Using SIP Phones with Hosted VOIP

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by Tiffany Torbert — Tiffany is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

voip colorsEveryone knows that you can connect any phone to a hosted VoIP line, right? But what advantages does connecting a SIP phone provide? There are actually a number of them.

It might be natural to think that your work is over once your enterprise has made the decision to go with hosted VoIP. After all, VoIP can run nearly entirely in the cloud, so you won’t have to worry about keeping the resources around to manage the telephony services in-house. This alone can take a load off your mind. And it’ll certainly make life a lot easier for IT. At the same time, though, your employees will still be using their same old desk phones for their telephony needs. And there will be critical decisions to be made in this area — and I don’t mean simply who your hosted VoIP provider will be.

One of the decisions you’ll have to make will be which SIP phone you’ll want to use in order to complement your VoIP service. After all, all SIP phones are not made the same, as some people might have you think. If you do think this, then you might miss out on some critical features that might not be apparent until after your purchase. In order to assure this does not happen to you, here’s three key attributes of SIP phones that you should look for when you’re planning your move to hosted VoIP. They’re based on my extensive research.

  1. Ensure Compatibility with Your VoIP Provider

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s interesting how many times I’ve seen this one overlooked. Surprisingly, though, it’s a complex topic. The main gist of it, though, is that the VoIP service and the SIP phones are going to make up an entire single unit working together. They’ll be a holistic telephony solution, if you will. There are a wide variety of VoIP providers to pick from, and they all have many different features. At the same time, not all of the SIP phones are certified to work with all VoIP providers. So you need to do some homework beforehand in order to be certain that both of them working together will give you the features that you think you must have. If you don’t do this previous legwork, you will risk selling yourself short. At best, you’ll be undermining your own investment in the SIP phones and hosted VoIP; at worst it simply won’t work.

  1. Provide a Quality Experience

SIP phones are about delivering the best parts of VoIP to your workers, more than anything else. When using hosted VoIP, getting a dial tone reliably should be a given. You also shouldn’t need to worry about network management or connectivity. Since VoIP service is pretty much a commodity, the real distinctions are drawn at the endpoints, where the workers interface one-to-one with VoIP directly.

Legacy telephony has actually set the bar for quality pretty high, so VoIP audio quality has to be even better on a consistent basis. Its core feature set also has to be easy to use. If you try and go the inexpensive route — low-end phones that have poor audio quality — your workers will quickly notice, and soon become disenfranchised. To make sure that this does not happen, the SIP phones you choose should be able to use the high-quality G.729 codec. If you want to shoot even higher, for high-def. audio, then look for the G.722 wideband codec.

Simply put, if the SIP phones you invest in do not provide a quality experience, your workers will move on the other modes of communication that do. They’ll use mobile devices, or PC-based VoIP, perhaps — thus completely invalidating your investment in hosted VoIP.

  1. Fulfill the Needs of Your Employees

The workforce of today is frequently mobile and certainly always-on. Legacy telephony fails to address these needs, but it is exactly these sorts of things that VoIP addresses. As far as SIP goes, you should look for Power Over Ethernet, which uses any broadband connection to provide direct network connectivity. With this technology, any location can be utilized by a worker; they’ll get all of the same calling features they’d have at their desk.

Although SIP phones do not offer any mobile functions outside of the office, you can use DECT-based cordless SIP phones to serve the needs of those employees that need to be away from their desks but can remain on site. DECT phones offer a long range and a signal that doesn’t interfere with Wi-Fi. Another use case might be that of desk-based workers whose primary task is working with the phone, such as call center agents. These people would love to have headsets that have good audio quality, are comfortable, and are easy to use.

But not all SIP phone dealers will stock headsets. And not each third-party headset is going to be completely interoperable with every SIP phone. Specifically, you need to also evaluate the merits of cordless versus wired headset models. Cordless models offer a greater range of movement, yet be aware that there are two different types — DECT and Bluetooth. The former has a significantly greater signal range.

4 Vital Things to Consider When Pursuing a Cloud Computing Career

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by a guest contributor.

There is a ton of growing demand for IT professionals who possess the skills to thrive in the field of cloud computing. Today’s professional is required to be fluent with emerging technologies.

It will be necessary for this new army of tech professionals to understand new technology and how everything interacts. The focus, while remaining relatively the same, is centered on the end user accessing information through a dynamic system of interconnectivity. There are four vital things to consider if you are interested in pursuing a cloud computing career.

