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Posted on: July 23, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By Rachel Cassidy

The quickening adoption of cloud technologies was supposed to make IT nimbler, simpler and less expensive. Yet in my daily talks with prospective customers, many say they’re getting only the first of these promised benefits. While .333 is a great batting average in baseball, today’s business leaders need their IT to perform far better than that.

What they find is that, to tap the full power of the cloud, they must deal with a mind-bending level of complexity:

  • They must adopt multiple public and private cloud platforms (the average per company today is eight) so that each of their applications runs on the platform where it will achieve the best performance and cost efficiency. Some customers initially tell me they want to move all their workloads to a single cloud environment, but change their minds when they see the disparities in performance and cost-efficiency their different applications will achieve on various cloud platforms.
  • They must figure out how best to migrate workloads out of company-owned data centers; how to wring the most value out of DC commitments and hardware investments; and how to determine which applications should run in hosted or on-premises private or public clouds or in colocation facilities, and which applications should be expensively refactored — or simply retired.
  • They must secure multiple clouds and get them working seamlessly together.
  • They must determine where they’re going to find the skills to sort through the bewildering array of cloud tools and features, with new ones released almost every day.

Expert, trusted advice

Faced with these complications, smart cloud adopters seek expert, trusted advice — often through what the industry calls professional services. I lead the team that delivers those services at Rackspace. And I can tell you that there’s growing gap between the kind of pro services cloud adopters want — and the kind that most vendors deliver.

The typical pro services team from a big, traditional IT services provider throws a lot of bodies at the client’s challenges, for a period of months or even years. It sends a busload of recent college graduates to the customer’s headquarters to begin a lengthy study of the client’s current IT systems and resources. They then decide which of several rigid, pre-fabricated templates for IT transformation they should apply to that client. As part of this work, some pro services teams consume many hours of key customer executives’ time, in search of a “governance strategy” that fails to reflect the realities of the customer’s culture, resources, budget and timeline.

Because traditional IT service providers derive much of their income from managing legacy, client-owned data centers, their advice is often skewed toward maintaining those DCs and the outdated technologies that run within them. The expertise of these providers is broad, but not deep — especially when it comes to the latest technologies such as containers, or private clouds as a service. They deliver a series of consulting reports and programs. They collect their large fee. Then the bus departs, leaving the client to perform the hard work of implementation and ongoing optimization — until it’s time for the next consulting engagement. Sound familiar?

A different type of pro services

IT decision makers tell me and my team they want a different type of pro services engagement. They want:

  • A partner who will meet them wherever they may be on their journey to modernize their IT: whether they’re just getting started and want a full roadmap, or are well on their way and need specific expertise to augment their IT team for one stage of the work.
  • Expert advice from technical specialists, with experience and certifications across all the major public and private cloud platforms, as well as in colocation, key enterprise applications and databases, service integration, and multi-cloud security. They want breadth of expertise for upfront guidance on the best platforms for various applications, and depth of expertise for architecting and implementing and optimizing the solution that they choose to adopt.
  • Unbiased guidance on the technologies that will best serve each client’s unique needs, rather than the vendor’s interests.
  • Recommendations based on best practices developed through operational experience with thousands of complex customer environments; recommendations tailored for each client’s specific circumstances, and with an eye to continuous improvement.
  • Not just consulting reports but tangible results, delivered through hands-on work alongside the client’s IT team.  They want execution, not just planning.
  • Options for cost-effective continuing engagement, where the customer can ask for specific additional service blocks, tailored for its unique environment, and pay only for what it uses, rather than being locked into rigid, expensive long-term contracts.
  • A partner who can enable and empower their IT team to embrace the opportunities and challenges of modern IT as a service, and sustain the momentum that the pro services partner has started.

At Rackspace, we’re working to deliver the kind of pro services that today’s customers want. As a result, this part of our business is growing at an annual rate in the triple digits, and we’re busy adding more of the specialized experts customers’ IT departments want to work with. We’re doing so through hiring and strategic acquisitions.

Our recent purchases of TriCore Solutions, Datapipe, and RelationEdge brought us seasoned experts and proven processes for helping customers manage enterprise applications such as those in Oracle and SAP environments, and popular SaaS applications such as Salesforce. Our pro services team benefits from the pattern recognition that we’ve developed through 20 years of delivering a Fanatical Experience to companies in more than 150 countries, including a majority of the global giants in the Fortune 100.

