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

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 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: 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 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

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Our Vision Reflected: Delivering Innovative Solutions for Businesses

June 07, 2019

By Kevin O’Toole, Senior Vice President Product Management, Comcast Business

I always enjoy opportunities to talk about Comcast Business products because it’s easy to get excited around how we’re executing against our vision of delivering innovative solutions for business – solutions designed to help companies across the country go beyond the expected.

From providing the world’s best last-mile data products and leading-edge enterprise networking solutions, to offering managed services, voice, video and digital experiences that are fundamentally changing the way businesses operate, Comcast Business is making a big difference in helping companies succeed in the digital world.

While awards and trophies will always come secondary to that primary goal of helping customers, I was delighted to learn that the fruits of our labor and the way we are implementing our product vision have captured the attention of executives from around the country.

On June 11, Comcast Business will be honored at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® banquet, where we will receive seven awards for our innovation and product solutions, including a Gold Award for the Most Innovative Company of the Year and other recognitions for our ActiveCore(sm) and Business VoiceEdge® solutions.

One of seven programs sponsored by The Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards® are the only national, all-encompassing business awards program in the U.S. They feature a wide variety of categories to recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace, from customer service and management to public relations and product development. Award winners are selected by a panel of 200 executives across the country.

In honoring us with the Gold award, judges noted that Comcast Business “showed it’s moving with today’s fast tech world by introducing products and solutions that combine technologies and ultimately streamline our digital world.”

Executives judging the awards also bestowed Gold Awards on our:

  • IT Service Management Solution Award for ActiveCore(sm), which judges singled out for “great thinking” that is “future-proof” and “replac[es] legacy technologies at a huge scale.”
  • Telecommunications Service Award for Business VoiceEdge™, a “frustration-free” solution that “makes employees’ jobs easier” and is a “fantastic solution for distributed teams and telecommuting,” according to the judges.
  • Integration Solution for ActiveCore, which the judges said is a “great example of a solution that businesses need right now.”

We also will receive:

  • A Silver Award in the Cloud Platform category for ActiveCore, which judges hailed as “a great end-to-end solution for IT systems management” and a “brilliant way to upgrade clients on outdated infrastructure to the latest benefits of virtualized networks.”
  • A Bronze Award in the Business Services Innovation of the Year category for ActiveCore’s Voice Commands, which judges called “modern,” “consumer friendly,” and “a tremendous way to open the doors to other businesses in small communities.”
  • A Bronze Award in the Most Innovative Tech Company category, for our “significant business value” and its “numerous solutions to help make business easier.”

We are tremendously proud that Comcast Business stood out from the intense competition among the 3,800-plus nominations received. We are especially honored that executives from a range of industries recognize the generational moment that our ActiveCore Software-Defined Networking platform represents, and the ability of its gigabit-ready, digital experience to change the way everyone thinks about network and IT management. We’ve driven a tremendous amount of innovation in the last couple of years and there is certainly more to come.

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.

Posted on: September 25, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

If you’re on the lookout for a business VoIP phone service to streamline communications, you might want to consider Nextiva. In this post, we go into some of our genuine Nextiva reviews, top features, and pricing.

Here’s a quick overview:

What is Nextiva?

Nextiva is a VoIP service provider that offers business VoIP and call center and contact center solutions. Founded in 2006 on the principle of Amazing Service, Nextiva’s VoIP system powers 100,000+ brands in the United States.

Related: Customer Service is #1 for Nextiva. Check out the top 30 customer service tips we swear by!

2019 Nextiva Reviews and Customer Feedback

Top reviews from GetVoIP

 

Also, here’s why Shelby American, Inc vouches for Nextiva. Hint: Exceptional customer experience and technical support.

1) “Nextiva’s one of the best VoIP providers we’ve seen!”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 1

2) “Nextiva makes our life easier.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 2

3) “We love the Nextiva system, and I personally love my softphone!”

Nextiva Reviews: GetVoIP Review 3

4) “Great experience till date.”

Nextiva Reviews: GetVoIP Review 4

5) “I would highly recommend this service.”

Nextiva Reviews: GetVoIP Review 5

Top reviews from Capterra

Concordia Care Inc. loves that we’re HIPAA compliant and is a fan of the Nextiva App. See why >>

6) “Amazing service and platform.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 3

Pros:

– Increased support staff productivity and better customer relations
– Fast setup and quick onboarding
– Amazing tech support from Nextiva’s service team
– Cost-effective, but feature-rich

Cons: None

Overall: Highly recommends Nextiva for their overall ease of use and customer support.

