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Posted on: December 5, 2019 By: Sage Tourigny

What is Fixed Wireless?

Fixed wireless is a technology used to provide connectivity over a specified range without the need to install any wires and is usually connected building to building or tower to building with a microwave radio link.

Top 10 Myths of Fixed Wireless

  1. Fixed wireless is the same as LTE
    The Reality: Fixed wireless is more reliable than LTE
    • LTE provides best-effort shared connectivity for mobile devices.
    • Fixed wireless provides guaranteed dedicated, last-mile connections for business customer sites with availability, latency and packet loss service level agreements (SLAs).
  1. Fixed wireless is less reliable than other connectivity methods
    The Reality: Fixed wireless is on par with fibre access
    • Fixed wireless provides a carrier-grade service and offers the same network availability (99.9%) and Mean Time To Repair (4-hr MTTR) as fibre.
    • Because it is delivered from the rooftop, fixed wireless access offers a truly redundant access into buildings and is frequently combined with redundant fibre access to create high availability connectivity solutions.
  1. It is like broadband/best effort/no SLA
    The Reality: Fixed wireless is superior to broadband and DSL
    • Unlike broadband, it boasts fibre-like SLAs.
    • Fixed wireless is a fully reliable business-grade connectivity service ideal for mission-critical applications compared to broadband which is a best effort connectivity service supporting consumer and business traffic.
  1. Fixed wireless is impeded by weather
    The Reality: Fixed wireless is engineered to deliver carrier-grade service through the worst expected weather with 99.9% uptime similar to fibre.
    .
  2. Fixed wireless is not secure
    The Reality: Fixed wireless is highly secure
    • Radios transmit signals into the “air,” the perception can be that anyone could receive and possibly “steal” or “listen to” someone’s data. Fixed wireless radios offer a very robust framework featuring a variety of security related countermeasures:
    • The transmission system of the radio units is proprietary, and thus inherently more secure than the commonly used open standards radio equipment.
    • The data traffic destined to the Subscriber radio unit is assembled in proprietary framing structures, encrypted and sent to the receiving radio according to a proprietary radio exchange mechanism. The data remains encoded until it is received and disassembled by the recipient radio at the customer’s end.
  1. Fixed wireless is the same as satellite
    The Reality: Fixed wireless is less expensive and provides better latency than satellite connectivity
    • Fixed wireless access provides unlimited data throughput – there are no overage or usage charges.
    • Unlike satellite connections that can add 1-2 seconds of latency to a connection, Fixed wireless access will have a latency similar to a fibre connection (e.g., 10ms).
  1. Fixed wireless is slow
    The Reality: Fixed wireless can achieve dedicated and symmetrical gigabit connection speeds
    • Customers are routinely surprised to see fixed wireless achieve speeds far greater than cable and DSL, especially with regard to upload speeds.
  1. Fixed wireless is complex to install
    The Reality: Fixed wireless access offers fast and flexible deployments
    • Fixed wireless is faster to deploy than fibre as it does not require trenching and construction.
    • Can be easily deployed into underserviced or new areas (e.g, construction sites).
    • Typical installation timelines range from 21 to 45 business days.
  1. Fixed wireless is based on usage
    The Reality: Fixed wireless mostly provides unlimited data throughput for a fixed monthly charge.
  1. Fixed wireless only works for rural areas
    The Reality: Fixed wireless works well in both urban and rural environments.
    • In underserved rural areas, fixed wireless offers businesses high-speed, carrier-grade connectivity.
    • In built-up areas, fixed wireless offers flexible, easy to install connections without the need for costly, time consuming street-level construction.

 

To learn more about fixed wireless, visit https://go.terago.ca/contact/TeraGo

 

Posted on: November 5, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Wireless Watchdogs Q4 2019 Features Release

At Wireless Watchdogs, it’s our mission to always be working on behalf of our customers to give you more savings and greater efficiencies. In line with that mission, we’re proud to announce that we’ve just released several platform enhancements designed to take your mobility management to a whole new level, starting with a new dashboard interface that you can access by clicking the Dashboard menu item on the left of your portal.

The dashboard incorporates a variety of new features, the most significant of which are listed here.

Dashboard Defaults and Features

The initial view of the dashboard is designed to provide you with high-level information about your company’s current bill cycle, with information from all of your wireless carriers. Need more specific information about a particular carrier, or previous billing cycles? You can drill down on those areas as need be. This default view can also be easily changed according to your preferences.

Group Usage

The Group Usage area shows how many devices are in your group, how many of those devices are unused, and the costs related to your devices.

Bill Comparison

The Bill Comparison area provides you information on your current costs compared to the previous month’s costs, to help ensure your billing stays in line.

My Devices

The My Devices area will show you all your lines, which can be filtered to show lines with no exceptions, line with exceptions (more on that in the next section), and lines that have had no usage in the given period. You can also click any phone number to get detailed usage information on that line, including what numbers were called and for how long.

