Why Network Readiness Can Save a VoIP Implementation

Performing a network readiness assessment before implementing a Voice over IP (VoIP) system is an important first step to ensuring a positive quality of experience. There are three steps to VoIP success, the first of which is to test for network readiness. Planning for a VoIP implementation relies on the IT manager taking extra steps to make sure the network can handle the increased traffic. Typically, partners, and hosted providers ask questions such as: How many simultaneous calls do you make? How utilized are your trunks? Will you be running voice and video or just one? Are there other network
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When Technology Fails

My daily life is filled with technology. Some days it works and other days I experience technology fails. My iPhone 6 Plus (if I had to do it again I would buy the regular 6) wakes me up in the morning and I use its Bluetooth to connect music in the car while I drive my son to school. At my desk, I am surrounded by three computers, a laser printer, a scanner, and a DVR. I use Skype for Business (Lync) for my phone system, video conferencing, and instant messaging. Typically I am happy with the technology in my
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The 7 Habits Recap

We are speeding toward the fourth quarter and managers at all levels are wondering if the company will reach its 2015 goals. To better understand where you are—and what you need to do in the fourth quarter—ask yourself these questions: What are the year-to-date numbers and what is in the funnel for the last part of 2015? Will you reach your sales goals? What projects did you commit to finishing in 2015 that might slip into 2016? What relationships did you commit to develop that have been put on the back-burner? What strategic initiatives have you committed to starting that
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Telecom Glossary of Terms

These days a telecom glossary is necessary to keep track of the growing number of phrases, acronyms, and idioms of the telecom world. They resemble an alphabet soup—messier than most people can handle. Keeping up with all of the new terms can be difficult, if not impossible, especially without a telecom glossary or reference of some type. One of the resources we use is Newton’s Telecom Dictionary. Harry Newton, former publisher of Teleconnect and six other monthly magazines for the telecommunications industry, has compiled an amazing reference for all things telecom. What? Buy a Telecom Reference Book? As the Amazon.com
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Six Lync Issues to be Aware of in Competitive Situations

At VXMadness 2.0 we had a lively Lync panel discussion with experts in Lync and Skype for Business implementations. They took questions from the audience and offered advice and suggestions. Amy Freeman, owner of Global Communications, LLC, asked a question about Lync issues. She was concerned about competing against other phone system vendors and wanted to know what limitations Lync has that they will encounter. Because Microsoft owns the desktop, they have the advantage for that user. Office applications dominate most organizations, and users are comfortable navigating these programs. Adding IM, presence, and screen share features inside Office applications they
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Rise of the Cloud Broker

Recently I attended Cisco Live, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and presented a keynote presentation at the Telarus Partner Summit. The title of my presentation was “Becoming a Cloud Broker.” I was surprised to learn there was a similar class at all three events. The Telarus Partner Summit hosts a more traditional carrier and bandwidth agent representative who are attending a master agency’s partner show. Cisco Live was filled with technology companies, and Cisco partners. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was filled with their best partners selling servers, windows, licenses, and now Azure and Office 365. While the audiences varied,
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Skype for Business vs Lync vs Skype

Skype for Business vs Lync can make anyone’s head spin.  We have had several customers and partners ask, “What is the difference between Skype for Business, Skype, and Lync?” Skype for Business vs Lync It’s not Skype for Business vs Lync, but rather Lync becomes Skype for Business. We still hear the Lync name, though, because the Office 365 rollout is not yet complete. Once all users are upgraded to the Skype for Business platform, that will fade into history. When Microsoft bought Skype in 2011, it had many in the tech world shaking their heads and asking, “Why?” Paying
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Voice Quality Monitoring 101

Proactively monitoring every VoIP call allows the telecom manager to solve customer call service problems with more efficiency and improve high-end service selling capabilities. Using a proven voice quality monitoring tool, or engaging with a partner who offers one, is the best way to ensure success. Partners who monitor the network provide an added service to their customers. Using a vendor-neutral third-party voice quality monitoring tool provides insight into where issues are occurring. Voice Quality Culprits A quality issue for a given endpoint could be a PC issue, a data network issue, a voice routing issue, a Windows server oriented
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Hey IT folks – It’s time to Dress to Impress

During the summer months I live in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops – when I am at the beach or realizing on the weekend. Heck, living in Southern California that is pretty much the uniform. But sometimes the need to dress to impress trumps the casual So Cal style. Over the past few weeks I have attended Cisco Live in San Diego and the International Avaya User’s Group show in Denver and I was shocked at the attire and overall appearance of attendees. At both shows was the attire was overly casual. The IT world has always been one where
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Unified Communications Devices a Huge Opportunity for VARs and MSPs

Our society is obsessed with being connected. Unified communications devices are changing the way we go about our daily lives. Gone are the days of waiting to hear back in a day or two from colleagues and business partners. Today’s workers expect an instant response. Users are constantly on their phones. A recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while male students report spending nearly eight. The study also found that about 60 percent of study participants think they may be addicted
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Tips for Getting the Most from Your Call Accounting System

