VoIP softswitch, businesses consider some important factors. In this article we are going discuss those factors and get to know the differences between open source and commercial VoIP softswitches and their benefits. So, let’s start with open source and commercial softswitch options. Both of them have almost the same features and functionalities. So, why do you think they are separated and how do you choose the one meeting your requirements? Let’s start digging deeper. Cost The most obvious difference between these two is cost. Sometimes the biggest drive to purchase open source softswitch is that it is free. Yep, absolutely free. No licensing required. Commercial software, on the other hand, requires not only to buy the software itself but also a license. Licensing is not as cheap as you’d think, the price fluctuates from several hundred to even thousands of dollars. Open source software itself cost nothing, although you may need to cover some hardware costs. No licensing enables resellers to create their own pricing structures based on their other expenditures. For example, Asterisk has both general licensing and commercial. However, both of them have great features and functionalities.

Customization

Another big difference between open source and commercial softswitch is customization. One of the best parts of open source softswitches is that it has community developers behind it. Anyone can add improvements to the source code. You can add as many features and functionalities as you need. In the case of open source softswitches, customization is endless. But what refers to commercial softswitches you only get an already pre-installed softswitch and you cannot make any changes to it. It is a good option if you don’t focus on innovations. You just get a simple installation packages on existing hardware.

Root access

Open source software gives you root-level access to the entire system. This means that you can make any kind of modifications, changes, and custom integrations. And all these come without any extra charges. However, if you are not quite tech-savvy you will need an IT expert or sometimes even an IT staff to be responsible for ensuring your software is up-and-running. In case of commercial software, you are only given access to online portal/client portal, where you can check your common operations. It will not give you access to any kind of modifications.

User-friendliness

Here we can say that both versions give the ability to customize your dashboard or client area. You can add your logo or change colors. Besides, you can add as many extensions and trunks as you need. With an open source version you can do it yourself, but with a commercial one you should ask your provider to do that for you.

Support

The biggest advantage of commercial software is support. As you buy commercial software you also get technical support because it is optimized to work with specific VoIP system. Yes, sometimes it is good, when things go well, or issues are quickly troubleshooted. But in case of more complicated issues when you need a quick resolution to the issue, you should wait for the mercy of a large corporation. You just need to sit and wait as you don’t have root access to solve the problem yourself.

Functionalities

Both softswitches come with a wide range of functionalities and features. It is completely at your disposal which to pick and choose. Sometimes commercial versions come with a wider range of features, but with your root access you can add any add-on feature by just adding the code. Could it be easier? VoIP softswitches have multiple functions. They are designed for billing, dialing, PBX, analyzing, SIP testing, GUIs, reporting, etc. All of them will automate a lot of manual work that you used to do: reporting, manual billing, monitoring, etc. 

Examples of VoIP softswitches

Here are some examples of VoIP softswitches (all of them have both commercial and open source versions):

Open source and commercial softswitch, examples of voip softswitches

PBX softswitches

Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, PBX in a flash, Elastix, FusionPBX, FreePBX (the latter two also serve as GUIs for FreeSWITCH and Asterisk accordingly).

Billing software

ASTPP, A2Billing, Freeside

Dialing switches

VICIdial, GOautodial, Newfies

How IP2Voice can help you?

IP2Voice can help you integrate the advantages of open source and commercial software. How? It offers open source VoIP server hosting, which means you just need to choose an open source version. And guess what? You will get Tier 3 support that commercial software offer. However, you will also get root access to the whole system so that you can make any kind of changes and modifications for yourself. Isn’t it amazing? This is what most of us are dreaming about: unlimited customization and top-notch technical support. Besides, you will not overload yourself with server maintenance, security, and money spent on licensing. Are you excited to build your VoIP system from scratch? Contact us today for more details. Do not limit yourself with pre-customized options, let us meet all your business needs. span style=”font-size: 14px;”>PBX softswitches

Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, PBX in a flash, Elastix, FusionPBX, FreePBX (the latter two also serve as GUIs for FreeSWITCH and Asterisk accordingly).

