What Is a Network?



Before working in the Business Operations Department at an IT Support company, I lived in a bubble of blissful ignorance, free of terms like “firewalls” and “switches.” But those days have long passed. Now I hear these terms — and more — on a daily basis and have more than once been confused by the conversations around me, as well as items that come across my desk. So I decided I would like to learn the basics. Thanks to a caring Account Manager, Curt Kelley at Everon, who initiated a “Back to Basics” training course, I can now understand the basic terms and functions of a Network. You can, too:

Taking a look at the diagram, let’s start at the top with “The Cloud.” This term always made me nervous because I didn’t understand what it was or how it was different from the internet. Curt explained that it’s pretty much just a rebranded name for “The Internet” — or where all the data is coming from.

Image created by Curt Kelley.

This data is transmitted from the cloud to your ISP (Internet Service Provider), then to you through your “modem” or “router.”  This modem, or router, device receives service from your ISP and allows you to access the Cloud.  For a lot of us, in our homes, this is pretty much the extent of our network. But for our businesses there are a few more devices involved.

Moving down the chain we see the firewall. Basically what the firewall does is put up a barrier between your network (all your internal information/devices) and the Internet so nobody can see your personal  information from outside your network. The firewall acts as roadblock from the Internet to your network.

Next we see the switch or “hub” as it is sometimes called. The switch is basically an outlet strip that allows all your printers, workstations, phones, wireless, and server to be connected. I know we all know what phones are, but what I did not know was that VoIP phones are different from normal “plug into the wall” type phones. These are phones that you use via your Internet connection. VoIP stands for  Voice Over Internet Protocol.

Servers also plug into the switch and hold all of your internal data. Also, when you log onto your computer, this is the device that you are logging onto to verify that you are who you say you are. This device authenticates your credentials and allows you access to the network. Lastly,  workstations are another word for your laptop or desktop computer setup, printers and the wireless Internet access are pretty self-explanatory, but these also are plugged in through the switch.

I hope this helps you, like it did me, to have a better understanding of network basics. If you need IT support or would like to install additional devices in your network — you can always contact us at Everon 888-244-1748 (or email us at [email protected]). We’re here for you 24/7, 365.

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Moving to a VoIP Solution




Hello again! Being an engineer and being subjected to a lot of technology that is out there, it’s easy for us to see and understand the big picture. Recently, however, it has come to my attention that there are certain items that we (engineers) see as normal day-to-day things, that some people just do not have a full understanding of. One of these is Voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP. So today I am going to give a run down of some Pros and Cons and a little background of what it is.


1) Consolidation of Services. VoIP uses your internal IP network (network connection) to pass and receive voice traffic instead of your copper PSTN (public switched telephone network) lines like so many people are used to. So instead of having a separate line that comes in specifically for your phones and internet, they both will share the same line to accomplish the tasks, allowing consolidation of services. This gets me into the pros of going with a VOIP solution.

2) Easier (and cheaper) bill-paying. Going with a VoIP solution not only lets you consolidate in the manner of less equipment and less wires, it also allows you to pay one company for both your voice and data services. This will leave less of a paper trail, carbon footprint, and one less check to write for the accounting team. While on the topic of cost effectiveness, making a phone call with a VoIP solution is cheaper — so cheap that it is the same cost to make a call as it is to send an email!

3) Voice mail. Sure, you have voice mail with your old phone system. And it is just as easy, if not easier, to set up and manage with VoIP as it is with your old phone line. But VoIP takes it a step further, allowing you to also setup voice mail to create emails. That way you can read your voice mails (and have the printed notes right in front of you), rather than trying to listen to them in a noisy place, or having to find a pen to jot down a recited phone number.

4) The ability to set up and use call forwarding. Another handy feature you’re already familiar with, call forwarding is standard with VoIP, whereas it was an extra charge with the older phone systems/providers. 

5) Calls are easily recorded and monitored. This is great for those conference calls that not everyone can make, but they still need the info. It’s also a good way to check up on your employees and give them additional training, if needed, or have proof to back them up in the case of customer disputes.

mobile VoIP phone6) Mobility. You can move your phone anywhere, including doing a complete reconfiguration of where everyone sits in your office, or you could even take your office phone home, or to Canada, and you would still have the ability to keep the same phone number and functionality with your base VoIP phone unit.

7) Connectivity. Many companies use their VoIP solution to hold and accommodate voice/video conferencing which is a more cost effective way to bring people from all over the world together.  Sounding pretty good, eh?