Usage Rules Manager

The Usage Rules Manager, accessed from the Settings menu on the left of your portal, allows you to create usage rules for different departments, categories, device and usage types, and more. When a line violates a rule — by using more than 2GB of data during a given period, for example — an exception is generated and the device will be shown in My Devices with a color-coded flag indicating the exception. This feature is designed to give you a way to visually see all devices that are outside of your chosen parameters, as well as to flag possible device misuse for your attention.

Learn More

As with any new feature release, it’s possible that you’ll have questions on how specific features of the dashboard work, or how best to use them. If so, we’re here to help — just contact your account manager, and we’ll work with you to be sure that you’re getting the most out of all of the new features.

Not a current Wireless Watchdogs customer, but intrigued by what you see and curious as to how you might be able to use our mobility management services to potentially save more than $10 per month, per device? Request a demo, and we’ll get you on the road to better efficiency and reduced costs in your company’s mobility implementations:

REQUEST A DEMO

Posted on: October 18, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

The Difference Between Managed Mobility Services and Mobile Device Management

 

Mobile device usage in business continues to be a growth market. And as that usage continues to grow, so too do business challenges that center around effective mobility management. How does a business ensure device security? How does it know that it’s getting the most cost-effective pricing from its mobile device carriers? And how does it cope with the added strains imposed on IT departments required to support the growing number of mobile devices?

The situation that confronts a business with growing mobile device usage is that these questions need to be addressed in order for their mobility initiatives to be cost-effective – but with little experience in mobility management, pulling all of the necessary management and support together can be extremely challenging. The solution for a business plagued with these challenges is very often to turn to an experienced third-party provider of managed mobility services (MMS) and mobile device management (MDM).

But finding a qualified provider can pose its own challenges to a business not familiar with the mobility landscape – including understanding, in the first instance, what it is they need to look for, as well as the vocabulary needed to understand the different solutions on offer from various providers.

With that in mind, we offer this look at exactly what MMS and MDM are, and how they differ from each other.

Managed Mobility Services (MMS)

Managed mobility services are concerned with managing the entire lifecycle of a company’s mobile device fleet, and have a somewhat (but not exclusively) account-based focus. At Wireless Watchdogs, for example, we can be involved with a company before the first device is ever purchased, helping them to understand what their needs and goals are and then helping them to create the policies needed to achieve those goals. We then help with the procurement, provision, and deployment of the devices they need, as well as act on their behalf as an authorized agent to the mobile carriers in order to ensure that they get the best structure and pricing available.

Once the mobile accounts are set up and the devices in place, we then provide continual monitoring in order to achieve two basic goals: That the company’s policies are adhered to, and that the accounts for those devices are always optimal in terms of price. In order to do that, we provide real-time analytics and reporting to our customers so that decision-makers always have the information they need to make informed decisions. They are the same analytics and reports that we use as we manage the accounts to ensure continual cost efficiency, and guarantee synchronicity between a company, its policies and goals, and our MMS efforts on their behalf.

As part of managing the entire device lifecycle, there’s another important service that is provided in order to optimize our customers’ mobility initiatives: Ongoing Help Desk support.

The Help Desk support is a key MMS feature because it removes the burden from a customer’s internal IT staff of having to support a potentially large number of mobile devices. Because the IT department is unlikely to be expert at supporting the mobile devices in use, supporting the devices themselves can chew up large amounts of time and resources. Further, IT departments are typically staffed and funded to support a company’s IT infrastructure, not its new mobile devices, leading to a vicious cycle whereby support all across the board suffers. By including Help Desk support as a part of mobility management services, we remove those burdens and costs from internal IT departments. It’s a win for both the IT department and the device users themselves.

Just as with ongoing Help Desk support, making sure that all mobile devices are always patched and updated is likewise an important aspect of managed mobility services. Keeping devices up to date is important in ensuring that they are always functioning as intended. But it’s especially important for securing devices– and thus, potentially, a business’s network and data – against hacking and malware attacks directed at vulnerabilities known in unpatched devices. And again, ensuring that updates reach all mobile devices could potentially place undue burdens on a company’s internal IT staff. By handing this responsibility off as part of ongoing MMS, companies again save time and money – and are more secure in the bargain.

And finally, because MMS should cover the entire device lifecycle, a device’s end of life is also an important part of those services. Our approach to device end of life as part of our managed mobility services includes ensuring that lost, stolen, or retired devices are no longer able to access networks – an important part of keeping data safe. To further ensure security, we also perform pre-recycle factory resets on retired devices, wiping them of any potentially sensitive data and applications.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

As you will have gathered, managed mobility services must necessarily have some connection to the devices themselves – but in the bigger picture, MMS is about the lifecycle as a whole.