Billing software

ASTPP, A2Billing, Freeside

Dialing switches

VICIdial, GOautodial, Newfies

How IP2Voice can help you?

IP2Voice can help you integrate the advantages of open source and commercial software. How? It offers open source VoIP server hosting, which means you just need to choose an open source version. And guess what? You will get Tier 3 support that commercial software offer. However, you will also get root access to the whole system so that you can make any kind of changes and modifications for yourself. Isn’t it amazing? This is what most of us are dreaming about: unlimited customization and top-notch technical support. Besides, you will not overload yourself with server maintenance, security, and money spent on licensing. Are you excited to build your VoIP system from scratch? Contact us today for more details. Do not limit yourself with pre-customized options, let us meet all your business needs.

CLASS 4 VERSUS CLASS 5 VOIP SOFTSWITCH: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?

Are you considering starting your own VoIP business or building your own VoIP system? You’ve surely seen or heard about VoIP softswitch many times while researching. You know that it is the core to build VoIP, however, you don’t clearly understand what it is. We are here to rescue. Let’s understand what VoIP softswitch is, its types, and their differences.

What is VoIP softswitch?

The term softswitch is the combination of the words software and switchboard. VoIP softswitch is the backbone of VoIP system. It connects phone calls from one line to another, across telecom network, or Internet connection. Simply put, it enables IP-to-IP calls. Softswitches are software-based, in contrast with traditional phone calls routed by hardware. In this way, softswitches eliminate the need for any type of hardware. Most VoIP softswitches have a lot of features, which make them even more attractive and user friendly. The main goal of VoIP softswitch is to handle VoIP calls. However, you also get many more features such as call recording, monitoring, voicemail to email, call queuing, etc. You are able to make audio calls, video calls, conference calls, instant messaging, online faxing, and many other advanced features at a low price.

Types of VoIP softswitches

Usually, VoIP softswitches are subdivided into two classes: Class 4 and Class 5 softswitches. Each of them has its functionalities and features and using purposes. That’s why you should know the purpose of each VoIP softswitch and how they differ from each other to better understand which one meets your business requirements. Let’s explore them one by one.

Class 4 softswitch

The main functionality of Class 4 VoIP softswitch is to route large volume of calls over long distances at a low price. These calls can be carrier to carrier, between carriers, or local office exchanges. Class 4 softswitches are usually used in VoIP wholesale models, as it efficiently routes VoIP traffic between carriers for long separation. It transmits large volumes of voice traffic over and between different exchanges otherwise known as LATAs (local access and transport areas). This is the reason why class 4 softswitch is also called a wholesale solution. To better understand, let’s give an example of a call based on class 4 softswitch. When you are calling from a U.S. city such as Los Angeles to a Canadian city such as Toronto, the call is made through class 4 softswitch. Among most important characteristics of Class 4 softswitch are protocol and conversion, transcoding, billing, protocol support, average time of one call routing, number of concurrent calls, etc.

Class 5 softswitch

In contrast with Class 4 softswitch, Class 5 softswitch routes calls between end-users or consumbers in moderately smaller areas such as a city, town, and a small state of the same country. To put it simply, the main goal of Class 5 softswitch is to enable calling in the same city, town, or region. For example, when you make a call from Miami to Los Angeles. The most direct method is to use IP phones or phones using VoIP adapters connected with directly with softswitch. However, end users can also use VoIP services from their cell phones through mobile VoIP dialer apps or softphones. Class 5 softswitch can also deliver services for non-IP devices such as regular phones. Pinless and calling cards services are among these services, enabling end users to dial into a local Class 5 softswitch and use VoIP services. This softswitch is also called retail VoIP softswitch. It provides additional services for end-users and businesses such as IP PBX features, call center services, calling card platform, IVR functionality, local switching, etc.

Class 4 VS Class 5 VoIP softswitch

How these two can cooperate?

