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Skype integration with ShoreTel Phone Systems can save thousands

  
  
  

skypeconnectSkype may be considered the world’s largest VoIP network, though many would pass it off as a “not for business” option.  Realizing that a large percentage of its hundreds of million monthly users are utilizing Skype services for business, Skype developed Skype Connect.

Skype Connect enables businesses to connect with the Skype community via the Internet and works directly with existing PBX and unified communications systems.

In 2009, ShoreTel became Skype’s first partner in its Skype for SIP enterprise-focused offerings, allowing ShoreTel customers to use Skype to direct outbound calls from devices on ShoreTel’s UC system to landlines and mobile phones – and at a fraction of the cost (about $.008 for local and $.02 for international calls).

Desktop phones can be Skype-enabled with a Skype name that is mapped to the business’ main number or an individual telephone extension, allowing Skype users to call that number for free.

Skype Connect also allows businesses to add Click and Call buttons to their websites, allowing customers to call on Skype for free.

ShoreTel customers can use the product to direct outbound calls from devices on ShoreTel’s UC system to landlines and mobile phones using Skype’s low rates, saving money on calls.

To get started using Skype for SIP with ShoreTel, businesses must create and register a Skype business control panel for their organization, and then follow instructions to configure Skype for SIP to work with existing SIP-enabled unified communications systems. We can help our new and existing ShoreTel customers get Skype set up and ready to use on their phone system.

The features of Skype for SIP include:

  • Web-based tool allows businesses to control Skype usage from a single point
  • Centralized billing
  • Easy allocation of skype credit
  • Subscriptions and online numbers to users
  • Reporting about usage and spending
  • Management of internal employee accounts – Find out who uses Skype and which features they use

Maxim integrated products, a fortune 1000 company, deployed Skype for SIP desktop software for more than 2,000 employees in 70 locations and has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on long-distance calling.

Maxim first rolled out Skype for SIP using ShoreTel PBX in its Dallas office, configuring 22 concurrent channels for domestic calling.

“Our Skype deployment has already turned Maxim into more of a real-time organization where we get our work done better, faster and cheaper,” said Walter Curd, CIP of Maxim integrated Products.

Skype Connect is supported on seven brands of phone systems, including ShoreTel. For businesses without a phone system that supports Skype, gateway solutions are available. One such solution is VoSKY Exchange.

VoSKY Exchange is the world’s first Skype-certified solution to work with PBX systems. Business class PBX gateway for Skype allows businesses to connect to the world’s largest VoIP network and make free or low-cost calls through Exchange and Skype.

Whether through a Skype-supported unified communications system, such as ShoreTel, or a gateway solution like VoSKY, VoIP integration with Skype can save a business hundreds of thousands of dollars on local and international call.

Adam Smith, Account Executive at Xtelesis shared this example of how one of his customers uses Skype for business:

Customer A has approximately 5,000 employees distributed around the world; faced with high international long distance bills and little support for their mobile workforce, they turned to Xtelesis for a solution. 

Xtelesis worked with Customer A to integrate their IP PBX to the global Skype network which allowed the international and mobile users to dial back into the phone system using Skype and avoid costly long distance charges.  Customer A saved many thousands of dollars annually in long distance telecom costs and it gave them an innovative solution that resulted in additional features as Skype rolls out their Enterprise platform.

Think Skype isn’t for business? Think again.

To learn how your business can cut costs by using Skype Connect paired with ShoreTel, or to get started using Skype for SIP with your ShoreTel phone system, contact us.

For more information on Skype Connect, check out this article published by UCStrategies.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  
  
  

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Xtelesis! 

Enjoy your holiday, we'll be back on Monday!

turkey dinner

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Want to avoid airport security? Try videoconferencing!

  
  
  

TSA Release Images 2 050808 726403Originally posted by AVTEQ, Inc.

Videoconferencing is no doubt a money-saver. It eliminates the need for travel, and allows individuals and businesspeople to meet face-to-face from different locations.