Mobile Device Management (MDM), on the other hand, directly involves the devices themselves. MDM is typically client-server software; the MDM server is centralized and controlled by administrators, while the mobile devices are provisioned with MDM agent software – the client.

Because the MDM software sits on the device, it offers capabilities that MMS in and of itself doesn’t provide. The details vary by the particular MDM software, of course, but typically they provide enhanced security of the device itself. MDM software may, for example, allow for a device to be partitioned into personal-use and business-use silos. Partitioning a device in this manner prevents users from sharing company data on their personal accounts – and likewise prevents a user’s personal data from being shared to the company network.

Access management and identity management – and thus corporate network authentication and access – are also readily controlled through MDM software. And because proper access management is readily achievable, other features can safely be provided to end users. For example, secure file synching and sharing is an important tool with many business use cases – and is readily achievable via MDM software.

Finally, the client-server nature of MDM software allows administrators to have granular control of devices and users across their network. This is especially important in mobile deployments where different users have need of different levels of access to the company network and its resources, because it can ensure that the right users have the right access at the right time – simultaneously increasing efficiency and security.

The Sum is Greater than Its Parts

Thus, MMS is process-centric, while MDM is device-centric. It’s entirely possible to have MMS without MDM software. Likewise, some companies will choose to do an MDM implementation on their own without any other managed mobility services. But the true potential power of MMS and MDM – decreasing costs while simultaneously increasing security – is only fully unlocked when MDM software is an integrated part of managed mobility services.

At Wireless Watchdogs, we’re happy to talk with you further about the various features of both MMS and MDM. You can request a demo of our platform at any time, and see for yourself the kinds of insights that our analytics and reporting can provide.

We also offer a free, no-obligation audit of your wireless accounts. You provide us your cellular bills for the last three months, and we’ll input them into our system and then show you – again, at no cost to you – how you could be saving money every month through our managed mobility services. The savings are real – tens of thousands of dollars a month, for some of our clients. To get started and see where you could be saving, request your free audit here:

REQUEST YOUR FREE AUDIT

Posted on: October 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Webinar – Wednesday, October 30, 2019 @ 1 pm ET

To optimize the inherent benefits of the cloud, a growing number of enterprise businesses are adopting cloud native approaches – including containers, microservices, Kubernetes, and serverless architectures – for both new application development and legacy production applications. However, while the cloud native trend is growing, several roadblocks are impeding the enterprise’s path to successful adoption.

In this live webinar event hosted by CNSG Platinum Supplier Expedient, William Fellows, VP, Research & Co-Founder of 451 Research, and Expedient’s Chief Innovation Officer, John White, will provide an overview of the cloud native market landscape, discuss challenges and opportunities, and look at two real-world enterprise examples of cloud native in action. Reserve your spot today!

 Attendees of this webinar will learn about:

  • Trends in cloud native adoption and the push to re-platform legacy applications
  • The benefits of cloud native for enterprise businesses
  • How cloud native helps both corporate IT and DevOps
  • Infrastructure options for cloud native deployment
  • Real-world cloud native use cases

Who should attend?

CTOs, CIOs, CISOs, VPs of IT, IT Directors, IT managers, IT administrators, Cloud Architects, DevOps Engineers

 Webinar Registration

http://bit.ly/2ovT3g5

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Emails pile into your inbox by the dozens—or hundreds. Notifications pop up on your desktop computer and phone. So do text messages. And both your desk and mobile devices constantly ring.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone.

Sometimes we feel like we work for our communications devices, not the other way around. They pull us in all directions when we just want to get some work done. In today’s work environment, we’re challenged to be productive and effective, sometimes in spite of the technology we use.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Unified communications (UC) combined with smart, intuitive collaboration tools (UC&C) makes work easier, connecting us more efficiently with colleagues, customers and partners, all from one platform that can be accessed from any device.

Improving The Customer Experience

With UC&C, employees can connect with customers through any channel, no matter where they’re located. Envision this scenario: A customer’s flight is delayed two hours, so she misses her connection. After speaking with the gate agent, she resignedly wanders off to get a bite to eat, five gates away. Why shouldn’t she? She knows it will be a while before she’s rebooked.

In the meantime, the gate agent finds an alternative flight. He brings up the customer’s information from her reservation, finds her mobile number and, with a click, the system dials her smartphone. She answers, thrilled when the agent shares details about her new flight. After agreeing to the rebooking, she sets off to the new gate.

Improving Team Productivity

Your creative team is hard at work developing a new client’s marketing campaign. But before they can proceed, you discover they need a critical piece of information from an internal subject matter expert. Despite leaving a voicemail and sending an email, you’ve received no response. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your colleague is even on this continent, let alone available to conference with the team?

