Cloud Phone Comparison Guide - ShoreTel vs 8x8 vs RingCentral

Innovate, Adapt, or Die...

The communications industry is in the midst of a rapid evolution to cloud based solutions. The traditional players like Avaya and Cisco are losing market share while solutions like 8x8 and RingCentral continue to climb the ranks with their cutting edge products. While this is occurring the more traditional telecom players like ShoreTel are busy adapting to the new world.  

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ShoreTel Workgroups and Huntgroups Explained

Have you ever called into a business and all you hear is ringing, wondering if anyone is going to answer your call? Working with your ShoreTel solution you have a couple of options to choose from so your callers aren't left wondering. 

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Bigleaf Networks is Portland's Very Own Rising Superstar in SD-WAN Technology

Portland's very own Bigleaf Networks is a local company with a very bright future!

Joel Mulkey and Jeff Burchett founded Bigleaf Networks after gaining experience with SD-WAN and Internet Optimization as part of the Freewire team, based out of Portland, Oregon. The two make a dynamic duo with a strong tailwind in an industry ready to explode. I am excited to see what the next 3 years bring. 

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2017 will be the Year of SD-WAN

An unsung hero walks among us. She wears a cape of connectivity and empowers every organization that chooses to embrace her amazing abilities. Yet the tales of her triumph go without praise or even the slightest acknowledgement. Dramatic entrance I know... so before I unveil who this mysterious hero is, let me first set the stage for why her tale must be told.

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The Power of Contact Center Reporting

Contact Center Reporting tools defined. Everything you need to know about the tools you have as a Contact Center Manager.

Not everyone geeks out about reporting like I do. But even if you don’t get excited by schedule adherence, there is still a lot of cool stuff that reporting can tell you about your phone system and contact center staff.  Critical data like identifying top performers and clients, contact surges and when people give up on you.

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ShoreTel Upgrades Demystified

Best Practices and Considerations when Performing a ShoreTel Upgrade.

Imagine buying a computer and knowing that whenever the manufacturer improves the software, you can ask for an upgrade. And imagine that the computer company only makes one kind of computer, so they are focused on making the best damn computer on the market. That’s the situation with ShoreTel on premise UC solutions. The hardware may stay the same, but the brain that runs the whole show? That is constantly getting improved. Running Office 2016? No problem. Using Gmail instead of Outlook? No problem. Using Windows 8.1? Ouch, sorry about that.  

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WTF is UC?

Unified Communications (UC) Defined. Finally. Gen-X vs Millennials + UC.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the divide between the Millennials and Gen X'ers. Millennials are often criticized for their tendency to be dreamers and Gen X'ers are said to be directionless and disaffected but got their jobs done regardless. I have been following this season of Survivor where a cast of unlikable characters attempt to outwit, outlast, and outplay in tribes - Millennials vs. Gen X'ers. The Gen X'ers fault the Millennials for receiving participation trophies and tout their own life-long hard work. The Millennials give each other nicknames, struggle to construct a shelter, and excel in physical challenges. 

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Why is SD-WAN the New Big Thing?

When it comes to managing your business over the Internet, it’s important to have connectivity and solutions in place that allow you to monitor your network and ensure performance and reliability to remote applications. To that end, SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) is fast becoming the go-to option for companies both large and small who want to integrate more cloud services for employees to use.

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The Modern Contact Center

Communications is going through an unpredictable evolution. Ten years ago our businesses primarily communicated via a traditional desk phone and email. Today we use our cell phones and desktops to utilize SMS, LinkedIn, chat clients like Slack, face to face video, Facebook, Twitter, Email and much more to communicate with co-workers, family and clients. This has left many businesses struggling to keep the conversations going in the correct medium. The tools we deployed even 5 years ago are horribly out of date, meaning large swathes of your customer base are not connecting with your team, choosing a more modern competitor. This is clearly seen in companies like Amazon and ZOOM+ as they quickly gain market share, capturing their intended clients by embracing the new communications and technology shift. We must make this shift to meet our clients where they live, or risk losing the relationships we depend on.