7) “Nextiva’s support team made a tough transition easy.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 4

Pros:

– Offers a complete solution based on a business owner’s needs
– Full-stack solution that’s highly flexible
– Easy to use and cost-effective

Cons: Limited integrations

Overall: Happy with Nextiva’s platform, costs, functionality, and timing.

8) “Full service and software solution.”

Nextiva Reviews: Capterra Review 3

Pros:

– The Nextiva sales team took the time to understand our business and help us work out what we needed
– Has the services we need at a price we can afford
– Easy to upgrade in the future if required

Cons:

– Staff training was time-consuming especially because we weren’t fully prepared for it

Overall: Even after implementation, Nextiva continues to be responsive and helpful.

9) “A great software partnership!”

Nextiva Reviews: Capterra Review 4

Pros:

– Great solutions for business communications and office enterprise tools
– Customer support is amazing
– NextOS is advanced and powerful

Cons:

– None

Overall: Once you partner with Nextiva, you get the impression you’re being brought into something much bigger. It’s really exciting and fun too.

10) “Nextiva delivered for our business.”

Nextiva Reviews: Capterra Review 5

Pros:

– All phone calls have been crystal clear — no call drops
– Easy to use
– Onboarding was smooth and easy

Cons:

– Small delay to port numbers

Overall: Would recommend

Top reviews from Trustpilot

Have you tried NextOS 3.0 yet? Well, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix did, and this is what they think.

11) “It’s everything we need for business communications!”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 5

12) “A solid choice for a simple and safe VoIP system.

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 6

13) “A great communication tool!”

Nextiva Reviews: TrustPilot Review 3

14) “Thanks to Nextiva, we’re learning more about our customer relations.”

Nextiva Reviews: Trustpilot Review 4

15) Nextiva’s Live Chat is nicely designed, stable, and easy to use.”

Nextiva Reviews: Trustpilot Review 5

Top reviews from Fit Small Business

16) “Making the switch to Nextiva was easy.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 7

17) “We reduced response times and hold times.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 8

18) “Nextiva’s reporting helps us manage our staffing better.”

Nextiva Reviews: FitSmallBusiness Review 3

19) “Nextiva’s reporting is incredible!”

Nextiva Reviews: FitSmallBusiness Review 4

20) “Nextiva Chat makes it so much easier to talk to our customers.”

Nextiva Reviews: FitSmallBusiness Review 5

Nextiva’s products and services:

Nextiva’s unique VoIP phone system is for everyone and also specifically, small businesses. For example, Nextiva’s Business Communication Suite has three-tiered pricing.

Basic (starts at $20 per month/user), Pro (starts at $25 per month/user) and Enterprise (starts at $35 per month/user.)

Our feature-rich business VoIP phone service and other cloud solutions are also ideal for:

Related: The Ultimate Business VoIP Phone System Buyer’s Guide

But wait, there’s more

While our products work well alone, they work even better together. How? Introducing NextOS. It’s the technology that powers our all-in-one communications platform. There’s no better place to get a pulse of your customer experience.

Want to see what NextOS can do for you? See our bundle plans and pricing here.

Nextiva’s Business Phone System: Plans and Pricing

When it comes to choosing your business phone system, there are several questions you may have:

And so, to make things easier for you, our three-tiered pricing breaks down exactly what features you’ll get on what plan.

Basic – As low as $20 per month/user

  • Unlimited calling and SMS messages/Internet faxing
  • Voicemail with email delivery + text delivery
  • Free local phone number + toll-free number
  • Call forwarding
  • Auto attendant
  • Numer porting
  • Advanced call management

Pro – As low as $25 per month/user

  • All of the above
  • Professionally Recorded Greeting (1)
  • Nextiva mobile app
  • Instant messaging & presence
  • Team messaging & presence
  • Conference bridge and unlimited conference calls
  • Customer Surveys (NEW with Pro)

Enterprise – As low as $30 per month/user

  • All of the above
  • Call recording
  • Website Live Chat (NEW with Enterprise)

See How Nextiva May Work for You

Choosing a whole new business phone service is no joke. But maybe it’s time to break up with your landline, especially considering how much you’ll save in terms of setup time and upfront costs.

Make sure you and your team truly understand how VoIP phones work and how it stacks up against landlines before you make a move.

Related: Meet our customers and see how Nextiva helps them get ahead in 2019.

Nextiva is perfect for those businesses that need a complete UCaaS solution. When you sign up, you’ll also get custom configurations and on-demand support. Beyond this, we also offer PBX SIP trunking as well as Nextiva Drive for cloud storage.

Don’t just take our word for it! See more Nextiva reviews from ConanWest Coast Trial Lawyers, and Bauformat say about us.

Like what you see here? There’s more! Let’s get you started.