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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 15, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Our bring your own network (BYON), access-agnostic solutions equip your customers to easily swap phone systems and migrate to the latest communications and networking technologies they need while keeping their underlying connectivity in place. Cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), value-added SD-WAN and managed security services will improve customer engagement, employee productivity, network performance, service reliability and cyberthreat protection.

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  • UCaaS – Our many “flavors” of Unified Communications as a Service offer a more connected, collaborative workforce, with instant messaging, chat, presence, mobility, conferencing and CRM integrations—all backed by a world-class network with 99.99% always-on reliability
  • Security and Compliance – Most experts agree that a security breach for most companies is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Our suite of Security Services includes Cloud and CPE Firewalls, SIEM and DDoS Mitigation to shield the most sophisticated threats.

Enjoy big payouts. In addition to our standard competitive residual monthly compensation, we’ll give you a 5% bonus residual and up to 4X accelerator for BYON services!

 Everything you need from a single source. If you’re also looking for network solutions, either as a replacement or for diversity, we can do it all—BYON, network solutions or both.

Want to Learn more? E-mail Windstream Enterprise

Posted on: October 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

If you run a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), chances are that you’re already aware that cybersecurity should be a concern. In fact, a recent survey from AppRiver found that more than half (58%) of SMBs in the U.S. are more worried about getting hacked than they are about a flood, a fire, a transit strike, or even a physical break-in of their offices.

The question is, what are you going to do about it? Staying secure on a budget can be a challenge for SMBs – a problem that’s often exacerbated by a lack of in-house security expertise. Turning to cost-effective managed services is a good solution – but there are also plenty of tactics that you can implement to minimize your risk.

Understand the Hacker Tricks of the Trade

Cyberattackers are savvy and adaptable, but there are a few common techniques that they use on a regular basis. Understanding what these are can help you protect your business.

Far and away, the most common way an attacker infiltrates networks and harvests sensitive data is through phishing.

Phishing works like this: A victim will receive an email claiming to be from someone they know, or from an organization they recognize or perhaps even deal with often. These emails sometimes clearly stand out as spam, but in other cases, the impersonation will be hard to spot: the adversary will take great pains to make it look and sound like a legitimate email, complete with authentic-looking logos.

Within that phishing email will be a malicious link, attached document, or an app. When a user clicks on a link, it will take them to what looks like a legitimate page with a log-in screen. That page is actually fake (or “spoofed”), and when the victim puts in his or her credentials, the hacker is able to grab them and gain unauthorized access to the victim’s account. In the case of an attachment or app, opening it usually results in malware being installed on the victim’s machine. That virus or a trojan gives hackers access to the data on the victim’s computer or phone (for instance, it could be a keylogger, which captures what the victim types to uncover user names and passwords), and also allows them to gain a foothold on the company network.

There are also watering-hole attacks to worry about. Here, an attacker might create a fake website that offers information that a specific target might be interested in – industry-specific articles or “how-to” blogs, for instance – while in the background it is executing malware on the visitor’s computer. In a variation of this, adversaries create fake mobile apps that appear to do something useful; but when installed, they turn out to be malware.

A third common attack method is via malicious Wi-Fi networks in public places. A hacker can use software to set up a wireless access point (with an innocuous or attractive name like “free public Wi-Fi”) – and once someone has connected to it, a hacker can intercept and eavesdrop on any traffic that flows through it.

There are other techniques out there as well, but these are common tricks to watch out for.

Employee Training: A Crucial Line of Defense

All three of these attack types require the user to take some kind of action – click on a link, download an attachment, visit a dodgy website, download a rogue app, or connect to an untrusted Wi-Fi network. And that means that the attacks can be prevented with good security hygiene.

Training your employees is a critical first line of defense against these opportunistic kinds of attacks. For starters, implement the doctrine of verification: Before clicking on a link or downloading an attachment in an email, send a separate email to the supposed sender to make sure the person did indeed send the message – especially for anything unsolicited. Better yet, pick up the phone and call the person.

Another training tactic is to learn to always hover over a link to make sure it’s the legitimate address. Malicious links won’t have the proper URL – however, they may have similar-sounding URLs. If the message claims to be from the Bank of Peter, the malicious link may read something like www.bankof.peter.com or www.bankofpeeter.com instead of www.bankofpeter.com.

In a similar vein, employees should be trained to never download an app from a third-party app store. Even if they do download something from Google Play or the Apple App Store, advise them to read the reviews to make sure all is on the up-and-up; sometimes bad apps do get through.

And finally, on-the-go employees should be wary of public Wi-Fi, and should always verify the legitimate SSID with the airport, café, or other operator of the space. It’s also a good idea to use a VPN – there are plenty of free offerings.

