The tides of telecom are shifting again. For nearly a decade, countless suppliers have chased the dream of being a leading solution in cloud-based communications, also known as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Each supplier delivers their own “unique solution” some built from within, some disguised as “unique,” with Cisco-owned BroadSoft as a backend. All touting the ubiquitous benefits of always up-to-date features, ultimate flexibility, and headache-free Op-Ex maintenance. For those born in the cloud (RingCentral, Zoom, 8x8, etc.) the path to achieving this goal has been much more achievable than those that came from the hardware-intensive on-site products of days past.
We humans have a tendency to make decisions based on what we’re most comfortable with. Because I rarely go out to restaurants, whenever I do, I choose only those dishes that I know are good. I don’t want to be dissatisfied on a rare trip to one of my favorite restaurants. I also know the best route home from that restaurant, and I likely won’t take a different path – unless, of course, there is an accident.
My dad got a new set of golf clubs a few years ago, which was big for him. As a traditionalist, he had a hard time moving on from his wooden clubs that he learned to play with in high school, so upgrading to a new set was pivotal.
We’ve all been there. Sitting at our workspace, wondering why all these programs we’re working with can’t work together. According to Kyle Holmes, CEO of Matrix Networks, the average employee in the US uses at least eight different applications in their day-to-day tasks. Small companies average around 40 apps to conduct business while larger companies can range in the hundreds. So many apps create a lot of touchpoints for information gathering, and workplace efficiency is threatened by lagging databases and challenging security risks.
If you were asked a year ago, “What will 2020 be like?” few could imagine the reality. The grim truths of COVID, the protests for racial reckoning, and the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression would have you guessing the apocalypse had come. Indeed, these are difficult times, but Leo Howell, the CISO at the University of Oregon, highlights the opportunities inherent in such tumultuous times for businesses and IT professionals to introduce disruptive technology and increase buy-in from sometimes reticent stakeholders.
As many aspiring baseballers can attest, hitting a curveball is hard. The bigger the curve, the harder it is to hit it. Hitters must see it as soon as possible and adjust their swing to make clean contact.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a huge curveball, affecting many aspects of our lives. From potential unemployment to our health, we have all been forced to adapt to ensure our families are as safe and as happy as possible. At home and in public, we are diligent to stifle contagion by social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding large gatherings.
AI is an unavoidable concept whether watching fallen world science fiction, talking about autonomous vehicles, data analytics, or even our personal assistants like SIRI or Alexa. Consumers are adopting the technology rapidly (most unwittingly) to improve and simplify their lives. Businesses are using it in a variety of ways including spotting trends, identification of weak points in their processes, and getting to market more quickly. The use of AI in customer interactions is one of the largest areas of growth and opportunity for businesses and consumers to get big returns.
The new normal of Work-from-Home has caused a significant shift in the way that organizations are communicating, both internally and externally. This has led to a massive spike in collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams, G Suite, Slack, and Basecamp, none more dramatic than the increase in usage of MS Teams. The number of daily active users of MS Teams more than doubled from 32 million users in March 12, 2019 to 75 million as of April 30, 2020 (statista.com). Albeit a gigantic leap, the rise in Teams usage comes as no surprise. Microsoft reports that over 91% of large US companies use MS Teams. 91%!
Every office has a need for mobile workers, and whether that means talent in other regions, road warriors, expectant mothers or a case of the sniffles, the need is the same. It pays for businesses to invest in the technology that allows their workers to continue their jobs regardless of their physical locale with varying mobile devices and Internet connectivity. Although many of us have already rolled out some version of this, the need has become more widespread and crucial with the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation has the risk of placing unprepared businesses in a tough spot, risking the livelihood of employees and the bottom line. It is critical we begin to prepare a business continuity plan in the event our communities are faced with school closures or even broader quarantines. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the technical considerations we must make in order to ensure our people are safe and our businesses remain afloat.
Matrix Networks, a leader in selection, deployment, and support of collaboration and networking technologies, announces that it has been named a Preferred Partner of RingCentral, Inc. (NYSE:RNG), a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, collaboration, and contact center solutions.
The tides of telco shift mightily as one of the last lumbering giants of telecommunications, Avaya, partners with the industry’s reigning superstar, RingCentral. In the agreement, Avaya will resell RingCentral’s services under the name Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral. As part of the deal, RingCentral will take a 6% stake in Avaya, and Avaya will hold a 3% stake in RingCentral.
SD-WAN is certainly a popular tech buzzword nowadays, with a huge marketing effort and R&D dollars behind it. With all the buzz, the excitement can outweigh rational thought process and produce projects that are poorly planned and so end in disappointment. This article will help identify the keys to a successful project and provide a starting place for planning and selection of an SD-WAN solution that is right for your company.