 

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5 Keys to Building a Modern Cloud Network

As technology continues to evolve, a relatively new development is the move back to massive centralized infrastructure for application delivery to enterprises large and small. The trend brings with it incredible value but also new complexity that many firms haven't prepared for. The thought goes something like "if we move this to the cloud, all our technical needs are resolved!” Well now, someone is feeling a bit optimistic and definitely naive. Moving to the cloud requires a thoughtful approach for all aspects, from managing ever-increasing recurring costs, to how you plan to move data to and from cloud platforms.  The first place to begin your preparation has to be the network, now and always.  

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Managing Multiple Locations? SD-WAN & VPN FTW!

IT administrators can generally always agree on one thing: dealing with carriers for their multi-site connectivity sucks! This connectivity normally comes in the form of a MPLS Private IP cloud, EPL, EVPL, VPLS, etc….  At this point in time it feels like so many carriers just make up new acronyms to try and make their service sound flashier. The industry consensus is that ordering new circuits takes forever and submitting trouble tickets is pretty much a “hurry up and wait” game. To receive SLA credits is near impossible, requiring you to use their own systems to prove they are incompetent. These are just the normal complaints about interacting with the carriers, when you start talking about how much money you send them every month...wow...just wow.

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The Truth About Cloud Phone Pricing

If you have ever reviewed a phone bill you know it is written in a language that resembles Elvish rather than English. As the world transitions to phone systems offered as a service in the cloud, these bills and the corresponding pricing models will only become more complex and convoluted. As we evaluate any cloud solution, we are considering committing to paying monthly for a term typically one to three years in length. Small misunderstandings or oversights on pricing can have drastic effects on the long term cost of the solution. 

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Building Reliability using Session Initiated Protocol (SIP)

SIP isn’t a four letter word, but for many years it might as well have been for most of us trying to use it. The results of a SIP deployment could be messy: poor voice calls, issues with phone features, and dropped connections only scratch the tip of the iceberg. Despite this our clients have often insisted they wanted to deploy SIP to save money. Along the way we have learned some valuable lessons. There is a right and a wrong way to deploy SIP, and I am sorry to say there are good and bad reasons to deploy it, too.

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Why Your Cloud Phone Deployment Sucked!

More and more companies are deploying UC, and most hated the process of getting there. They enjoy the end result of having a cloud-managed IP phone system; they like the flexibility of adding and removing user features on the fly, but I dare you to ask them what the deployment was like. How did the migration go from an on-premises UC solution to cloud? Was the cutover smooth as butter? Did the vendor communication make you feel butterflies and rainbows deep inside? Were the users singing your praises after the incredible training experience? Hell no!

Warning: Content is not for the easily offended. Enjoy!

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Portland Trail Blazers + Matrix Networks

ShoreTel initiative that unified over 450 users across multiple locations for the Portland Trail Blazers. To read the full Case Study, click here.

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ShoreTel User Guide - Fully Utilizing Your Collaboration Suite

As business owners and IT administrators it is your job to provide tools that maximize productivity within your organization. Modern voice applications, such as the collaboration suite provided by ShoreTel is making the task of empowering your workforce easier than ever before. But is your team using the tools you have invested in? The following is a list of valuable resources to share with your end users as well as best practices for launching a service appliance within a ShoreTel environment.

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ShoreTel Implementation Guide: Successfully Launch Your Collaboration Suite

There are several elements to consider and decisions to make before you launch your new collaboration solution.  The most important being: consider how your organization currently leverages collaboration software and set goals based on what you feel can be improved on. The following article will assist in this thought process and prove to be a valuable resource for new and experienced ShoreTel Administrators.

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Beer & Technology

 

With respect to National Beer Day, 2016, this blog post focusses on the marriage of 2 economic giants of Oregon industry - Beer and Technology, and how Internet Protocol (IP) Communication has influenced the growth of one of the world’s most iconic craft beer economies.

Oregon is home to over 200 craft breweries, operated by 194 brewing companies. This ranks Oregon 4th in the United States. In 2014, Oregon produced over 1,000,000 barrels of craft beer!

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100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon - Matrix Networks

Portland, OR –March 8th, 2016– The listing for 2016’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon, presented by Oregon Business Magazine, has come out and once again places Matrix Networks among those being honored.

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The 3 Categories of SD-WAN by Bigleaf

SD-WAN Defined: SD-WAN stands for Software Defined Wide Area Networking. It’s a combination of Software Defined Networking (SDN), which was created for use in cloud datacenters, and Wide Area Networking (WAN) which is the network outside of your office (e.g. the Internet, or site-to-site networks like MPLS and Metro Ethernet).

