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November 30th, 2016


WSJDLive 2016 was held in Laguna Beach, CA, October 24-26. Photo posted by Scott Austin, WSJ Tech Editor,from Wall Street Journal Twitter feed, 10/26/16.

Wall Street Journal’s much anticipated WSJ.D Live Conference brought together some of the most recognized influencers, thought leaders and innovators to unveil their top predictions on the state of technology and where it’s headed in 2017 and beyond. ­

This year’s coverage is extensive, including video interviews, Twitter feed, highlights and presentations. As we noted in our 2014 recap of the first Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live Conference, it takes a bit of a commitment to read through it all, so we pored through it and pulled some of our favorite quotes and highlights listed below.

Alphabet’s Astro Teller, current CEO of Alphabet’s moonshot factory at Google(x), about self-driving cars: “The world is going to have cars that are sold to individuals and cars that are shared by individuals, and which one Alphabet does, we have our thinking on it,” he said. “But right now we’re very focused on safety.” He added that Alphabet’s cars will be fully autonomous from the start, “You press a button and tell the car where you want to go.”

Microsoft Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella on his vision for Microsoft and where the company can improve: “We want to push to be more of a learn-it-all culture than a know-it-all culture… you’ve got to be able to add unique value and be on the hunt for the next big category. The ultimate computer, for me, is this mixed-reality computer, where your field of view becomes an infinite display, where you see the world… This is not happening tomorrow. It’s not happening next year. But that is the continuum we are on.”

John Maeda, global head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic Inc. talks about product design and the user experience: “When products prove too hard to use, engineers often jokingly say ‘RTFM,’ for read the f–ing manual. That approach won’t work anymore, he said, adding products will fail if they aren’t designed well. You say ‘RTFM’ and they’ll say ‘F’ back to you.”

Mr. Maeda praised Microsoft’s efforts with inclusive design, the method of creating products and service accessible to as many people as possible. “Their design is perhaps most advanced,” Mr. Maeda said.

Michael Wolf, technology strategist and consultant at Activate Inc. in a presentation about what’s Next for Tech and Media in 2017: “Internet companies have largely focused on people with reliable access to the internet, credit cards and bank accounts. By overlooking consumers without such advantages, media and tech companies are missing out on a potential population of 50 million Americans. People without credit cards, for example, can’t use Spotify AB’s streaming music service or hold accounts on Apple Inc.’s iTunes.”

Wolf added, to eliminate these barriers to entry, services should broaden the types of payments they accept, such as cash payments, prepaid credit or debit cards. Companies also need to rethink their pricing structures for the 32% of Americans living in nontraditional households—outside the conventional two-parent or single-parent structure—or who may be non-English speakers or undocumented immigrants.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty talks about how her company has changed its focus as the world has changed: In an interview with WSJ’s Gerard Baker at the WSJDLive, Ms. Rometty estimated a billion people will use Watson, a collection of artificial-intelligence software delivered as cloud-computing services, by 2018. She said the company is particularly enthusiastic about the uses of Watson in healthcare. IBM announced a relationship last week with Quest Diagnostics Inc., in which Watson will help analyze the results of genetic sequencing of tumor samples of cancer patients. She said IBM also is helping to provide Watson-based services to help doctors in India, which has a severe shortage of cancer specialists.

These are just a few examples of the dozens of speakers who provided their insights on the future of technology. If you want to do the deep dive into WSJDLive check out these video recaps, and you’ll see other speakers including former NBA star turned venture capitalist Kobe Bryant, Marc Benioff (Salesforce), Troy Carter (Spotify), Reed Hastings (Netflix), Dava Newman (NASA), and Susan Wojcicki (YouTube). The breadth of the speakers and topics – from self-driving cars to medicine to breaking down socio-economic barriers – illustrates how far technology has evolved beyond servers and gadgets. We are in an increasingly connected world where people and their needs are driving IT.

