In late March, once the Star2Star deal closed, Sangoma’s CEO, Bill Wignall, did a podcast with Dave Michels and Evan Kirstel. According to Dave, “You may not be that familiar with Bill or Sangoma, but both are industry giants that have outperformed their peers and the broader industry. Bill has guided Sangoma through tremendous growth and transformation, largely through acquisitions”. You can listen to the TalkingHeadz Podcast here. It’s a pretty all-encompassing discussion about Sangoma, but in particular, you can hear Bill riff on:
- Telecom divestiture
- Bill’s life on social media
- M&A in general and M&A for Sangoma
- Why he felt this deal with Star2Star was truly transformational for Sangoma
- How are we going to go about integration
- Why Sangoma has been “under the radar,” even though now we are by all accounts a top 10 player in UCaaS. With well over 2M UC seats, including our prem solutions.
- What Sangoma provides that is different than our competition. Note: It’s about overall value, providing an end-to-end solution, having both Prem and Cloud, and caring immensely about our channel. And we also offer an entire Communication as a Service Portfolio (UCaaS, TaaS, FaaS, CPaaS, VMaaS, Desktop as a Service, CCaaS, ACaaS).
- Bill also talks about our vision of seeing the PBX / UC platform as basically the hub of business real-time communications, not just limited to voice or video. And why we’re getting into the Access Control market and other IoT innovations going forward.
It’s a good listen if you want to understand more about Bill and Sangoma.
The Digium Phone Module for Asterisk or DPMA for short is an Asterisk software module that provides a secure communications channel between D-Series phones and Asterisk. This secure channel is used to ensure an easy installation process and offers direct integration with many Asterisk capabilities, including presence, voicemail, call parking, and call recording. The DPMA is utilized in stand-alone Asterisk systems, in FreePBX systems, and Switchvox systems.
The D-Series telephones possess an embedded root certificate used to encrypt communications between the D-phone and the DPMA. This certificate was created during the initial development of the D-Series phones in 2011 and had a ten-year lifetime.
As a result, the certificate will expire and become invalid on Friday, May 28, 2021, at 4:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time.
The effect of this certificate expiring is that after May 28, any D-phones already in use will experience application loading errors, which affects voicemail, status, parking, and queues. Any new D-phones that are started anew or rebooted will be unable to connect to and provision. The D-phone will attempt to “contact proxy,” and it will never succeed.
However, we do know how to fix it.
Sangoma has produced new versions of DPMA, Proxy, D-Series telephone firmware, and Switchvox mobile softphone that remediate the problem. Administrators (except Switchvox Cloud and PBXact UCC) MUST take action before the expiration date. For Switchvox users on 7.x, the new firmware is included in Switchvox version 7.6.2. For Switchvox users on 6.x or 5.x, the latest releases are 6.8 and 5.12, respectively.
Steps to take…
Sangoma has developed quick to implement and future-proof solutions. Please visit the resource page for complete information on how to resolve the issue.
Since the certification expires on May 28, 2021, this is a time-sensitive issue that requires immediate action to be taken. Please visit the resource page for complete information on how to resolve this issue.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about video calling and starting calls with video. I got a few questions and comments about that, some saying “The future is all video all the time!” while some agreed with my point of view of “That’s not going to happen all the time”. So, let me write a little more about this.
First, in that blog, I did talk about differentiation of use case. In the case of a calendared meeting, where a link can go into your calendar, many meetings we’ve all been on in the last 12 months start this way. You click on the link; you go to the video meeting. You have a nice shirt on but maybe shorts or PJs, not that I’ve done that. But these are internal meetings, or meetings with partners and even key customers, and many people forget this is NOT the entirety of communications in a business. These are simply meetings where 3 years ago, we’d calendar a “conference call”. They are important parts of your communication plan but not the only way to communicate.
People also said, “Hey I use video when I talk through my collaboration client”. Presumably these are to other employees, or to key partners. I remember “in the old days” I’d use Skype to talk to some of my partners in Europe. But you start with presence / instant message and then you move to a call. Many times the call is still voice, and sometimes it’s also video. I guess it depends on the person. But in any of these use case scenarios, you are not leading with video!
