As we’ve seen over the nearly two years now, the office has evolved, and not just in a physical way. The way we communicate, using more video and instant messaging, has also been a change. Back only 25 years ago, there was only one way to get to most real-time / voice business communication systems from outside the building. Call into it from the PSTN. The change I described above has been enabled because of a wide variety of rich and powerful networks.
The incredible capability of modern networks enables us to imagine four states of an Evolved Office. These states don’t necessarily have to happen in chronological order and can also overlap. These states are simply there to help illustrate how enterprise communication needs will vary by company and will change, how they will continue to change, and how the Business Communications System will be playing a central role in these evolutions going forward.
Most offices today are in at least the first state of the Evolved Office, the Borderless Network. The business voice communications system can now be accessed from various networks, no matter where you are. Whether the user is on a Wi-Fi, LTE, or 5G mobile network or from an enterprise ethernet network, access to your business voice communications is possible. The networks are so advanced that access to all your business systems, not just voice systems, is possible. This enables work to occur from anywhere, at any time.
While more ubiquitous Wi-Fi is coming in the form of more and more hotspots, essentially extending your office to wherever a Wi-Fi hotspot can be found, 5G is the next frontier for enterprise communications. And not just because someone will be calling you at work or into your contact center from a 5G network.
5G also means faster speeds than any other wireless network, and it means your entire business could ultimately be connected to the outside world via a mobile connection. Think about the concept of mobile SIP trunking, if you will. Your whole business could be connected this way, and you can even have a 5G business network slice or dedicated bandwidth for you.
All of this means that all different varieties of business communication systems, whether unified or not, do not have to be physically on premise. All of these systems can be driven by cloud architectures. In other words, the borderless network also means everything could be in the cloud if one so chooses.
Next week I’ll explore further evolutions of the office.
In recent years, organizations have been thrust into remote and hybrid work scenarios. Companies of virtually every size were forced to adopt new delivery models for how its employees communicate and collaborate over daily tasks, even when not commuting to a physical workplace. Today’s companies are always looking for new ways to make operations more productive and profitable in spite of geographic disparity.
Traditionally, the day-to-day management of remote staff activity has been problematic, with factors such as workplace efficiency and cost-effectiveness limiting just how far the company could go.
The good news? Even the technologically inexperienced can benefit from – and even thrive in – a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) environment.
Let Us Be Your UCaaS Guide
Whether you’re already familiar with UCaaS or just starting to learn about this mission-critical technology, it always helps to have a guide. Start at the beginning with the core purpose of UCaaS, and then see how finding the right platform and provider can make all the difference for your business.
UCaaS delivery models provide comprehensive access to communications and collaboration services on an on-demand basis. Tools such as chats, video conferences, productivity apps, and IP phone options are presented “as a service” through a consolidated, cloud-based platform that is accessible over virtually any device.
At the basic level, deployments streamline access to those and other features without passing along common headaches such as hardware and software installations, maintenance, staged updates, and migrations that tend to plague even the most experienced users. These technical needs are managed by your UCaaS provider.
For just a simple subscription, the UCaaS service provider handles all aspects for the organization, allowing it to focus exclusively on work and productivity. Nightmares such as communication lags, cooperative barriers, and document security become a thing of the past!UCaaS Features
Traditionally, UCaaS deployments include these features:
- Voice Calling: From phones, VoIP softphones, and mobile devices
- Conferencing: Real-time video, audio, and web-based including in-browser video calls from any device without downloading extra software
- Messaging: Via email, with voicemail, chat, and SMS-integrated contact centers and customer call management
- Collaboration: Through shared desktop apps and workspaces integrated into your communications system, plus the option to customize with third-party applications
UCaaS offerings have numerous benefits to organizational operations, including options for:
- Working from Anywhere: Remote and hybrid employees can interact in real time, regardless of geographic barriers or the device they’re using
- Business Continuity: Cloud infrastructure is securely housed off-site – and often with geo-redundancy – to promote business continuity and disaster recovery
- Scalability: App maintenance and updates are organized and pushed automatically via the cloud, while purchased capacity can be expanded by adding to the subscription
- Productivity: Promoted with increases to speed and efficiency in communications and document sharing
- Customer Service: Features contact center elements to monitor call data and improve CRM
- Cost: Eliminates hardware and software requirements, reducing IT spending
- Data-Driven Analytics: Leverages cloud-based insight to monitor employee work and correspondences
UCaaS As A Business Advantage
At a basic level, UCaaS streamlines cloud-native dialogue to bolster efficiency and minimize concern and cost. Elements such as support for voice and VoIP, presence, SMS and MMS, analytics and cross-device alerts promote more effectiveness in both areas.
In today’s corporate landscape, more and more employers are utilizing the remote and hybrid work experience, not just for the staff member, but for the executive as well. Allowing workers to access communications and collaboration software from their location of choice, rather than within a dedicated physical office or cubicle, is becoming a more commonly accepted norm. It may even be argued that this is the new standard for businesses to follow.
