This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
When companies go shopping for a unified communications (UC) solution, they typically have focused primarily on phone systems. Then, they might spend a little time evaluating features such as HD videoconferencing and instant messaging.
Things are about to change. Now, whether they are searching for a new UC supplier or considering upgrades to their current systems, companies must make mobility a major part of the buying decision.
The intent of mobility is to connect remote workers to the enterprise’s IP-PBX over the Wi-Fi and cellular data networks. This eliminates cellular voice long distance charges. Plus, it makes remote workers more available to co-workers and customers, no matter their location. As a company’s mobility tools develop over time, users will be able to use their corporate software on smartphones and tablets – anytime and anywhere. This can enhance customer service, improve productivity, and even enhance quality of life.
But companies need to understand what their mobility solution may look like at the end, so they can begin making important strategic decisions as they build a mobility infrastructure. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Where will your users get their devices? An increasing number of remote and enterprise workers prefer to use their personal iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet as their only communications device. They simply don’t want to juggle two phones – one business and one personal. At the same time, UC suppliers such as Cisco and Avaya are already developing their own endpoint devices. They will encourage clients to adopt these tablets and mobile phones for the entire workforce. Which route will your company wish to take?
- What are your policies? Every organization needs a mobility policy – right now. The IT department should establish policies and procedures regarding the use of personal mobile devices. Decide when and how these may connect with the enterprise IP-PBX and LAN. If your organization wishes to keep personal devices off the network, be prepared with an alternate strategy that will work for your mobile employees.
- Are desk phones necessary? Many mobility users may prefer a mobile device, making an investment on a desk phone just a wasted expense.
- Will video be part of your strategy? In the near future, companies will increasingly rely on enterprise video communications. If mobile workers don’t have access to video on employer-provided devices, they will again default to their personal smartphones and tablets.
A novel approach to wireless access points has gained acclaim for Aerohive Networks, creators of the cooperative control wireless LAN (WLAN) architecture. Garnter, Inc. has positioned Aerohive and its cutting-edge technology in the coveted “Visionaries” area of the 2011 Magic Quadrant for Wireless LAN Infrastructure.
The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner's analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace.
According to Gartner, a “vendor in the Visionaries quadrant demonstrates an ability to increase features in its offering to provide a unique and differentiated approach to the market. A visionary will have contributed innovations in one or more of the key areas of WLAN technologies (e.g., convergence, security, management or operational efficiency).” Innovation is weighted highly by Gartner in evaluating a vendor's completeness of vision.
Aerohive’s Cooperative Control Enterprise Wireless LAN Architecture is based on the same architectural premise already proven in the Internet and corporate WAN, which both rely on dynamic routing protocols. According to Aerohive, this structure eliminates controllers by increasing the functionality of access points, bringing control closer to the edge of the network.
“The look and feel of controllers continues to change,” the Gartner report notes. “Since the introduction of controller-based architectures, most vendors use a separate appliance; however, the hardware has slowly been transformed (subsumed into blades or appliances), or, in some cases, has vanished.
“Although the structured network functionality still exists, the physical controller has disappeared into the cloud, virtualized into an upstream server or integrated into one or more access points. In addition to lower-priced access points, these new solutions continue to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for WLAN connectivity at the edge of the network.”
Aerohive's cooperative control WLAN access points (dubbed HiveAPs) require no network controllers or overlay networks. Instead, software in the HiveAPs enables them to self-organize into groups called Hives. Cooperative control eliminates the controller as a single point of failure, making enterprise wi-fi more reliable. It also increases performance by eliminating the data bottleneck that controllers create - especially in 802.11n networks where increased bandwidth can cause choke points at the controller.
“Being positioned in the 'Visionaries' quadrant of the Magic Quadrant is affirmation of our controller-less WLAN architecture, and is an indicator of the future of WLANs,” said David Flynn, chief executive officer for Aerohive. “Aerohive's pioneering architecture eliminates the need for WLAN controllers and facilitates cloud-enabled networking to provide customers with high-performance, highly-reliable, scalable, secure, and cost-effective wireless solutions.”
Aerohive’s architecture also seizes on the latest trend for both hardware and software developers, who see the cloud as the most effective place to manage computing infrastructure. In fact, by managing the network in the cloud, Aerohive says it can save money and provide customers with application performance that is up to 10 times better than traditional networks.
“For many enterprises that are deploying access points, wireless connectivity is mission-critical,” Gartner said in its report. “This means that site planning and support play critical roles in ensuring that WLANs are installed properly to address business issues, from capacity to transaction density, upfront, rather than waiting for a problem to occur. Overlapping coverage, dual-homed access points and mesh networking capabilities are providing multiple paths for robust communication at the edge. Proactive tools, such as network management knowledgebases, spectrum analysis and client health monitoring, are playing a larger role to ensure that the WLAN continues to perform to its optimum level once it's installed.”
As seen on Best in UC.
Imagine opening up your company’s next mobile phone bill. Now, imagine that the cellular charges on that bill dropped by 80 percent, and that you can expect similar savings every month to come.
For years, the unified communications (UC) industry has struggled to create a complex handoff that can save users thousands on their phone bills. Now, ShoreTel has successfully implemented this technology in its new ShoreTel Mobility solution.
The technical execution may be complex, but the concept is simple. Smartphones can operate in two modes: Wi-Fi and cellular. In cellular mode, the phone relies on your carrier’s network to place and receive calls. In Wi-Fi mode, the phone can leverage a wireless data network for those calls. By switching to Wi-Fi, callers can lower the number of expensive cellular minutes used. Even better, then can enjoy better call quality and improved battery life.