Presence technology lets you see if the SME is available and by which means: voice, text, video or not at all. The system automatically routes calls from one number to another. On top of that, your colleague can see all communications with UC&C’s unified messaging. Whether he’s in his office, in the car or working remotely, by signing on via a shared cloud platform he sees all messages, including texts, voicemails and emails. If he’s not available, the team sees this immediately and reaches out to another colleague for the information it needs.

Improving Community Communications

It’s not only businesses that benefit from UC&C. Staff and teachers in the Lovejoy Independent School District needed a way to communicate both internally and with parents. After UC&C was implemented, they gained a phone and voice mailbox in each classroom with conferencing capabilities. One feature, the Time of Day Call Restriction, allows teachers to put the classroom phone into “meeting mode” at scheduled intervals. That way, they’re not interrupted by calls during class time.

When class is out of session, teachers easily make calls from any device, either with a single click from their contact list or by entering a name. They can also easily join conference calls. That’s particularly handy when someone can’t make a parent-teacher conference in person.

Improving Partner Collaboration

In product development today, speed to market is essential. To achieve it, employees must work efficiently with partners, involving them as early as a product’s design phase.

Imagine you’re an engineer developing a new battery for a prototype automobile. You need to collaborate with the vendors supplying the necessary parts. UC&C provides tools that not only let you manage the project – setting tasks, scheduling meetings, sharing documents and virtual whiteboards – but enable you to invite external parties to participate via a secure, web-accessible interface.

It doesn’t matter which communications tool the vendor uses. UC&C can send messages across multiple providers. It even allows you to build a digital twin online so you can conduct a deep dive into the product’s requirements, working side-by-side.

UC&C Drives Results No Matter Where You Are

UC&C is bringing organizational communications into a new era. Now, colleagues, customers and communities can easily communicate across devices, geographies and across applications.

Discover How Hosted UC&C Makes Good Business Sense. >

Posted on: October 8, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

We’re excited to announce that Acuity Technologies has been named to the CRN 2019 Fast Growth 150 list! As a brand of The Channel Company, CRN creates an annual list recognizing the fastest-growing technology solution providers, integrators, and IT consultants in North America. We’re thrilled to be on the list this year alongside other innovators that have also made remarkable accomplishments.

Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company, said, “There’s a great deal of growth and opportunity in the channel, and these companies are proof-positive that hard work and a commitment to service can pay off — even in a constantly evolving and highly competitive market like we have today. These companies exemplify the best of the best; channel providers whose market strategies should serve as an inspiration to us all.”

2019’s list comprises channel providers that have experienced substantial growth between 2017 and 2018. We’re honored to be named to the list of companies that have generated a combined revenue of more than $55 billion over the past two years.

Josh Anderson, our CEO, said, “Businesses are increasingly leveraging mobile devices and apps to drive efficiency and productivity while improving both the employee and customer experience. We are committed to helping our customers optimize their mobile technology investments through management, security oversight, strategic guidance, and proprietary software which has been a significant factor in driving our growth.”

Our goal is to provide our customers with management and analytical tools that enable them to support their workforce and make the best decisions they can that maximize the value of their mobility strategies. We believe that enabling enterprises to streamline deployment and ongoing management of mobile devices through our integrated suite of mobility managed services and supporting software sets us apart.

Josh continued, “The relevance of this shift towards mobile adoption is also advantageous to our channel partners because it ensures they are well-positioned to create more value for their existing clients while driving opportunities for additional revenue with new clients.”

As technology advances so quickly, we make it our job to keep up while also keeping up with changing customer demand and preference. We’re excited to be a part of the growth and profitability of other esteemed technology integrators, especially as today’s channel is highly disruptive and fast-paced.

Posted on: October 7, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Choosing the right Unified Communications platform

A unified communications (UC) platform should be your ticket to easier team collaboration, with all workflows for instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, VoIP telephony and more running through one streamlined application. Whether it actually becomes this ideal all-in-one hub will hinge on which solution and vendor you select.

What’s at stake when shopping for UC – and why you should explore cloud

When you choose a UC platform, you’re not just purchasing a product – you’re buying into a larger ecosystem, much like you do when you opt for iOS or Android. In addition to placing a bet on the solution’s underlying communications technology – i.e., its ability to handle calls, messages, and meetings – you are also trusting its vendor to support it and other vendors to allow it access to their APIs. That raises the stakes for making an informed decision, as the wrong choice can leave you with a UC solution that is as unreliable for end-users as it is difficult for you to integrate into your larger IT environment.

Making these sorts of high-stakes choices between seemingly similar – but actually quite different – collaboration tools is the enterprise equivalent of the format wars that once dominated consumer tech. For example, imagine being a movie buff circa 2006 and going all-in on the ill-fated HD-DVD instead of Blu-ray. The latter quickly drove the former out of the competition despite their comparable specs, leaving early adopters with an expensive player that studios had abandoned and which couldn’t even play Blu-ray discs – in other words, a major sunk cost.