What I’m really talking about though is interaction with your customers or prospects. These are people that are going to call your business to schedule an appointment, get a service person to your house, etc. Sure, because of the internet and having web pages, over the last 25 years, there has been less voice interaction / calls with this group. But with this group, a real call control / call routing engine like exists in UC platforms is really required. There are incoming calls that need routing, there are external calls (or texts) that need scheduling. These cannot be done via scheduling a meeting on a calendar. You need a real IVR, you need contact center features, you need voice mail, you need find me / follow me. You get the picture.
To run a business and interact with external customers, a video first platform just won’t cut it.
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 You’re “Always” Starting a Call with Video, Really? appeared first on Sangoma.
WebRTC is…everywhere. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a technology that allows Web browsers to stream audio or video media, as well as to exchange useful data between browsers, mobile platforms, and IoT devices without requiring an intermediary such as a server.
The need to connect virtually and to have video conferences and communications via the web has been around for a while. In the past, you had to rely on plug-ins or an installable application on your PC – not just your web browser. This was very inconvenient as users were required to install additional, incompatible apps, and developers had to study complex stacks and protocols to make the magic happen.
Photo: Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander uses an Ericsson video to speak with Lennart Hyland, a popular TV show host (1969). Image via Wikipedia.
WebRTC Was Born
Many of WebRTC technology’s underpinnings were first developed by Global IP Solutions (or GIPS), a company founded around 1999 in Sweden. In 2011, GIPS was acquired by Google, and the W3C started to work on a standard for WebRTC (real-time communication). WebTRC specifies a series of APIs for real-time communications (RTC) targeted at browsers. Since 2011, Google and other major players in the web-browser market, such as Mozilla and Opera, have been actively supporting WebRTC.
Today companies trust WebRTC to offer them the leverage they need to deliver the user experience they strive for.
Examples of WebTRC
WebRTC is a set of plugin-free APIs that can be used in both desktop and mobile browsers. WebRTC does not need any native apps for audio and video communication as it allows peer-to-peer communication on the web pages. Some of the top companies like Amazon and Facebook are all leveraging this, but Google Meet (or more accurately, Hangouts) is probably one of the main reasons we have WebRTC today.
Google had their own video conferencing service, working from Gmail, but it needed a plugin. Real-time video just wasn’t there in the browser, which is where and why WebRTC started.
There are so many interesting use cases for WebRTC, but here are a few popular ones you may not have considered:
- Simple collaboration: How many times have you been invited to a meeting, and as soon as you clicked on the link, it asked you to sign up or download an app before you could join the call? It can be frustrating to open an account or download a platform to engage in a business meeting. WebRTC removes this barrier, providing a seamless, non-invasive way to connect and collaborate. Using WebRTC when communicating with colleagues, clients, and business partners is easier, simpler, and more convenient.
- Contextual applications: You can use a third party API like OAuth to pull data from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. This API type makes it possible for customers to leverage their own social graph data to augment their experience within your websites and applications. You can then couple this data with WebRTC-powered features to enable rich contextual communications. This could enable easy sharing of the person’s Twitter handle, email address, or other public profile information, along with links to their most recent tweets or Facebook posts.
- File sharing: Suppose you want to send a massive file to a colleague while working on a project. Instead of emailing the file or uploading it to a third-party cloud storage system (and waiting several minutes for the transfer to complete), you could send it directly through your web browser using WebRTC’s data channel, with very low-latency and the benefit of full encryption between the two endpoints.
- Embedded endpoints: ATMs. Vending machines. Bus stops. Retail store kiosks. All of these endpoints can be embedded with WebRTC engines. It’s an easy way to connect customers with live agents while they are on-the-go.
- Sales enablement: Websites and applications are key tools for sales enablement. Customers rarely make important purchases on impulse. Decisions are often made after speaking with a sales associate. Providing a website or application with a WebRTC audio or video contact channel is a great way to provide ongoing assistance throughout the purchasing process.
- Emergency response: In some cases, WebRTC is being used to increase public safety. SaferMobility streamlines real-time interactions with authorities by enabling video, audio, and text communications while utilizing location-based awareness. This use of the WebRTC data channel allows responding personnel to have deeper insight and better information by circumventing previously existing communication barriers when responding to emergency calls.