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 assist IT Professionals and Administrators navigate the E-rate process and maximize the opportunity.
Under new ownership - what will ShoreTel Partner Support look like in 2019, in 2020, and beyond? In the wake of Mitel's acquisition of ShoreTel, the support channels have certainly shifted. But have they shifted for the better? This article will uncover why this shift has occurred, where we are headed as a ShoreTel (now Mitel) community, and what to focus on when evaluating who to partner with for ShoreTel Support.
Examining the Meraki Fullstack (Part 5)
The Meraki Systems Manager is a MDM (Mobile Device Management) platform that allows for a central dashboard showing all device information, with the ability to apply policy, deploy, remove, and update software on all devices across your network with a few clicks.
In January 2017 ShoreTel announced End-of-Sale (EoS) and End-of-Life (EoL) for various hardware and software. The highlights from the announcements were the EoL for all “Full Width” appliances, the EoL for the 14.2 software, and the EoS of the “Half Width” appliances. These were to happen on 12/31/18, 6/30/18 and 6/30/18 respectively. In the middle of these dates, Mitel acquired ShoreTel. In May of 2019 Mitel issued a new revised EoS/EoL schedule:
Examining the Meraki Fullstack (Part 4)
Meraki was founded in 2006 by two MIT graduates with funding from Google and Sequoia Capital. The focus in Meraki's formative years was building a wireless solution that combined cloud-based ease of use and administration with analytics and reporting.
Examining the Meraki Fullstack (Part 3)
Meraki was founded in 2006 by two MIT graduates with funding from Google and Sequoia Capital. The focus in Meraki's formative years was building a wireless solution that combined cloud-based ease of use and administration with analytics and reporting. From the start, the Meraki Dashboard set the brand apart. The dashboard gave administrators a centralized portal to view and manage their wireless from anywhere they could access Internet. Incredible right!?!
Examining the Meraki Fullstack (Part 2)
The Meraki MS Switches, powered by Cisco, provide the ultimate administrative experience with a combination of scalability, performance, and transparency. Meraki MS Switches also give administrators the freedom of zero-touch provisioning, as all appliances are managed from a web based interface. In this article we will focus on the Cisco Meraki Switching solution's approach to achieving high performance, security, and location analytics.
In 2017 Mitel purchased ShoreTel in an all-cash deal worth $430 Million. Nearly 9 months later and seemingly just as the dust has settled from the ShoreTel acquisition, Mitel enters into a definitive arrangement to be acquired by affiliates of Searchlight Capital Partners for $2.0 Billion! What does this mean for Mitel customers? What does this mean for ShoreTel customers and the Partner Community as a whole? This article explains.
Examining the Meraki Fullstack (Part 1)
Meraki was founded in 2006 by two MIT graduates with funding from Google and Sequoia Capital. The focus in Meraki's formative years was building a wireless solution that combined cloud-based ease of use and administration with analytics and reporting. In this article we will focus on the Cisco Meraki Wireless solution's approach to achieving high performance, security, and location analytics.
Launching a new phone system for your organization is not a simple project and while there is no way to ensure no problems will arise, there are several ways to improve the likelihood of success. With over 30 years of experience, Matrix Networks has learned a thing or two about business telephone deployments. Here are 5 tips for a successful new phone system launch and 5 mistakes to avoid during the process:
The task of selecting a communication solution for your business can be quite daunting. With over 40 vendors in the industry today, it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed. But no matter where you are on your exploration of implementing a new phone system for your organization, it is important to start with the basics and identify what type of system is right for you. Outlined below is a brief explanation of what the basic types of phone systems are and why someone might consider one over the other.
The unsung heroes of the business world are IT professionals, who working tirelessly to mediate the relationship between mere mortal humans and business technology. After all, how many times can you tell grown adults to try rebooting before you lose your mind?
Meraki, a Cisco product, has grown leaps and bounds in the last 5 years, evolving from a niche wireless provider with an incredible set of management tools to a Cisco-owned full network stack product including network switching, next generation firewall, wireless LAN, mobile device management, security cameras, and phone system. The Meraki stack brings the incredible feature set offered by Cisco, but without the dependence on CLI (command line interface). Instead all management and reporting is offered in a single web-based portal. This combination of smart management with the most powerful network toolset in the world gives Meraki a significant edge that all the other major players are chasing. In this article we will expand on why Meraki is winning the battle for network infrastructure.
So you hate your new phone system, huh? Well, you are not alone. As more and more businesses migrate from legacy technology to more modern, robust solutions, frustrations are bound to come up. Change is never easy.
The biggest technology trends, mergers, and acquisitions from 2017.