When it comes to business communication tools, there’s a much wider range of competing solutions, from on-prem UC based on SIP trunking and an existing phone system to cloud-based implementations from vendors including Telesystem. Cloud-based UC, which is low-cost and continuously updated, is generally the most reliable platform for sustaining growth and ensuring real-time communications, not to mention eliminating the risk of ever being saddled with expensive, low-utility assets down the road.

That said, it’s important to scrutinize the features of any unified communications platform as well as the specific value the vendor can add to it. Let’s look at what you should prioritize during the selection process.

Deployment model: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises

All UC solutions are designed to perform the same basic task, namely to create a one-stop-shop for:

  • Voice calls.
  • HD video conferences.
  • Instant messages.
  • Virtual meetings.

At the same time, they differ in the specific infrastructure they harness to reach this goal. An on-prem unified communications platform is built on equipment the customer owns, operates and maintains. In contrast, cloud UC – or Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) – leverages the power of the provider’s data centers and hosted IT resources, and hybrid blends the two.

There are pros and cons to each approach. On-prem and hybrid afford a higher degree of control, at the cost of budgetary and operational flexibility. Cloud offers the latter two in spades but requires finding a trustworthy vendor. For now, cloud UC seems to be winning the race, with a Synergy Research report finding its adoption among enterprises increasing a staggering 57% year-over-year in 2018.

A UCaaS platform like UC-One from Telesystem can completely replace your existing PBX without requiring you to handle its maintenance or perform the complex operations for moving, adding or changing the system’s users. Cloud-based unified communications are highly scalable, flexible and cost-effective, as they are billed as periodic operating expenditures, not as steep upfront capital expenditures.

Features for calling, messaging and meetings

Any UC solution worth its weight will do much more than simply be a PBX-in-the-sky, though. It will support all of the key functions integral to modern teamwork and put them into context in one place, eliminating the need to waste so much time on app switching just to keep up with the many possible ways in which a team can interact.

Indeed, today’s workplaces are home to a plethora of collaboration tools, including persistent chat apps, VoIP and video services for real-time communications, online meeting spaces and old standbys such as email, PSTN calls and text messages. The latter remains particularly popular despite the rise of newer alternatives; a survey by Technalysis Research found that they accounted for 75% of all co-worker communication.

Unified communications platforms like UC-One effortlessly balance old and new modes of communication:

Calling

Need to make a quick phone call? Corporate directory lookup allows colleagues to be found within seconds. You can also set up a single number for all of your devices, use Wi-Fi calling for cheaper rates and make VoIP or conventional calls from your business number. HD video is available as well to enrich voice conversations.

Unified messaging

Business messaging has come a long way from the early days of IRC and SMS. Chatting within a UC suite is strengthened by features such as presence (to see who’s online at the moment), private and group chat, full chat history and easy access to all shared content such as emails and other files.

Meetings

Online meetings should be simple to join and participate in, but too often they throw a lot of roadblocks in front of their would-be participants. Dial-ins, PINs and complex user interfaces complicate the experience. Meeting functionality in a platform like UC-One is much more streamlined, with a simple invitation system that gets out of everyone’s way and allows participants to get right down to business via integrated video, messaging and screen sharing. You can even drag and drop a colleague’s icon into the meeting room or, if needed, dial-in.

Support for mobile workers

Since the 2000s, there has been a steady increase in the number of people telecommuting, in large part due to the evolution of mobile devices and wireless networks. More than 4 million individuals work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Half of the U.S. workforce holds a position that is compatible with telework arrangements and 80 to 90 percent of workers would like to telecommute at least some of the time.

Accordingly, mobile device support is a must-have in a UC solution. Specific features to look for include:

  • Android and iOS client apps for phones and tablets.
  • The ability to move calls from desktops to mobile devices.
  • Multiple call handling and merging.
  • Business phone number support across devices.
  • Wi-Fi calling with seamless handover between networks.

Integrations with other business communications apps

To return briefly to our earlier point about HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray, ecosystems matter. Cloud UC solutions without deep integrations and reliable vendor support are no better than fancy media formats that have no films or shows that anyone wants to watch.

The best UC platforms build context and support efficient workflows by integrating with everyday tools such as Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Box and more. Plus, they can pull information and events from calendars and emails. The end result is one view within the UC app that provides a wealth of information about your calls, messages, files and co-worker statuses.

Should you invest in a UC platform?

Upgrading to a unified communications system is a big step, and one worth taking for many businesses. As PBXes age and become costlier to operate and maintain, transitioning to cloud UC, in particular, is often the rational move.

UC technology brings together the core functionality of your phone system with advanced features for messaging and meeting. It also goes beyond a traditional PBX by incorporating better support for mobile devices, which can easily use an existing workplace number to create a more professional impression, especially for small businesses.