With the holiday season – and the busiest travel season of the year – upon us, you can add “eliminates need for frisky TSA ‘enhanced’ pat-down” to the list of top reasons why videoconferencing may be a better option.

The TSA has installed full-body X-ray scanners at most airports across the country. If you’re planning to fly – no matter if you’re pilot or passenger – you have two options: proceed with the full-body scan that essentially emits a naked image of yourself to the TSA personnel working security or opt for a full-body pat-down.

Let there be no doubt that “full-body” truly means “full-body.”

Neither option sounds too pleasant, huh?

The good news is that the TSA regulations play no role in videoconferencing technology or your decision to opt out of holiday travel and choose Turkey a-la-Skype instead. 

Aside the made-for-business videoconferencing products on the market (LifeSize, Polycom, Cisco), there’s a feast full of options for individuals interested in video teleconferencing from home. Skype, Gmail, Yahoo!, ooVoo, TinyChat, to name a few.  All of these services are free and easy to use.

Should you choose to continue with your travel plans, let us lay aside the myth that the TSA scanning devices save images. According to a blog by the Washington Post, the machines used by the TSA cannot store, print or transmit images.

What are your thoughts? Will the full-body scan or “enhanced pat-down” get in the way of your holiday travel? Are you opting for a virtual holiday instead?

Demands on IT professionals rise to meet budget and efficiency standards

  
  
  

In our business, we spend a majority of our time working with IT professionals to provide solutions that meet their technology and budget needs. We know first hand the challenges IT professionals face in an ever-changing industry. A recent study, by McKinsey Global Survey, shows some interesting insights into the shifting demands on IT professionals.

According to the survey, today’s businesses are most vulnerable to the rising expectations of their customers and the significant changes in delivery costs regarding technology.  The stress on IT directors and specialists is continually rising as executives look to them to cut costs and find benefits from products and services like cloud computing.

Two other areas of concern for companies are the emergence of new products or services from competitors and competitors who have developed new offerings “outside their current scope, such as telecommunication companies offering cloud-computing services,” said the report.

The pressure is on IT professionals to improve cost efficiency and effectiveness of business processes while reducing IT expenses. These three objectives were ranked highest when survey respondents were asked to describe the priorities of the IT department in the next budget cycle.  Of those surveyed, 36% expect IT operating expenses to decrease in the next budget cycle, while 28% expect those costs to increase. 

On the other hand, the majority (55%) expect costs related to new investments in information technology will increase. With new products and services continually available, and an expectation of business growth, and a need to counter technology-related threats, IT professionals expect to spend more in 2011 on new IT-related investments. 

As an example executives no longer consider changing the scope of projects or reducing costs a top priority and have moved that to the lowest priority in 2011.  As companies expect growth and see a increasing need to counter threat from competitors, the pressure is on IT professionals to overcome concerns and deliver on new investments.

It is our goal to help IT leaders and decision makers find the technology solutions that best fit their company’s need and budget. For more information on products and services we offer, contact us.

unified communications network free download Full Report from
McKinsey Global Survey
   
mckinseyreport

SIP trunking: Simplicity is key

  
  
  

SIP Trunking

by BestinUC.com

In a recent podcast over on Unified Communication Edge, Subha Rama, the Senior Analyst in ABI Research’s Enterprise Communications Research Group projected VoIP-based enterprise communications platforms and services will generate more than $4 billion in revenue by 2015 and she asserts that this is largely due to the wide adoption of SIP trunking.

If you’re in the UC industry, then you know all about SIP trunking—it’s been lurking on the outskirts of UC for more than a decade, but only now is it beginning to gain traction within the industry.

“Why is it growing now? And why are you suggesting that SIP trunking is somehow related to Facebook?” you’re probably wondering.  Read on, my friend.

The driving force behind the adoption of SIP trunking is the same force that is driving Facebook’s new messaging system: the quest for simplicity.

Think about it: Facebook succeeds because it enables people to connect with friends and family, share photos and even invite people to real-life events—all in one place. And the new messaging feature is integrating email, SMS and chat, so it’s virtually seamless communication across any platform.