Just like everything else in this world, not all that glitters is gold. With positives, there will always be negatives, hence “pros and cons.” Even though the list of cons is much shorter, I still feel it is my duty to make you aware of them so you can make an educated decision when talking about phone systems.

8) Hackers and viruses. Like anything that uses the internet for functionality, there is always a threat of being hacked and/or malicious attacks such as viruses. Yes, even phone systems can obtain viruses and can be hacked, with the hackers intercepting phone calls and tracking outbound/inbound calls. It is unfortunate that we have to worry about even our phones being hacked, and there are protective measures you can take to prevent this from happening. But that’s another-day conversation.

9) Reliability of usage. Another thing to take into consideration is the reliability. There are 2 parts to this so stick with me here. The first part is the reliability of usage. Since VoIP uses the same line as your internet, if the power goes out, a piece of networking equipment fails, or the ISP has an outage, you will not be able to use your phones just as you cannot surf the web at this time.

10) Reliability of quality. Secondly, if you do not take the time or spend the extra bit of money to ensure that your network is up-to-date and in a good spot, the quality of service on the phones can diminish. If your internet runs slow on a normal basis, your phone quality will be poorer than that of a healthy and fast network. There can be “choppiness,” delays, drops, and even static.  Something to take into consideration if you have been prolonging the network overhaul that is needed.

With all these thoughts, I hope that you feel at least comfortable enough to start a conversation with a VoIP provider in order to get more information about them. Here at Everon we are not a VoIP provider, per se, but we can answer questions and can help facilitate a transition to the service. Feel free to reach out to us by phone, website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Cheers!


Will You Be Turning to Microsoft for Your Next Phone System?


by Michael Cooch | www.everonit.com

Microsoft made a big splash in the small business community recently (whether you realize it yet or not!) with the announcement of their expected entrance into the unified communications space.

Why is this big news?

Microsoft’s entry into this space marks their plan to replace, or dramatically enhance phone systems with a server-based software solution (running on your servers or the servers of a hosting provider). A growing percentage of small businesses have already made the transition to VoIP phone systems; Microsoft’s solution will be in direct competition with these systems. Microsoft’s new method allows small businesses to keep their current phone system, but also gives them access to all of the bells and whistles VoIP offers its users.

What is unified communications?

According to Microsoft, “Unified communication bridges the gap between telephony and computing to deliver real-time messaging, voice, and conferencing to the desktop environment.” I realize that’s a mouthful, furthermore, I think this concept is best explained by the demo on their site http://www.microsoft.com/uc/demo.mspx

How will this impact you and your business?

If you have made the jump to a VoIP phone system, you are already aware of the powerful productivity benefits that come with using this technology. Most of these systems integrate pretty tightly with Microsoft Outlook, giving you enhanced communications capabilities.

But of course, nobody can integrate with your existing Microsoft technologies like Microsoft can! This close integration will benefit you in at least two obvious ways:

  1. It will be increasingly easy to communicate effectively with anyone in your business or personal universe via voice, email, text, instant messaging, or video - all while using Microsoft Outlook as your hub for all communications.
  2. It will be increasingly easy and cheap for your IT manager to set up new users on your network and provide them all of their necessary communications tools. Unfortunately many of you are familiar with the high cost of having to move phone lines within your offices (as people shift roles or locations, etc.) With Microsoft’s innovation, this expense will quickly become a thing of the past for your company!

I didn’t say it as strongly as Bill Gates did…here is his take on how this will impact you:

“Integrating the experiences you associate with the telephone-phone calls, voice mail, and conferencing - into the work you do on a computer – documents, spreadsheets, instant messaging, e-mail, calendars – has the power to fundamentally change the way the world works. We believe unified communications will transform business in the coming decade in the same way e-mail changed the business landscape in the 1990s” – Bill Gates.

As usual, Bill is right.

As much as we sometimes hate to admit it, the folks at Everon believe Bill is right. This platform will take communications in the workplace to a whole new level.

As is always the case with new Microsoft releases, you should give this a bit of time to work through the inevitable bugs, but Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says this platform has already been rigorously tested because they know it has to compete with mainstream “always available” phone systems. Everon will implement this platform in 2008; I expect that we’ll see customer demand for it within the next six months.

Time will tell, but I believe that in a short period of time, this will prove to be a huge business for Microsoft. In fact, I would bet that a good number of you will begin implementing and reaping the benefits from this platform within the next year.

For more questions about this article please contact [email protected].