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Understanding Total Cost of Ownership in UC

In recent years, capital and operational expenses for IP telephone costs have dropped measurably. This decline is due to an increase in cost-effective options like ShoreTel provides, as well as market competition and shorter learning curves.

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Can Your Bandwidth Handle a Shoretel Phone System?

When making the switch over to VoIP technology, bandwidth must be a key factor you evaluate during the transition. Reason being, the amount of bandwidth determines how many phone lines you can have as well as the call quality you will experience on those lines. In order to evaluate effectively, you have to know the amount of bandwidth you have as well as what you may need to implement a ShoreTel phone system.

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Business Communication Solutions: Promote Diversity with Communication

Promoting and encouraging diversity in the workplace is a key component in running a successful and inclusive organization. Simply adopting the attitude that “people don’t see color” or the thought that “gender bias never happens here” puts a company at risk for an increase in employee turnover, low morale, and distrust within the entire organization. In order to effectively embrace diversity among all employees, you must enhance the communication in the workplace in a way that promotes, recognizes and encourages a diverse environment. But how do you do this in a professional and respectful way?

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Understanding E-Rate

Over the next year, E-Rate will fund an additional $1 billion in new K-12 Wi-Fi deployments.  This guaranteed money is in addition to the $2.4 billion initially budgeted, and the $1 billion added to the pot last year.  IT Directors and Network Managers of K-12 school districts need to have a solid grasp on the E-rate process and plan carefully to take advantage of these funds.  This article is written to address the following questions for K-12 IT professionals:

  1. What is E-Rate?
  2. What recent changes have been made to the E-Rate program?
  3. How do I navigate the E-Rate process and avoid costly mistakes?
  4. What is the E-Rate timeline?
  5. How do I select the right wireless solution?
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Business Communication Solutions: The Future of Email

 

If you were to ask most tech-savvy business professionals 10 years ago if email would still be one of the primary business communication solutions, they would have probably said they had their doubts. However, as the years have gone on, email has established that it has some serious staying power. What we can expect to see going forward is not the demise of email altogether, but rather a shift of exactly how it gets used within business today.

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5 Portland Tech Companies Making a Name for Themselves

With the number of technology companies in Portland and surrounding metropolitan areas, it is no surprise that we've been given the nickname of the "Silicon Forest". Matrix Networks is proud to be a part of the tech world here in Portland. We're continuously amazed and impressed by how many tech companies not only survive in Portland but truly thrive.

This round up of 5 top Portland tech companies is definitely not a complete list of all the companies we admire, but it's a great place to start if you want to know more about the tech industry here. 

 

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Employee Motivation Ideas for the CFO

Did you know that according to the National Business Research Institute, they estimate that an engaged employee will save their company 5% or more off the costs they’re responsible for? That kind of savings can add up quickly when more and more employees become engaged with the financial future of their organization. This statistic is powerful, and should motivate more CFO's to look into creative solutions as to how they can create a more financially engaged workforce at their organization. But how can they do it? Consider these employee motivation ideas: 

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Top 5 Communication Challenges for Small Business Owners

While small business owners definitely face a lot of challenges on a daily basis, one that can have a major impact on whether the business is able to thrive or not is communication. Between vendors, employees and customers, great communication can be a big hurdle. After all, great writing skills and perfect oration are hardly a prerequisite for the dream of owning your own company.

Following are five communication issues that are common among small business owners as well as the communication solutions that can help to ease this daily stressor.

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Tips for Effectively Managing Multiple Office Locations

According to the 2015 ECP Compensation Study, office managers who are responsible for multiple-location practices are earning, on average, 31.5% more than those managing single offices. The reason for this is likely due to the fact that multiple locations come with a great deal of work and responsibilities. Different time zones, environments, and personalities can create unique challenges for each business location. Managers need to find ways to encourage cohesiveness so everyone feels a part of the team no matter what location they work in. 

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The Best Apps for Telecom Directors

In today’s mobile world, it seems telecom directors are rarely at their desks anymore. With access to everything from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone it makes managing systems more mobile and convenient than ever. With this shift to IT and mobility, that means new application downloads are becoming available all the time for both Android and Apple devices.

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