Few organizations have a greater presence around the globe than the Catholic Church. This week, the Vatican announced it will develop a new kind of presence with its personnel – a telepresence.
The church has deployed VidyoConferencing, a solution by Vidyo, Inc., which will be used for communications between lay employees and clergy in central offices such as the Governatorate and the Roman Curia, as well as offices on all continents.
Until now, Vatican City had been using traditional communications tools that no longer fulfilled the needs of a growing organization with offices worldwide. The Vatican City’s Telecommunications Department wanted to introduce a high-quality, cost-effective video communications and collaboration platform.
The selection of Vidyo’s platform was made by the Telecommunication Department of the Vatican City, which oversees the adoption of technologies within the Holy See. They reviewed a variety of video conferencing solutions.
Since most of those who would be using the system were not technically savvy, the system needed to be easy to use, access and maintain. The Vatican found that Vidyo’s platform offers exceptional quality over any connection and allows users to join conferences from a variety of desktop and mobile endpoints. Vidyo’s solution will allow anyone in the Vatican City to use video communications easily, even those with less technical knowledge, resulting in a reduction of travel costs and a positive impact on the environment.
“We’re seeing a steadily growing number of companies deploying Vidyo’s platform – either switching from their old legacy system or investing in a video conferencing and collaboration system for the first time because of our higher quality, lower costs and superior range of options that span HD room systems, desktops, laptops and mobile devices,” said Eric Le Guiniec, Vidyo’s general manager for EMEA. “We are extremely happy to be selected by the Vatican City and we look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship in the future.”
Vidyo’s other advantages include:
- resilience to latency and packet loss, which makes video communication very real and natural
- the ability to invite anyone to join a Vidyo conference - not just the users registered on the system
- a solution that is software-based, so it can easily be expanded, upgraded, and customized for customers’ individual enterprise and vertical market video conferencing needs
See for yourself why The Vatican choose Vidyo - Call Xtelesis at 888.340.9835 for a free demo right in the comfort of your own desk.
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.
This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
For years, we’ve been hearing about the bleeding-edge technologies that were supposedly the next great thing. They would change our businesses and transform our lives. And soon, we wouldn’t recognize the working world around us.
And now, this long-promised technology-enabled wonderland may actually be within our reach. I couldn’t help but be excited by the possibilities when I attended the UC Strategies Summit in La Jolla, Calif.
This gathering of national vendors, system integrators and consultants in the unified communications (UC) space received fascinating and eye-opening presentations from the biggest names in UC, including Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, NEC America, and Siemens Enterprise Communications. NET, AudioCodes, Acme Packet, Empirix and Interactive Intelligence also made presentations.
The talks covered collaboration, social media, mobility, and the cloud. These thought leaders gave insights that included:
- In UC, mobility is of the utmost importance. The business world expects to move and work freely, regardless of location. Products and services will need to fit this more flexible operations model if they want to succeed.
- HD Videoconferencing is being integrated into everything, from consumer technologies to business applications.
- Similarly, social media is being integrated into all aspects of communications.
- Call center technologies are incorporating video, social media and data mining.
- Tablet technologies will play a major role in UC. The iPad will get more and more competition in the coming years. Some new tablets in development revolve almost entirely around video and chat.
- Work is becoming increasingly virtual. Rather than owning equipment on the premise, an increasing number of companies will have their applications sitting out in the cloud. Because most new applications will be web-based, companies will make smaller and smaller hardware and software investments, which will lower the barriers to trying new technologies.
- On-premise equipment will serve as backup, while off-premise equipment and applications in the cloud will become the standard. That’s the exact opposite of most computing environments today.
- The line between work and home is beginning to evaporate. Employees are being expected to be available at any time. Ultimately, each organization will have to develop its own culture with guidelines about this increased intensity.
- Over the next three years, significant changes in these and other UC areas will be made. Those who don’t adapt will be left in the dark – in a hurry.
With increased reliance on the cloud and remote applications, we expect a more critical focus on network remote performance management (RPM) going forward. For companies that rely on Unified Communications and hosted applications, RPM services will ensure that uptime remains high. Even more importantly, when there is a problem with a device or application sitting outside the premise, RPM solutions can locate the problem and help remediate them.
This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
Decades ago, companies began naming chief executive officers to take on the primary leadership role. In the last several years, a slate of additional “chiefs” has been added to many organizations, including chief marketing officers, chief technology officers, chief information officers and more.