Organizations of all sizes and across all verticals can potentially benefit from a UC implementation. Multi-location enterprises are perhaps best positioned since a UC platform provides a common way for geographically dispersed and frequently on-the-go employees to consistently stay in touch.

As an experienced national provider of services including hosted VoIP, network security and dedicated internet access, Telesystem offers a top-notch unified communications experience via the UC-One platform. It’s easy to get started by requesting a quote from our team. You can also contact us directly for additional information on UC-One or any of our other enterprise collaboration tools.

 

Posted on: October 4, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

While many businesses still tend to run their own IT, the challenges facing these internal teams is increasing.

IT departments continue to get asked to do more with less. While larger organizations can afford more deeply staffed departments, many smaller businesses run lean, with employees wearing many hats. As workloads increase, so do resolution times. The pace of technological change today can mean that while teams try their best, their skills are falling behind the times.

Resources are also increasingly scarce. According to recent research, more than three-quarters of corporate IT budgets are spent on maintenance of existing infrastructure. That means there is little to spend on innovating, optimizing or education — another way teams fall behind.

As support staff come under increased pressure, IT heroics become more commonplace — and that inevitably leads to serious failure or breach.

Is your IT team at risk?

You are at risk if current workloads prevent engineers from taking time off from work to renew or obtain relevant certifications. Are they being asked to take on this time-consuming work after hours, after spending their days putting out fires? How is their current workload impacting their quality of life? Given how aggressively companies are recruiting for IT these days — especially cloud and cybersecurity talent — what would the impact be to your business if a key engineer was lured away by a better salary, stock options and the promise of a fresh start?

Also consider what happens to the other “less urgent” tasks that get pushed aside during a fire drill. The more often this happens, the larger the support queue becomes, and the cycle feeds itself and worsens.

Yes, the occasional fire drill is going to happen, but if they become frequent, it’s time to seek outside help. Heroics just don’t scale.

And by outside help, I’m not talking about teams that spin up their own cloud resources with a corporate credit card and a web browser. While that was difficult once upon a time, it has now become so incredibly easy to acquire new IT resources that the concepts of rogue or shadow IT, application sprawl and overall loss of IT control is a top concern right along with a lack of IT talent.

Developing a talent strategy

Instead of chasing after unauthorized cloud accounts, leaders must consider their overall IT talent strategy. How relevant are current IT staff skills and certifications? Is it possible to attract the right talent? Pay for it? Honest answers to these questions may mean it’s time to consider finding a strategic partner.

Working with experienced partners is one way businesses are relieving internal IT support pressures. But how do you find the right one? First, focus on matching potential partners’ skills sets and track record with your specific needs. Quality IT partners will want to learn about your business holistically, not just from a hardware or software-slinging viewpoint. Beware of partners that propose solutions without taking the time to learn about your IT staff’s capabilities or leadership business objectives.

Of course, there are times when you just need to get some more software licenses or replace some aging hardware, but even then, a good partner will ask the “why” behind those purchasing decisions, so they can offer you the right recommendations.

Ask the right questions

Understanding vendor best practices can mean the difference between a successful implementation versus a massive security, performance or financial mistake. When implementing third party support, ask vendors where the lines are drawn. They should easily be able to answer questions like:

  • Which party owns various support tasks?
  • What does incident escalation look like?
  • Who owns escalation to outside vendors?
  • What are the SLA details?

Stepping back for a bigger picture view, ask questions during the sales process about the partner’s experience and depth of support bench:

  • How many engineers do they have on the team supporting this technology?
  • How long have they been supporting it?
  • What certifications do they have, and how many?

The deeper the vendor support bench, the faster and more accurately a problem can be solved. Consider the following analogy: When a car pulls into the pit during a race, a team of well-trained mechanics scurry over the wall and quickly replace tires, add fuel, clean windows, adjust fairings and update the driver on race tactics, and about eight seconds later the car speeds off.

How would that scenario play out with a pit crew of only two people? Even if they have great skills and experience, a two-person pit crew simply cannot match the eight-person team performance, so their pit stop may take 15-20 seconds instead of eight seconds. This is not a slight toward the pit crew at all, they did their best and were certainly capable. It just comes down to pure math; in this support scenario having deep benches makes a dramatic difference. The same applies to tech support staffing.

In summary, relying on your engineers to repeatedly perform acts of technical heroism on a regular basis is a sign that your team needs relief. Burning out quality employees can lead to recruiting losses.

Conversely, connecting with an experienced and well-staffed partner can relieve the stress your teams are enduring, freeing them up to focus on more enriching and beneficial technical pursuits.


Seeking an expert strategic partner? Consider Rackspace.

Posted on: October 2, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

This morning we announced that we closed a $21MM series B minority investment round. This is a significant moment for us as a company, and for the SD-WAN market as a whole. This sizable injection of capital will unlock new resources to help us serve customers and partners even better, and further validates that Bigleaf is solving a huge market need as the world moves to SaaS and cloud.