#1. Cloud Certifications Since continuing education is the key to success in this emerging field, Cloud providers now offer cloud education to help get professionals up to speed. Examples include, but are not limited to, MCSE: Private Cloud, VMware Certified Professional Cloud, and Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect. However, a practitioner should not limit his or herself to these certifications. An EMC or NetApp certification can be just as useful in getting professionals through the front door of companies looking to hire. No matter what you hear about the industry, certifications matter. Real-world experiences and knowledge can be just as important.

#2. Cloud Computing Jobs in High Demand:

  • Cloud Architect – These professionals help lead the race in developing and implementing systems that are reliable, secure, and that fall within budgetary constraints.
  • Cloud Software Engineer – They design and develop software that can integrate with systems provided by cloud service providers.
  • Cloud Sales Representative – Someone has to help develop and grow the industry. These individuals often interact with C-level clients while prospecting and developing new business.
  • Cloud Services Developer – Developers are required to design and building customer-facing-tools and portals that facilitate how end users interact with cloud services.

#3. Cloud Computing Skills As an industry professional, there are a number of skills you’ll need to possess or develop, which include project management, impact assessment, risk and consequence, and experience across numerous devices.

#4. Being Able to Determine the Bottom Line Like everything in life, at the end of the day it is about being able to define the bottom line. Is the solution cost-effective? Will it get the job done?

Having all the right personal career assets in place is one thing. Partnering with the right staffing professionals is quite another. Staffing solutions offered at Randstad Business Support are the types that can help individuals take their possibilities of success to the next level.

5 Mistakes Most Businesses Make with the Cloud

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by William Hayles – Will is a technical writer and blogger for Outscale, a leading cloud hosting provider in the USA and France.

Cloud Mistakes

The cloud’s awesome, but only if it’s properly implemented. Ask yourself: have you used it effectively, or have you committed one of these common mistakes? Is your organization using the cloud effectively?

As the services and platforms that comprise cloud computing become more widespread, more and more businesses are looking at it as a viable option. And really, why shouldn’t they be? In the right hands, it’s an incredibly powerful technology, allowing for better collaboration, faster development/deployment, and reduced costs all across the board.

Of course, like any technology, the cloud’s only effective if you use it properly. Improperly implemented, a cloud computing solution could actually end up increasing your overall spending, to say nothing of the potential for a data breach associated with an unsecured cloud network.

Today, we’re going to go over a few of the most common mistakes made by first-time cloud adopters – and more importantly, how your organization can avoid making them.

Failure To Understand The Cloud (And Your Needs)

By and large, the most frequent – and most significant – error on the part of cloud adopters is a simple lack of understanding. Perhaps thanks to the culture of buzzwords that’s grown up around the tech industry, many businesses see the cloud in only the vaguest sense. This leads them to adopt a cloud model that’s ill-suited for their needs, since they see the cloud as a single service.

The truth is, “cloud computing” is a lot more complex than one might expect. It’s a catch-all term, one that covers a wide spectrum of different services. It’s thus important that you know the different types of cloud models available to you, as well as which one best suits your organization’s needs – including capacity.

Thinking Exclusively In The Short-Term

Far too many professionals think only in the short-term – what action can make them the greatest profit in the shortest possible time? Approaching the cloud with such a stance is asking for failure. You can’t simply focus on what the cloud can do for you in the immediate future; to properly implement a cloud service model into an organization requires careful planning and a long-term roadmap

Not Implementing Proper Security

One of the most common arguments against the cloud is that it’s inherently less secure than more traditional computing models. In unskilled hands, this argument’s actually true. Before settling on a cloud service provider, make sure you understand what areas of security they’re responsible for – and which fall under your purview.

“Security is an afterthought in a lot of scenarios for companies because traditional applications have been hosted behind a firewall,” explained Riverbed Technology’s Technical Director Steve Riley at a recent ITEXPO West Panel.  “But it no longer can be an afterthought; it has to be part of the deployment and design.”

Taking On Way Too Much At Once

Cloud computing is incredible, as is its potential to improve your organization. Seeing how much money it can save – and how efficient it can make your business – means it can be tempting to try to replace your business’s infrastructure overnight. Don’t do it.

Especially if your business maintains a large network of legacy infrastructure, the cloud is something that needs to be adopted gradually. Start slow. Test out small-scale changes first before you implement anything too huge.

