A recent survey by 451 Research found that most organizations will close their smaller, local data centers and server rooms within the next two years.

IT leaders and financial directors are realizing that owning, operating and maintaining a data center may not be the best use of their resources. With the average U.S. data center approaching 20 years of age, enterprises simply don’t want to deal with outdated facilities and building systems infrastructure.

Instead, organizations are turning to the cloud and data center colocation providers. A colocation facility makes it possible to adopt a hybrid data center model. This allows organizations to run legacy, private cloud and public cloud infrastructures in a secure and resilient fashion.

Partnering with a colocation provider can offer greater agility, security and reliability — not to mention reduced capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operational expenditures (OPEX), along with the ability to quickly scale.

More Power to the People

In this era of the latest converged infrastructure, even one IT device can consume 4 to 5kW of power which is what the typical low-density data center cabinets are built to handle. High density data centers require only half of the space as compared with its predecessors. With the latest technology and power density upgrades, fewer cabinets will be required to support the same amount of equipment.

Security is Ever Increasing

While many companies focus on cyber security, the data center’s physical security is just as critical.  Enterprises are moving toward multi-tenant and hosted data center facilities which is creating the need for greater security.  This is because sharing your physical infrastructure with other tenants can put your data at risk.

Many colocation data centers are increasing their physical, building infrastructure and logical security. For example, they are adding more cameras and physical security checkpoints and biometrics. They are also redesigning their command centers — looking at how the room is set up, what tasks they can perform, who can access it and how easy it is to see into it.

Connectivity is King

In today’s 24/7 business world, the ability to transmit information at lightning fast speeds is critical.  Customer’s expect on-demand access to services and don’t want to wait for apps to work or web pages to download. To keep up with the amount of workloads moving to the data center, they will need to provide additional services without huge costs or time delays.

Multiple carriers in a data center offers a greater degree of connectivity and enables redundancy, optimal uptime, and cost-efficiency, all of which are great benefits to any business seeking to outsource their data center.

Cloud, Cloud and more Cloud

A few years back, there was talk of the cloud having the potential to “kill” the data center. However, over time we’ve seen that cloud and data centers are not in competition, rather they complement one another and need to work together in order to properly function.

Cloud-based businesses increasingly rely on colocation providers to support their large data storage needs. Data center management teams need to focus part of their efforts on supporting increased usage from cloud-based companies with more power, speed and bandwidth.

By 2020, International Data Center found that 40 percent of data in the digital universe will be “touched” by the cloud, meaning either stored, perhaps temporarily, or processed in some way. And with the digital universe experiencing unprecedented growth, we’ll see cloud capabilities being a must in data centers for most customers going forward in 2017 and beyond.

First Communications Data Center

Located in the heart of the Midwest, First Communications data center is strategically located in downtown Chicago.  Chicago’s central location has long made it a hub for financial services, technology and a host of consumer goods and services industries.

First Communications has significant capacity to provide colocation, and cloud management services with the ability to scale in space and power.  Our CloudConnection service offers secure, high-speed connections to over 500 cloud providers.  Take advantage of our limited time YOLO Colo offer where you can get a full cabinet with 2.5kW and 20Mbps Internet access for $699 and half a cabinet with 2.5kW and 20Mbps Internet access for $499.

Contact Ryan Patterson at RPatterson@firstcomm.com for sales questions or call (312) 895-8841.

For more information about First Communications Data Center and our YOLO COLO promotion, watch this short video here.

 

First Communications announces today that it will host a free Moving to the Cloud webinar on Wednesday February 15th at 1:00 PM CT. Register here.

Buzzwords like cloud and hosted are swirling around us at breakneck speed, but do you really know what that means? The tried and true office land line phone is on its way out and quickly being replaced with cloud or hosted solutions. Employees and sales executives are on the go and need a quick, easy to use, mobile solution where they can have all their information at their fingertips. Your IT staff wants an easily scalable and low maintenance solution that answers everyone’s needs. Moving to a cloud based phone solution may be the answer to everyone’s challenges.