Now compare that to SIP trunking. Sip trunking is managed on one network, unlike the legacy players—TDM and IP. For the IT department, that means less cabling and fewer vendors and networks to manage. For the end user, it means more reliability. With legacy networks, you have multiple networks, multiple providers, multiple bills, multiple points-of contact—people want to keep it simple.

And if you don’t buy the simplicity argument, here’s one you can’t argue with: cost savings. With traditional systems, enterprises may have to purchase more capacity than needed and of course tons of equipment. With SIP trunking, voice and data are using a single circuit which means companies save big.

What do you think about SIP trunking? Are you convinced that SIP trunking is like Facebook? That may be a stretch, but what’s true is that SIP trunking has been around for a while and is finally being taken seriously in the industry because it simplifies voice and data communication and provides a more flexible, cost-effective means of doing so. So, it may not be Facebook, but it definitely is a game-changer. Where will you be when the The UC Network comes to theatres?

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ShoreTel makes Top 100 Vendors and VARs in Health care

  
  
  

Everything Channel has released its first Top 100 Health Care Vendors and VARs list, recognizing key players in the health care industry.  No surprise, ShoreTel has made the list. (Click here to view the announcement from ShoreTel.)

Health care IT spending is expected to grow to more than $13 billion over the next three years. Everything Channel credits the growth to the implementation of electronic medical records and health information exchange technologies.

A number of health care organizations have selected ShoreTel for a number of reasons. ShoreTel’s Mobility solutions can improve patient care by keeping health care professionals connected, whether on site, on location, or on the move.

It goes without saying that ShoreTel’s “brilliantly simple” solutions help organizations reduce spending on communications by simplifying system management and reducing long-distance and toll charges by utilizing the IP network for call routing.

“ShoreTel has helped us lower our long-distance call charges by deploying the system across three locations, all linked over IP. We use least-cost routing for all long-distance calls, which has dramatically lowered our costs,” said Jeff Minnerly, IT Director at Family home Care Corp. “Furthermore, ShoreTel has helped us improve patient service and increase office efficiency because the system can easily be configured for different departments, ensuring personalized and immediate responses, and streamlining call flows.”

In health care, reliability is no doubt the single-most important consideration when selecting a phone system. ShoreTel provides no single point of failure and N+1 redundancy, ensuring connections at any time, under any circumstance.

Congratulations, ShoreTel for this exciting recognition!

If your organization is interested in a ShoreTel IP phone system give the Xtelesis experts a call at 888-340-9835.

Polycom announces cloud and tablet app in "UC Everywhere" strategy

  
  
  

Last week, Polycom announced several initiatives in their "UC Everywhere" strategy, including a partnership with BroadSoft for a cloud service as well as a partnership with Samsung to bring videoconferencing to the Galaxy tablet. 

The article below, from BestinUC.com provides an interesting perspective on both the cloud and the app for the tablet. While Polycom mentions the cloud reduces cost for unified communications, and in essence, brings UC to the "masses," what is the true savings?

describe the imagePolycom’s UC Everywhere strategy is an effort to enable unified communications everywhere and on any device. Part of that strategy includes a cloud computing solution as well as an application for the Samsung Galaxy tablet.

In an push to drive market growth and adopting of unified communications, Polycom announced a partnership with BroadSoft, Inc., which developed BroadCloud, a video-enabled cloud solution aimed at lowering both “cost and complexity of deploying and using business-to-business telepresence and high-definition voice solutions,” the press release said. 

“Cloud-based services will be key to the UC Everywhere strategy,” said Andy Miller, president and CEP of Polycom.

Both Polycom and BroadSoft expect the combination of a cloud-based service with Polycom’s telepresence and VoIP phone systems to lower the cost of unified communications in a way that allows “the masses” to enjoy the collaboration, productivity and cost benefits of HD voice and video communications.