Require Best Practices

Along with basic security training, SMBs should always ensure that best practices are being carried out. For instance, all software should be kept up-to-date. Most of the time, a malicious attachment or watering-hole attack will only be successful if there are unpatched software vulnerabilities on the target machines.

For any cloud services, employees should be required to enable two-factor authentication (2FA), which will make it necessary to enter a one-time password that’s sent to a mobile phone before the user can log in. That way, even if hackers somehow gain a user’s credentials, they still won’t be able to log in because they don’t have access to that user’s mobile device.

Speaking of which, password hygiene is critical as well. Businesses should be thinking about complex passwords which include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. SMBs should require that their users change these often, are unique and not used anywhere else. In a similar vein, users should make sure that their website security questions are difficult – not information that could be gleaned from social media or elsewhere, such as your mother’s maiden name or the city where you were born – and consider making up the answers to thwart hackers even further.

Simple Administrative Fixes

Beyond user actions, there are simple actions that SMB network administrators can take to help their companies get out of the “low-hanging fruit” camp. Most hackers are looking for an easy score. Anything that raises the bar of effort for them – even a little bit – will cause them to move onto the next potential victim rather than expend any more time and effort on something that isn’t easy.

To start, enable firewalls and traffic encryption – you can easily enable the basic tools that come with your networking gear. Secondly, make sure that all default passwords on devices connected to the network are changed to unique combinations, and keep the software and firmware up-to-date. Next, replace any systems with outdated operating systems like Windows 7 – Microsoft no longer supports these, and there are known vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit to gain access.

And finally, think about permissions. Take steps to manage and limit access to data, drives, and systems for those employees that don’t need it. Also, don’t forget to deactivate access for those who don’t need it anymore – ex-employees are a leading cause of data theft.

The bottom line: as a small business, you are a primary target for hackers. Make time for these easy steps today to avoid difficult situations in the future. Need help securing your business or want to learn more? Visit www.tpx.com/managedIT or call 888-407-9594.

About the Author

Erik Nordquist is the Senior Product Manager for TPx Communications’ managed security services. He’s led a broad range of critical activities, including Field Operations and the Hostmaster team where he built TPx’s anycast DNS network to service its 55,000 customer locations. His work on the Network Integrity team made him the resident expert for mitigating Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. After interfacing with customers for years, Erik is bringing his customer-focused approach to his Product Manager role, helping to deliver first-in-class security services to TPx clients with unsurpassed customer support.

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Yes! It’s a Match Made in Heaven!

SD-WAN has been a trending topic in the technology world for quite a while now, and long enough that it’s beginning to become commonplace in network discussions and more routine when it comes deployments.

Today, most SD-WAN deployments are managed by companies that exclusively handle  SD-WAN. So any voice provider that planned to sell SD-WAN as a part of their solution to a customer would essentially be relying on these third-parties or outsourcing to manage the SD-WAN service.

That’s why Momentum recently made headlines when they added SD-WAN to the company’s solution portfolio.

Although unique, a voice and communications provider offering a managed SD-WAN solution brings a number of advantages to every deployment. Here  are a few:

1) The Benefit of the UCaaS Experience

VoIP and unified communications are a few of the primary applications that use an SD-WAN connection. So while traditional SD-WAN providers may be concerned with general deployment, connection speeds, etc., voice and communications providers are able to approach SD-WAN configurations and designs with a firmer understanding of the application requirements and end goal.

This allows voice providers to optimize and lay out an SD-WAN blueprint and delivery plan for customers that ensures each and every deployment gets maximum results for their voice, UCaaS and all other applications.

2) Access to More Advanced Technology and Integrations

Because SD-WAN providers deal exclusively with that technology, they don’t always have the access or the capability of integrating into all the latest pieces of technology. This especially happens at the individual application level where you’ll see handshake deals or head nod agreements on how particular services and applications will perform on the connection.

Voice and communication providers have the experience, understanding and partnerships to combine cutting-edge branches of technology to deliver the absolute best delivery to work with applications

For instance, Momentum has designed a way to deploy SD-WAN in a way that builds on the technology’s enhanced availability, visibility and control without having to sacrifice security and reliability. One way this is accomplished is through the option of placing a virtual session border controller in Momentum’s data centers to ensure peak performance and quality.

Additionally, Momentum’s SD-WAN deployments can leverage both wired and wireless bandwidth. This is a game-changer because the expansion of available connection options allows for deployments to truly find and use the best available bandwidth. It also means the solution isn’t limited to locations with wired connections so it can be used almost anywhere.

3) Streamlined Experience

At the end of the day, one of the biggest benefits of having managed SD-WAN from a voice provider is the customer experience. You can see this in getting a single bill for multiple services, receiving access to savings through using multiple services and having main a single point of contact for questions and troubleshooting. Also, a voice and communication provider delivering SD-WAN can actually also provide even tighter protective security because all transmissions and signals remain in a single network.

