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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 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

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

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

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

 Attendees of this webinar will learn about:

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

Who should attend?

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

 Webinar Registration

http://bit.ly/2ovT3g5

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

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

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

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

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

Improving The Customer Experience

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

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

Improving Team Productivity

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

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

Improving Community Communications

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

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

Improving Partner Collaboration

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

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

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

UC&C Drives Results No Matter Where You Are

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

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

Posted on: October 8, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on: October 7, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Choosing the right Unified Communications platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deployment model: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises

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

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

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

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

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

Features for calling, messaging and meetings

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

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

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

Calling

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

Unified messaging

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

Meetings

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

Support for mobile workers

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

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

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

Integrations with other business communications apps

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

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

Should you invest in a UC platform?

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

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

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

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

 

Posted on: 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: 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.

 

Posted on: September 24, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

About the only thing shifting as fast as the cyber threat landscape is the typical enterprise’s org chart. As enterprises aim to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital economy, many are restructuring internal departments, hiring criteria and the processes by which they develop and distribute products, all with the overarching objective of becoming more proficient at rapidly responding to new opportunities in the marketplace.

In making these well-intentioned adjustments, the ability for enterprises to establish robust, broadly integrated cybersecurity as a core capability of their re-calibrated operation will be one of the best predictors of whether these changes will prove successful.

The Expanding Footprint of Data in the Enterprise

The degree of difficulty in achieving solid, enterprise-wide cybersecurity posture is difficult not only because cyber threats continue to grow in volume and sophistication, but because of the expanding footprint of data in the enterprise.

Call data the new gold, the new air, the new oil – whichever metaphor you prefer – and the reality remains that the need to leverage data is becoming increasingly essential across lines of business. That is one of the main reasons why security teams must not look at themselves as the sole implementer and enforcer of sound security practices, but rather spread security awareness and adoption of clear policies with their colleagues as an ongoing, sustained point of emphasis.

More than 8 in 10 respondents to ISACA’s research say that establishing a stronger culture of cybersecurity would increase their organization’s profitability, and this will only become more on-target as organizations increasingly embrace digital business models.

The rising profile of data analytics factors in heavily, as referenced in a recent McKinsey article, which noted that “as companies adopt massive data analytics, they must determine how to identify risks created by data sets that integrate many types of incredibly sensitive customer information. They must also incorporate security controls into analytics solutions that may not use a formal software-development methodology.”

The cloud is another area in which proactively bolstering security capabilities will be critical in the new enterprise environment. While cloud computing is certainly not new, turning to cloud providers has become increasingly attractive for many enterprises whose traditional server-based approach no longer is sufficient for storing and protecting their data.

Modern cloud platforms supply enterprises with an array of options that provide data storage and protection that can lead to dramatically improved scalability and flexibility. While new, sophisticated security capabilities are being integrated into today’s cloud platforms, these capabilities are not always integrated into organizations’ security programs, whether due to discomfort with trying new approaches or just the challenge of carving out time to explore them amid the usual, day-to-day challenges. This is a missed opportunity for enterprises to enhance their security programs and derive additional value from their investments in the cloud.

Turning DevOps into DevSecOps

 Another dynamic elevating the importance of broader integration of security principles is DevOps. In an era in which business velocity can reach a dizzying pace, enterprises have turned to DevOps to move faster and more efficiently in their builds, deliveries and deployments.

The problem is, security oftentimes is an afterthought in this process, which puts developers in the difficult position of trying to figure out security best practices on their own. Working security into the DevOps program – referred to as DevSecOps – allows the security team to become involved during the design phase and ensure that critical security flaws are identified and addressed before they require costly fixes that become increasingly costly later in the process.

Similarly, Agile development methodology needs to take cybersecurity considerations into account, such as ensuring that all data is properly categorized and that a comprehensive, risk-based approach to safeguarding the data is in place.

Historically, we have seen enterprises are typically more attentive to positioning themselves to sell products and increase revenue than to protecting themselves and their customers from security threats. But as we near a new decade – the 2020s – the pace at which enterprises will realign to thrive in a technology-driven digital economy will only accelerate. We remain in the early stages of this era of digital transformation.

Consider the way technologies such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, robotics, and the ongoing proliferation of connected devices will create new business opportunities that result in new methods of product development and ushering products to market. Anything less than deeply ingrained cybersecurity throughout the enterprise will not work going forward.