Before jumping in, you should be wondering…

How would moving to the cloud benefit me?

  • There are many benefits associated with a cloud-based phone system, but when it comes to moving or expanding an on premise phone system, it can be difficult and time consuming. With a cloud-based phone system, growing, moving or sizing down your business’s communications have never been so easy.  Cloud-based phones systems will bring your office communications with you while travel. Remote workers will have access to the full features of their desk phones through their mobile devices.

Does the cloud offer the “right fit” for my business needs?

  • With traditional phones systems being difficult to maintain and costly, cloud phone systems will drastically decrease your businesses cost and maintenance. Another perk, cloud-based phone systems will not confine you to your desk as you take your work on the go.

What should I be looking for in a cloud provider?

  • Choose a cloud service provider that is an industry expert. Those experts should anticipate your needs and be a proactive cloud expert.
  • Make sure you partner with a reliable hosting provider that can manage the entire hosting environment.
  • Make sure you understand the pricing plans before purchasing. Some cloud providers claim they have the cheapest rates but have overpriced upfront fees and brutal long-term contracts.
  • Working with a cloud provider that is only after profits and sales will be a support nightmare. Finding a vendor that has 24/7 support will help ease the stress for when a issue do occur.

If you are thinking about a big change for the way your company communicates in 2017, tune into our webinar and learn more about WHY you should make the transition!

First Communications Webinar: Wednesday February 15th at 1:00 PM CT, click here to join!

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, you try to check out at a store and you are met with an, “I’m so sorry; our system is down. Any way you can only pay with cash.” Or another common scenario, you are calling a business regarding some incorrect charges on your account and the unfortunate reply you hear is: “We cannot view your account at the moment; our systems are not cooperating with us.” Now flip over to the business owner’s vantage point and imagine the thoughts going through their heads. Having downtime/network failures will cause at least one of the following backlashes:

  1. Loss of potential revenue
  2. Employees will have to manually phone/input every card transaction
  3. Labor Costs
  4. Repair costs

 

Loss of potential revenue

According to a survey done by creditcards.com, about 78% of consumers prefer to use debit/credit cards, whereas 9% prefer cash. When your network is down you can possibly lose about 78% of consumers who would prefer to use their credit cards. This doesn’t even include those that would prefer to use gift cards, store credit cards, and other methods of payments.

Employees will have to manually phone/input every credit card transaction

Phoning in every credit card transaction can result in a long wait and leave the customers with a very inconvenient feeling, to put it nicely. This can cause distrust between your business and the consumer. Unhappy customers want to voice their frustrations and they have a platform on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and let’s not forget the ever important Yelp. Some customers may just lament their disappointment but others may never return.

Labor Cost

If your employees have jobs that require the network to be fully functional at all at times, then an outage would be a management nightmare. For others, employees are being paid to wait for the network to be restored.

Repair Cost

If your business is not properly prepared for the impact of a network failure then you will have to pay to get it repaired. The cost to repair such outages could range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars. Not being prepared to handle network failures could be costly.

Network outages are going to happen and can have a huge impact to your business which can inevitably, damage your brand. There is a simple way to mitigate this risk. First Communications is now offering 4G LTE Failover as a premise based solution that uses routing intelligence between the primary connectivity router and the cellular based failover device. This routing intelligence allows the device to detect when the primary connection is no longer working and automatically re-routes pre-defined critical business traffic to the 4G LTE connection. With these services, you can stay connected to your mission critical applications, have a reliable back up, and continue to serve your customers. First Communications offers this as a way to protect your most important assets and most importantly, your brand.

If you want to have a backup plan and end any potentially devastating business disruptions, contact First Communications at 1-800-860-1261 or fcomsales@firstcomm.com

In today’s corporate world, conference calls are the glue that brings people together. Conference calls reduce the total cost of ownership by decreasing travel costs immensely. It is not only essential for you to utilize web and audio conferencing, but to make sure you are using it correctly. These tips will ensure that your conference call will be effective and productive.

