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.
Dial Tone Carriers and Internet Service Providers (e.g. Comcast, CenturyLink, Frontier, Integra, etc.) are necessary evils in the world of IT Directors, CIO’s and Telecom Managers. Every business relies on connectivity, but at the same time they hate the people who provide their connectivity. On their list of “Vendors We Wish We Could Fire,” carriers are at the top. Too bad they can’t.
ShoreTel Support is the service provided to ShoreTel clients to support, upgrade, and maintain their existing on-premise ShoreTel solution. Whether you are in a blended environment or entirely on-premise, ShoreTel requires this support to ensure your system is current and well maintained. The support model is a well developed concept but can be complex to outsiders and clients. In this article we aim to give you a better understanding of what ShoreTel Support really is.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years you have watched the evolution of SMS text messaging from the days of pagers to iMessage and GIFs. The SMS world has brought smiley faces, acronyms, and text speak into our world at a rapid pace. Simple, straightforward, fun, and aimed almost exclusively at personal relationships. As users across the globe have adopted SMS, our businesses have fallen behind, unable to grasp how to implement, control, or even understand the scope of how to position it for business use.