For that reason, access to top-notch communications and work-share tools is an absolute necessity. With UCaaS, one gains quick and easy access to applications to bolster productivity, free worker availability, secure critical infrastructure, maintain assets, and decrease overhead cost.
Contact our team today to discuss these and other benefits that UCaaS can offer to you! We will be your UCaaS Guide to choosing the right system for your needs!
What kind of companies might utilize a cloud-based virtual desktop (Desktop-as-a-Service or DaaS for short)? It could be any, but they would generally fall into a couple of categories:
- Companies that want to minimize laptop costs
- Companies that want to control employee data access have – i.e., no downloading of files to personal computers (financial institutions, government agencies, etc.)
- Companies that want to outsource “security of data” as much as possible
- Seasonal or project-based businesses where giving laptops to contractors or seasonal employees isn’t practical
Is this for every company? No. I certainly like my laptop, and I like the applications on it. I do a lot of work when I’m not connected to the Internet.
But this might make sense for your company, especially as you move forward. How do I get this? The delivery and sales model are very similar to other cloud applications such as UCaaS. The DaaS provider sets up the service, and the business “buys” the service through a monthly subscription licensing model for its employees.
Sangoma offers DaaS services today. We have customers big and small using our DaaS solution. Many of our customers come to us initially for our UCaaS solution, and then when in discussions with them, they’ve been open to moving everything to the cloud. Our DaaS solution offers them the ability to do this, with the emphasis we can give on UCaaS.
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El segmento de la hospitalidad es una industria desafiante que siempre busca mejorar la experiencia de sus huéspedes, maximizar la eficiencia del personal y optimizar las comunicaciones internas. Con un Sistema de Gestión de Propiedades como centro de las operaciones comerciales hoteleras, la integración de diferentes tecnologías a la infraestructura existente ya no es un lujo, sino una necesidad que exigen los clientes que viajan.
Sangoma actualmente ofrece varias opciones para satisfacer las necesidades de hotelería, como su propio módulo de gestión de propiedades integrado en la GUI del PBX para hoteles pequeños y medianos, o la posibilidad de conectarse a través de middleware a las plataformas de gestión de propiedades más populares en todo el mundo.
Adicionando a nuestra cartera de servicios de hospitalidad, hemos lanzado el Add-on Oracle Connector el cual permite a los hoteles, complejos turísticos, casas de huéspedes, etc. proporcionar un servicio al cliente superior y reducir costos operativos al habilitar la comunicación directa entre un sistema de gestión de propiedades de Oracle, como el Oracle®. Hospitality OPERA (anteriormente Fidelio) y el sistema de UC flexible y de código abierto basado en Asterisk de Sangoma, PBXact.
El Addon Oracle Connector está certificado por Oracle y proporciona sincronización entre bases de datos, lo que permite la automatización de procesos anteriormente manuales, como la activación y desactivación de los teléfonos de la habitación y el correo de voz al momento del check-in y del check-out, señalizar el estado de limpieza de la habitación, establecer llamadas de despertador y proporcionar llamadas de emergencia.
Los dispositivos telefónicos de la habitación de los huéspedes también se actualizan automáticamente con la información del huésped, por lo que al entrar a la habitación, su nombre ya está configurado y también se muestra al personal en turno, para que sepan con solo un vistazo quién está solicitando servicio. En general, reducir los tiempos de respuesta ayuda al personal a ser proactivo con las necesidades de los huéspedes, haciendo que estos se sientan valorados y aumentando su probabilidad de regresar y otorgar buenas críticas, atrayendo a más huéspedes potenciales.
Hoy en día estamos tan acostumbrados a usar nuestros dispositivos móviles personales donde quiera que vayamos para hacer llamadas de larga distancia a través de Internet, que puede parecer sorprendente descubrir que los gastos de comunicación siguen siendo uno de los principales gastos en el negocio de la hostelería. Oracle Connector permite la creación de impuestos y la asignación de tarifas de facturación de forma automática, asegurando una facturación precisa de los cargos de llamadas a la cuenta del huésped correspondiente.
Con las cifras de viajes de negocios y de placer aumentando nuevamente, ahora es el momento adecuado para automatizar procesos implementando sistemas de comunicación flexibles de Sangoma y optimizando los beneficios al máximo, tanto para el huésped como para el personal del hotel. Eche un vistazo al nuevo manual del Add-on Oracle Connector en nuestra wiki y comience a ofrecer soluciones sólidas para la industria hotelera.
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The hospitality segment is a challenging industry that is ever looking for ways to enhance their guest experience, maximize staff efficiency, and improve internal communications. With a Property Management System at the core of hotel business operations, integrating different technologies to existing infrastructure is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity that traveling customers demand.
This article is available in Spanish. ¡Lea este artículo en Español!
Sangoma already offers several options to meet hospitality needs, like its own Property Management Module embedded in the PBX GUI for small to medium hotels, or the possibility of connecting via middleware to the most popular property management platforms worldwide.
