Greg Kroah-Hartman bans University of Minnesota from Linux development for deliberately buggy patches
We all owe a great deal of debt to the frontline/essential workers who are not able to work from home for the past 13 months, as a way of limiting their Covid exposure. Technology, and Unified Communications, has played a role in the past 13 months in the able to work from home crowd, due to the mobility (desktop and smartphone) aspects of UC. But it has also helped in unexpected, if only sometimes small, ways in limiting the exposure of essential workers, even as this group went to work.
Like many of you, I’ve experienced various new procedures for things I took for granted my whole life. For instance, when going to the dentist I now get a text messaging telling me to come in. The dentist has a small waiting room and doesn’t want patients and their employees getting bottled up together. There are now pretty sophisticated curbside pickup apps that I, and most likely you, have used. I’ve also shown video to contractors who needed to work on my house – they looked at things on the video so they didn’t have to come in contact with me and are able to give me quotes like that. I even did a service call over video (successfully!) when in my city the pandemic was at its worst. I’ve also gotten a text message about an ‘event’ cancellation, even if the ‘event’ was an outside dinner at a restaurant and they sent a mass notification to those who had reservations.
But more importantly, I’ve also seen some of the workers in my neighborhood at other houses come armed with mobile apps, where they didn’t have them before. Seems there is more info for them on the app, from when the appointment was set up, which ultimately limited their interaction with the homeowner. Safer for both parties.
These are all small examples. But every interaction to limit exposure is important. But will these kinds of procedures continue in the future? If it helps with reducing costs or becoming more efficient, I would say yes. For example, curbside pickup is great. Sometimes restaurants get crowded so sifting through all the people to go pick up your order takes time from both parties. I’d say yes. Also, anything to reduce a service call – so use of video – yes, I’d say that will continue if possible. It certainly saves time and money for the business. And the example of the service person having more complete info on the service app – for sure that will continue. It’s faster, and maybe even more accurate as well.
Sangoma offers a variety of UC systems to help you work remotely. And with our recent acquisition of Star2Star we pick up some connected worker applications such as Curbside Pickup and Mass Notification.
The post The Role of UC in Limiting Exposure for Essential Workers appeared first on Sangoma.
It’s impossible to say for certain that the pandemic is winding down. At this point, health experts are still trying to reign in COVID-19 and distribute vaccines to the public. The return “back to normal” is in sight, but we’re still in the thick of it. And in this period of transition, there is considerable debate over what “normal” will look like.
Most businesses are looking forward and forming strategies to safely resume some in-person operations. This two-part series will explore some of the structural changes that are taking place across various industries, as companies pivot to the “next” normal of the pandemic.
Back To Normal With A Twist: Shifting To Hybrid Work
Despite the rocky transition to remote work at the onset of the pandemic, feelings about the trend appear to be mostly positive across the board. In a recent benchmark survey from PwC, 83% of employers said the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, up from 73% in June 2020.
Most companies have established at least base level remote connectivity and security, and are now in the process of upgrading their services and laying the groundwork for permanent remote work.
That said, the future of remote work will most likely be much different. A gradual shift to hybrid work is already starting to take place, which is expected to accelerate in the coming months as more people get vaccinated. Eventually, hybrid work will be the new normal.
Consider the fact that in PwC’s survey, only 13 percent of executives claimed they are ready to permanently ditch their offices. And 75 percent of executives believe at least half of their office employees will return to the office by June 2021.
It’s clear that executives will need to tread lightly when asking employees to resume on-site operations though, or pushback will occur. PwC found that employees want to return back to normal more slowly than employers in regards to in-office operations, with 61% of employees expecting to spend half their time on-site by July. Hybrid work acceleration will largely depend on how the next few months pan out.
Retrofitting Offices for Hybrid Work
PwC also found that U.S. executives are planning many new investments to support hybrid work. Some of the top investments include tools for virtual collaboration (72%), IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity (70%) and training for managers to manage a more virtual workspace (64%). Additional investments include fitting conference rooms with enhanced virtual connectivity, and hoteling applications, among others.