- Patient management: Many health clinics are now using WebRTC based solutions to reduce in-office patient visits. This can be helpful during a pandemic like what we are living right now when doctors can perform check-ups over Web browsers. This allows them to allocate more time to higher priority patients while staying safe. WebRTC is also a great way for clinic staff to communicate with patients in-between visits as all the patient needs is a web browser and a URL.
- Enhanced audience participation: Tap to Speak recently developed a solution that turns smartphones into microphones during live events. The application was designed to improve communication between audience members and presenters, as it eliminates having to pass a traditional microphone around a room.
In summary, pretty much any application that wants to share data or video between peers can use WebRTC. The reason for this massive adoption is that browser to browser communication is significantly cheaper than going through a server (up to 90% cheaper from Video Banking and the Economics of the Retail Business). Furthermore, users will no longer need to rely on dedicated hardware sets and applications to join a meeting and have a video conference call; browsers are always accessible to everyone!
Sangoma Meet a Great Example of Adopting WebTRC
Sangoma Meet was launched in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help everyone stay connected and get through this period. With WebTRC technology behind it, Sangoma Meet allows users to start a video call without downloading a plugin or installing an application. Unlike Zoom or GoToMeeting, where you have to install a plugin or an application, Sangoma Meet is simply using your browser to establish a connection with another peer.
The ease of use and compatibility with common browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera makes it a great choice for different industries to adopt in different use cases, as mentioned earlier. Features like multiple participants video conferencing, 1:1 video calls, phone dial-in, screen sharing, recording the meeting (available on V3.0 and above), waiting room (coming soon), local chat, and moderation tools are all running on the web, and users can join the meetings from their mobile devices, laptop or simply from any device which supports web browsers.
Have you tried Sangoma Meet yet? Check out this page and enjoy having a hassle-free call with your friends, family, and colleagues.
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.
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.
On January 29th, Sangoma announced a definitive agreement to acquire Star2Star, a cloud-based Communications as a Service provider with a leading UCaaS offer. We’re pleased that the deal closed last week.
So, why did we do this deal? First off, Star2Star targets medium and large enterprise and managed service providers, with channels that don’t really overlap with Sangoma, so the “fit” is very nice. Star2Star has almost 10,000 business customers with tens of thousands of locations. We feel like now we can confidently go after and win the full spectrum of UC prospects, from small business to large enterprise.
Together, we will have increased scale, and given both of us are profitable, we will remain a profitable entity with approximately 70% recurring revenue. As a Channel Partner or end-customer, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether we’ll be around in the future. Whatever side you come from, the transaction represents a very positive development for the future of the new Sangoma (the combined company) since there will be benefits from the improved scale/financial stability, a broader portfolio of products, expanded global services, and a continued commitment to invest in innovation.
We feel we’ll have the most complete UC portfolio in the market: From on-premises to Cloud UC that can work in businesses of all sizes, with our own phones, headsets, gateways, SBCs and SIP Trunking. As such, a business would be able to deploy Sangoma products across their entire enterprise, avoiding any interoperability “finger pointing” which crops up sometimes. Additionally, we’ll have a full suite of Communication as a Service offers, from UCaaS to Video Meetings to Collaboration to Wholesale Voice Services to Access Control. Truly all that a business needs from a single vendor, obviating the need to put all kinds of different communication products into your enterprise network.
During the past few months, when we were not yet closed, we understandably received questions about the future of the different UC platforms. Yes, we understand them. We got the same ones when Sangoma merged with Digium and we said both Switchvox and PBXact would remain. And both have remained. So we certainly understand. And all UC platforms will remain now.
As I intimated above, the target market overlap was not that great. Switchvox and PBXact predominantly served the SMB. And both are also on-premise products in addition to cloud products. And Star2Star predominately services the mid-size enterprise to MSP market, with a cloud offer. Because of that, all platforms with remain as long as there is market demand for them. We may choose to do work to consolidate to a single mobile and desktop client, like we have done with Sangoma Connect for Switchvox and PBXact, and other similar things, but there are no plans to announce any of that in the short term.