SD-WAN from voice and communication providers delivers expertise,  enhanced technology, a better experience and move financial value to customers. And if the provider is like Momentum and provides a white-glove experience, having a single provider for voice, SD-WAN and even possibly other network services can give deliver additional meaningful value that simply can’t be ignored.

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: October 8, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By Chris Betz, Chief Security Officer, CenturyLink

Let me put it another way: Security can be complex. The true art is making security easy to use.

As a Fortune 150 company and the second largest U.S. communications provider to global enterprise customers, we are responsible for securing our own operations through a suite of hybrid IT, cloud, networking and communications solutions — in addition to those of our customers. As CSO for this company, I can attest to the fact that the pressures security leaders face today are many.

On one hand, we have the explosion of network traffic spurred by video, 5G, IoT, connected devices and a mobile workforce; on the other, we have a justified and growing intolerance by users — both internal and external — for anything less than always-on, flawless performance. Couple this with the patchwork nature of many of today’s security solutions, which businesses are often left to stitch together on their own; the gap between security and engineering teams that often reflects security as an afterthought; and the shortage of qualified security professionals — and the picture can seem bleak.

But security can be simple: We believe that the inherent value of a security solutions provider should first and foremost be effective simplicity.

At CenturyLink, our security builds on two fundamental directives: to leverage our expansive global threat visibility and to act against the threats we see. Our unique and deep network-based threat intelligence makes our approach possible — and it is the foundation of Connected Security, our vision for seamless integration between security and the network to transform the communications of tomorrow.

The more we can do as a global security services provider to identify or impact malicious traffic before it hits our customers’ infrastructure, the better customers can focus and prioritize their resources elsewhere. This is the promise of Connected Security and the premise upon which we have transformed our network into a threat sensor and proactive defense platform.

Disrupting the security threats that we face today — and the threats we will face tomorrow — requires more than intelligence. It requires a collective commitment to share what we see and to act on what we know. We look forward to continuing to work together as we drive toward simplifying security.

Click here to view and download the full CenturyLink 2019 Threat Report: https://www.centurylink.com/asset/business/enterprise/report/2019-threat-research-report.pdf

 

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and as a CenturyLink Channel Partner, you have access to sell CenturyLink’s full suite of trusted Security Solutions. For more information, please contact your Channel Manager or Partners@CenturyLink.com.

 

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 3, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

You have a choice when it comes to choosing a broadband provider, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. It’s just the way it is – one city, one neighborhood, one provider, right? Wrong.

Meet the Overbuilders

You may have heard the term “overbuilder” in conversations about the communication industry. You may also be asking yourself, “Who or what are they?” These are the companies that are building the next generation of fiber and cable over existing phone and cable infrastructures. They’re nimble and passionate about service and innovation, and they’re constructing a network that’s built for data first.

While other networks are trying to squeeze the last bit of performance from old existing infrastructure — often 30 to 50 years old — overbuilders focus on constructing new, purpose-built, and robust hybrid networks that deliver a true next-level service.

How We Got Here

For years, telephone and cable companies benefited from a near monopoly over services. The original idea was to grant singular access rights to entire cities and regions as a way to help those companies recover the cost of implementing a new kind of service. And it worked. Their investments paid off, but unfortunately for consumers, they’ve paid off many, many times over. When singular access rights were revoked in the late 90’s, the large providers dominated.

Where We Go from Here

Competition spurs innovation, reduces costs, and improves service. It’s also the catalyst behind the rise of the overbuilders. With their ability to provide a custom setup for their partners, overbuilders have put pressure on incumbent cable and phone companies.

With new direct competition those providers have attempted to improve. Unfortunately, most of the infrastructure that their networks are built on was never intended to handle the level of internet traffic modern businesses require. And while the level of innovation to max-out the capabilities of legacy infrastructure has been impressive, it’s just no longer necessary.

A Bright Future

Thanks to overbuilders, you can enjoy a fast, fiber-rich, hybrid network that can be tailored to fit almost any specific customer or need. Offering more choices, more options, and more personalized packages than ever before, overbuilders’ passion for innovation and customer service is changing the communication partner landscape.

While it’s true that most overbuilders can deliver greater access and higher speeds, WOW! Business goes even further. Its sales engineers ensure that recommended products and services are optimized to meet every network need. Then they back it up with local IT and account people ready to respond with speed and efficiency.

You do have a choice. And after looking at all the options and benefits of overbuilders like WOW! Business, it might just be the easiest choice you ever have to make. Learn more.