Improving on a Customer-Proven Solution

The new investment allows us to expand and extend what we’re doing today to serve our existing customers and partners with amazing service and support. We have an industry-leading 95% gross annual retention rate and a base of absolutely thrilled customers. Within that 5% of customers who leave, it’s almost always because they’ve gone bankrupt or are downsizing, not because they don’t like Bigleaf. We are completely dedicated to maintaining customer satisfaction as we scale. We know this won’t be easy, so we’re going to use some of these funds to add more support team members, product management, software QA engineers, and other support staff to make sure that we keep the experience top-notch over time.

Enabling and Expanding our Channels

One of our top priorities with this new funding is investing in our partner channels. For our telecom agent partners, we’ll be enabling them with more educational and support resources to help them sell Bigleaf to tens of thousands more customers. Our success in the telecom channel was built through our relationships with hundreds of forward-looking partners who could see the growing need for a more stable and reliable connection to cloud technologies. For our MSP partners, we’re creating a fully fleshed-out MSP channel program to augment and accelerate the success we’ve had with our early partners. The new funding gives us the ability to extend our reach to more partners in both channels and equip them with the training and resources they need for success.

Finding the Perfect Partner

If someone had asked me 9 months ago about raising another round, we would have told them we weren’t interested right now. We were growing at an incredible rate and were staying focused on operating the business: we’ve now tripled our recurring revenue and company size since our last funding round in January 2018. Then, out of the blue, we started to field an influx of inbound interest from investors.

We realized something was notable about our success in the SD-WAN market. Something exciting. We had built something that was solving a truly un-met need.

SMBs and mid-size enterprises were struggling to address connectivity issues with traditional networking technologies or other SD-WAN solutions. What was available to them on the market wasn’t built for SaaS and public cloud, and couldn’t adapt to the pace of change in today’s business world. People saw that we built a product designed for this future — actually, for today for many businesses — and had proven it by solving these problems for more than a thousand extremely happy customers already.

We knew Bigleaf was on a promising trajectory and could be even more successful with more resources. We also saw a specific opportunity with MSP partners that we hadn’t tapped into at scale, and we saw the opportunity to bring our bigger vision for the next generation of Bigleaf to life. So we agreed to start talking to a few investors. As we considered who we might want to partner with, it was important for us to be able to maintain our Bigleaf way of doing business and who would provide the right kind of support as we scale and navigate challenges. We ended up selecting Updata Partners to lead the round, and we have participation from the Oregon Venture Fund, SeaChange Fund, and several of our other existing investors.

Updata reminds me in many ways of Bigleaf’s culture. They take a strong but humble approach to business (no big egos), they care about capital efficiency like I do, and they bring great expertise and connections. We’re excited about partnering with them on this next era of Bigleaf.

Building for the Future

Beyond taking what we’re already doing to more people, another top priority with this funding is building the Bigleaf of the future. We’re going to be investing significant resources to grow our development and product teams so we can create a new generation of network technology. These resources will also allow us to respond more quickly to the feature requests our community has been feeding us, including faster speeds, more features, and better visibility.

Enterprises both large and small are moving to SaaS and public cloud, and that journey always involves some network risk. We will continue building Bigleaf to serve our customers and partners by giving them peace of mind when they make that move.

Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO

Joel Mulkey - CEO & Founder - Bigleaf Networks

Posted on: September 26, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

In 2019, it has become clear that SD-WAN has secured its position as the way forward for enterprise WAN connectivity. Market adoption is growing rapidly, and industry experts have declared a winner in the SD-WAN vs MPLS debate. For example, Network World called 2018 the year of SD-WAN, and before the end of Q3 2018 Gartner declared SD-WAN is killing MPLS. What’s driving all the excitement around SD-WAN? It effectively comes down to this: SD-WAN is more cost-effective and operationally agile than MPLS. SD-WAN reduces capex and opex while also simplifying WAN management and scalability.

However, if you don’t drill down beyond high-level conclusions, it can be hard to quantify how SD-WAN will matter for your business. Here, we’ll dive into the top 5 SD-WAN benefits and explain why IT professionals and industry experts alike see SD-WAN as the way forward for enterprises.

Reduced WAN Costs

MPLS bandwidth is expensive. On a “dollar per bit” basis, MPLS is significantly higher than public Internet bandwidth. Exactly how much more expensive will depend on a number of variables, not the least of which is location. However, the costs of MPLS aren’t just a result of significantly higher bandwidth charges. Provisioning an MPLS link often takes weeks or months, while a comparable SD-WAN deployment can often be completed in days. In business, time is money, and removing the WAN as a bottleneck can be a huge competitive advantage.