Adding to our hospitality services portfolio, we have now released the Oracle Connector Add-on which enables hotels, resorts, guest houses, etc. to provide superior customer service and reduce operational costs by allowing direct communication between an Oracle Property Management System, such as Oracle® Hospitality OPERA (formerly Fidelio), and Sangoma’s flexible and open-source Asterisk based UC system, PBXact.
The Oracle-certified Connector Addon provides synchronization between databases, allowing the automation of formerly manual processes such as activating and deactivating guest room phones and voicemail upon check-in and check-out, signaling room cleanliness status, arranging a wake-up call, and providing emergency calling.
Guest room telephone devices are also automatically updated with guest information so by the time the guest walks into the room, their name is already set up, and it will also be displayed to the service staff, so they know at a glance who is requesting service. Overall, having shortened response times, helps the staff to be proactive to guest needs, making guests feel valued, and increasing their likelihood to come back and give good reviews, attracting further potential guests.
We are all so used to using our personal mobile devices wherever we go to make long-distance calls via the Internet, that it is somewhat surprising to discover that communication expenses are still one of the top expenses in the hospitality business. In any case, the Oracle Connector allows the creation of taxes and assigning of billing rates automatically, ensuring accurate billing of call charges to the corresponding guest account.
With business and pleasure travel numbers picking up again, now is the right time to automate processes with Sangoma’s flexible communication systems, and streamline maximum benefits for both the guest and the hotel staff. Take a look at the new Oracle Connector Add-on manual in our wiki, and start delivering robust hospitality solutions.
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Last week we explored what Desktop-as-a-Service is, and this week we’ll get into some of the benefits. As discussed in last week’s blog, security is a benefit because your business won’t have to worry about it. Data is stored in the DaaS provider data center, and the DaaS provider must manage that. Presumably, they’d be able to do a better job than a smaller business with this. But beyond that, data on your laptop wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t be as deep. When I worked for Intel years ago, I remember that we had quite a bit of training regarding how to manage your laptop on business trips to minimize the risk of it being stolen (excellent training, by the way, which I still utilize today).
From an IT perspective, bringing on a new employee is easier. Decide which employee desktop template is required (i.e., the Product Management one, the Marketing one, the Sales one, etc.) for that employee and tie it to the new employee. Then the new employee logs in from the company device. In other words, someone can log into the virtual desktop anywhere, from any device, and the desktop will look the same.
IT can also manage “pushes” of applications easier – it’s just done centrally. And updates of security patches or updates of any kind to whatever thin client is used can be managed centrally.
And there are potential cost savings since thin clients are less expensive than laptops. Or even supports employees who may want to use their own laptop – they just log in to the DaaS system to get to their “employee” mode. I’ve also read some studies where virtual desktops or DaaS can lower energy used by your company.
Are there any downsides? Like any cloud service, when a centralized server environment is used, there is potential for things to “slow down” since there isn’t enough computing power in the central environment. Graphics intensive applications are examples of this. But there has been much work done by infrastructure providers to resolve these issues, and they are less and less of a problem.
You may have heard of Desktop-as-a-Service, with its projections of 17% CAGR and $10B market size within a few years, and wondered, “what is this” and “is this for me”?
Before we get to DaaS, it is essential to understand VDI or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Virtual desktops are a way to access your company’s applications through your company’s data infrastructure, which might be managed on-prem or via an MSP. Or put another way, think about what applications you might use at your desktop every day at work – Microsoft Office, your CRM of choice, your desktop clients, etc. and these would be in your company’s data infrastructure instead of hosted on your computer. So, you have a virtual desktop because what you see via your endpoint is all virtual and hosted in a typical company data structure environment. Access to these applications occurs only via the endpoint that your company gives you. Your endpoint may be a laptop, or because your endpoint doesn’t need all the processing power it might have before, your endpoint can be more of a thin client.
DaaS is a virtual desktop but totally within the cloud and outside of your IT infrastructure per se. A cloud service provider would deliver these virtual desktops to employees, customized to each employee’s needs, just like UCaaS does. As with UCaaS (compared to on-prem UC), the DaaS provider takes care of maintenance, updates, storage, and back-ups. Your IT department doesn’t need to do that.
And your DaaS provider takes care of security as well. Security is a big issue these days. Weekly we read about security breaches and ransomware attacks. If you go a cloud provider route, typically, they will be on the leading edge of security compared to if you had to do it for your own business. In this way, any cloud provider or DaaS provider can be seen as providing a more secure environment. But additional security is also obtained because the endpoints are managed – i.e., various ways into the network are centralized.
So, in a nutshell, DaaS is a cloud-based virtual desktop. And Sangoma offers it.
The office landscape is constantly in flux. Whether workers are sitting down at a desk in a physical, in-office location or in the cozy confines of a workspace just feet from the bedroom, the need for enhanced forms of collaboration and communication tools are constantly growing.
For today’s team-based software, having access to a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform and other modern communications tools – such as cutting-edge team collaboration software – is an absolute necessity.