And Sangoma plans to continue to sell, develop and support our hardware business including phones, cards, gateways, SBCs, and UC appliance businesses. And we also plan to continue to be the stewards of Asterisk and FreePBX. So, no big changes.
Right now, we need to integrate the teams and that will take some time. Customers on both sides will continue to receive the same products, quality and service they have come to expect from both companies.
If you are a partner, we are looking forward to growing with you. If you are a prospect or customer, we look forward to serving you in the future!
Throughout March, we conducted a weekly “Women in Tech” podcast with four different women in Sangoma, ranging from engineering to product management to general manager to lawyer. Each of these women told interesting stories and gave excellent advice.
Advice, I might add, pertinent to everyone in the workforce, not just women. Their stories are interesting and powerful.
Setareh Nezami (Product Management) talked about “Leading Without Authority,” important for anyone who needs to get other organizations to execute.
Michelle Fleming (Legal) talked about the need to speak up.
Bhawna Gaba (Engineering) talked about needing to be confident, taking a chance, and finding a mentor.
Paula Griffo (General Manager) talked about loving the fast-paced tech industry and needing resilience.
To listen to their stories, please go here.
I would recommend taking the time to listen. It’s well worth it.
In January, I did a video interview with Rich Tehrani. Usually, we’re in Florida for the IT Expo / Tech Super Show at that time of the year, and we do an in-person video interview. I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost track of how many we’ve done together. When he first started doing video interviews, I believe at a show in Los Angeles, if I recall correctly, it was a very new thing, and I think I might have been the 3rd person he did it with. Yeah, Rich and I have known each other a long time, going back to 1998.
We were just little kids then…
And while I’ve talked to Rich multiple times in 2020, we decided to do another video interview like we usually do during this January time frame.
We just did it remotely this time.
We talked about a bunch of things, such as the Frost and Sullivan UC and Collaboration Competitive Strategy Leadership Award that we received just a few weeks before the interview. I won’t go over that here because I’ve written about that already.
He also asked me how our integration of VoIP Innovations is coming along. It’s going well, and we’ve put investment into the wholesale services / SIP trunking business and CPaaS. We have introduced a service that is available now that helps address Caller ID spoofing. It is available both with our Wholesale SIP trunking but also can be used by other carriers, available via an API. It combines analytics, caller authentication, and verification to help address Caller ID spoofing now. We also introduced new fraud mitigation and E911 monitoring solutions in 2020.
We’re also currently working on complying with STIR/SHAKEN.
And he asked me about what’s next for Sangoma. Obviously, I could not talk about Star2Star at that time because it was not announced yet. Still, we did touch on our vision of continuing to see Sangoma adding to our suite of Communication-as-a-Service product portfolio. Beyond UCaaS, we also offer other “As a Service” offerings such as retail and wholesale SIP trunking, CPaaS, Fax, Video Meetings, and our soon-to-be-released access control solution. Similar in concept to our “End-to-end UC Solution” that I discussed when talking about the Frost and Sullivan award, we want to offer “End-to-end As a Service Communications.”
As always, it was a pleasure talking to Rich. I am looking forward to doing it in person at some point, hopefully relatively soon. To watch the video interview, please go here.
“Just text me”
Those three words are being said now more than ever. It’s the perfect way to send a message without verbally interrupting a current conversation, meeting, class, ride – really anything. I even have some friends that, if they call me, I automatically assume something is wrong, because they never call… they just text.
With gen-Zers and even young millennials thinking that a phone call is just “old fashioned” or “formal”, choosing to send a text over making a phone call truly is the new normal. Now, it’s becoming highly requested and, in some cases expected, in the business communication world.
SMS stands for “Short Message Service”, and it’s basically a technical term for a text message. Business owners can now harness the immediacy and convenience of SMS messaging with many UC (Unified Communications) business phone systems. Imagine sitting in an Uber on your way to the airport, or sitting in a drive-thru on your lunch break. You have a simple question you want to ask your realtor/broker/child’s teacher/lawyer/insert profession here, and you don’t want to navigate the formalities or time of an actual phone call. Imagine being able to both call or text the exact same business phone number to ask that question. In my opinion, that’s a dream come true!