While cloud computing certainly plays a role in a company’s search for increased service level, reduced OPEX, and universal availability of services, it may not be as easy to migrate video conferencing to the cloud as Polycom makes it out to be.

“Issues such as end-point equipment installation, training, lighting and sound, and operating procedures still need to be addressed, even if the video call is hosted in the cloud,” said Dave Casey, CEO of Westron Communications in Dallas.

Many service providers, including Westron, offer managed solutions (sometimes considered cloud-based) for data and voice networking. Casey expects videoconferencing to be a natural progression for this offering, especially as bandwidth requirements for video are still greater than those for voice and data.

The real question is this: Can the cloud really be an effective cost-reducer for video solutions?

“The true benefits come into play when you examine the cost to provide ‘Always on’ networks, “ said Casey. “Should an enterprise go to the length of providing two to five fiber paths to their facility from different carriers, a battery backup system…and a building built to withstand an F5 tornado, they would find the shared facility of a cloud solution much more cost effective.”

In conjunction with the announcement of a cloud solution as part of their “UC Everywhere” strategy, Polycom also announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to deliver unified communications on mobile devices.  Polycom will develop standards-based video applications, which will be embedded and distributed on the Samsung Android-based Galaxy tablet. 

The video solution will allow Galaxy tablets “to connect with each other over video, as well as other standards-based telepresence and video conferencing systems and applications,” said Sudhaker Ramakrishna, Polycom’s general manager of UC products and chief development officer.

Working to stimulate the market with innovative products and solutions, a partnership enabling an app for the tablet is a “good strategy,” said Casey. But it might be a harder strategy to make successful as the tablet market is struggling to work its way into the corporate world with corporate network and security concerns. Even the iPad has had problems penetrating the corporate world, Casey pointed out.

While it is good to see market stimulation by Polycom, the fact remains that LifeSize still produces the most innovative, best performing and cost-effective video products on the market. It is more a matter of businesses recognizing the value of new technologies, like the tablet.

2011 Tech Predictions at RetroDex 2010

  
  
  

RetroDexIT professionals, technology marketers, bloggers, journalists, channel partners and techies all across the country will be participating in RetroDex 2010 tomorrow!

RetroDex is hosted by Channel Services Group and is an opportunity for technology followers to come together to hear predictions from leading technology industry thinkers and discuss the present and future of technology with industry peers.  

This event will take place in two locations, Mountain View, CA. and Seattle, WA.  We will be at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  LifeSize will be connecting both events guest speakers and will broadcast live via LifeSize Video Center.

LifeSize will also be on hand at the event demonstrating their new HD Video Teleconferencing systems. Come learn more about LifeSize Telepresence, Video Center and more!

Xtelesis account executive, Alex Seber will be at the event tomorrow, for questions about products and services discussed at RetroDex, contact Alex, aseber@xtelesis.com.

Click here for more info about RetroDex or to sign up for a RetroDex event.

Looking for telehealth solutions? We can help!

  
  
  

telemedicineThe use of videoconferencing in the healthcare industry is a great example of how video and unified communications are helping businesses across all industries run more efficiently. Current examples and applications of telehealth will continue to grow as the technology improves and organizations realize how the benefits apply to their business.

Consider telehealth to broaden your scope of reach. Connect with hard-to-reach patients via videoconferencing and when there is a shortage of professionals in one area, as well as for additional consultations.

Telehealth offers a reduction in expenses related to patient transportation and travel expense for medical professionals. It can also be used to broadcast educational seminars and trainings to multiple professionals, without the burden of travel and reduction in staff.

When considering the move toward telehealth, keep three key pieces of technology to keep in mind:

  1. Video can be used to expand a medical professional’s reach into rural areas and allow for patients to get a second opinion without traveling to see a physician in another location. With videoconferencing, medical professionals can hold administrative meetings and consult with other specialists on cases.
  2. With a solid VoIP phone system, like we offer at Xtelesis, there is no single point of failure so medical professionals can be certain emergency calls will go through.  With ShoreTel applications like Find Me and Mobile Communicator, keeping in touch with staff, whether onsite, on location or on the move, is easy.
  3. Work with Xteleis on a Wi-Fi solution that will increase coverage and the speed of your network connections for mission critical applications. Securely access and transfer medical files and data, without jeopardizing a patient’s privacy. Consider other applications of Wi-Fi technology, like a computer on wheels, medical tablets-on-pc, and other Wi-Fi medical equipment.