Every year our technology ebbs and flows bringing new tools, trends and ideas to the forefront for business and consumers alike. In 2017 many things changed for business technology, making it difficult for most of us to keep up. Between mergers, acquisitions, software defined tech and net neutrality not a single month went by without disruptive changes. So, without further ado, let's dive into to a few highlights of the last year!
So here you are, 2018 is a right around the corner, and you still haven’t done anything about that ancient phone system of yours. You know, the same one you were sure you'd replace before Obama left the Whitehouse… I understand, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right? Wrong! Let’s face it, your duck taped digital dinosaur is causing more trouble than it’s worth. Your IT team is spending entirely too much time troubleshooting; your employees are working with 90s technology and expected to perform at 2018 standards, and you fear the system could crash at any time.
RingCentral is so much more...
As a species, we desire the feeling of connection, to each other, to our teams and to our communities. Evolving technology is playing a larger and larger part in fulfilling this need beginning with letters and telegrams, and now evolving to real-time communications like phone calls, messaging and video chat. As a consumer today, we expect to be able to easily connect to our friends and loved ones at little to no cost. The surprising reality of this revolution in communications is that despite the opportunity for huge productivity gains enterprise solutions haven't kept up. The majority of businesses are just now scratching the surface of this amazing technology.
In January of 2017 ShoreTel made several EoS (End of Sale) and EoL (End of Life) announcements. The announcements were for multiple hardware and software products. The hardware products coming to EoL have been in EoS for more than 6 years. ShoreTel’s track record of asking their clients to upgrade hardware has been incredible. The last EoL product from ShoreTel occurred more than 10 years ago, with ShoreTel’s original “Blue Appliances.” Because most clients have never gone through this with ShoreTel, there is still a lot of confusion about exactly what this means and how to address it properly. The easiest way to begin dissecting this is to refer to this chart provided by ShoreTel:
On the heels of our recently published article: 8 Reasons Retail is Migrating to Cloud Phones, Matrix Networks is taking a step back to discuss the value of building a modern network for retail. This article focuses on a network that is optimized for cloud voice migration and adoption. In this article you will learn the value of building a reliabile wide area network that improves bandwidth, enhances the user experience, while saving money and increasing sales! Enjoy.
Companies of all sizes are enjoying the benefits of Unified Communications platforms delivered from the cloud. The tools are fantastic for improving collaboration, integrating databases, providing Instant Messaging and much more. Unfortunately, these tools have limited application in a multi-site retail environment where call groups, parked keys, low cost solutions and simplicity still rule the day. This gap in vision has left many of our clients stuck on unreliable aging systems, with limited support and none of the UC features that could be useful, like SMS and large conference calls. In this article, we explore how Retail can take advantage of the new technology without breaking the bank.
Selecting a new cloud based phone system is complex, with many options, including regional providers, international pure cloud offerings and traditional phone system providers modified offerings. These products have broad overlap, making it difficult to determine the unique value of the different platforms. Our job at Matrix Networks is to help our clients understand their communication needs and match them with the appropriate provider. In this article we focus on 8x8, an industry leader consistently ranked at the top of Gartner's magic quadrant.
Amazon officially launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006, marking a significant pivot in the traditional way that organizations set up their infrastructure. For AWS the plan was simple: tackle the market’s growing desire for self-service computing and take a healthy bite out of the 100 billion dollar industry associated with on-premise servers and other associated hardware purchases.
If you read our previous article <Hunt Groups vs WorkGroups>, you may have decided that a hunt group is the best choice for your company's call flow. To refresh your memory, Hunt Groups are primarily used for a group of receptionists or a specifically functioning team, for example, your HR team, where a group of people could conceivably handle any sort of call that comes in and the group has the specific need to handle multiple calls at once.
Early this morning Mitel announced an agreement to purchase ShoreTel in an all-cash deal worth about $430 million. The plan is to acquire all of ShoreTel's outstanding shares at a price of $7.50 per share, followed by a merger of the two companies. This merger will not require approval of ShoreTel's stockholders but will require a regulatory review before it can close. This is big news in the telecom industry, especially since the amount is $110 million less than what Mitel offered ShoreTel shareholders about three years ago. If approved, the merger will make "MoreTel" the 2nd largest player in the UCaaS market (Mitel + ShoreTel = MoreTel).
Team messaging applications, starting with Slack, have made a huge impact on the direction of Unified Communications. Since Slack launched in August of 2013 most businesses have adopted or experimented with the use of the product or a similar product. The surprising thing about this trend is that it is almost entirely driven and inspired by users, not managers or IT wizards. This is good news for managers who are looking for a way to improve teamwork: people actually want to do this!