Making Foolish Assumptions

There are two assumptions you should never make about the cloud:

  1. That it will instantly solve all your problems
  2. That your entire organization will be on-board with the idea the second you pitch it.

Before you try to add a cloud to your business, you need to make sure you’ve actually got a clear idea in mind of what problems you want to address with it. It’s also vital that you discuss the matter with your IT department – not everyone is going to like the idea of a large-scale switch.

“Many existing enterprise organizations, both within their current IT team and across other departments, may not perceive the value of a move to the cloud,” writes Ken Christensen of Datalink.  “Be prepared for the culture to push back against the notion of the cloud. In some cases, you may even face active opposition.”

In order to effectively pitch the idea, Christensen advises that you be both specific and measurable. You need to give some clear, concrete demonstration of the value cloud computing holds to your business. Otherwise, you may as well scrap the idea altogether.

Get Your Head In The Cloud

Like any tool, the cloud’s only functional if you know how to use it. It’s not something you can implement halfway, nor can you utilize it without fully understanding what it does. If you try to use the cloud knowing your organization’s requirements and culture – as well as the underlying technology – then you’re simply asking for trouble.

So, I ask again – is your organization using the cloud effectively? Hopefully now you know the answer.

What is the New IP?

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by Michelle Patterson – Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Have you heard a new term taking ahold of the telecom industry — “the new IP?”  If you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered what that was.  Intellectual property?  Information processing?  Industrial property?

Turns out it’s none of these.  It’s the same old familiar Internet Protocol.  But it’s simply viewed in a different way.  It’s viewed in a new, more user-centric way, as opposed to the older more IT-focused model.

When the web was first coming out, and people were first starting to use mobile devices, then it made sense for the old IT-focused model to be continued to be used.  After all, it had worked since the days when computer filled entire rooms; why should things change now?

Yet now with most of the world on mobile devices — some estimates say nearly 7 billion cellular contracts signed by the beginning of 2015, and that’s not even counting devices tethered to landlines — now the time has come to focus on the user’s part of the equation rather than the corporate part.  Providers and networks alike are being forced to tackle this progress straight-on, welcoming the change with the flowering of virtualized networks with a strong focus on both service and software.

Neglecting to include these new expansions in their overall model for business can mean a grievous death for providers and networks.  Their more progressive competitors will surely leave them in the dust.  Therefore, making sure both yourself and your staff are educated so as to make informed and intelligent decisions is crucial.  The future of your operations hangs in the balance, along with your software, services and networks.

How to understand “The New IP”

The way to understand the new IP is to take a deep and detailed look at the changes that are underway already.  In the old IT-centric IP structure, the majority of the focus was on the network and infrastructure.  The architecture was rigid and decisions were centralized around IT.

In the new IP, focus has changed to the user.  This has pushed other things such as BYOD, COPE, cloud applications, applications functions, content, mobility, data centers and virtualized networks into center stage.  The new IP seeks to scale to resources and clients on-demand by aiming its power at the user, using a cloud-like design.  Contrast this with the older way of doing things, with a rigid, IT-based architecture.

We see that it is now software that forms the backbone of what we call the new IP, changing the old mentality that “hardware is the center of the computing universe.”

So what does this mean for the wholesale telecom industry?

Early adopters will rush in to take advantage of the new IP.  In the face of this, there is an overall secret to staying ahead.  Overall, you should virtualize many of your network processes, especially those that focus on open-source, open-interface services, network function virtualization, modernized operations and simplified software defined networks.

There is potential in the new IP to save a great deal for a communication providers’ profit, especially regarding operating expenses and capital expenses.  This is while at the same time creating additional proceeds through content-driven services.  You might as how this is possible; I was skeptical as well.  But when I studied some more, I realized the answer lay with the virtualization of the network landscape.  Since with virtualization, you can limit unnecessary hardware purchases, this helps to create an environment where savings are promoted through effectively using infrastructure and personnel resources.  The same can be said for using automated on-demand services.

What about the end-users?

The new IP is very good news for end users.  The changes are bringing greater flexibility and control when picking applications and services.  As people advance their fluency with the Internet, the new IP is altering the landscape to fit their needs.  This “better fit” allows a more customized experience that’s shaped by the users themselves — altering, adding and removing services in moments rather than months.  All Internet-related operations are more simplified, resulting in both happier users and happier IT staff; usability and services are both propelled to the forefront as a result.