In the near future, a new chief may be adding his chair to the conference table. With the adoption of new work methodologies and the development of endless specialized apps, corporate America may soon need a chief mobility officer.
Of course, smaller companies may not need to take such a step. At organizations with fewer than a hundred employees, the IT department may be able to easily keep a handle on mobility using its traditional organizational structure.
But for larger enterprises, mobility issues can absolutely overwhelm existing IT personnel. What’s more, the current IT department may not fully understand – much less embrace – the trends toward increased mobility in everything from in-house applications to cloud computing.
Employees are streaming in the door every day with their own consumer wireless devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets. They are asking for more powerful mobile apps from their companies to increase productivity. Plus, the workplace is asking employees to travel, work from home, and be available to customers and co-workers around-the-clock. At the same time, customers are demanding faster access to information and jonesing for apps to help them manage their own purchases and accounts.
All of these trends point to the need for a mobility officer, manager or task force. By assigning responsibility for mobility to a person or group in the organization, a formal strategy and methodology can be put in place and managed over time.
But, like IT, the mobility officer cannot “own” mobility. Rather, this person should serve departments throughout the company, helping to facilitate the availability of apps, data and equipment needed by a mobile workforce.
Citing the recent explosion in mobile apps, research form Forrester Research, Inc., recently began leading the charge for a chief mobility officer to be introduced into the corporate hierarchy. In a report dubbed "Mobile App Internet Recasts the Software and Services Landscape," Forrester said the growing and changing app market will take advantage of cloud-based services, smart computing, and newly app- and Internet-enabled devices, like cars, appliances and entertainment systems. Under the Forrester model, the chief mobility officer would manage apps that span the call center, customer service, marketing, e-commerce, and IT.
In 2010, apps on smartphones and tablets generated $1.7 billion worldwide, Forrester said. The company forecasted that this number will grow 82 percent each year through 2015.
Your company is probably being over-billed for phone service.
Unfortunately, most phone carriers send out long, complex and hard-to-understand bills. Companies simply write a check, hoping that the charges were accurate. But chances are, they paid too much.
We hear the stories from our clients all the time. They discover problems on their phone bills, only to discover that bogus charges have gone on for years. If someone discovers a questionable line item and calls the phone company for an explanation, they end up frustrated and sitting on hold.
Let me give you an example. We are moving a legacy customer onto our hosted platform. In the process, we discovered that they have been billed for services they shut off years ago. It has been incredibly difficult and time-consuming for them to sort out the bills. Plus, this small company has paid a couple hundred dollars extra every month – for services never used!
Unfortunately, learning to read and understand a phone bill has become a necessary evil. Assign one person in your company to read through the bill, line by line, and determine which services your company is actually using. That same person should check the bill every month for inconsistencies. The Federal Communications Commission provides a basic primer on how to read and understand a phone bill that may be useful.
Keep an eye out for common instances of overbilling. Here are some examples:
- Phone and data lines that should have been disconnected – but were not. These might include modem lines and data circuits.
- Companies are charged for outbound long distance on inbound-only lines.
- Hackers use the company’s phone system after hours or break into the 800 line to re-route long distance calls.
- Services are double-billed, literally showing up twice on the same invoice.
- Long distance services are not charged at the agreed-upon rate.
Not ready to take on the phone company by yourself? Several consulting firms specialize in phone bill auditing. Many of these agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning they are paid only if they uncover savings on your phone bills. Not surprisingly, phone bill audits for large companies have actually netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds for past over-billing and contract violation.
Whether you choose an outside auditor or in-house personnel to monitor your phone bills, put a strategy in place today. The time spent will more than pay for itself.
Xtelesis would be happy to take a look at your phone bill for FREE. Our Account Executives are very familar with the fees charged on your phone bill. Give us a call, 888.340.9835, and we'll help you audit your phone bill.
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.”
This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
As the VoIP and unified communications (UC) markets made a comeback in 2010, SIP trunking had a break-out year. This is according to a report by Infonetics Research, which found that the VoIP service market reached $49.8 billion in 2010, a 43 percent increase from 2008.
What’s more, Infonetics predicted that the combined business, residential and small-office/home-office market for VoIP services would skyrocket to $74.5 billion in 2015. Infonetics also noted that managed IP PBX business VoIP service revenue is expected to more than double from 2010 to 2015.
One of the report’s most startling findings was revenue growth of 143 percent in SIP trunking, making it the fastest-growing segment of the VoIP services market.