If you have explored replacing your communications solution in the last 2 years you have likely faced the question, Hosted vs Premise delivery? If you believe the industry hype, the only real option is moving your phone system to a cloud solution. There can be substantial value in moving to a cloud phone system, but to assume it is the right solution for every business is foolish. In this article we discuss why some organizations might choose one over the other, and using ShoreTel as an example, we will showcase one solution that has adapted well to the new market shift.
Over the past 6 years Unified Communications, or UC, is a buzzword that has swept over the business landscape like a rising tide through a reef pool, making its way into every nook and cranny and finding its place cross-departmentally in almost every industry. The trend is undeniable, and the value is real, but what good is UC if you don't know how to use it?
Connectivity as a Service Explained ~ MCaaS vs. SD-WAN
SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide Area Network, uses new SDN technology to connect organizations’ networks – everything from retail locations to data centers, and beyond. Its ability to provide active-active failover is a huge draw to many organizations, as it provides arguably the first true zero-downtime WAN solution. There is no doubt that SD-WAN will become a more prevalent solution in the years to come, but the question now: what is the best way to go about implementing it for your organization?
Most of us have heard of SD-WAN and understand that it can have a huge impact on our networks and the way our businesses operate. What is SD-WAN? SD-WAN is best defined as traffic monitoring and management from physical devices to the application itself, capitalizing on flexibility and agility. This intelligent routing is abstracted into a virtual overlay, enabling a secured pooling of both private and public connections allowing for automation, centralized network control and real-time management across multiple links. In other words, it is able to take multiple sources of internet, optimize them, control the network flow and provide seamless failover. Sounds pretty great, right?
*as long as you have Office 365...
Alright Already! Skype for Business gives me all the tools I need to be productive at work while allowing me the flexibility to remain connected on the road; it truly is a great communication solution. There, I said it. I’m finally ready to admit it…
A lot of thought needs to go into your call flow configuration to ensure a smooth process for your clients as well as making sure the calls get to the right person within your organization. With this article I will focus mainly on the best practices for setting up your Workgroups.
There are right ways and wrong ways to use Unified Communications (UC). The vast majority of companies and employees underutilize their UC platform in terms of how it can increase productivity. UC platforms such as ShoreTel, RingCentral and 8x8 are designed to optimize business processes. Do you really feel more efficient since you installed that application on your computer or mobile device? To truly get your money’s worth out of your communications platform, and experience all the benefits that were promised pre-sale, you need some pointers on how to use UC to work smarter, work faster, and work together. The ideas below are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to functionality; they are written primarily to spark your creativity in bringing out the best in your UC platform.
Unified Communications has evolved rapidly over the last 15 years, redefined again and again. Initially if voicemail was received in your email inbox and the system included a basic communicator client it was considered UC, but as technology evolved so did this definition. This slow creep of features developed into a requirement for web/video collaboration, Instant Message, Fax, SMS, Calendar integration and much more. The result is a confusing mess of different clients and tools inhibiting adoption and creating a blackhole of communication. Intuitive integrations to your core tools are critical to gaining adoption and seeing value from a UC product set.
On March 21st of 2017 the Toshiba dealer channel received letters announcing the wind down of the Telecommunications System Division (TSD.) In plain English, Toshiba Telecom (Toshiba IP Phone Systems) is shutting down their operations, leaving their customers and value added resellers in a tough spot. This is an important lesson to learn as the industry continues to evolve to cloud-based platforms. The common belief across industry insiders is this is just the first domino to fall in the legacy phone system market as the new platforms and offerings continue to disrupt.
Cloud Phone systems, also known as Hosted Phone Systems, are the choice solution of enterprises large and small with 70% having made the move or planning to make the move per Information Week. The reasons for this vary dramatically based on the specific business and sector they belong to. Cost savings and productivity top the list.
5 Common Misconceptions about Wi-Fi
Wireless internet has become a critical component for businesses of all types. Although the technology has improved dramatically over the last decade, there are many misconceptions about how to get best performance. This article is focused on giving you some simple tips for ensuring your wireless network is on the right path whether you are an Fortune 500 business or a Motel 6.
BrightMetrics is a reporting and analytics tool designed specifically to augment the ShoreTel phone system. At Matrix Networks we believe so much in this solution that we offer it as part of our Advantage+ ShoreTel Partner support, providing all the tools our clients need to gain insight and troubleshoot challenges. Although there are many reasons to use BrightMetrics and ShoreTel together here are three of our top reasons!
As I described in my previous post, it really sucks to work with carriers. A lesser known alternative solution, called “Connectivity as a Service” has started to evolve to replace direct carrier relationships, improve the support experience drastically, and introduce value-added services.