Infographic: Elevate Your Business with the Cloud

Companies are increasingly challenged with the rapid increase of data in their business and the subsequent need to manage and store it in a secure, reliable way. Storing your data and IT infrastructure onsite leaves it vulnerable to a variety of threats, including floods, earthquakes, fires, and tornados. In fact, 43% of businesses that experience a disaster never reopen. Cloud computing is no longer just an IT priority – it’s a business priority.

Go Cloud TeraGo Infographic

 

Interested in discovering how Cloud Solutions can elevate your business? Click here to learn more, or submit the form below:

Data and Servers get Gold Treatment at Vancouver Vault Data Center

At the beginning of 2014, it was announced that TeraGo Networks had purchased it’s first west coast data centre facility as a part of it’s strategic initiative to provide complementary solutions. However, this wasn’t just any regular facility — it was a vault, literally. The location was originally built for the Bank of Canada in 1966 to store gold bullion. The Bank of Canada occupied large parts of the building until 1997, and the vault is now used to house the critical IT infrastructures of several businesses.

Vancouver Vault

The massive vault door is still intact and fully functional, guarding the secured entrance to the server floor. This cool, dry area is the protected by 22″ thick steel reinforced concrete – providing some serious physical protection. Taking it to the next level; the space was also constructed utilizing a room-in-room design, which is essentially a concrete room inside a concrete room. There’s just enough space for a person to walk the perimeter of the inside room, which gives employees the space they need to monitor the condition of the structure to ensure it’s in pristine condition.

Vancouver Vault Data CenterVancouver Vault TeraGo

With many of the Bank of Canada’s original security features in place, the location provided the perfect space to house servers and IT equipment. After adding in some other protective items, like a state-of-the-art digital video recording system, a full man-trap solution with two factor authentication, and a second generator, the facility was ready to start welcoming customers and their IT infrastructure.

Vancouver Vault Data Center

Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the facility is becoming popular with IT professionals that are looking for something more interesting – and more physically secure – than the run-of-the-mill data centre facilities.

Vancouver Vault

 

Click here to learn more about the Vancouver Vault, or call us at 1.866.837.2565 to arrange a tour of the facility.

Infographic: APIs that Secretly Rule Your Life

Data and user information is the lifeblood of businesses in today’s market, and having the ability to collect and utilize that information is essential. Application program interfaces, or APIs, are used by companies and establishments to collect, organize, and analyze data on a daily basis. But what type of information is being collecting? In one word – everything. This includes political preference, social insurance number, Facebook likes, emails, reviews on Yelp, ecommerce, and much, much more. The data collected is then used by companies to learn about their customers (or target market) and create messaging that is custom tailored for each individual. Check out this infographic, provided by Who Is Hosting This?, to learn just how pervasive APIs are:

The-APIs-That-Secretly-Rule-Your-Life-ver.02-01

 

How do you feel about companies using your online information to promote their product or service? Is this a natural progression as we continue to move to a more virtual lifestyle? Let us know what you think by posting a comment below

The Future of Cloud Computing Infographic

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided by Ivan Serrano, an online entrepreneur who enjoys writing about tech, globalization, and business communications. He often contributes to 1800-number.com’s blog, and he prides himself on his love of sharing information with others. Ivan is passionate about what he does, and aims to stimulate conversation with his work.

The digital revolution is long underway, moving from block-sized computers of the 90’s to sleek, one-pound MacBook Air laptops to a now invisible landscape up in the clouds. Cloud computing, where computers can sync up and store data on large databases “in the cloud” is growing increasingly popular for companies to store and share data in a safe and reliable way.

The digital clouds are now blowing north. Cloud computing is primarily used by American companies, who have been using the cloud not only to store and share data, but also for messaging and conferencing purposes. But two years ago, the cloud had yet to catch wind in Canada. In fact, until recently, Canada had the lowest internet caps in all of the developed world. This is something the Canadian Cloud Council is trying to change; to create an open and democratized proliferation of information online. While the Canadian government remains skeptical of cloud computing for security purposes, Canadian companies are beginning to privately take the reigns using dot-ca domain names hosted outside Canada, and the cloud is becoming the route to take. This infographic explains how cloud computing works, and the dangers that come along with it.