Posted on: September 30, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Written by Anil Kanwar – 

In today’s business environment, companies that want to stay relevant and competitive need to understand how to take advantage of Digital Transformation to evolve with their customer and markets. Yet in Canada only 19% of mid-market companies have reached an advanced level of digital maturity as assessed by BDC on digital technologies and digital culture[1]. The vast majority of these businesses struggle with removing their own barriers to evolution. Over my 23 years of global experience in Information Technology & Business transformation, with the last 6 years with a focus on Canadian enterprises and mid-market organizations, I have helped many organizations successfully complete this transformation. During this time, I have also seen first-hand the challenges facing most mid-sized companies in their evolution. Specifically, 3 general barriers to successful cloud adoption are common in the Canadian marketplace:

1.   Perhaps the most important challenge I have seen is the lack of an inclusive cloud adoption framework. In the Canadian mid-market specifically, businesses have not made the adjustment from traditional technology purchasing practices to cloud and on-demand service adoption. The buying process is still owned by the IT department and is executed in a tactical, reactive way rather than with strategy and planning baked-in to the execution. In many instances critical business and functional groups are not incorporated into the process. This often leads to poor realization of the cloud’s value to the business and to a narrow perspective of the cloud, how to use it, and how to best leverage value out of such services. Instead of fostering a strategic change and transformation, IT planning becomes focused on point tools and solutions, instead of offering a transformative new way of doing business. As a personal observation, in many cases that I have supported, a lack of an inclusive cloud adoption framework has added tens of thousands of dollars in additional costs, delayed delivery times and even caused project cancellation due to a poorly defined cloud economics.

2.   The second barrier is often a lack of access to critical skilled resources. The Information and Communications technology Council (ICTC), a policy advisor to businesses and governments across Canada predicts a shortage of approximately 216,000 technical resources in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector by 2021[3]. This expertise gap refers to Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud along with IoT and emerging digital technologies like Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Blockchain and 3D printing. Even for organizations that have great talent resources, in most cases they are too busy keeping the lights on to focus on innovation or generating real business value. As a result, cloud adoption is often limited to “lift and shift”, rather than true IT evolution or Digital Transformation. Ultimately, these businesses end up ignoring enabling technologies and practices that could help them focus on transformative ways of delivering business applications, improving customer/user experience, and driving business value.

3.   Lastly, there’s cloud security and compliance. For someone who has been doing cloud for as long as I have, this is the one I had thought was long addressed. Yet with many organizations there is still a prevalent belief that cloud is less secure, along with traditional concerns about data residency and sovereignty. It is important to note that in the various shared models- IaaS, PaaS, SaaS- security concerns vary based on service delineations between service provider and customer. Cloud providers have a vested interest in protecting their reputation. They have access to the best resources who are specifically focused on following security best practices. And they abide by stringent compliance frameworks and audits as part of their operations. Many of these capabilities are beyond typical mid-sized organization – simply put, a provider whose sole reason for being is to provide robust, secure, highly available infrastructure, is generally going to provide better outcomes than your business staff, who should be focused on your business’ core value operations instead of IT maintenance activities.

I was recently engaged with a global technology company undergoing its own cloud transformation. They had settled, without a clear cloud adoption framework [2], on a single hyperscaler cloud for their VMware workload. Through a structured cloud adoption framework, we were able to establish consensus across the organization, expand their ecosystem to multiple clouds via an application centric/ best execution venue approach and deliver on defined business outcome.

The professional services support expedited their application launch by enabling them on key cloud services like automation and security across multi-cloud deployments. This experience illustrates how Mid-market organizations in Canada face similar challenges in adopting cloud as their much larger counterparts but must find a way to do so with less expertise and fewer resources. Hence, finding the right managed services and professional services partner is critical to success in digital transformation.

To conclude, I believe the Canadian mid-market segment has not only the need to adopt digital technologies but also to appropriately manage these assets to effectively compete in the global market. The findings of digital maturity assessments done by BDC and MIT, proved that businesses with higher digital maturity outperformed less mature firms on multiple financial measurements.

 

Written by Anil Kanwar 

Author’s Bio

Anil is a Solution Architect and is responsible for working with enterprise customers to understand their IT strategy, provide assessments of their current infrastructure state, design target state and provide a phased approach to reach and maintain it using TeraGo services. He brings 20+ years of enterprise IT experience spread across pre-sales, delivery and product management working with large system Integrators and product companies.

References

[1] BDC –  Digital maturity assessment – https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneur-toolkit/business-assessments/digital-maturity/pages/default.aspx

[2] AWS Cloud Adoption Framework – https://aws.amazon.com/professional-services/CAF/

[3] – Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) Report – The Next Talent Wave – Navigating the digital shift – Outlook 2021 – https://www.ictc-ctic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ICTC_Outlook-2021.pdf

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