SMS is getting business accomplished faster than ever. Companies can protect their employees by giving them a way to receive messages from customers or clients without having to give up their personal phone number. With an SMS-enabled business phone system, you can add “Call or Text” to your business cards, and potentially get more business than you would have if it involved an actual call. I’d rather send a quick text message to a company for a rough quote or set-up a meeting without having to dial and sit in an IVR waiting to speak with someone. And voicemails….don’t even get me started! Yes, they are a way to communicate a message, but a text – now that’s immediate! The industries that can benefit from this are virtually everywhere!
Here are some examples of how customers and prospects can use SMS to communicate with a business:
Here are some ways business owners and organizations can use SMS to offer better service and improve customer experience:
I could go on and on. Minimally invasive yet effective and convenient ways to communicate will win every time. It’s not just sales departments that benefit: SMS is a great way for customer service teams to check-in with a customer, or for a small business to put a personal touch on recent orders. I personally text my hairdresser on her business number to see what she has available for a haircut next week.
According to Forbes: “64% of consumers believe that businesses should use SMS messages to interact with customers more often than they currently do.”
Texting is the most prominent form of communication in the industry today, and it deserves its place in day-to-day business communication. SMS gives businesses a way to stand out from their competitors and offer unmatched availability. It saves your company time, gets you feedback from customers faster, and helps you engage with your customers on a more personal level.
Having been in the game for quite some time and listening to our customers and partners requests, Sangoma has implemented SMS capabilities with it’s UC phone systems. Tying in SIPStation Retail with Switchvox provides users the convenience of the “call and text” from the same number feature with messages coming straight to your desktop softphone.
Not to mention that SIPStation is saving them money each month (up to 80%) from costly analog or PRI lines. Switchvox Cloud now has access to Sangoma Connect Mobile, SMS text messaging, an updated Switchvox Desktop Softphone, and more built right in. And as always, with Switchvox ALL features are included. Our Sales Team is standing by.
Are you using multiple communications vendors?
If you’re using more than one Unified Communications vendor, that can be a problem – or at least a nuisance. Managing multiple tools, different training resources, and installations can take up your valuable time.
Many organizations are opting to go with single-vendor Unified Communications solutions for their business phone system, IP phones, and video conferencing software.
The Benefits of a Single Unified Communications Vendor
Rather than emailing one vendor about your employee instant messaging platform, calling a different one for your IP phones, and reaching out to yet another about your video conferencing app, wouldn’t it be great if it all came from a single vendor?
With an end-to-end UC vendor who is focused on their end customer, you can streamline the purchase of any telephony hardware, collaboration software, and support for all your communications needs. You should also be able to easily integrate your existing CRM and email platforms with your business phone system.
According to Michael Brandenburg, Senior Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, “Sangoma ranks as one of the few remaining competitors in the unified communications market that delivers a complete portfolio of on-premise, hybrid, and cloud-based solutions. Both businesses and service providers appreciate Sangoma as a one-stop-shop partner that meets their diverse communications requirements.”
Click here to download the full award report.
Can your current phone system vendor offer necessary support?
Need emergency support or some hardware upgrades? Looking to switch to a UCaaS solution? You might have even been wondering “What is UC?” in the first place. Being able to reach out to a single source to get these answers or services is immeasurable when running a business.
Regardless of your current communications set-up, your vendor should be able to provide you with all the products and services you require. Unfortunately, not all vendors are up to the task.
Sangoma – A Trusted UC Advisor
Sangoma’s products and services include from video conferencing software, business phone systems, telephony cards, and everything in between. And with ‘all features included’ pricing on Sangoma’s Switchvox Unified Communications solution, you get a future-proof system without the fear of paying extra for robust functionality. You get to enjoy the full suite of features, so you never miss out on the many benefits of UC.
The breadth of products and services offered and supported was an important factor in Sangoma receiving the 2020 North American Unified Communications and Collaboration Competitive Strategy Leadership Award from the industry experts Frost & Sullivan.
Click here to download the full award report.