ShoreTel Mobility solution relies on a gateway called the ShoreTel Mobility Router. This piece of hardware automatically selects the best network, whether Wi-Fi or cellular, for each call. It allows you to create policies to determine how calls should be routed, or it can be set to choose the least-costly option. A vast majority of the time, that results in calls moving to the existing Wi-Fi network, which dramatically reduced the number of cellular minutes purchased from your wireless carrier.
But the savings don’t stop there. When users are traveling away from the office, the Mobility Router still helps control costs. With the industry’s first TLS/SSL-based connection, it allows users to jump on any public Wi-Fi connection or a private connection for which they have a WEP key. That means leveraging VoIP for Wi-Fi calling from home, hotels, offices and hotspots. International roaming charges are slashed.
The handoff between cellular and Wi-Fi networks is not noticeable to users. When a salesman leaves the office for his commute home while talking on the phone, his call will automatically switch from Wi-Fi to cellular network. If he’s still on the phone when he arrives home, the call will again switch automatically, this time onto his home Wi-Fi connection.
With a one-time investment in the ShoreTel Mobility Router, companies can create 80 percent cellular call savings, plus give their workforce better call quality, reliability and battery life. But the benefits don’t stop there. In an upcoming blog, we’ll explain how the ShoreTel Mobility Solution improves productivity for team member as well.
Through ShoreTel's acquisition of Agito Networks comes the ability to seamlessly switch between phones and automate lowest cost call routing, while actively on a call, for in building, out of building and stationary coverage.
Best yet, this solution works with any PBX systems, including those from Cisco, Avaya, Alcatel, Siemens, and UC systems such as Microsoft OCS 2007. With the new ShoreTel Mobility Router and RoamAnywhere Client businesses of all sizes can reduce costs, improve coverage and boost productivity for mobile workers, regardless of which communication platforms they have already deployed.
Join Xtelesis for a Lunch & Learn where we'll present a live demonstration on how the Mobility Solution works and explain the benefits other businesses have realized from the Mobility deployment.
While on the topic of productivity and cost savings, we will introduce a call accounting solution that integrates with ShoreTel. This solution provides more robust call intelligence than your standard ShoreTel reports ultimately allowing you to better optimize your phone system.
March 24, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lunch, presentation, demo, and Q&A
Three locations: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle
With ShoreTel's mobility solution, your business will be able to:
- Reduce mobile costs without requiring users to change how they use their mobile phones
- Provide high-quality, low-cost in-building coverage
- Leverage Wi-Fi for low-cost coverage
- Easily integrate into non-ShoreTel PBXs
- Increase user productivity with greater responsiveness and accessibility
Follow this link for more details on the event and to register.
(as seen on BestinUC.com)
If you want to discover the latest insight from leaders in the IT space on the top concerns of IT in the healthcare industry, make sure you attend the HIMSS Healthcare webinar on Monday, February 7th at 1pm CST.
Many IT specialists are familiar with the special challenges faced when deploying technologies in healthcare facilities and in an hour-long webinar, three expert panelists will discuss:
1. How to best deal with RF interference
2. Wi-Fi deployment best practices in healthcare
3. Delivering reliable wireless performance at range at the lowest cost with the fewest access points
The webinar is free, so register now!
In the meantime be sure to try our free Aerohive wi-fi planning tool to learn more about deploying wi-fi in enterprise environments. Aerohive HiveManager enables simple RF planning and doesn't require a controller or an overlay network.
Here’s an abstract of the upcoming webinar (taken from the HIMSS website):
Healthcare is screaming for better wireless. From EMR/EHR applications to BCMA carts, wireless-enabled infusion pumps to wireless nurse call systems, telemetry and bedside monitoring to location tracking and even guest access, everyone wants wireless. The problem is, healthcare environments are among the worst places to get wireless to consistently work as advertised. RF interference, obstacles, obstructions along with a myriad of new client devices with lousy Wi-Fi implementations all amount to a big headache for IT staff. This Webinar will highlight recent technical advances that help make these problems go away. Our panel of subject matter experts with actual Wi-Fi experience will discuss their experiences and provide practical advice on topics such as streamlining deployment, delivering stronger signals with fewer APs, automatically mitigating interference and filling coverage holes without running more Ethernet cabling everywhere.
As seen on BestinUC.com, by Rosilyn Rayborn
As we’ve been discussing telehealth for the past few weeks here on Best in UC, we want to tell you about a huge win the telemedicine industry just experienced.
Georgia Partnership for Telehealth Waycross was recently awarded $2.5 million from Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to further their goal of providing rural Georgia residents with quick high-quality access to healthcare through their TeleConnect Georgia for Better Health (TCGBH) program.
Not only is this a great indication of the increasing adoption of UC for unified communications enthusiasts, it’s also a very important milestone for the state of Georgia because this award will enable the state to make significant advancements in their healthcare system.
According to a 2008 UGA study, Georgia’s overall health was found to trail many other states in the U.S.
Lloyd Sirmons, TCGBH’s BTOP project director said, “Via telemedicine, rural Georgians have access to modern medicine right at their fingertips. A patient needing to see a cardiologist in a small rural town, who may not have had the access unless they drove hours away, can go to a local doctor’s office that has one of our telemedicine units and be examined by a specialist located in a nearby city, like Atlanta.”
By providing health education to raise general health awareness and increasing broadband access points across the state for wider availability to quality healthcare, TCGBH is rightly positioned to make significant strides in Georgia’s healthcare system.
Likewise, we can look forward to seeing more big deployments like this in 2011. Telehealth has passed the “wait and see” phase and is becoming a proven solution for various industries looking for simple, reliable, affordable solutions to connect more people.