1. Is a Conference Call Necessary?
When scheduling a conference call, you need to ask yourself, “Is this meeting necessary or can emails get it done?” Not every situation requires a conference call, but in truly urgent matters where real time response is required, this is the best option.

2. Who Really Needs To Be On the Call?
After you have decided that a conference call is needed, you will have to decide who would add value to the call. No one wants to feel like their time is being wasted. There is no shame in double checking the invite list to make sure that only necessary individuals are invited.

3. Include an Agenda
Adding an agenda to a meeting invite will increase the productivity. By including an agenda all the participants can be properly prepared to discuss each item. Also, it can help them confirm they are needed.

4. Minimize Text
When conducting a web meeting, graphics are a big part of the virtual presentation. You should cut down on textual matter so the audience will pay attention to you. As a rule of thumb , use text as a guide not as a complete thought.

5. Allow Questions
When hosting a conference call it is difficult to cover everything. Questions can help clarify some topics that were discussed. It can even bring up topics you may have missed or forgotten.

6. Assign Roles/Goals for Next Meeting
This is especially important for reoccurring meetings. This will guide the participants on next steps and ensure them to be prepared for the next meeting.

7. Follow Up
Most conference calls can be packed with information covering many different topics. Following up with your colleagues can ensure they understood everything discussed. It may even be beneficial to send out a survey afterwards asking for feedback.

8.*Bonus Tip: Use AnyTime Conferencing*
AnyTime Conferencing can help minimize your business time, resources, and global communications. Our fully redundant network will protect the reliability of your connections and minimize the impact of outages. AnyTime Conferencing even allows you to schedule and start meeting from Microsoft® Outlook®, Lync® and Google® Calendar.

For more information about how AnyTime Conferencing can improve your business’s communications, contact First Communications at 1-800-860-1261 or fcomsales@firstcomm.com.

The data center colocation market is growing by leaps and bounds, driven largely by enterprises continuing to outsource IT infrastructure and adopt cloud solutions. According to researchers at Markets and Markets, the data center colocation market is estimated to reach a total market size of $55.31 billion by the end of 2021. With this growth comes segmentation, and new trends in types of colocation providers.

Gartner describes the market at bifurcating into “pure” colocation, or providers offering purely space, power and communications, and “up the stack” higher-level service providers offering additional managed infrastructure services, cloud, security, interconnection and internetworking in addition to space, power and communications. In the second case, companies offering interconnection services has also come to mean connectivity to a large set of cloud and managed service provider options.
Critical and relatively standard considerations are physical infrastructure, redundancy and physical security; customers should also pay close attention to the managed services and connectivity options available within the provider’s building, as well as the teams supporting them.
Below are key considerations for customers vetting colocation providers.

Public and Private Cloud Services

The rapid adoption of hybrid strategies proves that cloud computing and colocation will be natural allies for many years to come. Selecting a data center provider that offers connectivity to public and private cloud services within their facilities allows customers to gain peace of mind, scale seamlessly and access platforms quickly and as-needed. Customers can also use the same IP addresses/networking between their own equipment and cloud in the facility. The customer’s virtual infrastructure can be augmented with a private connection to their cloud service provider’s cloud, enabling them to consume private cloud resources as if they were part of their existing infrastructure and as part of their existing cloud strategies.

Managed Infrastructure Solutions

With access to expansive managed services ecosystem, data center customers can also choose which parts of their environment to outsource to an array of different platform options; it’s no longer all-or-nothing. Selecting a provider that offers a range of managed services delivered incrementally behind your existing firewalls mitigates latency, integration and security concerns.

Security

As cyber-attacks continue to increase, data security continues to be a growing concern amongst today’s companies. Ideally, selecting a provider that enables services to be deployed privately and securely in a way that never touches the public internet is the customer’s safest route. Innovative deployment models allow these solutions to be directly tied into customers’ existing infrastructure via secure MPLS, Metro Ethernet, or VPN, as well as direct cross-connects at major PoPs.