So, let’s make it clear. Class 4 softswitch routes calls between class 5 softswitches. It operates on provider level, in contrast with Class 5 softswitch, which operates on the end-user level. However, Class 4 and Class 5 softswitches can also work together. In order to connect international endpoints, class 5 softswitch uses class 4 softswitch. Class 5 softswitch passes its traffic through a Class 4 softswitch to make long distance calls. Class 4 softswitch transmits the call over a long distance and routes it to Class 5 softswitch connected with IP phones to give VoIP services to users.

The differences between class 4 and class 5 softswitches

Undoubtedly, both Class 4 and Class 5 softswitches are complete VoIP solutions with a wide range of VoIP features. However, they greatly differ from each other. So, let’s highlight their main differences:

Main goal:

Both route calls, but there are subtle differences. Class 5 softswitch receives calls from end users and routes them between users. Class 4 softswitch receives calls from providers and routes them between carriers. 

Features:

Class 5 softswitch comes with a wide range of features such as dial tone, IVR, other calling features. Class 4 softswitch is a simpler solution enabling long distance calls.

Service type:

Class 4 softswitch is a wholesale solution. It is a central office exchange interconnecting local exchange carrier offices for a long-distance call. Class 5 softswitch is a retail solution. It is a telephone exchange, whether at the local telephone company’s office or VoIP reseller provider serving end-users.

Main peculiarities:

The main characteristics of Class 4 softswitch are:
  • Protocol support and conversion
  • Transcoding
  • Calls per second rate
  • Average time of one call routing
  • Number of concurrent calls
  • Flexible UI (user interface)
  • Intelligent call routing
  • Billing interface, including CDR
  • Secured firewall
  • Filtered third-party routing engine
The main characteristics of Class 5 softswitch are:
  • Call authentication
  • Billing and routing
  • IVR
  • Callback
  • Analog-to-digital conversion
  • Support for Codec, Media transcoding
  • Social media usability
  • Call transfer
  • Call holding
  • Call forking

Customers:

Class 5 softswitches can work with the end-user as well as retail VoIP service providers, as it provides local and long-distance services for both end-users and enterprises. On the other hand, Class 4 softswitch mainly operates with wholesale VoIP solution providers, carriers, telco operators, etc.

Capabilities:

Class 4 softswitch can handle many calls. On the other hand, Class 5 softswitch can transfer a small number of calls.

Route area:

Class 4 softswitch is able to roue calls throughout multiple IP network. Class 5 softswitch can route the calls to the correct IP address, SIP address, or DID number of an end-user.  We see that Class 4 and Class 5 softswitches are the core of VoIP system. That’s why choosing the right one to meet your needs is essential. Stay tuned to our next post, where we will give some tips on how to choose VoIP softswitch based on their benefits.

SIP TRUNKING SECURITY CHECKLIST: WHAT ARE THE BEST PRACTICES?

Are you a developer who is passionate about creating a cloud communication platform? Before setting up your software, you’ll definitely need to make sure your system is secure enough to prevent fraud. Being one of the SIP Trunking Explained series, this post aims to introduce the Sip trunking security checklist to help you choose the right hosting provider that will provide you with easy yet important protections. SIP trunking is a telecommunication circuit or Voice over Internet protocol that connects private branch exchange to the Internet. Sip trunking enables businesses to save a huge amount of money by connecting their internal communication system to the Internet and outside phone lines. With all of these advantages, the use of SIP trunking may pose some security risks like IP PBX hacking, identity fraud, account takeover, etc. However, there are some security measures that can reduce or eliminate the risk. Without taking actions toward improvement, your system will always be susceptible to hackers and frauds.

What is SIP trunk fraud?