Today’s brand of UCaaS solutions provide the vigorous communications system needed to increase productivity and efficiency, share joint work, quickly and accurately help customers, and enhance how the organizations of today operate. As the enterprise struggles to enhance these elements in a world where workers are often separated from across hundreds – or even thousands – of miles, organizations are discovering the many benefits of increasing worker engagement using a UCaaS environment.
At its core, UCaaS and other pay-per-use services promote almost limitless capabilities. With team-based software, the tech helps make the organization more flexible, and offers unique scalability options with virtually no ceiling as to their expansiveness. Plus, the as-a-service packages offer many of the standard options needed for employees to share information, co-draft documents, communicate with one another and boost operational output, regardless of geographic location.
Team Collaboration For Every Business
Today’s modern workforce is in need of a comprehensive team collaboration software set for “hyper” productivity that centralizes their toolkit and drives teamwork and projects.
Team collaboration tools need to support all communication needs, including, to name a few:
- Direct messaging and video conferencing with collaborators both inside and outside of the organization
- Channel, group, and private messaging capabilities
- Sharing work on files and other content
- Customizable options to integrate third-party apps
- Integration with UCaaS for expanded communication and collaboration support
Other features team collaboration solutions should also support include: browser-based access; guest user account support; channel and personal workspace management; support for telephony services such as third-party call control, fax and other elements; contact and file management; desktop and web-based notifications, and basic searches.
Essentially, this packaging guarantees that all workers are accessing the same resources, with fewer concerns related to storage and other logistics. This aspect is one of several positive effects that employing team collaboration software with a UCaaS element provides. Additional benefits are outlined below.Employee Productivity
Team collaboration deployments also tend to streamline the employee experience, making them more productive in their daily tasks. By gaining access to on-demand communications platforms and software from the same interface, employees no longer need to navigate between multiple applications, saving considerable time and reducing app overload. A cloud-based phone system integration offers additional benefits as the central hub for all elements: collaborative software, video conferences, and screen-shares.Maneuverability
UCaaS allows the teleworker and in-office employee alike to work under the same conditions, using the same services and accessing the same resources for collaboration and communication. By granting staff with tiered access to the same technology, there are marked reductions in both miscommunication and missed calls! Tech support is also more easily deployed, as all employees are using the same installation.Reduced Physical Maintenance & Security
For the organization specifically, dependence on a cloud-based infrastructure translates to reduced overhead and maintenance cost related to software purchases, as well as physical equipment! Information and physical assets no longer need to be stored and maintained by the company, with those elements all covered by what translates to an automatically updated service rental.
Similarly, the individual employee is no longer on the hook for necessary tasks such as patch management; all updates are pushed to the software automatically to maintain both optimal and secure systems. Aside from automated security, encryption and other tools, a UCaaS implementation also offers features to promote compliance with federal regulations governing document retention and management.Automated Analytics
UCaaS tools offer numerous administrative features for determining bottlenecks and other issues, providing insight into remediation best practices in a consolidated dashboard that would otherwise not be available for disparate systems.
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Last week, I wrote a blog about the benefits of UCaaS, and I wrote about the following benefits: mobility afforded to employees, the financial aspects to the business of an OPEX model, ability to scale easier, and uptime from a cloud architecture.
I received a few comments regarding the fact that I did not write about the productivity enhancements of UC. Correct, I did not write about it this time. It does not mean I do not believe that – I have written about that in the past on more than one occasion. I just didn’t this particular time.
It’s an excellent, timely comment, though. As more employers require employees to come back to work, at least for part of the workweek, it does not mean that there is necessarily reduced productivity from the remote work environment.
I am just finishing up a trip to one of our offices, and it was great interacting with everyone. While the 1:1’s I did were essentially the same in person versus over a video call, the other interactions of asking someone a question who is down the hall, people popping in to ask me something, running into engineering at lunch, etc. don’t happen when you are remote. And that’s why employers are asking people to come back to work. To get that back because it does make a difference.
Because of the productivity afforded by UC, increased productivity due to chat functions, ease of calling someone on different devices, video calling, and collaboration, perhaps there might be hybrid go-to work/work from home environments in the future.
Or even if you need to go back full time, there will still be measurable productivity from using a UC system at work.
In the past 18 months, many of us have lived one of the prime benefits of UCaaS – the mobility aspect, which is the ability to work anywhere anytime because your business phone number rings to your mobile phone or your desktop via the UC client. Additionally, we all now fully understand the productivity increase from using UC collaboration and video applications.
However, there are other benefits to UCaaS that you as an employee using UCaaS may not see. For instance, the move from CAPEX and an OPEX model is important for many companies because they don’t have to lay out the UC costs all upfront. This “pay as you go” model is attractive for many companies.
And when the system is not having to be managed by the company, there are typically lower costs because the system updates are handled by the provider and not a dedicated company employee – meaning bug fixes and security updates do not have to be managed by the company. Plus, they get done automagically!