First Communications is excited to offer customers the best of both worlds when it comes to colocation and interconnection. First Communications is able to provide direct access to customized, highly available and fully managed services as well as Private, Public and Hybrid Cloud via secure cross-connects with the lowest latency. Combining reliable physical infrastructure, redundancy and physical security with our managed services and vast connectivity options, we provide businesses with all of the necessary requirements of an effective colocation deployment.

AKRON, OH, July 20, 2016 — First Communications, LLC (“First Communications”) applauds the leadership role the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) took in its vote on July 14 to adopt the Upper Microwave Flexible Use (“UMFU”) Report and Order. The new “Spectrum Frontiers” rules open up four millimeter wave spectrum bands for flexible mobile and fixed-use wireless broadband. The newly opened UMFU service bands are 28 GHz (27.5-28.35 GHz), 37 GHz (37-38.6 GHz), 39 GHz (38.6-40 GHz), and a new unlicensed band at 64-71 GHz.

First Communications owns fifteen 28 GHz spectrum licenses in Ohio covering 95% of the state’s population with each license containing 1,150 MHZ of spectrum. First Communications has recently successfully released new, high bandwidth services utilizing its owned spectrum in the Akron, Canton and Youngstown markets. This clarification on the rules will accelerate First Communications’ investment in other markets such as Cleveland and Columbus, which are anticipated later this year.

Margi Shaw, CEO of First Communications commented, “This order by the FCC underscores the viability of this spectrum to provide high bandwidth services to customers in an efficient, stable and secure environment. We are confident our customers will immediately benefit from these new rules through a more robust investment from First Communications. We also look forward to working with the industry in exploring the advancement of 5G networks and technologies through the use of this high-band spectrum.”

We had a great turnout for our most recent Agent Webinar on Tuesday, February 23rd.  We had over 100 agents dial-in where we showed a live demo of our Cloud IP PBX Admin Portal, we discussed some of our current promotions, as well as, had a Question and Answer session.

If you were not able to attend and would like to listen to the webinar in its entirety, you can do so by clicking the link below.

Cloud IP PBX Admin Portal Demo

AKRON, OH, February 16, 2016 – First Communications, LLC (“First Communications”) a leading provider of data networking, cloud and managed services, today announced it has completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of CIMCO Communications (“CIMCO”). This acquisition further expands First Communications network density and strong base of customers in the Midwest.

CIMCO provides data center, managed services, voice and network services to over 2,000 medium and enterprise sized business customers in the greater Chicago area. First Communications has extensive network, systems and customer service infrastructure to ensure a seamless transition and personalized service for the acquired customers.

“We look forward to introducing CIMCO customers to First Communications’ technology solutions and focus on customer service. Further, we hope to provide our existing First Communications customer base with the robust data center and hosted IP offering we have gained through the CIMCO acquisition,” said Margi Shaw, President of First Communications.

About First Communications

First Communications is a leading technology solutions provider in the Midwestern United States.  Founded in 1998, First Communications has built a highly scalable telecommunications platform, infrastructure and support system, which represents a combination of world-class technology and cutting-edge product offerings. It provides communications services, including bandwidth connectivity, managed services, colocation and cloud services, to small, medium and enterprise sized businesses throughout the United States.

First Communications
Margi Shaw                        Tel: 1-312-334-0083

First Communications has recently kicked off participating in community service events throughout the summer and fall season.  First Communications has partnered up with The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) from the Chicagoland area to assist with helping  families provide temporary lodging for families whose seriously ill children receive treatment locally. In August, we held our first annual bake sale in our Lombard office.  With the donations and participation  throughout the office and various departments, we were able to raise over $500!  In addition to our bake sale in early August, we also took part in “Battle of the Bags” activity to help fundraise additional money for RMHCs. This gave us the opportunity to contribute to charity with having some fun with other organizations.  First Communications has kicked off community service involvement and continues to do so throughout the fall and winter seasons.