For small and mid-sized businesses, these findings lead to a natural question: What is SIP trunking?
For years, large enterprises have leveraged this technology to save on their telecommunications bills. Now, SIP trunking is available for smaller organizations, which can reap significant savings as well.
Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) allows businesses to install a PBX to use Voice-over-IP (VoIP). It essentially goes around the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network, or the traditional copper-and-switches telecom infrastructure) to make phone calls inexpensive. If both parties on a call are using SIP devices, the call can cost just a fraction of a cent per minute. If only one end of the call is using a SIP device, there will still be some savings, though not as much.
SIP trunks can create major cost-savings for companies, which may no longer need local PSTN gateways, ISDN BRIs (Basic Rate Interfaces) or PRIs (Primary Rate Interfaces). Most new phone systems include built in support for SIP. SIP-enabled phone systems also provide a greater feature set, such as virtual phone numbers, follow-me phone numbers, and more.
As SIP trunks continue to grow, expect a gradual decline in the use of T1 lines for voice and data. The increased affordability and reliability of high-end DSL, fiber and other high-speed services, paired with the huge cost advantages of VoIP, makes T1s and other expensive, dedicated lines less attractive to small and mid-sized companies.
If you would like a quote on SIP Trunking for your business give Xtelesis a call.
This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
Just two years ago, it seemed that RIM’s Blackberry product set was unassailable in the corporate smartphone race.
Yes, the iPhone was all the rage with consumers. But corporate IT and telecom managers had marginalized the Apple product as not ready for primetime (or strict corporate security policies). RIM’s Blackberry Enterprise Server was head of the class in enforcing security and administering access policies for almost every corporate network. Thousands of business apps were deployed and in use every day.
But in the summer of 2009, I spotted a troubling trend for Blackberry. As we deployed an IP telephony solution for a Global 100 corporation, I had the opportunity to meet most of the company’s upper management. I quizzed them on their preference for handheld devices. To a person, all had a company-issued Blackberry in one pocket and a personal iPhone in the other.
They eagerly showed me the variety of business applications they could perform with the iPhone. We were deploying a client for their Blackberry to provide a virtual connection to the corporate IPBX, and the universal question was, “When will we have this for the iPhone?” I asked our vendor partner the same question.
Fast forward two years and look at the landscape now. For 2011, Apple forecasts 80 million iPhone shipments and an astounding 40 million iPads as well. An incredible number of these are destined for corporate America. The security issues have been addressed and a new dynamic has emerged: Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). And the preferred technology is overwhelmingly Apple.
Just this week, I visited with one of our key vendors that transacts business in 27 countries, with a field force of more than 500 employees. They are providing iPhones to everyone and equipping the sales force with iPads. All others are encouraged to use their own iPads as needed. Yes, the Android is gaining steam, but it is actually hampered by the openness of the platform. App developers have to deal with multiple implementations of their software on all different screen sizes, resolutions, and front ends to the underlying Android operating system.
How does corporate telecom management handle this influx of employee-owned technology? The major smartphone manufacturers have tools for administering security, wiping stolen or lost phones, and distributing software. And with the move to cloud-based (centralized) computing, many of the applications are accessed via browser as opposed to phone-based apps. Distribution and standardization as provided by Apple and the Android market ease the workload of the telecom manager in deploying software.
BYOT is here to stay. It is the new normal in distribution and administration of smartphone apps, including unified communications applications.
Videoconferencing isn’t just growing in the marketplace. It’s exploding.
According to a study released by Infonetics Research, annual spending on videoconferencing and telepresence systems grew by 18 percent in 2010, to $2.2 billion worldwide. What’s more, those numbers are expected to increase even more rapidly in the coming years. By 2015, the enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence market will more than double to $5.0 billion in annual sales, the Infonetics study revealed.
“Communicating via video continues to be one of the top trends in telecom, as evidenced by strong growth in the enterprise video market,” said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise video at Infonetics Research.
“Businesses worldwide are looking for richer means of communications with their employees, partners, and customers, and enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence solutions are a natural fit,” Machowinski added. “The biggest winners in the enterprise communications market will be those who offer solutions that are multi-modal, visual (e.g., video-based), and support the collaboration requirements of globally distributed organizations. “
These findings were buttressed by a study released by Forrester Research, which said that 29 percent of enterprises surveyed are investing in new or upgraded room-based video teleconferencing systems. This means that, by 2013, about two-thirds of businesses will have implemented video systems. In addition, 33 percent of responding companies said they plan to implement desktop videoconferencing technology.