What customers want

Customers bring us four main requests, with the typical client seeking help in several areas:

  1. Help me develop a comprehensive road map for transforming my IT from outdated, inflexible technologies to modern ones. Help me deliver nimbler, more cost-effective IT that will enable me to boost innovation and customer service. Work hands-on with my team to deliver tangible benefits.
  2. Help me consolidate the data centers I own — or get me out of that business entirely.
  3. Help me determine which workloads should run where — on which private and public clouds, hosted or on-premises.
  4. Help me figure out which applications and databases can run as-is in hosted or on-prem private clouds, which should be modernized and refactored for migration to the public cloud, and which should be retired in favor of SaaS apps.

If your company needs help in any of these areas and you’d like to learn more about the unique Rackspace approach to professional services, check out how we’ve helped companies like TotalTraxIntrepid Healthcare and Coinstar meet challenges similar to those you face, then request to speak to one of our IT transformation experts. I’ll bet we can boost your IT team’s batting average to levels the Astros and Yankees can only dream about.

Posted on: July 19, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

It’s easy to say that there’s a great new service that literally every business needs; that’s essentially the marketing plan behind every new service that targets the business user. The benefits of mobility managed services, however, make it perfectly clear that this is just as the marketing suggests: a great new service that literally every business needs. This is particularly true for businesses that either have a strong mobile presence internally or would like to have one.

The Benefits of Mobility Managed Services Can’t Be Ignored

Examining the benefits of mobility managed services makes it abundantly clear that this is indeed a vital new service that can deliver important new opportunities for your business.

Cost Savings. Cost savings, by themselves, are reason enough for businesses to consider a wide range of new possibilities and managed mobility services certainly provide. Some estimates suggest that the annual cost of mobile-device use for businesses is about $1,900 per user per year. This includes a variety of points, including the actual mobile hardware, the service plans required to use that hardware, and the internal IT services required to set up and maintain — not to mention keep secure — the hardware. By turning to a managed mobility services provider, users get to pull a lot of that internal IT expense off the table immediately because the managed mobility services provider steps in.

Cost Transparency. It’s one thing to offer cost savings immediately, but managed mobility services may pose additional cost savings through another point: cost transparency. The changing landscape of mobile services — costs are constantly rising and a company’s needs often change, sometimes in the middle of a billing cycle — means that pinning down costs going forward can be difficult. With managed mobility services, the costs remain much more visible and identifying any waste beyond that not only becomes easier to accomplish but easier to address. Better yet, some improvements can be more readily identified as well. Some users will discover they’re eligible for free upgrades, but before managed mobility services, they weren’t taking advantage of that eligibility.

Getting Back on Task. By taking your IT staff off mobility detail, you’ve now freed up staff to pursue other opportunities within IT as well. IT normally wears a lot of hats in any organization; they’re handling security, handling repair issues and operator problems, upgrades, patch maintenance, and a laundry list of potential tasks. Removing mobility-related tasks from the lineup frees up all that time to put IT back to work on the others, which can offer a wide range of benefits in and of itself. It’s not just IT that receives this benefit, either; your regular end-users within the business also don’t have to focus on mobility issues. If something goes wrong, there’s a managed service provider at the other end waiting to make everything come out all right in the end. This lets your users get back to work faster, and improves their chances at being profitable.

Greater Expertise. Mobility managed services are experts in mobility services — at least the good ones are. Those who aren’t experts will likely find themselves outmatched by their more adept competitors in fairly short order. Mobility managed services providers have a vested interest in knowing their field because it improves their attractiveness to potential customers. Given how many businesses are still struggling with mobile, that can mean businesses aren’t just bringing in a service provider, they’re also bringing in an expert who understands mobility and will be on-hand to help answer questions.

Constant Support. Many managed mobility services providers offer round-the-clock support. Again, it’s a key distinction from less-available competitors and a point that keeps customers interested. For their customers, meanwhile, it’s also a big component of peace of mind; the provider is available when it’s needed meaning that downtime is limited, and you’re up and running when you need to be. Some firms will even offer service level agreements (SLAs) that ensure uptime and offer remedies — prorated bills, outright refunds, and so on — for when the uptime isn’t achieved.

Augmenting the Mobile Presence. Mobility has proven to be valuable for businesses on several fronts. It not only improves efficiency, but it also improves morale by making a workday more flexible. That flexibility is also helpful given the increasingly global nature of business; running a nine-to-five business is all fine and well if all of your customers run likewise. For those trying to do business in other states or countries, however, that nine-to-five is less a framework and more of a straightjacket. By opening up mobility and flexible schedules, a business is better able to address the needs of customers whose time zones don’t closely align with the business’s own.