Topic Articles
November 30th, 2016


Photo Credit: Microsoft.

As you budget for 2017, note that Microsoft will end support for several of their most prominent products in 2017: The final security updates for Windows Vista is April 11, 2017 for and Office 2007 ends on October 10, 2017. Support of Office Exchange 2007 servers will also end in 2017. (For a full list of the Microsoft products reaching the end of support in 2017 click here.)

Sinu customers will not be affected by the end of support for Exchange 2007, and Sinu is able to advise our customers still using Office 2007 on other upgrading to another Microsoft operating system, whether it’s buying Office as part of replacing old desktops or subscribing to 365 for Office, Microsoft’s cloud-based solution.

“Sinu migrated the last of our customers off of hosted Exchange 2007 last year. Customers still using Office 2007 should discuss an upgrade plan with their Relationship Manager. Planning should also begin for upgrades from Office and Exchange 2010, which we recommend should be completed in the next 12 months,” advised John Christie, Sinu co-founder and COO.

As we have repeatedly written, technology lifespans continue to shrink (see our recent blog, “Budgeting for system updates and technology replacement.”) For example, Microsoft’s Windows 7 was phased out in 2015 after only 5 years. And, as Ed Bott, technology writer for ZDNet, stated so well: “Microsoft’s support clock never stops ticking.”

One of the biggest risks of using obsolete technology is that when the extended support period ends, so do those ‘Patch Tuesday’ security updates.

According to ZDNet, large enterprise customers who have custom support agreements with Microsoft and who are willing to pay a very steep price for a Premium Support agreement have, in the past, been allowed to receive custom updates after the official end of support. But even that option is undergoing major change. Microsoft confirmed recently that its enterprise customers will not be able to extend support for Office 2007: “The Office 2007 wave of products will be reaching end of support over the next 12 months, as per Microsoft Lifecycle Policy. After those end of support dates, we will no longer offer custom support on any version of Office products (Exchange Server; Office Suites; SharePoint Server; Office Communications Server; Lync Server; Skype for Business Server; Project Server and Visio).”

Now more than ever, businesses need to develop a technology replacement plan in order to avoid the risks of obsolete or aging technology. As a start, we recommend you plan your company’s operating budget assuming a 3 to 4-year lifespan for most of PCs and servers, and 1 to 2 years for mobile devices. Use the Sinu Store as a guideline of what today’s devices cost and plan to replace 33% of your company’s devices yearly to ensure no device is more than 4 years old. (To access the Sinu Store, go to Sinu Support and click the STORE tab on the far right.) If you plan according to the lifecycle now dictated by today’s technology industry, your business will be healthier, your team more productive, and your budget will have fewer surprises.

Topic Articles
November 30th, 2016


Vintage Computer Festival (VCF) East 6.0 at the InfoAge Science Center. Photo by Dan Century, Flickr.

Top Tech Challenges for Nonprofits… This is the ninth and final blog (for now) in a series of articles addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

Most nonprofit organizations work off of a strategic plan to guide them to achieve their mission. Many organizations, however, have not developed a plan for their technology and how it can support that mission. Instead, they take a more reactionary stance toward hardware and software: if hardware breaks down or mission-critical software cannot run on an obsolete operating system, it gets replaced. However, adopting a more strategic approach to technology replacement can help avoid surprise expenses, save money, mitigate data security risks, and increase productivity.

The recommended life span of desktops is 3 to 4 years. And while it might be tempting to try to get another few years out of that hardware, a study conducted by Techaisle outlines some of the very real costs of maintaining older desktops, including hours lost due to system performance issues. The study reveals that among small businesses with 50-99 employees, the average cost of repairing a 4+ year old desktop is $521 per year which can equal or even exceed the purchase price of some new PCs. The study also reveals that an average of 42 hours is lost due to an older desktop being repaired by either internal IT staff or reseller (or even friends and family). Not to mention that if you are running computers that are 4+ years old, you will find they won’t run the latest Windows or Apple operating systems.