The post Choosing a Business Phone System Vendor: The Value in an End-To-End Unified Communications appeared first on Sangoma.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled “Is CPaaS a channel opportunity?”. I got a few questions about CPaaS in general and why it might be important to “service providers” who offer cloud services.
CPaaS is an important and easy way to add some kind of service to or augment an existing service already in your communication cloud offering. Since Sangoma offers cloud unified communication services, sometimes we have customers who want to do something more, something specific. And while CPaaS is typically historically talked about as a way for a developer to create an application or enhance an application, and that’s fine, a developer could easily be us. We could use our own CPaaS to enhance the cloud offer. And that’s important so we can help our customers service their customers better.
So, it’s important to understand if your cloud communications provider has a CPaaS offer, not only for the developers out there but for themselves to use.
The post Applications Enable Cloud Communications Services Customization appeared first on Sangoma.
It’s been a little over a year that Sangoma purchased .e4. At the time of purchase, we said, “This deal significantly strengthens Sangoma’s sales and support for both FreePBX and Asterisk, as well as further demonstrates Sangoma’s deep commitment to the open source market.” So I think it’s fair to ask if we have accomplished that goal.
From my perspective, yes, we have. Mike White and the team have focused on the open source customer base like we wanted them to. We have more dialogue going with the community. The business we derive from the open source projects FreePBX and Asterisk, such as selling phones, SIP trunking and FreePBX modules, remains strong. We wanted Mike and his team to spearhead this. That was our plan, and that’s what’s happened.
Coincident with the acquisition of .e4 was also putting dedicated open source marketing plans in place. You may have seen we refreshed the logo for FreePBX and created an Asterisk mascot. These are small examples of an increased marketing focus, but nonetheless important. We also ran a multi-day virtual AstriCon conference since we couldn’t do an in-person one. Frankly, this was more work than running an actual conference.
We’ve also had a few questions about whether the pending acquisition of Star2Star will impact our focus on open source. It’s a natural question to ask – “As you grow, the percent of revenue coming in from the adjunct businesses that support open source changes.” Yes, it changes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about it. There are no plans to decrease the engineering, marketing or sales spend on open source. We’ve actually grown this total spend in 2020. We have a focus on it now, and that will continue. The teams will remain the same. And it’s important to remember open source to us is also about innovation and supporting innovation, and that commitment remains strong.
I recently did a podcast with Mike, so if you want to listen to that, please go here.
The post One Year for .e4 in Sangoma and will Star2Star Impact our Open Source focus? appeared first on Sangoma.
I usually don’t write too many blogs about our success stories, but I wanted to write this one since the installation occurred within the past few months, during all these trying times we are in. And a shout-out to our partner in Appleton, Wisconsin, Unitel, who played a huge role in making this happen.
Appleton Harley-Davidson was looking to upgrade from their existing old phone system. They wanted something modern, such as touch screen phones, something that would connect their campus easily, something that would save them money, something that would be easy to manage and most importantly something that would give them contact center functionality such as auto-attendant simply and easily. And they did not want any hidden costs. A Switchvox on-prem solution fit their needs perfectly.
Remote / Online training enabled early learning, and Unitel also hosted in-person training, so that the installation would go smoothly. Given Harley-Davidson colors are black and orange, Unitel also supplied orange phone cords with the phones.
It’s nice to see during these times how a new customer got going.
To read the full case study, please go here.
D-Series telephones and the Switchvox Mobile Softphone possess an embedded certificate that is used to encrypt their communications with a Sangoma phone system server. The certificate will expire on Friday, May 28, 2021 at 4:45:20pm EDT (GMT -5). If this certificate is invalid, D-Series phones and the Switchvox Mobile softphone are unable to provision against any Switchvox or DPMA-equipped system. There is no in-place mechanism for remotely forcing an update on a server that will provide remediation.
What is Affected?
- All released versions of Switchvox that support D-Series telephones and/or the Switchvox mobile softphone including versions 5.5 through 7.6.1.
- FreePBX and PBXact systems using the deprecated “Digium Phones Add-On for FreePBX”
- FreePBX and PBXact systems using the “DPMA” option for Endpoint manager
- All released versions of DPMA used with open source Asterisk.