Matching the Competition. For businesses that turn to managed mobility services, they’re in an increasingly good crowd. Some studies find that 87% of respondents are already working with a managed mobility services provider. Large numbers of customers may already be taking advantage of such services for all the benefits previously described. Those that aren’t, therefore, are facing a substantial disadvantage in their field. Bringing in managed mobility services can help level the playing field and give a business the same advantages its own competitors currently enjoy.

How to Bring the Benefits of Managed Mobility Services to Your Business

The benefits of managed mobility services make it a service that few businesses can confidently brush aside. Taking advantage of these benefits can be as easy as getting in touch with a managed mobility service provider and setting up a program. However, since it’s that easy, there are a lot of choices out there. That makes telling where to start a challenge — a challenge readily overcome by getting in touch with us at Acuity. Our managed mobility services program starts with assessments of your current services designed to spot savings and follows up with our own wide range of options, making sure you get the most return for your investment. When you’re ready to bring the benefits of managed mobility services into play, just reach out to us to get started.

Posted on: July 16, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

We talk a lot about our managed mobility services. There’s good reason for that: Effective use of mobility in business requires effective planning, proper mobile device selection, provisioning and deployment, wireless account expense management, a secure mobile device EOL strategy, and so much more. But aside from managing the mobility as a whole, there’s another facet that’s also important: The management of the devices themselves, commonly known as mobile device management, or simply by its acronym, MDM.

MDM software sits on the phone itself. Access management, identity management, device partitioning, and file synching are just a few of the device-centric features that come with typical MDM software. Because these typical feature sets enable both tighter security and increased efficiency, it’s easy to see why anyone tasked with overseeing mobility for their business would be wise to take a look at existing MDM options on the market.

Which MDM Software is Right for Your Business?

There are a variety of solid MDM choices on the market. MobileIron and VMware’s AirWatch are two leaders in the field, but Microsoft has made some inroads, too, by bundling its Intune MDM software as a part of Microsoft 365 Business packages. With multiple options, which MDM software should a business choose?

The answer, as with so many things, is that it depends on the particular needs of your business. All MDM software is not created equal, and MDM solutions that have richer feature sets are going to come with a higher price tag. Solutions like Intune, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive, or even free for businesses that are already running Microsoft 365 Business — but the lower price tag of course comes with some limitations that are not present in the more expensive solution.

MDM in the Real World: A Quick Example

As a quick example, consider the case where an executive uses both a personal and a company-issued mobile device to access company resources. With Intune, device management is per-user, and not per device, which means that the executive’s personal device will have to have the same applications, policies, and everything else as their corporate device — a situation which may be far from ideal, from the executive’s perspective. Other solutions, like MobileIron and AirWatch, on the other hand, utilize device-based management — and thus do not suffer from this kind of limitation.

None of which is to say that Intune is a bad solution, because it’s not — it fits the needs of many businesses, and it’s our viewpoint that even a less-featured MDM solution is better than no solution at all. To that end, we work with all of our MDM customers to find and build out the solution that best meets their needs in terms of pricing and that has a feature set that’s in line with their plans, policies, and existing infrastructure.

How Wireless Watchdogs Approaches MDM

Because we work closely with our customer on finding the MDM solution that’s right, the first step is always consultative. After identifying their needs and which MDM software might be right, we’ll then typically build out a limited (in terms of number of users and devices) solution for them so that we can test, see it used in the field, and understand if it’s truly the right fit for them. Only once that limited deployment is proven correct do we move on to enrolling all devices and providing the ongoing management needed to ensure that the MDM software is always working properly.

So which MDM solution is right for your business? The one that fits your budget while simultaneously meeting your needs for mobile device management. If you’re considering MDM for your business’s mobility implementation, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help sorting it all out.

And if you’d like a little more information on implementing MDM, please download our free eBook, A Guide to Implementing Mobile Device Management. It’s full of great information on establishing MDM goals and policies, securing your mobile devices, and the like, and you can grab it right here.

 

Posted on: July 8, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By: David Portnowitz

Let’s face it: The decision to upgrade a business phone system is never easy.

It can be a difficult process, and one that requires a considerable amount of planning and strategizing. After all, who wants to deal with a lengthy migration process and the uncertainty that comes with using new technology?

The truth is that it can be one of the most important things that you do to protect the integrity of your overall communications strategy.

Here are some signs it’s time to make the leap and explore a new option:

Your Hardware Needs To Be Replaced:

All hardware eventually depreciates in quality and needs to be replaced. This is unavoidable.