This study only surveyed information about PCs. Smartphones and mobile devices have an even shorter replacement cycle of about 1 year. We recommend you budget for a 33% in hardware replacement annually to ensure your technology is up-to-date. Consider a replacement cycle of 3 to 4 years for desktop PCs and servers, and 1 to 2 years for mobile devices. (Use the Sinu Store as a guideline of what today’s devices cost by going to Sinu Support and click the STORE tab on the far right.)

There is a strong interdependency between the hardware you use and the software your company relies on. Make sure they are in sync and if mobile is your focus, your solutions should be strong on this front. When developing a technology replacement cycle, we encourage our customers to rethink their IT infrastructure and software because most critical applications, including CRM, payroll, and accounting software, have a cloud strategy that was not available a few years ago. Cloud solutions can help relieve capital expenditures by reducing the need to replace obsolete technology, and they typically offer greater flexibility and functionality for your employees.

Another important benefit of keeping your systems and hardware current is data security. Obsolete technology may no longer be supported and may not receive the latest security patches, leaving your data wide open to malicious attacks.

As you start thinking about next year’s budget, there is no better time to develop a technology replacement plan. Your nonprofit will be healthier, your team more productive and your budget will have fewer surprises if you plan according to the lifecycle now dictated by today’s technology industry. Remember, Sinu has a number of tools and services that can help. We provide a free Business Intelligence report for our customers called My Computer Replacement Plan to help gauge where technology is in its lifecycle. We also offer Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) as a monthly subscription to make it even easier and more affordable to replace that aging technology. Call us to learn more!

Topic Articles
November 25th, 2016

2016november25_security_aIf you’ve read this blog before, you already know security is paramount to the success of any small business. We cover the ever increasing cases of security violation in big and small businesses, as well as national and international organizations where data, applications, networks, devices and networks have been illegally accessed by unauthorized people. But today we want to look at simple preventative measures to ensure these risks never befall your organization.

Limitation of lateral data transfers

Employees not being educated on data sharing and security is one of the biggest reasons for internal data breaches. It’s a good idea to limit access to important data and information by restricting access privileges to only a small number of individuals. Also, you can decide to use network segmentation to cut unnecessary communication from your own network to others.

Keeping your machines and devices updated

Internal breaches might also occur when employees work with unguarded or unprotected machines. They might unknowingly download malware, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if machines were properly managed. Updating your operating systems, antivirus software, business software, and firewalls as often as possible will go a long way toward solidifying your defense systems.

Use monitoring and machine learning to sniff out abnormalities

It’s not all on your employees, however. Network administrators should employ monitoring software to prevent breaches by analyzing what is “normal” behavior and comparing that to what appears to be suspicious behavior. Cyber criminals often hide in networks to exploit them over a long period of time. Even if you miss them the first time, you should monitor suspicious activity so you can recognize impropriety and amend security policies before it goes any further.

Creating strong security passwords and credentials

No matter how often we say it, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your passwords and login procedures. In addition to text-based credentials, you should require other methods whenever possible. Great for fortifying your network, fingerprints and smart cards, for example, are much harder for cyber criminals to fake. Regardless of which factors are used, they must be frequently updated to prevent breaches, accidental or otherwise.

Security Insurance

In the end, no system is perfect. Zero-day attacks exploit unknown gaps in security, and human error, accidental or otherwise, can never be totally prevented. And for this reason, small businesses need to start embracing cyber insurance policies. These policies help cover the damages that might occur even under a top-of-the-line security infrastructure. Considerations for selecting a policy include legal fees, first and third-party coverage, and coverage for reputation rehabilitation.