SIP trunk fraud is a kind of telephone system hacking during which a third-party attacks PBX system via connected SIP trunk. Gaining access to the system, they can make thousands of ongoing calls to phones in different countries because international and long-distance calls have high rates. This method, also known as toll fraud, causes surprisingly large phone bills for enterprises. This is only the beginning, keep reading. Usually, enterprises face two types of telecom threats:
  • Media payload threats

This threat happens when hackers eavesdrop or intercept your calls. Hackers could gather confidential private or company information, which could threaten the security of your business and the privacy of your employees with the additional risk of penalties for non-compliance. SIP trunking, security, best practices, IP2
  • Signaling protocol threats
Signaling protocol threats pose three main risks. Telephone Denial of Service attacks occur when hackers gain access to your system and use automated calling equipment to flood your phones. Your phones are permanently busy, disrupting your service and leading to potential loss of revenue and customer confidence. This type of threat can also lead to identity theft. Wolves in sheep’s clothing can gain personal or financial information, which can damage individual employees as well as the business. Why should you care about SIP security measures?
SIP trunking connects your phone system to the Internet. It means you’ll face all the threats typical to IP technologies. When you’re connected to the Internet you become vulnerable to hackers. In order to prevent any attack and huge call charges you should take care of SIP trunking security measurements. Otherwise, you’re responsible for all the consequences, both financial and personal, that system breaches can cause.

What are the best security practices?

  • Keep your passwords updated and secure, do not rely on default passwords, instead set a randomly generated one.
  • Improve security at the access layer. Using firewalls or enterprise SBC (Session Border Controllers) you can ensure minimum level of protection.
  • TLS protects Personally Identifiable Information such as names and telephone numbers, SRTP protects audio and video media traffic. If one of the encryption layers is not protected well, hackers can identify weak points and gain an access.

Wrapping up

Vulnerability to attacks has never been so intense. That’s why shielding clients’ and employees’ personal information from the variety of attacks is a real challenge for most enterprises. To minimize these risks and ensure flawless performance of phone system, enterprises should at least follow the security checklist mentioned above.        

TOP REGULATIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN STARTING VOIP BUSINESS

Nowadays, VoIP providers should be careful to comply with all the regulations. VoIP service is no longer an unregulated undertaking. Gone are the days when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had no right to regulate VoIP services because they are informative services. Thus, VoIP did not fall under FCC jurisdiction. However, two major concerns arise with regulated service: Security – low level of security, particularly in terms of terrorism Taxation – since VoIP providers are not subject to the same tax rules, thus unfair market conditions are created Under these circumstances, regulations were required to give solutions to these concerns. Thus, the FCC implemented regulations for VoIP providers. Now, the VoIP providers who fall under the definition of “Interconnected VoIP service” should register with the FCC, contribute FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF), comply with E911, HIPAA, and other regulations. Bottom line, interconnected VoIP service is not an unregulated service anymore. Let’s understand what legal hoops you need to jump through to become a VoIP provider. Here are the most common regulations with which VoIP providers should comply. Note that there are other regulations, too. Read them thoroughly on the FCC official page.

FCC Registration

Interconnected VoIP providers must file an FCC Form 499-A registration with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This form registers the company with the FCC and USAC as a U.C. domestic services provider.  With this registration your company will also be able to automatically connect with the USF contribution system. Also, your company should list an agent for service of process in the District of Columbia and list the states where you will provide VoIP services.

Customer Proprietary Network Information

The Customer Proprietary Network Information is the information that you will gather about your subscribers and customers. It is mainly about what type of service they use and the amount of their usage. For example, you can track when your customers use their phone and how often they do. You must keep this information private in case the customer opts out from sharing their data with third parties. If the customer does not, then you can pass the information to other marketers. However, you should notify your customers when you pass their information to others.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 forbids marketing to children and collecting or sharing their private information without consulting their parents. The personal information can be name, IP address, username, social security number, and photos. You should not encourage children to provide that kind of information in case they register. In case any information about a child is to be passed to a third party, the child’s guardian should be aware to easily protect that information. You can prohibit children under 18 to use your service, if your business allows that.

Top regulations to comply with when starting VoIP business

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act deals with the rules for electronic health care transaction. Simply put, you must keep private your customers’ Private Health Information (PII) that is stored indigital forms on your servers. Sharing this kind of information will be illegal and considered a crime. This kind of information can only be shared if your customer allows you to do so or with a judge’s orders.