Cloud systems should also have higher uptime because of the nature of a cloud architecture. Superior cloud-based UC providers offer built-in redundancies, auto-failover features, and more reliable networks, as well as the ability to access critical communications like email and voicemail in an emergency.
Finally, a major benefit of having cloud UC is the ability to add or remove users when they are needed and grow in near real-time. There is no limit to growth potential in the cloud; plus, it’s the most cost-efficient platform for enterprise communications needs.
Download the ultimate guide to UCaaS and cloud services here.
Collaboration has always allowed teams to be greater than the sum of their parts. With more and more people working from home, instead of just grabbing people and pulling them into a room to discuss problems, options, and strategies, you must hunt people down and herd them like cats to get what you need. Distractions around the home, screaming babies (and spouses sometimes), and difficulty getting into the “working mindset” without the work environment you are used to have caused us to lose that extra value from collaborating.
There are plenty of tools out there to help you get that value back, though. Video Meetings as a Service (VMaaS) applications are a lifesaver. Our offering, Sangoma Meet, allows anyone to set up multi-party video conferences with screen share instantly and enable you to record it to come back to it later.
Microsoft Teams has also become a great tool to help in today’s work environment. MS Teams offers an online, shared document version of Office programs (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.) that allows you to work out of the same document, bringing some of that extra value back into your workplace. On top of the text communication and available applications, MS Teams has also recently opened up “Direct Routing” for voice calls to and from the platform, which has drastically improved the program’s value.
MS Teams, in addition to everything else it does, has simple phone system features inside of it if you have the proper licensing (Phone System license is included in A5/E5 and is a hefty fee for other license types). “Direct Routing” allows you to bring a voice service provider and connect it to Microsoft Teams, allowing you to buy phone numbers and inbound/outbound service inexpensively through the service provider instead of expensively through Microsoft itself.
While Microsoft Teams has the possibility of replacing an existing PBX, it lacks most of the robust features and reporting that traditional UC systems have offered for years. Chances are, if phone calls are a large part of your business that you’ll want to stick with your existing PBX and possibly look into options to integrate that PBX with Microsoft teams to get the best of both worlds.
Microsoft also has “Calling Plans” that offer an industry-standard ‘unlimited’ number of minutes (fine print: 3,000 minutes per calling plan). Based on their pricing, though, you would need to be on the phone a lot to get your money out of them with these calling plans. Most office workers are looking at an average of 200-400 minutes per month of external-calling phone time (around 3 to 6.5 hours), coming in well below the 50 hours/month that Microsoft requires you to paying for. Bringing in your provider instead of purchasing a Microsoft Calling Plan is an opportunity to save people a lot of money by paying for what they are using instead of buying 3,000 minutes for an employee that makes a 30-minute call twice a week. In addition to that, with Mircorosoft’sMicrosoft’s Calling Plans, making any calls outside of your country requires an even more expensive plan, even if you need to make a call once.
At Sangoma, we saw a need for a service plan that makes more sense to all companies using MS Teams. VI Communication Service’s Voice for MS Teams is all about customizability and paying for what you use. We are not trying to sell you ten times as many minutes as you’re going to use while trying to pass it as a “deal.”
In addition to saving money, you also gain a lot of value. VI Carrier Services gives you access to other services not offered by Microsoft’s Calling Plans (like SMS, Fax to Email/Email to Fax, Robocall mitigation, and more), services that are required for any business.
Protection is an essential aspect of our Voice for MS Teams also. In addition to the Robocall Mitigation product, which helps tag inbound “spam” or fraudulent calls for your users, we also offer a fraud protection system for International Termination. You can set up daily spend limits and per minute limits for calls outside of US/Canada. This helps to protect you from bad actors using your service to make those calls and protect you from “Larry” in shipping and receiving spending hours on the phone with somebody in Elbonia, racking up a huge phone bill.
There is also a lot of value in working with a company that focuses on the service that you are buying through them and has been focused on that service for many years. We also value YOU as a customer, a partner – offering a Customer Success department whose purpose is to make sure that we help you with everything you need.
Overall, Sangoma specializes in Communication Services and offers an experience tailored for what you need with a specialized team available to help at any time. VI Communications Services’ Voice for MS Teams is the way to go if MS Teams is integral to your business. Our team is ready to help you with any questions you might have and will give you a demo of our account management portal and help you determine how little you’ll be spending with us!
To learn more, visit us at carrierservices.sangoma.com/voice-for-ms-teams/
Alright, I’m back to traveling pretty regularly, at least within the United States. And with that comes airport delays. Yep, I almost forgot about them. I was in a massive delay a few weeks ago, and I ended up working from the airport. The Wi-Fi wasn’t great there, and I ended up using my hotspot the whole time. And if there weren’t video involved so people could see a different background, no one would even have known.
It wasn’t quite as good as working from home, but everything worked OK, even the video calls that I did. But I started thinking about what would happen if I didn’t have great Internet at home and it went out a lot, and I needed to rely on mobile for my Internet, like a permanent hotspot. That’s 5G Fixed Wireless.