 

CloudUpIntheAir

5 Tips for Establishing a Data Center Disaster Recovery Plan

As businesses continue to utilize Internet technologies, data has become central to operations and productivity. Companies have a variety of data that they must manage and protect, such as employee information, customer details, policies and procedures, and so on. In many cases, companies use data centers to store their information. However, it’s important to establish a data center disaster recovery plan to ensure your business critical items are protected. Not sure where to start creating your data center disaster recovery plan? Here are 5 tips to help you get started.

disaster_recovery-cloud-computing

  1. 24/7 Availability: Disaster recovery plans typically need to accommodate high availability requirements, so make sure your data center provides 24/7 assistance.
  2. Overcome Redundancy Limitations: If your company requires full data redundancy, the hardware costs may be more than what you’ve budgeted for – especially if you have multiple sites that need a redundant connection. Fortunately, there are options to help you overcome any budget limitations, such as virtual machine snapshots or thin provisioning.
  3. Be Sure to Manage your Disaster Recovery Spending: In addition to managing redundancy costs, it’s important to sync your disaster recovery plan with your budget. Relocating vast amounts of data offsite to a data center facility can be quite costly if your company doesn’t have the technology to support it. Some companies have found great success in utilizing their existing WAN set up to transfer the data over their Internet connection.
  4. Learn from Mistakes: Disaster is the name of the game, and sometimes even the best laid plans aren’t enough. Companies that are in the early stages of their disaster recovery planning have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes made by others.
  5. Create a Plan with IT Members: Having the right hardware and software in place isn’t the only aspect of a disaster recovery plan – you need to have an actual plan. It’s important for your IT staff to sit down and create a plan that works best for the needs and requirements of the company.

Haven’t found a data center to store your company’s information? Find the right facility for your business by clicking here.

Hybrid Clouds offer Traditional IT Departments Reassurance

Guest Author: This week’s blog was provided to us by Victor Brown – a technical writer and inbound marketer for Cirrus Hosting – a leading Canadian hosting company. Follow Victor and Cirrus on Twitter @CirrusTechLtd, like them on Facebook, and check out their blog on hosting http://www.cirrushosting.com/web-hosting-blog/

hybrid-cloud

While much of the focus is on the public cloud, hybrid clouds combine the best parts of the public cloud and in-house or collocated infrastructure deployments.

When we think about the cloud, it’s mostly the public cloud that grabs our attention. That’s understandable: the public cloud has instigated a revolution in the way companies of all sizes think about IT infrastructure deployment. But there are plenty of cloud naysayers, who tend to fall into three broad categories: traditional IT folks accustomed to complete control over the infrastructure layer; pro-cloud analysts with a genuine interest in exposing the potential weaknesses of the public cloud in order to encourage iteration and improvement; and those within companies who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Not much will change the minds of the latter group other than a gradual turnover of entrenched influencers, but many in the other two group, who have legitimate — although frequently misguided — concerns about the public cloud can find comfort in the private cloud, especially when coupled with public cloud platforms in a hybrid or multi-cloud environment.

It would be irresponsible for IT decision-makers to ignore the potential business and technical benefits of public cloud platforms. Never before have companies had access to such flexible, scalable, and inexpensive compute and storage power. As I said, it changes the way that businesses think about IT deployments, and, in an age where IT is so central to business success, it changes the way that they are able to do business. That said, no tool offers a universal solution — including the public cloud.

The solution is not to think “Public cloud or traditional in-house infrastructure,” but rather, “public cloud plus private cloud”. Private cloud environments are those that have the same flexible virtual hardware layer as public cloud platforms but in which the underlying physical hardware is dedicated to the use of one organization, rather than being shared between many different organizations in ways that are not transparent to clients.

Private clouds offer answers to many of the security and privacy concerns of IT people, as well as allowing them the measure of ownership over deployment, availability, and technical management they feel they need to be properly accountable for the infrastructure’s performance.

At the same time, private clouds have some of the negative qualities of traditional in-house deployments: CAPEX is high compared to public cloud platforms, and while the virtualized layer is just as flexible as the public cloud, dedicated hardware doesn’t offer the same flexibility of pricing or ease of scaling, both up and down.

Hybrid clouds offer a “best of both worlds” scenario, in which the benefits of the private cloud I’ve mentioned can be augmented by the benefits of public clouds. Workloads can be apportioned between the two modalities as suits the specific needs of a business. Cloud technology should not be dismissed out of hand because of perceived risks of public cloud use, rather hybrid clouds that offer the combined advantage of both public and private should be at the forefront of IT strategy.

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