By integrating sound cybersecurity practices in all areas of the organization, implementing new security capabilities that are baked into modern cloud services and turning DevOps into DevSecOps, enterprises will have the flexibility to re-imagine their business models while retaining a stable foundation on which to innovate.

Interested in learning more about the biggest trends in cybersecurity? Read CenturyLink’s 2019 Threat Report.

For more CenturyLink blog content, visit the NetNext blog at blog.centurylink.com.

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

How 5G Will Impact Business Mobility

 

If there’s a single topic in telecomm that stands head-and-shoulders above everything else in terms of the scope and scale with which it’s talked about, it’s the advent of 5G networks and devices. There’s a good reason for that: 5G will likely be as transformative for mobility as was the advent of the smartphone. And while 5G is not yet fully implemented, that day is coming: All of the major carriers in the U.S. market have plans to deploy 5G networks in the relatively near future, with Verizon having already deployed limited 5G in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis and most major phone manufacturers poised to launch 5G-capable devices in 2019 (with the exception of Apple, which seems likely not to launch a 5G iPhone until 2020).

5G and Mobility: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

The primary benefit of 5G is speed — it is far faster than existing LTE and 4G standards. And the speeds attainable on 5G make many other benefits possible: Increased throughput and reduced latency will allow huge volumes of data to be passed back and forth over the network, for example. There are also other parts aside from the speed of the 5G standard that are attractive, such as improved energy efficiency and better retention of connectivity when traveling at high speeds.

At the same time that 5G is set to come into its own, mobile device usage has continued to strengthen globally for both personal and business use. According to Ericsson’s latest mobility report, the U.S. added approximately 3 million net new mobile subscriptions in Q4 2018. Additionally, the report notes that mobile traffic grew globally at a rate of almost 88% from Q4 2017 to Q4 2018.

Increased mobile device usage, and the improved capabilities that will be offered by 5G, are good news for businesses that rely on mobility: Field workers and other remote employees with better connectivity at higher data rates will be able, to put it simply, to get more work done more efficiently. And obviously, more devices with increased usage amounts to something of a windfall for the carriers themselves.

Doing the 5G Math on Connectivity Costs

But therein lies the rub. For businesses who are footing the bill for mobility, careful mobility management is going to be required in order to keep mobile costs from skyrocketing along with usage. Verizon, for example, plans on charging an additional $10 per device for 5G connectivity, along with the requirement that 5G-connected devices be on unlimited data plans. Other carriers have not yet released their rate plans for 5G, but it’s reasonable to expect that they will be at least similar to Verizon’s. Do the math, and it’s obvious that businesses with large fleets of mobile devices could quickly take a hit: A company fielding 1,000 devices, for example, will pay an extra $10,000 a month for the privilege of 5G connectivity — which amounts to new annual expenses of $1.2 million. And of course, that number also assumes that all the devices already have an unlimited data plan; if they don’t, that $1.2 million in new costs will be even higher.

Further, those new costs account only for the increase in connectivity. With the rise in the number of devices deployed in business mobility initiatives, regardless of whether the new devices are utilizing 5G connectivity or not, management costs will also increase: All the new devices must be properly provisioned before they’re even shipped to the end user, for example.

IT departments are also likely to be kept even busier than they have been historically as they attempt to provide ongoing support for users who don’t know how to properly use their new devices, or can’t authenticate, or who break the device, or any of a host of other issues that will come with workers who will be increasingly reliant on mobile devices to get their work done.

Management of 5G and Mobile Device Costs is Critical

The extra costs and extra management of all the new devices, and in particular those that will be using 5G connectivity, will compel businesses to find a way to handle it all. Those businesses that don’t will quickly find gains in productivity and efficiency wiped out by the extra costs and management burdens — all of which makes growing mobility and the benefits of 5G something of a two-edged sword.

Fortunately, managed mobility solution providers like Wireless Watchdogs can go a long way towards ensuring that businesses can realize the promises of 5G while avoiding the cost and management pitfalls. Our mobile expense management, for example, often saves our customers in the neighborhood of $15 per device, per month — which will go a long way toward easing any extra costs from 5G. Likewise, we provide full mobile device lifecycle management, from ordering to provisioning to end-of-life — including help desk support that takes the burden and the costs of support away from IT departments.

Feel free to request a live demo to see our platform and to talk with us about how we can help transform your mobile devices from a cost center into a cost saver — whether you’re staying on LTE or going to 5G, we have the experience and the tools to help.

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