For this reason, many businesses are switching to softphones, which can be easily updated when they are needed, saving a considerable amount of money.

Whatever you do, don’t wait; if you need to update or replace your hardware, do it now before it continues to be a problem. You’ll also make your end users happy and give them better tools to do their jobs.

Your Business Has Grown:

Chances are, your business is in a different place than it was, whether you purchased your business phone system it a few years ago or a decade ago. Now, you most likely have a higher inbound call volume.

How is your interactive voice response system handling the extra traffic? A slow or inefficient system could lead to call abandonment, or even worse, a negative customer experience (CX). If this is the case, it’s time to invest in a cloud-based system that will make it easy to manage calls.

You’re Expanding:

If your business is getting the opportunity to expand, this may be one of the best times to switch out and upgrade your phone system. It’s very important for you to think about how you will provide your new locations with high-quality communications. Do you really want to install new physical lines into your facilities?

Instead, consider upgrading to a VoIP system which will be highly scalable and cost-effective. By leveraging VoIP, you will be able to expand into new markets with greater agility. You can have the option to scale up or down, without having to rip and replace any infrastructure, saving you time and money.

You’re At Risk From Downtime:

Stop and consider what would happen if an unexpected storm were to roll into your area, impacting your connection to the publicly switched telephone network (PSTN). Your company would instantly lose access to its core phone system.

Working with a cloud communications provider will give your company guaranteed business continuity and disaster recovery. Your phone system will remain up and running no matter what happens in your local area, providing a much greater peace of mind, and ensuring you are still able to provide for your customers.

You Don’t Have A Unified Messaging System:

Even if your phone has been working properly, you could be getting more out of your communications system—so much more.

Most enterprises—your competitors included—are leveraging unified communications as a service (UCaaS). With UCaaS, companies have the ability to centralize all of their disparate communications mechanisms like voice, video, fax, email and messaging into one user-friendly platform. UCaaS is now the gold standard for business communications, and it’s something your company should absolutely be considering.

Also, if you’re upgrading to VoIP, take our advice and conduct a comprehensive network assessment to make sure your new system will be capable of working at the desired level. Oftentimes, businesses rush into a VoIP migration only to have to retrofit their network at a later time.

Whatever option you ultimately select, don’t rush into your decision. Plan ahead, and make sure you pick a system that will benefit your company the most.

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

As companies look to improve their customer loyalty, they are putting more focus on the broader customer experience and interaction with the brand. The contact center plays a critical role in deploying the integrated customer experience.

Why contact centers are moving to the cloud?

Changing customer expectations make it difficult for businesses to compete using legacy on-premises equipment. While organizations have their own reasons for moving to the cloud, we found there are 4 main goals contact centers achieve by modernizing to the cloud.

Reduce Costs

The cloud contact center lowers IT overhead costs, with no costly on-premises hardware and maintenance costs organizations are no longer paying for peak capacity all year round when it is not needed. Labor costs are also lowered by improved agent productivity.

Improve Customer Satisfaction

Moving to the cloud provides contact center agents with consolidated tools and insights for customers so agents can deliver a more effective and consistent experience across all channels.

Business Agility

Enhanced agility lets contact center agents move fast and take advantage of new opportunities, handle disruptions in real time by having call and contact flows or allowing your agents’ schedules change in minutes instead of weeks.

Multi-site, Global Operations

The cloud gives business leaders the ability to manage global operations across multiple sites, one source of reporting across all dashboards, as well as seamlessly routing customer contacts in real time to the right agent no matter their location. This enables you to provide a better, more consistent customer experience across all your locations while achieving efficiencies by managing all customer contact sites as one.

Moving to the cloud is becoming the obvious choice to provide a seamless customer experience.

Like most new experiences, moving to a cloud can seem dauting. Help has arrived to make your transition an informed and smooth process! In our webinar, Up Your CX Game: Buyers Guide for Moving to a Cloud Contact Center, presented by Gartner Analyst, Drew Kraus and NICE inContact Product Marketing VP, Chris Bauserman will guide you through the entire decision cycle, from building a consensus on priorities internally to evaluating your options to negotiating and selecting a new partner.

These experts will walk you through key phases of your process:

• Create a current and future needs assessment

• Inventory your systems (current and future integrations)

• Perform a gap analysis (zeroing in on priorities)

• Develop an RFP, incorporating cross-team requirements

• Select the right vendor (from short list to bake-off)

Watch Up Your CX Game: Buyers Guide for Moving to a Cloud Contact Center now, Drew and Chris will address all your questions and more. It’s a stimulating presentation that will provide you a robust foundation and road map for moving to the cloud—and elevating your CX!