Tepephone Consumer Protection Act / National Do Not Call Registry

National Do Not Call Registry was officially established by the Federal Trade Commission as a part of the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act limits companiess to use robocalls, automatic dialers, and other methods of communicaion. If your customers want you to stop calling them you must stop, otherwise you will be subject to fines.

Personal Dara Privacy and Security Act

The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act uses penalties to identity theft and computer hacking. As a rule, VoIP companies are dealing with a huge number of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in electronic or digital form. So, it would be a great advantage that your VoIP company complies with this requirement. This will increase credibility among your customers.

VoIP E911

Interconnected VoIP providers are required to provide 911 or E911 service according to FCC regulations. The NET 911 act is required to provide capability of E911 service to VoIP vendor. Thus, for ensuring this service you’ll need to cooperate with your Internet service provider, incumbent local exchange carriers, states, localities, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), and other third party commercial providers who are responsible to route E911 calls to PSAP. With this regulation, you must implement the following functions:
  • Transmit all 911 calls to PSAP
  • Transmit a callback number for each 911 caller to the PSAP
  • Transmit the caller’s “Registered Location” to the PSAP
Complying with these regulations will ensure smooth activity of your VoIP business without any fears of the FCC. Also, you will be able to provide secure communication for your customers as well as your employees. Your customers will appreciate your high-quality service and willingness to comply with regulations.

WHAT TO LOOK AT WHEN MONITORING SERVERS?

If you are keeping your data in the cloud servers, you have probably asked yourself this question at least once: What is server monitoring? And why should you monitor servers? And finally, the last and the most important question: what should you look at when monitoring servers? We will go through all these questions one by one to help you understand the essentials of server monitoring.

What is server monitoring?

Server monitoring is a process of automatically scanning servers on the network for irregulations or failures. It enables you to identify issues and give solutions before they effect end-user productivity. Server monitoring allows companies to track server resources such as CPU usage, money consumption, Disk I/P, bandwidth, etc. Companies will be able gain deeper insight into their systems and resource usage with an effective server monitoring. This will give businesses an ability to plan capacity and deliver high-quality end-user experience.

Why should you monitor servers?

Server monitoring provides several crucial answers in today’s changing and demanding environments. Here are the most outstanding benefits that server monitoring can give your company:
  • To find out if the issue affecting your app relates to network or server
  • To track server performance for immediate identification when the root causes any problem
  • To identify server hardware downtime
  • To know if your application is running smoothly on servers
  • To ensure server security, availability, and high-level performance

What to look at when monitoring servers?

Let’s take a closer look at what you should pay attention to when monitoring and tracking your servers.

RAM monitoring

A server can load information required by specific apps into RAM for faster access, thus refining the overall application performance. Memory monitoring will enable your IT staff to set RAM limitations in order to get alerted when RAM usage exceeds the pre-configured levels. In case RAM is consumed too fast, companies may stand in front of very serious problems such as the system not work effectively or – even worse – stop working at all.

Server monitoring, IP2Voice

CPU monitoring

CPU is the backbone of a computer. It is in charge of all the instructions of computer program for implementing the main arithmetical, logical and input/output operations by system. CPU monitoring enables IT staff to set limits to get alerts before the pre-defined limit is reached. There must always be some portion of CPU available to handle workload. This will give your IT team an ability to take actions for bringing CPU back or upgrading the CPU hardware to appropriate levels while at the same time delivering high-level customer experience. 

Bandwidth monitoring

Bandwidth monitoring enables companies to track their network interface and set limitations to get alerts when some metrics reach their maximum levels. These are the metrics that should be monitored:
  • Input and output traffic speed
  • Sent error packets number
  • Received error packets
  • Sent dropped packets number
  • Received Imp dropped packets

Disk space monitoring

Drive monitoring must be done continuously for ensuring its capacity and reliability, as server contains a lot of hardware components. It will allow your IT team to predict potential hardware failures. In case disk space is lower than acceptable levels, companies might see hardware failure, lost data, and downtime. Disk space monitoring enables IT staff to have insights into the consumption speed of server disks and keep appropriate capacity levels. They will be able to quickly identify and isolate the failing component.