In 2008, Xtelesis helped a California medical organization plan a telemedicine deployment. The plan included a phase-by-phase approach, beginning with implementation at six sites. 

The 'Telemedicine Project' was designed to utilize mobile telemedicine carts that could be transferred in and out of rooms within the institute, allowing doctors and specialists to communicate with patients and other medical professional in other locations. 

The underlying goal of the project was mobility of a videoconferencing system. Rather than having that system attached to a wall in one conference room, doctors and specialists could utilize the technology from anywhere within the organization.

For more information on telehealth, see Tuesday's article.

For more information on LifeSize telehealth solutions, see Thursday's article.

Reducing Cost with LifeSize Telehealth Videoconferencing

  
  
  

As seen on BestinUC.com

“Healthcare is the most demanding application for videoconferencing.” -LifeSize-

describe the imageWith 25% of the American population living in rural areas and only 10% of physicians practicing in these areas, one would be hard-pressed to find an industry where videoconferencing can have a greater impact.

Patients need access to doctors who are trained to meet their specific needs. A face-to-face appointment with a physician best trained to treat a specific illness or injury isn’t always possible.

Telehealth makes this possible. Video teleconferencing technology is helping to expand the reach of medical practitioners such as dermatologists, neurologists, radiologists, critical care physicians and mental health professionals.

Even for patients already in transit to a hospital, telehealth can increase speed of care with video links and digital stethoscopes onboard ambulances. Emergency physicians are able to begin assessing the needs of the patient before they ever arrive in the ER.

While there are a number of players in the video industry, LifeSize stands above the rest when it comes to providing video technology that is both high quality and affordable.

LifeSize HD videoconferencing is the next best thing to a real life doctor/patient consultation. With LifeSize, physicians can look inside an ear canal, view a radiology film and see and hear as clearly as if they were in the same room as their patient.

Videoconferencing in the healthcare industry can provide care to patience in hard-to-reach places, rural areas, prisons and even metropolitan areas with a shortage of specialists. It provides timely access to physicians and specialists that could, in turn, save a life.

Telehealth is also an effective cost reducer.  Mohit Kaushal, Digital Healthcare Director for the Federal Communications Commission, quotes one study that claims telehealth and remote patient monitoring could generate net savings of $200 billion over 25 years from patients with just four chronic conditions. Telehealth can eliminate the need for travel and costly transfers and hospital admissions.

Coupled with LifeSize HD videoconferencing price points that are well below the industry average, the financial savings of telehealth are incredible. A Frost and Sullivan whitepaper on videoconferencing in healthcare puts LifeSize products at 1/3 the cost of their competitor’s most closely matched solutions.

It’s not just cost that sets LifeSize apart. Other criteria for expanding telehealth include its features and ease of use. When considering telehealth aims to reach patients in rural areas, it is important to consider the technology available to these areas. Some rural areas have poor broadband infrastructure, which could hinder the quality or even the ability to hold a videoconference between physicians and their patients. LifeSize’s innovative technology provides the same HD video technology at a lower bandwidth requirement.

Other hindering factors for telehealth include interoperability between systems – a factor LifeSize has overcome by allowing seamless interoperability with the Avaya Aura unified communications system.

Physicians have little time to spend learning a new technology or figuring out how to operate a piece of equipment. LifeSize addresses ease of use issues with an intuitive, color-coded remote and simple onscreen menu.

The bottom line: Successful telehealth requires innovation, from both a cost and a technology perspective. LifeSize is continually developing more innovative products and solutions at a fraction of the cost of their competitors.