The field of cyber security is overwhelming -- even for seasoned IT professionals. But not for us. We spend our days researching and experimenting to craft the best security solutions on the market. If you're interested in one of our cutting-edge cyber-security plans, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 21st, 2016

2016november21_businesscontinuity_aThe prevalence of digital data has become an integral part of life and business in modern times. Staggering amounts of data is generated every day and businesses have grown exponentially as they’ve found ways to monetize it. In fact, most experts agree that by the year 2020, there will be 1.7 terabytes of data generated per person on the planet. But in the here and now, we’re already struggling to keep data backed up and safe.

Too much data may sound like a good thing, but depending on your organization, backing up everything à la minute may be out of your price range or just flat out impossible with the amount of information you create. The problem then becomes: How do I structure my backup plan to prioritize the critical files? We believe the answer is analytics.

In order to avoid backing up unneeded data, you’ll require a “smarter” backup solution. This is where an experienced MSP (managed services provider) really earns its keep. We’ve spent years becoming experts in backup solutions and designing systems that keep your mission-critical data healthy, and we can offer something few others can’t: a backup solution that learns.

The first step in ensuring all of your customer information is safely duplicated and quarantined is to install sophisticated analytics engines that help determine what is most essential to your business's day-to-day operations. These ever-evolving engines will prioritize data in order of importance and translate that to a backup structure that ensures the right data is safe and sound should disaster strike.

Using analytics maintains your existing data-backup solution, but provides it with a map of what to save first, and what to leave for later. What does that mean? Drastically reduced recovery times in the event of untimely outages or disruptions. And, the use of analytics also helps increase efficiency and decrease overall backup costs by providing a better picture of what is unimportant or unnecessary.

Small- and medium-sized businesses have been the drivers of innovation for decades because, as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And we’re here to deliver some good news: Whether you’re interested in implementing a cutting-edge analytics engine or simply want to start with a more straightforward solution, we’re ready to create a new system that prioritizes backups, just for you. Take a second to analyze that, then give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
November 10th, 2016

2016november10_security_aThe old cold-call scam is still a popular way for fraudsters to dupe people out of their money. But now they're taking their tactics to the computer generation, and it can be surprising just who is falling for the new tech-related fraud. Read on to find out how scam artists are targeting the younger generation -- and succeeding.

Results Conclude Youth is more Gullible

Microsoft recently conducted a survey of 1000 computer users of all ages and from many of the largest countries in the world to find out how many of them had been scammed by phony "technicians" claiming to be employees of Microsoft or other major computer conglomerates. The results were startling when studied demographically. Researchers discovered that seniors, who were traditionally viewed as the major victims of such fraudulent schemes, were not the most likely group to fall for the scam.

Research indicated that although seniors were most likely to buy into a telephone scam, they still did not fall for the act as much as younger age groups. The study found, in fact, that between the ages of 18 and 24, people were 2.5 times more likely to fall for the scam than seniors. Those between the ages of 25 and 34 were three times more likely than seniors to be tricked.

The scam that the Microsoft company recently studied involved the following scenario: Either a person calls claiming to be a technical support technician, or an email or pop-up alerts you that your computer is locked or otherwise compromised. In order to fix the problem, you need to call someone and pay for a program or provide access to your computer so some purported technician can solve the problem "remotely."

If you fall for this scam, you are giving them funds for a false program or access to your computer -- which also allows them access to your personal data and the ability to install malware onto your system. The study revealed that two-thirds of those surveyed (around 660 people) had experienced the scam first-hand. One in five had listened long enough to hear the story, and 1 in 10 actually gave the scammer money.

Why the Younger Demographic Became Easy Victims

While older adults often respond more to phone calls, younger people have learned to ignore phone calls, saving them from being phone victims. However, because younger adults spend the majority of their time online and often remain acutely aware of the status of their computer and online presence, they are more prone to react to a pop-up or email claiming that their computer is in danger. Nearly 60% of the adults aged 18-24 in the study say they were exposed to the scam through pop-up ads or online correspondence.