My 5G hotspot when I was doing that work gave me 30Mbps download and 16Mbps upload. As I write this at home, I’m getting 123Mbps download and 120Mbps upload. And that works great.
At $60/month for 5G fixed wireless, it could be problematic if I can only get 10Mbps. I might have to turn off the video. 25Mbps would much better. So, at 25Mbps it could probably work but at 10Mbps, it would only be a good backup if I had spotty landline service. Or if that was the only option to get Internet service.
Anyway, since I hot-spotted fine, I feel like a fixed-wireless option will work (but check the speeds).
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Businesses are turning to Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) in order to adapt to today’s modern, flexible, and remote workforce. It is the most secure method for staff to access their tools and applications from any location to do their work, when compared to traditional PC deployments. DaaS delivers simplified IT that administrators are always looking for and cuts down on the CAPex of deploying PCs, since DaaS allows users to access their cloud-hosted desktops from any device.
While the benefits of DaaS are enticing, some businesses shy away as soon as they realize the price tag, which ranges from $20-$140 a seat depending on the provider. To see the full picture, however, it’s important to understand the return on investment (ROI) of DaaS, which can be more cost effective than existing deployed solutions. See how DaaS allows businesses to scale up on their remote capability demands and future-proof their digital operations without inflating IT budgets.
What Are You Spending On IT Today?
When evaluating a solution to support a distributed workforce, businesses should focus not on specific costs, such as hardware or licensing, but the total cost of ownership (TCO). It’s important to factor in the cost of designing, building, and most importantly maintaining the infrastructure.
Start by establishing a baseline for existing infrastructure costs and the state of end-user devices. This can help in understanding potential implementation and management costs, compared with an existing set up.
Businesses should be asking themselves questions like:
- What are the costs around human capital?
- What are the average lifespans of endpoints?
- Will ongoing needs be met with my current licensing purchases?
With a basic understanding of existing IT costs, businesses can then investigate how DaaS can alleviate or eliminate overhead expenses, with careful consideration to ongoing hardware management and support costs.
To fully appreciate the TCO of DaaS we also need to understand where the demand for it came from.
Don’t Get Left Behind With Old Technology!
Physical desktop computer infrastructures no longer make sense in today’s corporate world. It’s difficult to secure, maintenance heavy, and inflexible in supporting today’s constantly changing IT landscape.
Desktop computing has become a major cost issue for IT departments. Workstations are eventually replaced once they reach their lifespan, or even sooner when new software requires newer hardware. While it is essential for delivering “must-have” applications and services to end-users, IT managers are increasingly concerned about the tremendous amount of time, complexity, and cost inherent in managing and securing physical PCs.
What You Need to Know About Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
With VDI, businesses install virtual machine software onto in-house servers to deploy virtual desktops to all their users. Each user’s PC effectively lives on these servers and is accessed from any workstation, on-demand, even from outside the corporate network. This not only eliminates the need for dedicated workstations, it also makes it easier to patch, configure, and monitor the system as a whole since it has become centralized.
Businesses can also deploy “thin clients”, which are low-powered end-points since all the computing is delivered from the virtual desktop over an internet connection. Thin clients are an attractive alternative to physical PCs as they have a significantly smaller power footprint, a longer life cycle, and are easier to manage as a near stateless device. Depending on the scenario, this can cut the workstation cost in half, per user.
We can already start to see the benefits of a VDI environment over traditional PC infrastructures when comparing their capabilities:
An example of the financial benefits of VDI come from a Forrester study of a school district saving $3.3 Million over a span of 3 years by investing in thin clients for their labs vs traditional PC workstations. The end result was 40% IT efficiency gains and $52,000 in savings on software licensing costs by deploying VDI over traditional desktops.
Cut Down On IT Costs
IT labor is a large portion of the expense for standard desktops, and an area where virtual desktops deliver significant savings as the desktops are now a centralized and controlled resource. Areas of cost savings include:
- Helpdesks where support personnel can resolve issues remotely instead of being tied to the physical device
- Desktop maintenance for support and maintenance of end user devices, since they are either BYOD or thin clients
- General labor involving OS patching, desktop infrastructure maintenance, finance, and application delivery
Should You Invest In Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?
Deploying VDI does come with its challenges, requiring in-house IT to manage desktop infrastructure, servers, storage and hypervisors, as well as the virtual desktop images and applications. This is also true for MSPs who offer, or want to offer, VDI services to clients from within their data centers.
A key factor impeding the adoption of VDI is the upfront data center hardware costs needed to run the infrastructure for VDI, specifically servers and storage. A calculation of virtual CPUs and RAM are required, from a server perspective, and input/output performance and gigabytes for disk space, from a storage perspective, per user. From a footprint perspective, a business would assign 25-50 GB solely to run the Windows OS. Given the performance requirements of a virtual desktop, the internal storage of these servers is not recommended, requiring SAN or NAS storage, which adds to the TCO.