Disk I/O monitoring

Disk I/O monitoring enables you to monitor Read and Write operations of logiccal disks on machines. It sets limits and sends notifications when any of the metrics listed below reach the maximum level:
  • Reads/sec – read operations rate on the disk
  • Writes/sec – write operations rate on the disk
  • Queue length – requests number on a disk when performance data is collected
  • Busy time –  passed time percentage when selected disk drive was serving read or write requests
We have understood the importance of server monitoring and what we should pay attention to. Though these are the most critical points there are a lot of other metrics yet to be tracked. IP2Voice will give you a deep insight into our servers performance providing high level server availability and security.

BUILD YOUR OWN DATA CENTER OR OUTSOURCE IT? WHICH’S THE BEST FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Every business is striving to expand its customer base and revenues. Along with growth, businesses face challenges of securely storing their data in data center. The implementation of innovative ideas is one source of data growth, such as deploying new resource-intensive applications. This is how IT needs to vary for different companies, however, there is one basic question that all of them should answer before moving ahead: Should I build my own data center or buy it from specialized providers?

Building your data center

The drawback for in-house data centers is the lack of resources and expertise. Companies need proper equipment, space, and a lot of power for keeping an in-house data center. Sometimes, they even don’t manage to use them properly when the resources reach their limits. Here, IT professionals start to consider whether it’s worth considering the following things:
  • Invest in maintaining an in-house data center
  • Use a collocation center solution to house hardware
  • Lease data space from a data center provider
  • Start seeking the services of the cloud or virtualized colocation
Another challenge for building a data center is that it’s difficult to determine the future needs. Unless the data center isn’t the core of your business, it shouldn’t require so much commitment. On the other hand, with the less knowledge, experience, and commitment you won’t be efficiently maintaining your data center. Partnering with a trusted hosting service provider will be a good decision for SME in most cases. It will allow businesses to free up their time and resources, allowing them to focus on the further development of their company.

To build or to buy data center, IP2Voice

There is a range of factors managers must consider before making decisions. This includes the cost types that you should weight before choosing to build a data center or use the service of external data center provider.
  • 100% uptime cost: Today, for every business service uptime matters the most since it directly influences your ability to attract new customers. It may require experienced IT staff, which is not something small and medium sized businesses can afford.
  • IT Staff cost: Staffing good employees, especially in the IT sphere, is often an overlooked cost. Don’t think of IT staff only in terms of salary. Usually, good staff requires significant investment in healthcare, 401K, computing equipment, certifications and licenses, trainings, etc.
  • Building cost: Building an in-house data-center requres a lot of capital investments such as tenant improvements, uninteraptable power systems, DC battery plans, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems to cool the servers, storage, networking equipment, and so on. All these expenses take the company’s resources away from its core business.
  • Downtime cost: Network disruption may cause a company to even go out from business. If you want to succeed in customer service and data security, which are major factors of today’s businesses, you should guarantee that your data center is prepared to ensure continued information availability.
  • Customers’ expectations: Any service latency may affect business performance in terms of decreased productivity, customer churn, and lost revenues. To keep customers satisfied, businesses need a reliable and scalable data-center with minimum downtime.
  • Industry flexibility: Not all companies from several industries have ultimate freedom to choose the option that is more flexible or cost-effective. Typically, those are the companies and organizations that need to be compliant with lots of government regulations and procedures such as medical clinics and financial services.
Today, data is a critical asset for virtually any business. The need for storing and maintaining an ever-increasing amount of data is growing exponentially. Before deciding whether to own a data center or switch to a service provider, it’s important to thourougly analyze both options and go for the one that best suits your business needs. Generally, the right decision is the one that will maximize the organization’s data storage and minimize the totalcostofownership. Simply put, businesses should compare the cost of maintaining an in-house data center with that of renting a data-center from service providers. Searching for a reliable VoIP server hosting provider? IP2Voice to the rescue. Its redundant servers and dedicated support team will ensure 100% uptime service of your business. Contact us today to get your custom solution from our experts!
 