“The number of employees who need to communicate and collaborate with highly distributed teams will only increase as telecommuting becomes more prevalent and businesses emphasize collaborative interactions with partners and customers,” said T.J. Keitt, an analyst for Forrester.
The Infonetics report also noted that:
- Due to their versatility, multi-purpose room systems account for the majority of enterprise videoconferencing equipment
- Immersive telepresence systems are expected to have the highest growth rates of all video conferencing equipment
- Thanks to their low cost and availability on PBXs, software-based endpoints out-ship hardware by 10-to-1
Not too many years ago, the term “convergence” applied to voice and data traveling over the same network. In today’s business world, convergence is taking on an entirely new meaning as video becomes a standard – and even preferred – method of communicating. More companies of all sizes desire – and expect – videoconferencing to become an integral part of their unified communications (UC) strategy.
Demand is also increasing thanks to strategies from Google and Microsoft, which have incorporated video and voice into their business-to-consumer product solutions. Consumers wish to use all of the features of free services such as Google Mail and Skype. To get the most out of these applications, they buy video cameras and microphones for their home laptops and mobile phones. Then, when these same technology users go to the office, they expect similar functionality on the job.
Currently, most businesses that integrate video into their daily operations rely on a point-to-point room system, where several people gather around conference tables in two locations for a one-to-one videoconference. But increasingly, businesses are looking for desktop video systems that allow individual users to be conferenced in from their locations around the world.
ShoreTel is one of the few business-to-business UC suppliers that currently offers video integration into its desktop UC solution. Using ShoreTel, users within an enterprise can conduct video meetings from desktop to desktop, whether scheduled or ad hoc.
ShoreTel is currently working to take its video solution even further. The company is partnering with manufacturers of room-based video systems to integrate its desktop video capabilities, allowing enterprises to bring key resources into their point-to-point video meetings. For example, a company might hold a videoconference in two large rooms on opposite coasts. If an outside expert from the heartland was needed on the call, the ShoreTel system would allow this consultant to participate via their own desktop computer.
Eventually, room systems and desktop UC solutions will become compatible. UC users will be able to meet via voice or video with the click of a mouse and incorporate the appropriate expert resources. Documents will be shared across both types of solutions as well. Plus, more users will be able to participate without requiring a large investment on a videoconferencing room at every location. This will make meetings more effective, reduce travel, and facilitate faster and better business decisions.
In a recent blog, we explained how the new ShoreTel Mobility solution could cut your business’ cellular phone charges by up to 80 percent.
The ShoreTel Mobility Router automatically selects the best network, whether Wi-Fi or cellular, for each call made on a user’s smartphone. It allows your company to create policies that determine how calls should be routed, or it can be set to choose the least-costly option. Typically, that results in calls moving to an existing Wi-Fi network, which dramatically reduces the number of cellular minutes purchased from your wireless carrier.
The benefits to this technology don’t stop at cost savings, though. With ShoreTel Mobility, the workforce is more mobile, productive and accessible. After all, work is an activity – not a location. The solution allows users to be reached anywhere, on any device. There are numerous examples of enhanced productivity and a better working life:
- One of our clients worked from home frequently, but he could never get a 3G signal from his mobile carrier inside of his house. Now, thanks to the ShoreTel Mobility solution, his phone operates off of his home’s Wi-Fi connection, resulting in much better call quality and reliability. This is true for many mobile workers, who aren’t always able to get a strong signal in their home offices.
- Users are never tethered to a specific device. In the office, a user might start a conversation on a ShoreTel phone. With the push of a button, the call instantly pushes to a mobile phone leveraging the office Wi-Fi connection. Then, when the user walks outside while still carrying on the conversation, the call automatically hands off to a cellular network. Throughout the entire process, costs are minimized even as quality is maximized and battery life preserved.
- From anywhere in the world, users can dial their coworkers using the office’s three- or four-digit extensions. So calls to the home office can be made simply, rather than with the long sequence required for international calls.
- Team members and partners can see users’ presence information. This is similar to an online chat program, where users are shown as available for communication, on the phone, away from their desks, etc. This status information makes it easier for team members to get in touch instantly and avoid phone tag.
From serious savings to better productivity, ShoreTel Mobility pays for itself while improving the quality of your team members’ work life.
Watch our ShoreTel Mobility Demo (Skip to 18:00 minutes for the ShoreTel Mobility Solution) If you would like to set up a demo in your office give us a call at 888-340-9835.