For more on the growing use of videoconferencing in healthcare, and solutions provided by LifeSize, download this Frost and Sullivan whitepaper or visit Lifesize on the web.

Extending healthcare with video conferencing - TeleMedicine

  
  
  

sharma obesity telehealthAs seen on, BestinUC.com

The power of video technology extends well beyond its ability to connect the on-location worker with colleagues in the boardroom, or to help nail down sales leads with face-to-face meetings without the need to board an airplane, or to allow manufacturers to provide valuable training to sales people and dealers.

Video technology can change lives – literally.

According to the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, only 10% of physicians practice in rural America despite the fact that 25% of the American population lives in these areas.  Individuals who live in rural communities are missing out on the opportunity to receive medical care from the country’s top-notch physicians.

Even more staggering, the same study points out that 87% of the country's shortage of mental health professionals are in non-metropolitan counties – home to more than 30 million people.

Now enter telehealth.

Today’s videoconferencing technology allows patients to have consultations with specialists and physicians without the need to travel.  Not only can the technology help ensure that even patients in rural areas are receiving the best care possible, but the technology can help both patients and healthcare providers control costs.

Currently, there are more than 200 networked telemedicine programs in the country involving more than 3,200 hospitals and medical facilities.

whitepaper by Verizon Business points out the factors that are critical in the success of telehealth initiatives, including ease of use and sustainability.

In order to gain widespread adoption of telehealth technologies, the focus must be on ease of use.  Patients and medical professionals must be able to utilize the technologies, without being a particularly “tech savvy” individual. Medical professionals have little time and little patience to deal with technical glitches that would prohibit them from being able to provide care via telehealth.  Keeping the technology simple and easy to use is key.

While government funding can help a hospital or healthcare professional launch a telehealth program, long-term sustainability is crucial. Healthcare providers must expand the number of services they offer over the telemedicine infrastructure to keep the long-term costs from outweighing savings and revenue potential.

For healthcare providers considering a telehealth initiative, there are a few keys to success, as outlined in the Verizon whitepaper.

  1. Start small and build on success. Careful planning can lead to early success, realistic expansion plans and true ROI. According to the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center best practices, the typical telehealth initiative starts with a single clinical area, and expands over time.
  2. Work with a trusted technology partner. Selecting a technology partner who not only understands the technical issues involved in telehealth, but also has the experience to understand underlying business issues is key.  Any technology service provider can help install a videoconferencing system. Select a provider who can help optimize technology across the healthcare ecosystem and who understands how critical security and reliability are in the healthcare industry. Due to HIPPA, it is crucial that a technology partner can provide a secure network to maintain privacy of patient data.

In part two of this series, we will take a look at technology available and how tech companies like LifeSize have expanded into the telehealth realm via video teleconferencing.

For more information on the topics in this article, download the full whitepaper by Verizon Business.

ShoreTel ranks in Top 500 fastest growing companies

  
  
  

2010DeloitteAward

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 annually ranks the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. It probably comes as no surprise that unified communications and IP telephony solutions provider ShoreTel makes the rankings.

Richard Foster, Vice President of Sales at Xtelesis comments, “As one of Shoretel’s largest partners we are extremely proud of the overall accomplishments of the Shoretel corporation. Their brilliantly simple tagline truly defines their product portfolio and allows their partners the ability to provide very easy to use and easy to manage VoIP solution to our customers.”

Businesses are looking for ways to cut costs, increase productivity and develop ROI on the technologies they deploy. ShoreTel not only makes that possible, but it simplifies the end-product in ways unlike any other IP company.

Companies ranked in the Technology Fast 500 are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2005 to 2009.

“This accolade from Deloitte, together with recent recognition from Synergy Research Group and Nemertes Research, further validates that ShoreTel continues to grow and capture market share by delivering to enterprises brilliantly simple unified communications solutions and unparalleled customer service,” said ShoreTel's CEO, Don Girskis, in a press release. “Our commitment to eliminating complexity and delivering the lowest total cost of ownership is clearly resonating throughout the industry.”

Congratulations, ShoreTel!

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