The takeaway here is simple: Cybersecurity is about more than just firewalls and antivirus software. You need to shore up the human side of your protection protocols. The best way to start is by doing some quick research on social engineering in our previous blogs, but ultimately you’ll need something a little more thorough. Contact us today for more tips and to ask about scheduling a cybersecurity training for your employees.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 7th, 2016

2016november7_socialmedia_aEvery company wants to get more business out of social media. But to most small- and medium-sized businesses, a social media strategy is limited to the most popular platforms. There are at least a dozen more options however, and we want to take some time to cover the best sites that you’re probably not using, here.

Having great content on your site is the magnet that attracts visitors. However, when there is too much competition on the most popular platforms, it's hard for your social media reputation management to deliver the results you expect. To reap nominal rewards from social media marketing, you need to devise new methods to stand out from the crowd.

Meetup

For people with similar interests, Meetup is a great site to plan face-to-face meetings. Does your company sell hiking, camping, and backpacking products? Organize a meetup for the people in your community to go on a hike. You really can’t get a better customer interaction than engaging them in the activities they love.

Eventbrite

If you’re looking for a more formal event platform, Eventbrite helps you to organize, plan, and market your event so you can ensure its success. Another way it differs from Meetup is its recruitment potential. You can easily market yourself as an expert in an industry to either attract freelancers or educate potential customers about the problems you aim to solve for them. Townscript, and Picantic, offer similar services and can go to great lengths to improve your social media reputation.

Answer Forums

How many times have you scoffed at the amatuer responses to the questions posted on sites such as Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit? However, if you take a step back you’ll realize that these people are often searching for information about certain industries or products. When providing helpful answers to their questions, establish your credibility by identifying your expertise and product.

Disqus

It’s easy to get stuck in a narrow interpretation of ‘social media.’ It’s just web technology that helps us to communicate with each other, right? By embedding apps such as Disqus into your online content, you can connect with readers and external websites to boost your material as well as your reputation. What’s more social than getting people talking about about your products or industry?

Slack

Most people who use the messaging app Slack see it as a way to communicate with friends and coworkers. However, with a little creativity you can join conversations from all over the world to boost your online presence. There are countless channels devoted to industries, categories, hobbies and more. All you have to do is insert yourself and your company into the conversation to get people talking about your business!

It’s hard to deny that technology has made our lives more complicated. We still believe it has made up for this downside ten fold, but we understand it can feel a little overwhelming at times. Thankfully, the answer is simple: a managed technology provider. For a never-ending source of information on reputation and social media management, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
November 3rd, 2016

2016november3_businessintelligence_aThe use of Business Intelligence technology in making business decisions is a relatively new small business trend. BI software pulls information from a company's raw data across the board so that enterprise owners and executives can make decisions for the future of the company. Read on to see how businesses can use BI technology to budget for the future.

Compiling Data Across the Board Business Intelligence is not a new concept. Companies regularly compile data from many of their departments to make important business decisions. The manual process of gathering spreadsheets of data is cumbersome and time-consuming. BI software allows company owners to look at data from the various departments in one location, an online dashboard that can be manipulated to provide the exact information needed at the time.

Putting it all Together Business intelligence software extracts information from raw data provided by various departments to help business owners make important decisions in marketing, budgeting and financial planning/prediction. All on one dashboard, marketing campaigns can be tracked and evaluated for effectiveness, money can be moved from one department to another, and companies can see the financial health of the company.

In the past, IT companies provided BI solutions that used complex algorithms to gather intelligence. Now, the use of BI software is geared for the end user, providing self-service reporting for the individual business owner.

Moving Forward As the new fiscal year approaches, it is important for companies to incorporate business intelligence software into their yearly budget. The price of BI software varies, but because you are probably already spending the money on BI solutions for various segments of your business, it won't be a huge investment to compile the data in one location.