Posted on: June 19, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Whether you work in a multi-hospital healthcare system or a private dentist’s office, protecting personal health information (PHI) is essential. HIPAA’s rules and requirements are clear — no matter what, PHI must be kept completely confidential.

This has become increasingly important as more and more health care providers (or “covered entities,” in HIPAA language) use the cloud to store data and run software. Among other things, this means the vendors who provide those services must be certified HIPAA-compliant.

What does that mean for a cloud service provider? Or for a vendor offering business VoIP services? What if the data is encrypted so that cloud providers? Do they still need to be certified HIPAA-compliant? What is their responsibility when security breaches occur, or during natural disasters? What happens to the data when a healthcare provider terminates the vendor relationship?

Is your head spinning yet? Obviously, using a third-party to handle sensitive patient data requires a lot of careful thought.

HIPAA: The Basics

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers and their vendors to establish three types of controls when handling PHI (or “ePHI” for electronic patient data): administrative, physical and technical. Policies and procedures are examples of administrative controls. Protecting hardware is a physical control. Implementing data encryption is an administrative control.

Covered entities need technical vendors that offer multi-layer security frameworks with physical and technical safeguards enforced by stringent administrative policies. They should be certified HIPAA-compliant and offer a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Thus, as a best practice, it’s a good idea to work with vendors who offer HIPAA-compliant solutions like MiCloud Connect, built on Google Cloud.

Business Associates

In fact, the law is quite clear when it comes to the responsibility of third-party vendors like cloud providers providing technical services to healthcare providers. The Guidance on HIPAA & Cloud Computing published on HHS.gov explains the obligations of Business Associates [italics ours]:

“When a covered entity engages the services of a CSP [cloud service provider] to create, receive, maintain, or transmit ePHI (such as to process and/or store ePHI), on its behalf, the CSP is a business associate under HIPAA. Further, when a business associate subcontracts with a CSP to create, receive, maintain, or transmit ePHI on its behalf, the CSP subcontractor itself is a business associate.

“As a result, the covered entity (or business associate) and the CSP must enter into a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement (BAA), and the CSP is…directly liable for compliance with the applicable requirements of the HIPAA Rules.

“If a covered entity (or business associate) uses a CSP to maintain (e.g., to process or store) electronic protected health information (ePHI) without entering into a BAA with the CSP, the covered entity (or business associate) is in violation of the HIPAA Rules.”

The bottom line: Any vendor you choose to handle your ePHI must provide a BAA that spells out in detail each party’s responsibilities. The agreement can specify how the data will be used, stored, protected and transmitted; what will happen in case of a security breach or natural disaster; disposition of data at termination of contract; and any other requirements or conditions the covered entity deems important.

In addition to the BAA, clients can include provisions in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to address HIPAA concerns, such as backup and data recovery. Whether you’re concerned about a hack or a natural disaster, ask the vendor what plan it has in place to protect and recover your data.

Use the SLA to specify the vendor’s security responsibilities. HIPAA regulations require that both covered entities and business associates abide by the Security Rule. Even when clients control access to the data via encryption, vendors still must be HIPAA-compliant. Consider requiring vendors to demonstrate how they remain current with the latest encryption standards.

As part of the agreement, be sure to cover what happens when the relationship ends. How will the data be returned to the healthcare provider? Under the Privacy Rule, HIPAA regulations require business associates to return or destroy all PHI at a contract’s termination.

HIPAA Certification

When evaluating vendors, look for partners that are certified HIPAA-compliant. Confirm that they’ve engaged a third-party organization to verify their compliance using the most recent Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Audit Protocol. Since HIPAA rules can change over time, certification is not a one-time deal.

All covered entities are responsible for their HIPAA compliance and open to audit. Consequently, your vendor should conduct regular internal checks. Ask each prospective partner how often it audits their processes and procedures.

Also, find out if the vendor has an internal, dedicated information security team responsible that monitors and HIPAA protocols on an ongoing basis. And make sure the vendor’s employees receive ongoing training to keep up with changes in HIPAA rules.

Risk Analysis

Whether you’re a healthcare provider or a business associate, HIPAA requires you to conduct risk analyses of potential threats and vulnerabilities to ePHI.

A recent study by CynergisTek found that third-party vendors were responsible for 23 percent of 2018’s healthcare data breaches. One reason: Many providers lack processes to address – and predict – risks.