If it is available in your area, Metro Ethernet warrants serious consideration for most SMBs if you have not made the move away from T1/TDM technology already.  What follows is a quick listing of benefits that your organization can likely derive from moving to Ethernet technology:

1)      Delivers Higher Bandwidth
Simply put, the bandwidth that can be carried by T1 or any TDM technology is paltry compared to the almost limitless capacity of Ethernet over Fiber EoF) Bandwidths of 1-10Gbps or more are  routinely available on a single line, which is simply not possible with TDM technology.

2)      Lower Monthly Recurring Cost (MRC)
At all but the very lowest levels of T1 service, which is inadequate bandwidth for most organizations, the MRC for Ethernet is considerably less expensive that TDM technology that provides the same bandwidth.  The difference in cost of TDM vs Ethernet becomes more pronounced as the bandwidth needs of your organization increase.

3)      CapEx Savings
Ethernet uses “off-the-shelf” equipment that costs less initially and scales better down the road than TDM equipment.  A bandwidth upgrade of an existing Ethernet circuit requires no capital expenditure, while T1/TDM requires a significant investment in new equipment.

4)      Easy Scalability
Once your organization has Ethernet service, increasing the bandwidth is normally a matter of contacting your service provider and amending your existing agreement.  From the providers prospective, they are very happy to quickly provision additional bandwidth.  Typically nothing else is required on the user end.

5)      Buy Only Bandwidth that You Need
When purchasing or upgrading bandwidth, Metro Ethernet offers the ability to purchase bandwidth in smaller increments than TDM or SONET Technology.  For example, if your organization requires 30Mbps, if you use DS3 you need to purchase 45Mbps, and you will not have the ability to easily upgrade the service when you outgrow the 30Mbps service.

6)      Simple Technology = Less Burden on IT Staff or Owners
Because Ethernet is ubiquitous in the IT world, there is greater knowledge and a higher comfort level among users of Ethernet than TDM technology.  In addition, Ethernet in the WAN is the same technology that is used in the LAN, which simplifies interactions between the two.

7)      Enables Cloud Technology (Applications and Storage)
“The Cloud” provides SMBs with tremendous opportunities for increased efficiencies and enhanced capabilities. Many applications that hadn’t been thought of 5 years ago, like DropBox or Freshbooks, are now relied upon by Managers and Business Owners to do some of the heavy lifting in their organizations.  Metro Ethernet provides affordable reliability and scalability so that these increasingly critical applications can be accessed on demand.

8)      Enables Video Conferencing & Collaboration
Video conferencing and applications like GoToMeeting or WebEx are used to communicate with remote locations, vendors, and customers. These applications have become indispensable to many organizations.  Inadequate bandwidth and poor Quality of Service can turn these applications into a headache or even a liability.  Ethernet can easily help you stay ahead of bandwidth issues and prevent these problems from happening.

9)      Enables Quality VOIP and Unified Communications
Ethernet service provides adequate bandwidth for current needs, and can be scaled quickly to meet future needs and avoid quality of service (QoS) degradation.   Ethernet can also be configured to provide Class of Service (CoS) in order to segregate VoIP traffic from other network traffic, avoiding packet loss and latency which can cause noticeably poor quality voice and video connections.

10)   Enables Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
Organizations can use Ethernet to tie into data centers in order to run real time applications offsite, and establish redundancy that may be required for practical as well as for good risk reduction practices and regulatory compliance.  In addition, flexible Ethernet connectivity facilitates offsite data backup and recovery, as well as remote work locations that may need to be established in the event of severe weather or other disasters that prevent workers from traveling to affected office locations.   

Conclusion
Metro Ethernet service is experiencing explosive adoption and growth because it delivers high value relative to costs for its users, who are largely SMB and enterprises and other organizations who are technology reliant. T1 Service has been a technology relied up for many years, but the demands placed upon TDM exceed its ability to deliver the performance and value needed today.