Sangoma has produced new versions of DPMA, Proxy, D-Series telephone firmware, and Switchvox mobile softphone that remediate the problem. Administrators (except Switchvox Cloud and PBXact UCC) MUST take action prior to the expiration date. For Switchvox users on 7.x, the new firmware is included in Switchvox version 7.6.2. For Switchvox users on 6.x or 5.x, the new releases are 6.8 and 5.12 respectively.
Steps to Take
Sangoma has developed quick to implement and future proof solutions. Please visit the resource page for complete information on how to resolve the issue.
Action must be taken before May 28, 2021
I get asked every once in a while, “Is CPaaS a channel opportunity?”. It potentially can be, but CPaaS being a channel opportunity needs some context. CPaaS itself means essentially selling the use of APIs, which are typically charged by usage. Applications written with CPaaS access these APIs (and, in turn, specific functions the application has asked to do) during the execution of the application they’ve written. This application “goes and gets the resources” the API asks for via the cloud.
CPaaS is a hot topic these days because using them is easy, and one can add in voice or SMS to an already existing application relatively inexpensively. For example, one might want to add text messaging to an appointment application from a dentist or hairdresser.
When talking about CPaaS being a channel opportunity, we are really talking about the applications that run on CPaaS. So if you as a channel are already selling cloud services, and used to selling in a recurring revenue model, then yes, CPaaS could be a channel opportunity for you.
As a channel partner, there wouldn’t be a “make a big deal” and get the revenue from the enterprise all at once, then sell maintenance contracts. It would be a revenue model based on continuous usage that could go on for years. That’s very different if you aren’t familiar with cloud.
And you would either need a stable of applications to sell, likely from some kind of store the CPaaS provider would have or develop a couple of applications yourself.
So yes, it could be.
There’s a wealth of information for buyers looking at business IP phone systems, and it can get confusing to understand the different options available. To start learning more about the basics of IP phones, business IP phone systems, and VoIP, read through this helpful article.
What is an IP Phone?
IP phones, also known as VoIP phones, look similar in appearance to traditional desk phones but are far more advanced. Like small computers, all the on-board features are applications, and the user can customize the display and buttons.
IP phones are wired using Ethernet cables and connect to an IP-based phone system. In contrast, traditional desk phones use an analog cable and typically connect to analog or legacy digital phone systems. IP phones are powerful because they use an Internet protocol called SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) to send and receive audio.
To explore Sangoma IP Phones, click here.
What are the benefits of a business IP phone system?
In the modern office, business IP phone systems are widely used. There has been a significant advancement in IP telephony, making it the most desired way of business communication. Some of the top benefits include:
- Flexible and scalable with plug-and-play installation and simple integration with other systems
- More robust feature set for better customer service and productivity
- Using your existing infrastructure is more cost-effective.
- Simple installation and use for remote employees
- Built-in backup plan
Flexible Hosting Options: On-Premise and Cloud Phone Systems
Business IP phone systems can be hosted on-premise, in the Cloud, or a virtual environment. Each solution type carries its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages. The decision on how to deploy your VoIP system should only be taken after a detailed analysis, keeping in mind all your requirements. You should consider:
- Cost: Feature cost, upfront vs. recurring cost, and total cost of ownership
- Existing infrastructure
- Flexibility of deployment
- The Cool Factor
Download Sangoma’s guide to help you identify and prioritize your needs and guide you through the pros and cons of each deployment method.
For a quick overview, download the hosted vs. on-premise infographic.
How to Switch to VoIP
- Prepare your network infrastructure: Unified Communications (UC) solutions can be utilized with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems and bring many benefits to businesses, including reduced IT costs and the ability to integrate business processes such as chat, presence, screen, and video sharing, CRM and support functions, and more. However, the role of networking is crucial during migration to VoIP/UC.
Download this white paper to learn helpful tips for preparing your network for a VoIP/UC deployment; click here.
- Test if your internet connection is strong enough for VoIP: If you’re considering a VoIP phone system for your business or organization, you’re probably well aware of the many benefits a VoIP phone system has to offer. Bandwidth is a series of essential aspects of your VoIP phone system setup that is critical for success. To help you determine how much bandwidth you will need to support a new phone system, users can use the following equation:
- G711 – A standard VoIP call protocol requires approximately 64kbps.