Dissatisfied with your call accounting system or procedures? You’re not alone. We hear that a lot from users looking to replace their system. We’ve analyzed a number of these cases, and we’re seeing some interesting trends. Here are some suggestions to make sure you’re getting the most from your call accounting system. Ask for Retraining Call your call accounting system vendor and ask for retraining. Upward promotion in the telecom administration track means people frequently “inherit” call accounting systems from the people they replace. Inheritors often haven’t benefited from vendor training, and end up using the system to perpetuate, rather
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Call Analytics for the Modern Era

Today I did a demo for a potential customer who is using a competitor’s product.  As we discussed their needs, it became easy to see they really knew what they were looking for in a new system; they need call analytics for the modern era. Out with the Old The folks I talked with were tired of antiquated call analytics systems. They were looking for new ways to complete tasks. The key features they wanted were: Directory They loved the idea of being able to put the company directory on the intranet so everyone could access it. Instant Access to
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I Bought a Truck and Learned a Lesson About Business Intelligence Analytics

Sometimes things happen in life that allow my business world and personal world to collide. Recently I was asked by my neighborhood Boy Scout Troop to be the Scoutmaster. I have been a lifelong supporter of the ideals and values that Scouting teaches boys and I am an Eagle Scout. I also have always wanted to get a big truck, and saw this as a perfect convergence of truck-justification and a chance to give something back to the community. The truck-buying journey drilled home a lesson in business intelligence analytics which was unexpected. Luckily my terrific wife also allowed the
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Fighting the Dangers of Sitting All Day

I am fortunate to have built a successful technology business in a home-office environment. It offers plenty of freedoms that not everyone can boast about—not the least of which is that my commute involves grabbing a cup of coffee in my own kitchen. No cars, no highways, no crazy drivers. But I’ve realized lately the dangers of sitting all day might counteract some of those great benefits. In truth, 30 years of sitting at my desk for several hours a day has taken its toll on my health. These days, with the Internet, email and telephone as our primary method
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Communications Monitoring, IT software, and the Question “What Do You Do?”

Communications Monitoring, IT software, and the Question “What Do You Do?” Recently I attended a rock climbing competition for my son, and as you do at these events, I met family members of the kids on his team. In these conversations, it invariably comes to the, “What do you do for a living?” question. Sometimes I answer with the easy out, “I sell IT software.” I might go out on a limb and mention “communications monitoring.” But it’s really more than that. I am the Vice President of Marketing for LVM, Inc. While I am not one for fancy job
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What is VXDash? Business Analytics Software That Works for You

VXDash was created because our operations team was fielding requests from partners who wanted to massage data in unique ways. The resulting business analytics software brings the ability to include any data we are collecting and build an operational view that works for the individual user. In our individual applications we have siloed information, and building custom reports can be time-consuming. By introducing VXDash, we have eliminated the need for our technical resources to build custom reports. We can teach an analyst level position how to use our business analytics software to create the reports they will find most useful
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ShoreTel Bets the Farm on Cloud UC but Will Fail Without This Key Component

As a unified communications wonk, I recently attended the ShoreTel conference excited to glean some intel about trends in UC, and especially cloud UC. As the ShoreTel conference was reconvening for the first time in almost 30 months, I was also expecting some huge announcements or product unveiling. Unfortunately, from that perspective the conference was underwhelming. That said, I was particularly interested in the comments by ShoreTel President and CEO Don Joos, who clearly stated in his keynote that the target market for ShoreTel is the SMB market—specifically 5,000 seat deployments and below. But the other clear message from the
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Technology Upgrade – a Necessity of Life

It all started with the Domino’s 30 minutes or less or it’s free guarantee, dry shampoo, instant coffee, and virtual thank you cards. Today we even have tiny buttons we place around the house and tap when we run out of a certain product and, voila! The product is delivered to our doorsteps. We live in an instant gratification, fast-moving world. Every time Apple releases a new iPhone, we run to our wireless carrier to get an upgrade. A new fad diet is released and we all jump to try and lose 30 pounds overnight. We all want to get
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Is Telecom Your Old Man Justice?

In the 2011 hit movie, Moneyball, the general manager of the Oakland A’s decides he needs to take a different approach to building a competitive major league baseball team. Unlike many of their peers, the Oakland A’s were not able to offer massive salaries to attract and retain top talent. Of course the owners—and the team’s—fans, still wanted a winning product on the field. Without totally spoiling the movie, Billy Bean (yes ladies, played by Brad Pitt) feels the pressure to find a way to put Wins on their scorecard. When the A’s lost their best player, Jason Giambi, to
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Mobility on My Terms

Unified Communications means lots of different things to different people. Some think of it as getting their voice mails as text messages. Others think it’s dual ringing their desk and cell phone. For me this week it was taken to a new level. I was scheduled for a conference call and was told the agenda was to discuss our Partner Marketing Program. I figured this was easy enough. I do a couple of these a week, last typically 20 minutes, and consist of me walking the partner through the marketing guide and answering some questions. At the same time, we
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5 Reasons to attend VXMadness 2.0