Just how big of a cost difference is there between MPLS and SD-WAN? The specifics of your network will be the real driver here. Expecting savings of at least 25% is certainly reasonable, and for many enterprises it can go well beyond that. For one Cato customer, MPLS was 4 times the cost of cloud-based SD-WAN despite MPLS only providing a quarter of the bandwidth.

For a real world example of how Nick Dell, an IT manager at a major auto manufacturer, optimized his WAN spending by ditching MPLS and moving to SD-WAN, check out this webinar.

Enhanced WAN Performance

MPLS was the top dog in enterprise WAN before cloud-computing and mobile smart devices exploded in popularity. Once cloud and mobile became mainstream, a fundamental flaw in MPLS was exposed. Simply put: MPLS is very good at reliably routing traffic between two static locations, but it isn’t good at meeting the demands of cloud and mobile.

With MPLS, enterprises have to deal with the “trombone effect”. Essentially, an MPLS-based WAN has to inefficiently backhaul Internet-bound traffic to a corporate datacenter. The same Internet-bound traffic is then routed back through the corporate datacenter. This places a drag on network performance and can really hurt modern services like UCaaS and videoconferencing.

As SD-WAN enables policy-based routing (PbR) and allows enterprises to leverage the best transport method (e.g. xDSL, cable, 5G, etc.) for the job, this means no more trombone effect and improved performance for mobile users and cloud services.

In addition to solving the trombone routing problem, SD-WAN is a game changer when it comes to last-mile performance. The same ability to leverage different transport methods enables a more advanced approach to link-bonding that can significantly improve last-mile resilience and availability.

Improved WAN Agility

MPLS wasn’t designed with agility in mind. SD-WAN on the other hand is designed to enable maximum agility and flexibility. By abstracting away the underlying complexities of multiple transport methods and enabling PbR, SD-WAN allows enterprises to meet the varying demands of cloud workloads and scale up or down with ease.

For example, onboarding a new office with MPLS can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. With Cato’s cloud-based SD-WAN, new sites can be onboarded in a matter of hours or days. Case in point: Pet Lovers Center was able to deploy two to three sites per day during their Cato Cloud rollout.

Similarly, adding bandwidth can take over a month in many MPLS applications, while SD-WAN enables rapid bandwidth provisioning at existing sites.

Simplified WAN Management

As we’ve mentioned, the long provisioning times with MPLS can create significant bottlenecks, but MPLS management issues go well beyond that. The larger an enterprise scales, the more complex WAN management becomes. Multiple appliances used for security and WAN optimization become a maintenance and management burden as an enterprise grows.. Further, gaining granular visibility into the network can be a challenge, which leads to monitoring and mean time to recover issues. Cloud-based SD-WAN adds value here by providing an integrated and centralized view of the network that can be easily managed at scale.

Increased WAN Availability

When it comes to uptime, redundancy and failover are the name of the game. While MPLS has a solid reputation for reliability, it isn’t perfect and can fail. Redundancy at the MPLS provider level is expensive and can be a pain to implement. SD-WAN makes leveraging different transport methods easy, thereby enabling high-availability configurations that help reduce single points of failure. If your fiber link from one ISP is down, you can failover to a link from another provider. Further, the self-healing features of cloud-based SD-WAN make achieving high-availability (HA) significantly easier than before.

The Cloud-Based Advantage

We’ve already mentioned a few ways cloud-based SD-WAN helps magnify SD-WAN benefits, but it is also important to note that cloud-based SD-WAN overcomes one of the major SD-WAN objections MPLS proponents have put forth. In the past, it could have been argued that the lack of SLAs meant SD-WAN solutions were not ready for showtime at the enterprise-level. However, with cloud-based SD-WAN from Cato, enterprises get all the benefits of SD-WAN, an integrated security stack, and an SLA-backed private backbone supported by Tier-1 ISPs across the globe.

Furthermore, this private backbone solves another problem other SD-WAN solutions cannot: latency across the globe. For international enterprises that must send traffic halfway across the world, routing WAN over the public Internet alone can lead to significant latency. In the past, this would mean dealing with the operational and dollar costs of MPLS to become worth it. However, cloud-based SD-WAN offers a more cost effective and operationally-efficient alternative. Cato’s global, private backbone has PoPs (Points of Presence) across the world that enable traffic to be reliably routed across at speeds that meet or exceed MPLS-level performance.

SD-WAN outstrips MPLS for the modern enterprise

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to every WAN challenge, it’s clear that the majority of modern enterprises can benefit from SD-WAN. We can expect to see MPLS hold a niche in the market for years to come, but SD-WAN is better suited for most modern use-cases. In particular, cloud-based SD-WAN gives businesses a reliable, secure, and modern MPLS alternative that offers the agility of SD-WAN without sacrificing reliability or the peace of mind SLAs provide.

To learn more about what cloud-based SD-WAN can do for your business, join our upcoming Dark Side of SD-WAN webinar or contact us today.