David Rauschendorfer, senior director of CynergisTek’s Security Services Operations, highlights this finding. “Vendors lack activities that identify threats as well as the potential business impacts of identified vulnerabilities,” he explains. “These high-risk vendors often lack established or formally documented methodologies to prioritize and address identified risks.”

Ask your vendor about its procedures for not just protecting ePHI, but also identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities. You always want to be proactive, not reactive.

Breach Notification

If a security incident does occur, HIPAA is quite clear on the vendor’s responsibilities. The Security Rule requires business associates to “identify and respond to suspected or known security incidents; mitigate, to the extent practicable, harmful effects of security incidents that are known to the business associate; and document security incidents and their outcomes.” The Breach Notification Rule spells out the content, timing and other requirements for business associates to follow when reporting incidents to the covered entity.

Ask each potential vendor what policies and procedures it has in place to address and document data breaches or an attack on its systems. In particular, how does it discover data breaches? How does it identify the problem’s source, and what remediation steps does it take to limit damage? Require specific timing for notification and resolution.

All Secure In One Place

When choosing your cloud vendor, consider how it will enable your organization to access and use essential patient information while remaining compliant with HIPAA regulations. Ultimately, you have to store information in a way that’s both secure and accessible so that medical professionals can share and collaborate while patients can manage their healthcare.

Posted on: June 17, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Speros, a managed service provider and technology integrator based in Savannah, Georgia, relied on long-time relationships with CNSG Executives Randy Friedberg and Dave Hopper to facilitate discussions with proven infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers.

President and CEO, Susan Speros, and Director of Operations, Van Heath, worked with CNSG to identify suppliers that could deliver a hosted IaaS solution built on top of the latest VMware cloud technology. Security, stability, operational excellence, and a geographically diverse data center footprint were the most important business outcomes Speros was seeking from this cloud solution. Another important solution component for Speros was robust and automated disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) functionality.

The Solution

After a competitive RFP process that occurred in late 2018, Speros selected Expedient – a Platinum-level CNSG supplier – as its cloud infrastructure provider. When asked what set Expedient apart from the competition, Speros highlighted Expedient’s stable operational model, diverse data center footprint, and ability to provide a customized DRaaS solution as differentiators.

“Security, stability, and the fact that [Expedient] owns its data centers was very important for us,” Speros explained. “As we’ve operated our own, multi-tenant data centers for years, we knew what we were looking for from a hosting provider. Expedient’s adherence to strict technology refresh practices and the bandwidth redundancy available at your facilities were important aspects as well.

“Additionally, [Expedient’s] thorough approach to solution architecture stood out as well,” she continued. “Your sales team really understood what we were after in terms of disaster recovery and built a solution with the capacity to deliver the availability and uptime we were seeking for our customers.”

Expedient’s Push Button DR solution streamlines disaster recovery by automating cloud workload replication between geographic locations. This unique feature enables total network failover without the need to reconfigure public IP addresses or DNS records.

In addition to delivering a disaster recovery solution to Speros, Expedient is providing enterprise-grade managed cloud services to the business, which will run its production environment on the Expedient Enterprise Cloud (EEC) platform. Based on VMware’s software-defined data center (SDDC), EEC provides a next-generation cloud experience perfect for organizations with previous VMware experience looking for a turnkey IaaS solution.

The Outcome

“As a business, it’s important for us to be able to provide robust hosted cloud services to our clients,” Speros explained. “We want to enhance the Cloud experience for our customers, ensuring they have access to all of the latest technology, and continue to grow the Speros Cloud Platform.

“Also, the continued liability and implied risk of operating a data center in a hurricane-prone area such as Savannah was not ideal for our business,” she continued. “In Expedient, we’ve found a partner that provides us with a turnkey cloud infrastructure solution that is supported by a geographically diverse data center footprint. With this foundation in place, we have the confidence to market, promote and position Speros as a cloud-first technology solution provider.”

To complement its cloud and DRaaS deployments, Speros is also taking advantage of several managed services from Expedient including Dedicated Firewall Management, Dedicated Firewall Failover, Unified Threat Management, and hosted Cloud File Storage. These managed services will help Speros to mitigate the risk of critical data loss and protect customer workloads running in the Speros Cloud.

About Speros

Founded in 1984 as a provider of business telephone systems, Speros has grown into a comprehensive technology solution provider with a diverse portfolio of services including hosted and on-premises VoIP systems, surveillance and cabling, Audio/Visual Systems and Design, managed IT services such as backup & recovery, firewall as a service, cloud computing, and website design. Learn more at speros.com.