At VXMadness 1.0 we listed the five reasons to attend as Learn, Collaborate, Network, Build and Celebrate. This year we have five new reasons to attend:   1.  This is the only conference where you don’t have to walk through an exhibit hall and waste your time with vendors trying to vie for your attention. While you can win prizes at our Wednesday night Casino Event, they won’t be those silly trade show tchotchkes—aka “trinkets and trash”—from the typical trade show. We’re talking Jabra accessories, binoculars, gift cards, and more. 2.  We listened to your suggestions in our post-conference survey
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Switching to VoIP is Not Easy on the Telecom Manager

Are you a conductor, an engineer, or a passenger on the fast-moving train called VoIP? Switching to VoIP is not easy. On a train, the conductor is responsible for operational and safety duties that do not involve actual operation of the train. Whereas an engineer is a person who operates the train. If we move this into the Communications world and you’re the Telecom Manager, you are like the conductor because you are responsible for the quality of the voice calls, but you don’t actually operate the network the calls traverse. This makes switching to VoIP even more challenging. The
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The Right Tools Make Switching to VoIP Easy!

You’re the IT Manager. It’s a big job. Servers, routers, and firewalls, budget cuts and smaller staff.  And then the CEO tells you they have just purchased a new IP phone system and you find yourself switching to VoIP. The sales manager is excited about the unified communications YOU will provide her team. Or maybe the CIO heard about Microsoft Lync and is thinking about using it for IM and presence. Where do you begin? Can your network handle the additional traffic? Is that traffic any different from the email, web and other application traffic that exists now? When it
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The Last Laps of 2015: Part 4 – Declutter!

Welcome to our fourth installment of our Last Laps Until 2015 series, some quick and easy tips to help you declutter. So far this month, we’ve looked at strategic scheduling, how to pay it back and pay it forward, and we discussed the value in expanding your horizons. As we’ve mentioned before, we’ve had great response from our team members to these posts, and are sharing them with all of our staff, encouraging them to participate. I hope you’ve been doing the same with yours. Some of the things we have done during these exercises should have had a positive
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Ca_ Y_u Hear Me N_w? Voice Quality Issues Solved

Finally a referee has emerged to end the UC Voice blame game between IT staffs, VARs, phone system vendors, data centers, and managed cloud / WAN providers. The tribe has spoken. A recent InformationWeek UC study found over 42 percent of businesses that purchased hosted voice are unhappy with either its performance and/or reliability. In 2014, it’s staggering to think we have yet to figure out how to engineer a voice call to match the quality of experience of a basic POTS line. Voice Quality Issues need to stop taking over our lives. VoIP was the cutting edge “killer app”
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The Last Laps Until 2015: Part 2 – At VXSuite, We Pay it Back and Pay it Forward

Last week we shared with you the first in a ‘wrap up the year’ series we’re doing here on the VXSuite blog. We’re also sharing these posts internally, and encouraging all our staff members to ‘play along’ as well, hoping to inspire a super strong end to 2014, and an anticipatory start to 2015. Our last post in this series talked about how important strategic scheduling is when wrapping up such a festive, busy month. Today’s instalment, with roughly three weeks left in 2014, is in the true spirit of the holiday season. It is about gratitude and giving back.
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Microsoft Lync and Skype: What’s in a Name?

Recently Microsoft announced that Microsoft Lync and Skype will become one. Starting in 2015, Lync, their Enterprise phone system and collaboration engine included in Office 365, will be rebranded as Skype for Business. What many people don’t know is that the idea of Microsoft Lync and Skype joining forces has been cooking for a while. Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in May of 2011 started them down this path several years ago—though the development teams for Microsoft Lync and Skype have been combined for several years — what was telling was how the Lync development team integrated into the Skype team
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The Last Laps Until 2015: Part 1 – Strategic Scheduling

There are only a few weeks left until 2015 dawns, and those weeks are going to be busy: Shopping, get-togethers, wrapping up work projects and planning, maybe even travelling as people see family over the holidays. Here at VXSuite, we wanted to help maximize your efforts for a strong finish to 2014, and help you start 2015’s race with a bang! Today’s post is the first in a weekly series that will run until the end of the year. We hope you enjoy them. Strategic Scheduling It is vital that you be strategic about how you spend your time and
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Habit #7 Sharpen the Saw – part 2

Yesterday, we took a look at Stephen Covey’s Habit #7—Sharpening the Saw. We explored how important exercise is for not only your own personal health, but also how it impacts the overall wellbeing of your company, and your staff members. Physical activity gets the blood flowing and the brain activated, but what about when that brain is just dead tired? What if you’ve simply hit the wall. That’s where some mental recharging becomes crucial. Mental recharging is critical to any busy executive or manager. This is another area where just shutting out the office is not nearly good enough. You
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Habit #7 Sharpen the Saw

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller, 1986 According to Stephen Covey, “Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal…” Sharpen The Saw for many stressed out managers means simply taking time away from work to rest and recharge their batteries. But this is not the intent of Stephen Covey’s seventh habit, because each of his habits build upon each other to create a transformational and permanent change in how we function. Step one
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