Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is the OSI Model

Dear Metro,

What is the OSI Model?

--John C. NY

Dear John,

Almost all computer networks today are based on the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) standard.

OSI was developed in 1984 by the International Organization for Standardization (known commonly as "ISO"), a global federation of national standards organizations which represents approximately 130 countries.

The core of this standard is the "OSI Reference Model," which is a set of seven layers that define the different stages that data must go through to travel from one device to another over a network. In this standard, control is passed from one layer to the next: 1) Application, 2) Presentation, 3) Session, 4) Transport, 5) Network, 6) Data-Link, and 7) Physical. There is generally little variation from this standard.

The IT Guy

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What is an Ethernet?

Hi Metro!

My boss was joking around the other day and called the ethernet the "alohanet." I thought maybe he was saying this because the data went through back and forth--or like "hello, "goodbye," the way "aloha" means both. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured maybe he knew something more and I got very curious. Now it has been a couple days and I didn't want to ask, so I was wondering if you could explain what he meant and what an ethernet really does.

THANKS & Aloha!

Robert S. -- Clueless in Charlotte

Hello Robert,

Simply, an Ethernet connects computer systems creating a network. Ethernet is the most widely-installed local area network technology (called a "LAN") and is found nearly everywhere there is more than one computer.

Today's Ethernet was originally developed by the Xerox Corporation from an earlier type of connection called "Alohanet" (for the Palo Alto Research Center Aloha network)--which is why your boss used that rather obscure reference!

An Ethernet LAN will generally use coaxial cable (just like your cable wire to set up cable on your TV) or special grades of twisted pair wires, (which is similar to the wire used for your power connection for your laptop, or more simply, your toaster!) But, Ethernet is also used in wireless LANs--it is the type of connection, not necessarily how the connection is made.

So next time your boss pulls that little bit of technology trivia out... feel free to share this one:
Ethernet was named by a gentleman, Robert Metcalfe, (one of Ethernet's developers), for the passive substance called "luminiferous (meaning: light-transmitting) ether" that was once thought to exist all over the universe, carrying light throughout. Ethernet was named this to describe the way that cabling, also also a passive medium, could similarly carry data everywhere throughout the network.

Have a great day,

The IT Guy
(and tech trivia guru!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SIP Trunking

Dear Metro,

Can you explain SIP trunking? I have having trouble grasping the concept and seeing the value for my business.

Sandra S.

Dear Sandra,

Technology have evolved to a highly complex state--and that is why there are IT and voice services companies ready and able to make your business run more smoothly, and let you get back to what you do best!

However, it is important before you incorporate these new technologies into your business that you understand the basics and what the ROI is for you. SIP trunking is one of those things that can be very valuable to a business.

So, to your question: What is SIP trunking? SIP stand for Session Initiation Protocol which is a signalling protocol used for establishing sessions within an IP network. A session could simply be a two-way telephone call or it could be a huge multi-media conference session in several locations. Having the ability to establish these sessions means that a collection of very useful services become possible for the business.

Now, SIP Trunking is the use of voice over IP (VoIP) to connect a private branch exchange (PBX) to the Internet. Essentially, this means that the Internet replaces the conventional telephone trunk, (a trunk is a line or link that can carry many signals at once in a communications system) allowing a business to communicate with both fixed and mobile telephone subscribers around the world. This facilitates the connection and easy access to clients, vendors, partners, etc.

For you to be able to take advantage of SIP trunking, your business must have a PBX (private branch exchange) that connects to all internal end-users, an Internet telephony service provider (ITSP) and a gateway that serves as the interface between the PBX and the ITSP.

One of the most useful benefits of SIP trunking is its ability to combine data, voice and video in a single line, eliminating the need for separate physical media for each mode. This saves money and increases the reliability of your communication systems.

For more information on SIP Trunking and how it can help your business, call a CNSG SIP expert at 1.866.738.1662.

The IT Guy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What is a VoIP?

Dear Metro --

I went to a small business conference this week and a bunch of people were talking about their voips? What in the world is a "voip"?--and given how excited my colleagues are about this, is it something that I need too?

Tom S. - Charlotte business owner

Dear Tom,

"VOIP" is such a funny word isn't it! It actually is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol--"V-O-I-P" is how most people will say this, (it is commonly written, VoIP) but "Voip" is heard often enough as well. Frankly, it doesn't matter... it all means the same thing: VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is simply the transmission of voice traffic over IP-based networks.

VoIP calls can be placed across the Internet--so you are using the existing computer lines to make telephone calls. Most Internet connections are charged using a flat monthly fee structure--and you are probably already paying for them. Using the Internet connection for both data traffic (your computer connection) and voice telephone calls can allow you to get rid of one monthly payment. And since VoIP plans do not charge a per-minute fee for long distance the potential savings for switching to VoIP technology can be enormous.

Another benefit is the portability of VoIP--meaning you could put a phone at your house or a second office and it would look and function as if it were with all the others. Your client's could call one number and be routed to a completely different location without knowing it. This could make your operation work more smoothly and not tie you to having staff in one place.
There are generally set-up fees to incorporate this kind of system into your business, but it is definitely worth the investigation.

For more information about VoIP--contact Converged Network Services Group or check out their website at

IT Guy

What is a VPN?

Dear Metro -

Hello, we are a small accounting firm in Charlotte and I am considering bringing in a new (and younger!) partner. He asked the other day if we could set up a VPN. Can you explain this? What is a VPNand what would be the benefits? I just told him I would get back to him, so I am hoping to have an answer quickly so we can move forward. Thank you for your help!

Best Regards,

Francis M. CPA, Charlotte

Dear Francis,

Thank you for your question. A VPN is a "Virtual Private Network," and it is likely that your potential new partner is asking because he would like to be able to have remote access to the firm's computer files and applications, perhaps so he can work late from home, or so he can work on a client site.

A VPN is a common way for information to be transferred via the internet in a secure fashion. Your IT provider should be able to set this up for you with your current system. The complexities of this will depend on what kind of set-up you have now, but generally this is a quick and easy process that I believe you will also find beneficial, and worth the investment

For more information on setting up Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), contact Converged Network Services Group in Charlotte, or check out the VPN Wikipedia page.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Converged Network Services Group

Converged Network Services Group provides communication consulting services to enterprise customers of all sizes.

For more information, please check out our website or call 1.866.738.1662.