Overall, the datacenter costs are centered around:
- Floor, cooling, and rack space, on a recurring cost schedule
- Server hardware, along with support, and power consumption
- Cost for NAS solution, including power and racking, along with cost per GB per year
- Cost per GB per desktop image, per year
If you are an MSP hosting VDI services, then these costs balloon considering the size of your datacenter infrastructure in order to support your customers.
Aside from hardware specifics, VDI also includes management and software overhead:
- Management overhead: Management servers and storage running Windows Servers and associated data. Typically a pair of them is needed to create a high availability setup in case one fails for any reason.
- Software overhead: Windows licensing for desktops, including licenses for virtual desktop access and other related licensing costs.
The visual representation below shows more clearly how data center costs can pose a significant challenge and may not be suitable for some businesses.Hardware Software
Don’t Throw Your Money Away On Bloated Data Center Hardware Costs
It’s a well known fact that businesses are over provisioning and underutilizing their VDI hardware infrastructure. A report by ControlUp indicates almost half of VDI servers in datacenters were deployed with too much RAM and 80% of general purpose machines over-provisioned. This appears to be the case because IT admins simply avoid right-sizing their hardware as it’s a complicated process and it’s simply easier to accept the architecture design of the vendor and pay the cost.
A VDI solution already saves money for businesses when compared to traditional PC infrastructure, whether it be an SMB, enterprise, or an MSP delivering VDI services to them from their data center, but there is still a lot of room to save even more cost, especially when it comes to RAM. To throw some numbers around, in the ControlUp study, about 26 GB of RAM was allocated for over 70,000 servers running an OS at a price tag of $69.3 million. Of that, ControlUp estimates over 75% of the servers were over-provisioned, leading to nearly $31 million overspent on RAM.
Aside from analysing total cost of ownership from a pure hardware perspective, the operating system has an impact as well. Up to date operating systems run more efficiently, which can help save on hardware costs. However, as you run out of capacity, hardware vendors are more likely to sell more hardware resources than make software efficiency updates, so it’s up to the SMB, enterprise, or the MSP to make sure their systems are up to date, further adding to the total cost of ownership.
How Connected Workspace Can Transform Your Business
It’s important for businesses to find a solution that meets their total cost of ownership needs in an agile and dynamic, scalable way. And this is where our Connected Workspace can help. It’s a Desktop-as-a-Service solution that meets your compliance needs, mitigates risk, and reduces your total cost of ownership. Connected Workspace’s total cost of ownership is delivered at a fraction of the cost of VDI as there are no servers for you to set up in a datacenter running virtualized software and virtual desktop management infrastructure. Tying in with the aforementioned datacenter hardware and software costs of VDI, Connected Workspace cuts those down considerably:
A recent case study shows how Connected Workspace saved a business up to 75% on costs from using their previous infrastructure.
As a cloud-hosted VDI solution with enhancements, Connected Workspace is delivered on-demand and within minutes from a web portal. The enhanced provisioning process right-sizes the solution for you so that you pay for exactly what resources and tools you need, and can be scaled at any time, saving you money. We can see in the table below how Connected Workspace continued to deliver greater benefits than VDI or PC solutions:
Connected Workspace does not require any expertise in VDI or IT technology. Simply configure employees, or client user workspaces, from a dedicated online portal, along with the tailored tools and virtual desktops needed, and the Connected Workspace infrastructure is ready for users to access and stream their cloud-based office space within minutes, from any device.
Connected Workspace is very easy to manage, and allows a single administrator to manage all their distributed offices and staff workspaces or thousands of clients. There are no sunk costs, no separate licensing, no physical hardware or software updates to keep in mind, and it creates a significant reduction of IT management workload to manage user tools and applications. Plus it’s enhanced security measures, such as built-in ransomware protection and multi factor authentication, make sure your business and customers are safe at all times.
Want to see Connected Workspace in action? Schedule a free demo to learn more!
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As cloud-based communications become more of the natural fabric of business communications infrastructure, SD-WAN is becoming more important for the enterprise. And this is precisely the reason we chose an SD-WAN company (BigLeaf) to present the keynote at Virtual AstriCon, November 3-4, 2021. It is an essential subject to customers who may want to use it or partners who likely will need to offer this as one of their solutions to help their customers.
What is SD-WAN (Software-defined Wide Area Network)? First, let’s review how connectivity occurred before SD-WAN. A WAN for a company would be how a company connects different locations and sends data back and forth in a private manner (i.e., not using the open internet). Obviously, this has been happening for a long time via routers using MPLS. One could encrypt traffic over the MPLS network. All traffic back and forth between locations would use MPLS on this private network.
However, public clouds such as AWS and Azure are being used now with enterprises. Interaction with these public clouds is occurring within the enterprise. With SD-WAN, one can intelligently route traffic – send the traffic either over private WAN links or the internet depending on policies set up. Since some traffic doesn’t need to be on the private WAN, or some traffic will be on public clouds anyway, SD-WAN can manage this. You can scale easier and faster, can drive traffic flows, etc.