About Expedient

Expedient helps companies transform their IT operations through award-winning cloud solutions and managed services including disaster recovery, security and compliance, and more. Expedient data centers are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Service Organization Control (SOC) reports are published annually for all locations. Learn more at expedient.com.

 

Posted on: June 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By Jen Herson, President 

Your clients are moving into the cloud. They’re going there for their phones, their applications, their storage, you name it. Most of your clients though are going to the public cloud for some applications and workloads, private cloud for others, and holding on to some physical infrastructure for others still. There are some very clear advantages for creating a custom-fit hybrid infrastructure when your clients are considering the cloud, here are the top three reasons businesses are choosing this route:

  1. Increase Flexibility

Hybrid infrastructure combines the best of all worlds for companies managing regulatory requirements, multiple applications, data storage and development needs, along with diverse management capabilities. Clients who have physical infrastructure and plans to virtualize can stagger their migration while taking advantage of the benefits the cloud has to offer. Further, a hybrid approach allows for a custom-fit infrastructure that can ensure resources across the enterprise are supported fully and in the manner required to ensure optimal performance and cost efficiency. Hybrid infrastructure, especially when offered on a flexible contract, enables companies to achieve their consolidation and/or virtualization goals on their terms.

  1. Reduce Costs

Speaking of cost efficiency, hybrid infrastructure enables businesses to limit data transfer fees, control resource and storage costs, and ensure they are maximizing their infrastructure investments. In addition to optimizing resource usage and ensuring a right-sized environment for your needs, Data Canopy’s Canopy Connect product reduces connectivity to hyperscale cloud providers and cuts AWS and Azure egress fees by up to 66% – a significant saving in the public cloud.

  1. Improve Efficiency/Optimized Resources

For many companies, highly skilled IT pros are spending too much time in the care and feeding of their servers and not enough on strategic initiatives. Migrating to a hosted data center or cloud environment helps to free those resources and shift their focus to helping advance business initiatives. A flexible, scalable hybrid infrastructure solution can ensure that as workloads shift or data is consolidated that the solution adapts as well so that it is optimized to your client’s needs. Tailoring your infrastructure so the application or workload is supported by the platform best suited for it, rather than a one-size fits all approach, will keep the business on target to reach its goals.

Virtualization for most companies is a marathon, not a sprint. A hybrid infrastructure enables your clients to be strategic in how and what they migrate to the cloud so that resources are positioned effectively to support their goals and initiatives throughout their digital transformation process. Have questions about how to help your clients leverage hybrid infrastructure? Contact Data Canopy now.

Posted on: May 22, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By: Rebecca Rosen, VP of Marketing

When a small to medium business (SMB) turns to you for a new, cost-effective business phone system, point them to the cloud.  Giving your customer the power to communicate internally and externally on any device, at any time is powerful.  A cloud PBX, quite literally, puts their business success at their fingertips.

All verticals – from retail, and technology, to advertising – benefit from moving to a cloud business phone system.  Cost saving, 24/7 access, reliability, and continual seamless technological advances will keep your customer relevant in their field and you relevant as their communications partner.

Let’s start by defining for your customer what a cloud PBX is and then take them through the top 4 reasons it can change the way they do business.

Cloud PBX by any other name, sounds just as sweet.

Many customers in the SMB market have a vague idea of what “the cloud” is and look to you to navigate the path through the fog.  Sometimes the simplest definition is the best, cloud-based business phone systems are VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) phones that are accessed over the internet and hosted in an off-site data center. Other terms we often hear are hosted PBX, hosted VoIP, and cloud PBX.

Cloud phone systems are not magical nor a silver bullet.  With the right VoIP ready network configurations and planning though, it can give your customer the technology edge they need to take their business to the next level.

4 reasons SMBs thrive in the cloud

  Your clients are changing and growing. With growth comes the need to quickly adapt the way they communicate to meet the needs of their customers.

Here are four reasons the clients you’re talking to already want cloud phone systems; even if they don’t know it yet.

1. SMBs want to save money.

Cloud communications are much more affordable than traditional analog offerings. Your clients will no longer have to pay expensive fees for unlimited local, long distance, and international calls.

Companies that move to the cloud also save money on infrastructure and maintenance costs. As technology evolves and equipment depreciates, on-site business phone systems are not only expensive but also need to be upgraded on a regular basis. An onsite PBX phone system, for example, requires upfront costs for installation, equipment, service arrangements, as well as IT costs for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting.

However, a cloud communication system is free of these costs because they are hosted by a service provider. Companies can say goodbye to upfront equipment costs as well as hiring in-house IT personnel. What’s more, your clients will also save on monthly phone line charges.