Many companies have been forced to retrofit their office environments to enable social distancing. The majority of companies will also be using scheduling systems to limit on-site workers and reduce the spread of germs.
Further, social distancing requirements are increasing demand for mobile solutions that enable workers to move around throughout the day, instead of being tethered to their desks. Some companies are also implementing hardware with antimicrobial components to limit the spread of COVID-19 on shared surfaces.
Surging Cloud Adoption
The cloud is more important than ever, as companies prepare for the “work from anywhere” trend that has become a standard business requirement in getting back to normal.
Two trends to watch include multi-cloud adoption, which increased by 70% year over year during COVID-19, and cloud native growth. Many organizations are embracing modern cloud architectures built with microservices, which make it easier and cost-effective to build and manage applications.
In addition, there is skyrocketing demand for UCaaS, which keeps teams connected and secure regardless of their location. By implementing UCaaS, companies can achieve reliable communication at all times for both on-site and remote workers.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, which will focus on cloud computing and the return of retail in the transition of returning back to normal.
I’m sure we can all agree that the year 2020 changed all of us in different ways, and for many of us it changed the way we communicate. It’s not uncommon for me to have multiple video meetings every single day. We get those video meeting invites in our calendar and we just go to them. We start in video and end in video. While I used to be on many audio conference calls, those are becoming less frequent and a thing of the past. I am on our video meeting platform, Sangoma Meet, all the time. It’s now like my best friend. I know its personality.
And since it’s so integral to communications these days, that is why we are incorporating our video meeting platform, Sangoma Meet, into our mobile and desktop client, Sangoma Connect. Sangoma Connect will incorporate a talk aspect, a collaborate aspect, and a video meeting aspect. You’ll be able to move seamlessly between all three and launch a video call from our collaborate app for instance. It’s critical that we offer our customers the ability to communicate via voice, chat, or video. And to have our customers choose which one they want to “start” with.
To me, this is just an evolution of the PBX. While the PBX notion is very voice centric, as Unified Communication features started to get incorporated, such as mobility, and the ability for the office phone number to ring on your smartphone or desktop, the notion of a “PBX” became antiquated. Unified Communication systems are what this industry has evolved to. And if the UC vendors want to survive, the UC systems will continue to need to evolve. And that means integrating video and chat as if it is native voice. And that is what we are doing. You want voice. Check. You want chat. Check. You want video. Check.
But what about this concept of “video first” that I described in the first paragraph? I think in some use cases, like I was describing above with internal employee team calls, or calls with your channel, sure video meetings are good, and you will start and end with that.
But for many small businesses, their customers are people – someone wanting to make an appointment or order something or whatever. Calling is efficient, so they call, or maybe use a self-service portal and maybe text. And that’s why a company with a sole focus on video meetings or video calling won’t be able to service a small and medium business. A Unified Communication system, that knows how to handle phone numbers, and texting, and all kinds of call control as is found in a “PBX” is required.
The post Why Video Can’t Be Your Sole “Go-to” Communications Platform appeared first on Sangoma.
Critical security alert: If you haven't patched this old VPN vulnerability, assume your network is compromised
Communication and collaboration platforms skyrocketed in use following the outbreak of Covid-19, among organizations across all verticals.
For example, by March 2020, Microsoft Teams, an integration option that Star2Star, A Sangoma Company offers, shot up to 44 million users. By April 2020, Teams reached 75 million users. And by October, it climbed to 115 million — and remains one of the leading enterprise platforms for connecting users across remote locations. Organizations are also relying heavily on programs like Zoom, Slack and Webex to keep team members in touch and productive.
At this point, your organization may be considering migrating to one of these platforms. Yet, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure optimal results.