WHY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN REMOTE DATABASE SERVICES?

Every profitable business makes decisions based on data collected from its customer base. Your database is the backbone of your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), isn’t it?  Whether it’s in the cloud or not, it’s crucial to make sure you manage your database efficiently to keep everything always up and running. Nowadays, technology and data are the heart of every successful business. It’s not difficult to imagine how devastating it would be for your business if your applications underperform due to the databases that support them. Why should you care about Remote Database Administrator? Let’s review all the compelling factors to use DBA service in your company.

Reasons to get support from a remote DBA

Scale your database

As you engage more customers, your data increases accordingly. In this case, retrofitting or upgrading a database may seem a process full of hassles. Trust me, it will be if you choose to organize it with your own resources. To keep away from this headache and additional cost you can opt to outsource your DBA. In the end, the specialized professionals are keen at archiving the old data and bringing the new database without disrupting the current operations. They perfectly understand the intricacies of data dependencies and how to plan database.

Your database should meet your specific business needs

Experienced DBA are keen at optimizing data processing such as reading, writing, and parallel processing. It’s important to understand the best chunk of data and set the parameters accordingly to increase the speed of data processing.

Your database needs constant monitoring and protection 

Cooperating with an experienced DBA, you will be able to keep your database security tight, monitor and address alerts and errors as they arise, assess and improve your database performance, and make sure a disaster recovery plan is there in case of emergency. You can’t find a single person who will be capable of covering all the tasks.  You should make sure your data is in secure hands and two steps ahead of hackers and crooks.

Remote database services, IP2Voice

Your DBA should be backed by fanatical support

If you hardly notice or remember your database, be sure it’s running well. In fact, you worry about your database when there is a problem. But with the right backup system and support team it’s quite possible not to remember about your database at all. However, finding the right person with the right skills isn’t an easy task. You need to organize interviews, give a task, consider alternatives, and finally hire someone you’re not sure can properly handle your tasks or not. If you take care to efficiently integrate remote database staff with your help desk they will become your virtual IT staff without extra expenses.

Your database should be future-proven

This is likely the most valuable advantage of trusting your remote database administration to a specialized company. Your remote database solution should be flexible to match up all the needs you may have while expanding your business. As a rule, a team of professionals will always be updated about industry news and will be able to evaluate companies’ needs and set up the ideal database, let alone recommend the best technologies to update your database. 

Reduced operating costs and time

Constantly improving IT operations while reducing costs is an important goal for every company. Even we put it under 6th factor, most probably saving both time and money is the primary reason you should consider the help of remote DBA. A well-run DBA service is packed not only with best-in-class tools and experts, but also a trusted model of support that ensures the stability and performance of your database. Besides, you only pay for the time spent on your system. No fixed salaries, no promotional costs.

Reliability

Using DBA service with good reputation, you will not have to worry about your data confidentiality. It’s in the nature of their business, thus they don’t save money on hiring best-in-class industry experts. The stability of your data is in the hands of every single employee in DBA services, including junior and senior database administrators. The difference is junior DBA’s work is overseen by senior ones to minimize the risk of human error. As a rule, this may not always be done in hiring in-house DBAs that are limited by the number and expertise of workers. It’s always up to you to decide whether you want to keep in-house IT staff or trust your DBA to the professionals. The above factors will give you some insights to determine whether you need this service or not. Just consider that you don’t have to keep any burden to yourself, just leave the secondary work to remote DBAs and focus on your core business.      

SERVER LOAD BALANCER: KEEP YOUR APPLICATION UPTIME

If you are a VoIP software owner, you will definitely know that it must serve hundreds of thousands of concurrent requests from users or clients and smoothly return the application data. All the activities should be done along with delivering consistent calling and HD voice. Here Load balancer comes into play. Let’s understand what it is and how it can help.