2. Customers want remote control.   

One of the main benefits of having a cloud-based business phone system is that your clients receive remote access. Having remote access is ideal for companies with more than one office location and for those that have remote employees.

Working from home is more common than ever before and a remote workforce requires remote control. With cloud communications, customers can communicate with teams and clients no matter where they are with their IP phone or softphone app. This means that they also have access to critical business software while on the go. With a communications system in the cloud, companies can run operations smoothly while providing a consistent presence regardless of the environment.

3. Businesses want reliable phone systems.

Internet downtime costs SMBs a lot of money and chances are your clients have already experienced an outage or two. With the cloud, businesses don’t have to worry about power outages affecting operations and sales ever again. Cloud-based communications platforms are reliable due to geographic redundancy, having several servers in multiple locations so that even if there’s an issue at a single data center, it won’t impact service. This is important because even if there’s a fire, storm or another disaster, a power outage in your client’s location won’t affect their ability to stay connected to teams and customers.

4. Customers want fully integrated communications systems. 

The cloud makes it simple for clients to pick and choose communications features beyond business phones. Today’s small businesses want all of their tools and communications in one web-based application, which has been shown to help increase business efficiency and productivity.

For example, a fully integrated communications system can combine telephony, UC, collaboration and virtual call center features all in one platform. And the best part is that as new technology emerges, clients don’t have to purchase new software or hardware to keep up with the times. Instead, cloud communication systems can automatically adapt and update.

Demystifying the cloud

Ultimately, relating your customers every day needs to the powerful concepts the cloud can offer will strengthen your relationship.  For some SMBs, moving their phone systems to the cloud will be their first step in moving technologically forward – putting the power for growth in their hands and yours.

Want to learn more about Broadvoice? Click here to see your local Broadvoice channel contacts and learn a bit more about us.

Posted on: May 20, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Remember that song: “One of these things is not like the other? One of these things is just not the same!” We could say this of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Auto Attendant. Although sometimes confused for the same thing, there are important differences between Auto Attendant and IVR.

You have by this point in your life called into many an auto attendant, we can be sure of that. It’s when you call into a business or organization and, instead of talking to a live human, you are greeted by an automated voice which provides you with a full menu of options. The automated attendant — also known as a phone tree or auto receptionist — routes calls to a queue or voicemail box. Although to be fair, it can play hold music while it makes the connection.

How does that differ from the IVR? You might think of it as auto attendant 4.0. For one thing, when you reach a business with an IVR, the automated voice quite often sounds better, more true to life. Additionally, you can typically interact with the IVR using either the numbers on your keypad or your voice. You know you’re working with an IVR when it says “press or say 1.” That “say 1” is your cue that there’s voice recognition software at work.

Now, we recognize that those distinctions don’t seem like such a big deal when you’re calling in. You’d probably rather be talking to a human in the first place, so being able to speak instead of press numbers isn’t that big of a step up. OK, but the real difference between auto attendant and IVR isn’t directly experienced so much by the caller as it is by the recipient of the call.

Auto Attendant vs IVR for the Agent

Think of auto attendant as an automated switchboard operator. This feature does help your customer get more efficiently to the individual or department they want to reach. But they don’t provide additional information. The attendant sorts them to the right place based on their keyed responses.

With IVR, the caller may never need to interact with a human. After all, this solution feature can provide information and collect details from the caller, such as case numbers, addresses, birthdates, credit card numbers for over-the-phone payments, and much more. For example, paying by phone at your utility company by entering the numbers of your checking account or credit card. Since the IVR can easily handle automated tasks, your business can free up human agents for more complicated processes.

Another advantage is that the IVR can be scripted to provide information to the caller based upon their responses or particular circumstances at your business. For instance, the messaging a customer might hear while on hold could be customized to reflect the details gained from their menu sequence. Since they are calling in response to X campaign, they would hear messaging related to that campaign while in queue.

IVR solutions can also feature additional add-ons such as:

  • Data-Driven Routing: deliver prioritized calls to the proper destination based upon the customer’s transaction status or account information
  • Post-Call Survey: provide inbound or outbound call surveys to understand the satisfaction of your customers once their call or business transaction is complete.
  • Appointment Reminder/Notify: deliver an automated outbound call to notify the customer about a change in their transaction status change or confirm an upcoming appointment.

Evolve IP’s IVR is delivered through easily customized pre-built scripts that deliver the exact call flows and features you need. Evolve IP’s IVR service also retains the flexibility to be customized for your exact needs. Find out more today!