1. Round Up Your Admins & Users
Chances are your enterprise has a fragmented messaging framework in place, with teams utilizing a variety of platforms to communicate. This is a good time to do a gut check and determine what your organization is currently using, and where and if any of these solutions can be extended. For example, sales may be using Zoom for video, while customer support uses Microsoft Teams for chat collaboration, and you may have yet another solution for your voice communications. You may be able to leverage a full suite of communications and collaboration from these vendors versus single solutions once you understand the use cases. A proposed tool may or may not be the most cost-effective solution so it’s essential to understand how your business needs to communicate and collaborate.
Bring your users and IT administrators together and form a deployment committee to determine where various platforms could make sense in the enterprise. You may find that some platforms perform better in certain environments and user groups than others.
For example, some teams may be able to get by using a bare-bones platform with limited tools. Other teams may require advanced collaboration hubs for sharing files and notes and collaborating with each other.
During this meeting, you should also outline potential friction points and technical considerations to ensure a smooth migration.
2. Set Policies
You may wind up with a situation where multiple teams can create and manage deployments. Set clear governance policies to avoid running into operational and security issues down the road.
For example, Microsoft provides various governance tools for Teams, enabling you to control things like how Teams are named and classified, who can create Teams, and whether guests are allowed. Competitive solutions may offer greater or lesser capabilities, so it’s important to decide what kind of oversight you will need prior to evaluating tools.
3. Optimize & Secure Your Cloud
Next, you’ll want to analyze and optimize your overall cloud environment. Talk to your admins about where emails and files live — and consider correlating specific platforms with appropriate cloud systems. Make sure your new platform has the right supporting cloud environment. If you still have applications you are hosting in your own data center or in a third-party data center that require your employees to VPN to access, there may be a better way to enable their productivity.
If this is the case you should consider using a desktop as a service (DaaS) solution to securely deliver your app to any location. This way, end-users can log into a secure portal and access apps and data instead of having them live on their machines or by leveraging complicated secure VPNs to access.
4. Upgrade Your Voice Quality, Workflow Integrations & More
Look for opportunities to enhance the platform for better results. For example, Microsoft makes it very easy to integrate additional services into Teams and there are hundreds of apps to explore. One thing to consider is that the platform doesn’t offer great native voice functionality, and users often complain about poor quality on calls. We’ve found that you can easily augment Teams by using third-party enterprise business voice services in conjunction with Microsoft’s infrastructure. In doing so, you can ensure crystal clear calls and achieve much greater flexibility.
It’s also important to understand if you need any IoT integrations to manage your business. This could be anything from integration with overhead paging systems, to door strike/telephony integrations, or integration to older analog devices. While these may not come natively in a potential solution, if you need to support these, they can be managed by choosing a telephony partner that works with the solution you end up choosing.
Connected worker apps may include urgent notifications, mass notifications, employee alerts, curbside service, and CRM integrations, and are designed to provide better control over your unique workflows via your communications. These applications are not necessarily natively supported in your solution of choice. However, by leveraging solutions from companies that work to integrate tools, you can further extend productivity and responsiveness for your business.
5. Test Your Platform Before Deploying
Before deploying a platform across the enterprise, it’s a good idea to test it in a small and controlled setting.
Approach various user groups, and identify users that may benefit from the new platform. Have your IT department deploy it, and test the platform for quality and reliability.
If the platform is a success and the users enjoy the experience, consider integrating the platform into that unit and move onto another one. This accomplishes a few things. First, it lets your IT team educate users and explain the reason for the migration and the benefits that the platform offers. It also gives administrators the ability to identify possible areas of friction and make changes to avoid potential disruptions.
Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, the only thing left to do is deploy across your entire organization. Your employees will be more comfortable and productive when you take the time to migrate to a new collaboration solution according to these guidelines. And for the long term, you will have set up your business for ongoing success as remote work and team collaboration become even more critical to daily operations.
Article originally featured on Forbes.com.