WHAT IS LOAD BALANCING?

Server load balancing is a traffic optimization tool – nothing more, nothing less. What does it mean? Load balancer goes between your servers and client request across all the servers according to the latter’s capability. Load balancer ensures that none of your server is overloaded, which means you will have improved server performance. In case of server fails, the load balancer redirects traffic to other available servers. Even more importantly, load balancer identifies when a new server is added and automatically sends requests to it too. It is designed to increase productivity and performance of a network by allowing users to access sensitive business data and applications without slow response time and connection fails regardless of location.

HOW DOES LOAD BALANCER WORK?

Load balancer is an essential tool for every data center. It supports millions of concurrent connections for increasing application availability without affecting performance. Load balancer is a perfect tool to organize your VoIP application traffic. All the benefits lie in the cool functionalities load balancer has:
  • It evenly distributes the clients requests or network traffic across the servers
  • Sends requests to only those servers that are online and capable of handling appropriate amount of network load
  • It allows adding or removing the servers based on demand and starts to distribute traffic among them
Load balancer maintains session persistence and ensures user-friendly experiences while the servers doesn’t respond or are overburdened. It also monitors the server performance and makes health checks. To boil it all down, Load balancer is responsible for keeping applications up and running in the event of one or more unresponsive servers.

THE TYPES OF LOAD BALANCERS 

Typically Load Balancers are grouped into two categories: Layer 4 and Layer 7 load balancers. You may wonder what we are talking about. As a rule, the range of load balancer depends on how well it processes with different types of data. This data is passing through 7 levels of OSI (Open Systems Interconnects.)
  • Application (Layer 7)
  • Presentation (Layer 6)
  • Session (Layer 5)
  • Transport (Layer 4)
  • Network (Layer 3)
  • Data Link (Layer 2)
  • Physical (Layer 1)
Layer 4 balancers distribute traffic based on the data from Network and Transport level protocols like IP address or TCP port. On the other hand, Layer 7 load balancers are dealing with more complicated data. They route the traffic based on application level protocols such as HTTP.

Server load balancer, traffic optimization tool

Both of these load balancers are distributing data based on a range of industry standard algorithms. Let’s explore four of the most popular ones together.
  • Round Robin: This method continously rotates a list of services that are attached to it. When the virtual server receives a request it assigns the connection to the first service in the list then moves that service to the bottom of the list.
  • The custom load method: When using this method, the load balancing appliance chooses a service that is not handling any active transactions. If all of the services in the load balancing setup are handling active transactions, the appliance selects the service with the smallest load.
  • Least connections: The default method. When a virtual server is configured to use the least connection it selects a service with the fewest active connections. 
  • Least response time: This method selects a service with the fewest active connections and the lowest average response time. 

HOW WILL YOU BENEFIT USING LOAD BALANCER?​

  • The speed at which your software is running always stays high. It will keep you away from customer’s complaints experiencing slow page loads or inconsistent voice. If your software has a browser version too you will avoid search engine punishment.
  • It’s simpler than you expect. Setting up load balancer is a hassle-free process.
  • It’s built for scalability. Need to add more servers? Load balancer recognizes any new device and continues to divide work evenly between available servers. It takes into account every new machine while distributing.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT IT?

No matter how awesome and user-friendly your application is, if it doesn’t run and serve properly you will most probably lose your customers after a short period of time. If the servers on which your application is running are overwhelmed with high-volume traffic, data retrieval becomes a tough process. Server request errors and traffic failures are simple issues that server load balancer can solve. 

HOW CAN IP2VOICE HELP?

IP2Voice provides high-performance server hosting services backed with impeccable service. With our servers, the response and transaction times of your application and cloud service will be significantly reduced. With caching, compression, SSL acceleration, and other methods you will get better application performance.  Consider that if you’re running cloud-based business your ROI is directly proportional to your application and server performance. Opt to reach greater server efficiency for your VoIP application with IP2Voice server hosting services. Around-the-clock server uptime is guaranteed.