Firewalls also have to be set up when interaction with the internet occurs, and these are known as (believe it or not) NGFWs (Next-Generation Firewalls!). Some NGFWs have SD-WAN capability. And some do not, by design. And some SD-WANs have some NGFW capability, and some do not, also by design.
To learn more about SD-WANs, go here. And as a reminder, the AstriCon keynoter is Jeff Burchett, co-founder and chief revenue officer at Bigleaf Networks, who will discuss demystifying SD-WAN.
The CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) movement continues to grow as contact center capabilities become increasingly outsourced. This popular model of app deployment allows organizations to buy tech capacity as needed to keep operations running smoothly.
What Is CCaaS?
Contact Center as a Service products offer cloud-based capacity on demand; the enterprise pays for access to contact center capabilities as part of a subscription. This model has implications on helping cut costs related to IT spending, maintenance, and support, while expanding integration. CCaaS also supports new features rollout, as updates are pushed automatically by the provider.
With CCaaS, companies incur no investment, other than subscription costs, in infrastructure, maintenance, or physical overhead. Similarly, logistical headaches are also passed off to the service provider.
Differences Between CCaaS & UCaaS
Despite some functional overlap, CCaaS differs from the more common UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) due to varying applications. Contact Center as a Service supports customer communications, while the UC variant promotes inter-organizational collaboration.
On-demand contact center software includes call center features to assist sales and support staff, as well as the customer, whereas UCaaS options include functions such as video conferencing, messaging, email, and voice calling to streamline employee workflow and collaboration.
What are CCaaS Capabilities?
Outsourced contact center solutions are defined by several features.Automated Contact Distributor (ACD)
The ACD routing engine intelligently queues self-service, AI chatbot CCaaS exchanges. The capability supports the omni-channel desktop, with features for handling context and designing contact flows. Managers can also pre-assign coverage areas to specific agents for intelligent customer call routing. For the service provider, this element provides critical coverage for handling customer inquiries and addressing concerns, streamlining customer relationship management (CRM) and experience management (XM).Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
The Contact Center as a Service function includes a customizable, interactive menu that allows callers to either speak a command or dial a number to enter a selection. IVR also integrates with ACD to support data sharing. From customers’ perspective, automated lines can be frustrating and repetitive. IVR technology streamlines the query process, helping to properly convey thoughts and questions to appropriate channels, extending customer satisfaction.Outbound Software / Predictive Dialer
CCaaS outbound software – or “predictive dialer” – includes features to support outbound calling. This function supports proactive outreach, as well as features to help sales and customer service agents improve connection rates and function as if situated in a physical call center. For the remote contact center, the implications are numerous, as its features serve to drive sales, support connection rates, and eliminate lag time.
Benefits of Using CCaaS
Competitive CCaaS installation advantages generally focus on its ability to streamline and simplify operations management. Top benefits include:
- Scalability – CCaaS environments can be scaled up or down, according to organizational need. Infrastructure-related investments are tossed aside, as capacity and capabilities can be added / removed.
- Reduced Cost – Expenses associated with installing, testing, maintaining and using physical contact center solutions are eliminated using Contact Center as a Service. Organizations can restrict spending strictly to items deemed necessary for operational growth, and offset costs related to administering such infrastructure to the provider.
- Less Overhead – CCaaS deployments support reduced overhead spending, including personnel and technology investments. Physical infrastructure – and its often-costly maintenance – are reduced to practically nothing.
- Reinforced Customer Experience – CCaaS reinforces CX, with elements to streamline access to dedicated personnel, automate selections and obtain information without disruption.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Preparedness – Data, as its maintenance no longer falls on the organization itself, becomes accessible on a 24×7 basis, and is backed up and secured against natural and man-made disaster. Additionally, data replication technology – whereby data is stored in multiple, geographically dispersed data centers – promotes accessibility even in the event of provider failure.
Check out the contact center features available with Switchvox from Sangoma.
With all the remote working going on, we’ve all started using different kind of endpoints. Maybe it’s a headset now connected to your computer, using your UC system’s desktop client. Or a speakerphone connected as well. Or just your mobile phone connected to your UC system’s mobile client. Either way, if you have been working remote or from home, you’ve probably been using your deskphone less than you have been.
But does that mean that deskphones are going the way of the horse and buggy? Not necessarily.
The deskphone industry is still a multi-billion dollar USD industry and depending on what reports you read it’s either stagnant, growing a little, or declining a little. The message here is that the market is big and will stay big for a long while. Why?
Well, first of all, if you are a SMB, it’s hard to work from home. Your business needs to be open. And your employees will have phones at their desk.
Additionally, even for someone like me, who has a home office but also has a deskphone in my home office (connected to a Sangoma Cloud UC solution of course!) and while I have utilized different endpoints as per the first paragraph, I still use the phone for various reasons (4 digit dialing to others in Sangoma is easy, calls to/from customers, partners, etc.).
For those that might work from home some of the time, they will still have an office. So, phones will be required for them.
And even though phone usage per se may be less, as business grows and expands, companies grow and expand, and employees will still need phones. Because you still need to make and receive phone calls.