Today's business infrastructures are technologically driven. They need a solution that uses the same level of sophistication to make the best financial decisions for their companies. Business intelligence technology is that solution. Contact us today if you’re ready to take the next step.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
October 31st, 2016

This is the eighth in a series of articles addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

In our blog series, we have been writing about a variety of tech challenges unique to the nonprofit world. Technology is evolving at a rapid clip and becoming more accessible allowing even the smallest nonprofits to utilize enterprise technology solutions that used to be available to only the largest organizations just a few years ago. Today’s technology can create efficiencies that allow your employees to be get more done in less time – and with less investment in infrastructure. However, a new solution may cause more harm than good if your team does not appreciate its benefits or understand how to use it.

While the benefits of the new technologies may be evident to you, they are not always immediately embraced by the team and can cause disruption if proper training is not part of the roll-out. According to “Why smart people resist new technology,” published in Management-Issues.com, “…the more someone has invested in the old way of doing things, the more they will resist the change. The problem is that those people are often the most productive, engaged and successful workers, with the most invested in keeping things the way they are…Unless organizations, with the help of vendors, trainers and the like, understand why people will or won’t use a technology, they will continue to struggle with getting the results they seek.”

Before rolling out any new technology, it’s good to be aware of some of the top reasons employees may resist the change:

1) they don’t see the benefit to themselves; 2) they think what they use now is working fine; 3) they are unsure if they will understand how to use it; 4) they have been through technology changes that did not go smoothly.

Ultimately, the question that needs to be addressed to get buy-in is how the benefits of the new tool (time, money, ease of use, efficiency) outweigh any inconveniences (training time, confusion, rework) that come with implementing a new system.

So now that you are aware that your team might not be as enthusiastic about this great, new advancement in technology, what do you do to get your staff on board?

Tech Soup suggests 10 tips on how to ensure a good, quality training experience that will bring people along:

  1. Just Do it. It may seem like a simple change, but train anyway. A stitch in time really does save nine.
  2. >Know what you want people to learn. Plan out your learning objectives in advance and clearly outline (even in quick bullets) what you want people to know when they are finished.
  3. Incorporate best training practices. Utilize multiple learning devices: audio, visual and tactile.
  4. >Keep it friendly and have fun. Create a friendly environment where people feel safe to ask questions we’re all too embarrassed to ask. Chances are, others have the same questions .
  5. Use real world examples. Talking about tech specs will put people to sleep. Put the learning in terms of what your team does everyday and make it relevant. They will catch on faster and people will be awake for the whole training.
  6. Give people a chance to practice. Practice really does make perfect. With tech, there’s often multiple steps and mechanical memory makes a difference in learning a new program. Once we’re comfortable, 10 steps can feel like one, but when learning, one step can feel like 10. So take your time and let people feel out the software or new device for themselves. It allows them to ask questions while they use it, and make yourself available to answer the questions.
  7. Provide handouts and documentation. Most new devices and software have printable FAQs that you can hand out. People may understand while they’re in the training moment, but when they finally get back to using the technology in their everyday work lives, they may forget simple steps. Having a hand-out to refer to will jog their memory and improve their ability to utilize the features.
  8. Break it down into manageable chunks. Training can happen in sections, and on multiple days. Breaking the tech training down means you can better fit it into everyone’s busy schedule while also enhancing your team’s comprehension.
  9. Gather feedback and evaluate. Put together a quick survey so people can tell you what they did and did not understand, how useful the training was, etc. This will help ensure people understood what they were learning, and whether the presentation was effective.
  10. Don’t do it all yourself. There may be some tech savvy people in your organization who would be honored to be tapped to train their peers on the latest new gadget or program. This shows the individual – and your team – that you have confidence in their abilities, positions them as a “go to” expert for questions and takes some of the project off your plate.