- Using G711, you can have approximately 12 concurrent calls for each 1Mbps of bandwidth.
- So, if your company needs to support 120 concurrent calls, you’d need a 10Mbp service.
To test your current Internet speed for free, check out our VoIP Network Test tool. It will provide you with an easy-to-read report that will help you determine whether your services will support a voice platform or whether you should consider an upgrade.
To read the full article, click here.
- Find the right VoIP provider: Now that you understand what VoIP is, the next step is to figure out your business requirements. To do that, however, you will have to start by identifying your organization’s business communications needs.
Once you have identified your operational needs, you can start to look for VoIP providers that can meet your requirements. There are different types of VoIP providers in the marketplace that generally fall under three categories: VoIP-only providers, VoIP with cloud phone system providers, and VoIP as part of unified communications solution providers. The third option addresses the most common business communications needs while improving efficiency by combining solutions in one platform.
“Sangoma’s UC platforms can be augmented with a range of hardware and accessories designed to provide the tightest possible integration with our phone system software. Customers no longer have to purchase software, system appliances, phones, and other hardware from separate sources. With Sangoma, customers can expect a complete custom solution, all from one vendor.”
- Know the key features your VoIP provider is offering: Even if a VoIP provider meets all your business communications requirements, you must ensure the provider’s reliability and security features. Securing a network is never a trivial task and requires ongoing attention as threats evolve.
It is essential to understand the protection features of a business phone system. Toll fraud is a costly lesson to learn and can cost businesses a lot of money over a short period.
A sound business phone system should:
- Limit the amount of call traffic a hacker can create
- Lockdown extensions from specific IP addresses or subnet ranges
- Change the default port for SIP.
Learn more about Sangoma’s VoIP security best practices to download our free white paper, click here.
- Research the VoIP Provider: You should always read about the VoIP provider’s background, case studies, and reviews to find the market position of the brand.
Frost and Sullivan have chosen Sangoma to receive their North American Unified Communications and Collaboration Competitive Strategy Leadership Award for our UC products and what we’ve been doing to bring them forward. To read more, click here.
Seemingly every day, we get a robocall. In 2019 in the US, it was close to 60 Billion of them! So it’s no exaggeration if people say they get called every day. It’s a problem for sure that the government is trying to resolve.
Many people don’t even answer their phone anymore unless they know the DID or seems reasonable (like from a local number). But even that is not entirely safe anymore. And that’s what STIR/SHAKEN is trying to fix. STIR/SHAKEN are protocols and standards that help implement robust caller ID authentication.
STIR stands for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited, and SHAKEN stands for Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs. (I bet they worked hard to get the SHAKEN acronym going.) According to the FCC, “This means that calls traveling through interconnected phone networks would have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers and validated by other carriers before reaching consumers. STIR/SHAKEN digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is, in fact, from the number displayed on Caller ID.”
This means any kind of VoIP carrier would need to implement STIR/SHAKEN so as the call goes through the network, and the handoff validates the caller ID is proper and has not been altered as it’s traversed the network. Implementation of these standards needs to be done by June 2021, according to the Traced Act.
So if you implement a VoIP Network and use Wholesale SIP Trunking as an example, you’ll need to make sure your provider has implemented STIR/SHAKEN by June 2021. Since Sangoma is a Wholesale SIP Trunking provider, we’ll have implemented those standards by June 2021.
But there are steps you can take now to help protect your customers. We also have a service that is available now that helps address Caller ID spoofing. It is available both with our Wholesale SIP Trunking and can be used by other carriers, available via an API. It combines analytics, caller authentication, and verification to help address Caller ID spoofing now. Maybe you have noticed “suspected suspicious call” pop up on the phone when you get a call. Our service enables this for your network if you are a Sangoma (VoIP Innovations) customer, or like I said, even if you are not but want to use this service on your network. If you want to learn more about this, please go here.
The post Stopping Robocalls Using Analytics and How STIR/SHAKEN Gets Into the Mix appeared first on Sangoma.