We would like to add two more tips to Tech Soup’s list…

  • Obtain leadership buy-in prior to roll-out. Managers know their staff best, and are typically responsible for ensuring the solutions in their departments are adopted. Take the time to meet with them, hear their concerns, learn about what challenges their staff are facing, and work together to build a technology and security infrastructure that is both practicable and useful.
  • Review IT protocols. When you have your team together to learn a new technology, use the opportunity to review data security protocols and your IT policies.

There are several ways to approach training. Makers of the solution usually have printed training manuals or online self-paced training videos. Lynda.com and Grovo, online training services, offer online workplace training on hundreds of topics for a number of solutions, from CRM training to spreadsheets and even time management techniques. You may want to consider taking your staff off-site to a classroom setting to conduct the training with expert trainers. NYIM is a computer and software training center in New York City that offers customized corporate training and group classes.

Sinu is always available to help our clients select the appropriate new technology to meet their needs and help your find the right training tools so that everyone in your organization benefits from the latest, streamlined solutions. Because, we believe…people matter, objects don’t.

Topic Articles
October 31st, 2016

Illustration: Sam Woolley,
Image from Gizmodo report, 6/10/16.

We have been touting the benefits of enterprise-class Wi-Fi networks (security, speed, coverage, reporting) when compared to consumer Wi-Fi options, but there is a whole new class of router systems coming out that are bringing these solutions home.

As the Internet of Things continues to evolve, most people would agree, the one key ingredient left out of this recipe for Jetson’s bliss has been a smart Wi-Fi router. Typically, we have one router in our home. Many have tried extenders to increase coverage and speed, with little success. The challenge lies in the fact that Wi-Fi signals are, at their core, just radio signals. And, radio signals are not good at passing through hard surfaces like walls, ceilings and floors. As one gets further away from the router, the signal gets weaker.

For years Sinu has solved this issue for our customers using several Cisco Meraki wireless devices (depending on the size and configuration of the office space) to create a network of Wi-Fi hubs. Consumer companies are now introducing a similar “mesh” network, allowing for much better speeds throughout the house. Gizmodo explains the mesh network: “Although not an entirely new idea—especially when it comes to business IT—the premise is that instead of piping through just one access point in the home, you use multiple access points for complete, reliable coverage.”

In concert with its investment in Alexa, earlier this year Amazon invested in Luma “Surround Wi-Fi”. Forbes reports, “Amazon and Luma are looking to integrate the router into Alexa-based products like the Echo, Amazon’s popular tube-shaped speaker with the voice assistant.” For Alexa consumers, that’s one more loop toward building a full smart home circuit (and making more voice-controlled Amazon purchases).

Google Wifi, eero and Starry are some other prominent players in the mesh network (Google Wifi will be available for preorder in November and goes on sale in December). Each system comes with different means of blanketing the house while providing parental controls and analyzing web speed and usage data.

The key with all of these innovations is the impact smart technology is having on even the most basic ways in which we interact with the Internet – in this case, the router itself. Historically a blinking black box with all the technology within the hardware. These new routers bring the advantages that come with cloud technology. They “talk” to each other and can adjust their network depending on the environment to provide the fastest, most reliable connections. They also provide real time information about Internet usage and how much speed is being delivered compared to what is being paying for.

Further, traditional routers were self contained with setup and configuration done manually by connecting to the device. This new generation of routers are controlled by cloud software. The software updates automatically to better protect against security breaches and can act as a website filter providing parental controls at the network level similar to some enterprise router solutions. It also adds possibilities difficult to do with the previous generation of self-contained devices, such as checking on your Nest Camera while across the country or adjusting the guest Wi-Fi settings at home while at work. Mobility is introduced when cloud control is baked into these new Wi-Fi solutions. Most of the systems are controlled through a smartphone app with varying features.

These new home Wi-Fi mesh network solutions start at $129-$500 depending on the brand and number of routers. As consumer demand for smart Wi-Fi routers increase, the costs will likely decrease and we can bet that the enterprise versions will follow suit.

Topic Articles