Can I bring my iPhone to work today

Hey boss! Can I bring my iPhone to work today?

As smartphone usage is getting more intense and our device becomes essentially a body part, it’s no wonder why ‘Bring Your Own Device’ has become a living nightmare for the enterprise.

Remember that time when your workplace was the first to deploy innovative technology? Computers, monitors, office phones, voicemails, car phones, you name it – all of these were initially adopted by enterprises wishing to make their employee’s work more productive. New technology was taken as a professional perk, and employees were happily adopting it to their own benefit as well as that of the company.

C-level managers loved it… Why? Well, not only because they could easily hand-out new technology to employees who adored them in return, but mainly since they had full control over their employees’ communication. Your boss could make sure you weren’t saving confidential material where you really shouldn’t; Your IT manager could keep track of how many calls you were having with your wife. But then came the iPhone.

Can I bring my iPhone to work today

When work gets tough, the tough get to work

We live in a world where sending a WhatsApp message to a potential customer or investor can be better than an email. We have our colleagues’ numbers and emails stored on our smartphones. And gods forbid, some of us even have Dropbox access to our office files and folders. New technology now arrives at the consumer’s front door way before a workplace even thinks about taking it seriously. People want to use their devices to their full extent, even more so while working. The result? Absolute chaos.

The secret war between you and your boss

Striving to keep up with the extraordinary pace of new devices and services, companies are becoming quite desperate. In some cases, a workplace is intelligent enough to respect the need for mobile access and provide mobile VPN access, or transfer corporate emails to the cloud. But at the same time, IT departments are forced to obsessively block websites and online services throughout the organization, just to keep everyone focused at work. There is a battle going on between you and your workplace, and we already know the winner…

Deloitte tmt predictions

Source: Deloitte TMT Predictions 2015 @ Deloitte Canada, SlideShare

Enterprise mobile apps make peace

What if I told you about a mobile app that allows you to call your co-workers without even having their numbers stored on your phone? And what if I told your C-level management they could still have analytics of corporate phone calls, even when their employees are making phone calls from their smartphone, like they want to?

VocaNOM powered by AudioCodes is a brand new speech driven mobile app for the enterprise. It allows employees to call coworkers by simply saying their name. Corporate contacts are securely stored on the cloud for easy access, and call analytics are automatically generated. Your employee’s Siri just got a whole lot better. Bring your own device? Our pleasure! 

 

AudioCodes will be showcasing the VocaNOM mobile app at the Mobile World Congress, 2015 in Barcelona.

To schedule a short meeting, visit our website or feel free to drop me a line!

MobilityPLUS MVNO Service Architecture

Google Project Fi Challenges Incumbent MVNOs

Mobile communication is a competitive space where operators are striving to introduce new services to better compete with OTT and increase ARPU.

On the other end, mobile operators are looking to reduce their operating costs. One way to do so while also increasing user satisfaction is by enabling WiFi calling in their networks.

Earlier this year, competition in the US got even stronger with Google’s announcement of Project Fi. In essence, Google became an MVNO. Will they go global with Project Fi? If the pilot in the US succeeds, why shouldn’t they?

Project Fi

For Project Fi, Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile, using their LTE data networks. Users of Project Fi can make voice calls and send text messages over WiFi or the cellular data network with a seamless switchover between the networks. A call that started on a user’s home WiFi network will automatically switch over to Sprint or T-Mobile’s cellular network f when the user steps out of the house.

Putting the address book in Google’s cloud allow users access to the service also from their PCs and tablets.

Google also changed the standard cost model, offering a low-cost, monthly fee of $20 for unlimited domestic voice and text, unlimited international text and coverage in over 120 countries. Data runs at $10 per 1 GB. If not all the data is used, Google refunds the user for the unused portion of the package.

If Google is now an MVNO, where does this leave incumbent MVNOs?

MVNOs should innovate their services

MVNOs work differently than Google did in building Project Fi.

The typical MVNO buys voice, text and data in bulks from operators, puts their own service management on top and resells it to users at a lower cost than that offered by the operators.

Project Fi on the other hand, offers a device that uses only the data network (cellular or WiFi). Thus the service is part of the device dialer and operational costs for Google are lower.

The challenge for MVNOs in offering a service similar to Project Fi include:

  • The need to replace the device dialer to optimize user experience
  • The network should be able to receive calls on behalf of the user and direct them to his device as a VoIP call
  • Switching between cellular data and WiFi should be automatic and seamless. This needs to be supported both on the device and in the network.

 

AudioCodes’ MobilityPlus, provides MVNOs a way to realize this transition.

MobilityPLUS MVNO Service Architecture

Client side

The solution comprises of mobile clients that MVNOs can adopt and configure to be the default dialer of the Android device they offer to their customers.

The SIM card offered to the users will have cellular data services only, while the phone number is managed by the network. The device switches between cellular data and WiFi as required.

The dialer application includes AudioCodes advanced voice quality enhancement algorithms together with with modern voice codecs with error resiliency.

Network side

The network side includes AudioCodes SBC and an application that manages the user’s identity.  It places and receives calls on the user’s behalf and bridges between the VoIP network and other networks of termination partners, ensuring users can call destinations globally regardless of the operator they are using.

Switching between cellular data and WiFi is also supported by the network, allowing for in-call switch over.

Conclusion

Switching to pure IP based services allows MVNOs to reduce operation costs.  They won’t need to pay for the use the operator’s voice network by minutes but rather will use the cellular data only when the user is not connected to WiFi.

As competition in mobile market intensifies due to new offerings such as that of Google, cost reduction translates into the ability to reduce churn.

Are you stuck in the fog on your way to the cloud

Are You Stuck in the Fog on Your Way to the Cloud?

Are you stuck in the fog on your way to the cloud

A practical approach to migrating (the right) users to Cloud PBX

Many organizations are stuck in the fog of complexity as they move towards the promise of communications in the cloud. Recent Microsoft announcements surrounding enterprise voice for Skype for Business in the cloud have caused significant waves – and no small amount of confusion – in the market.  Cloud PBX and PSTN calling will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on the way organizations communicate.  Since the online offering doesn’t yet have all the features of Skype for Business server, it is important that enterprises evaluate needs carefully and plan their users’ migration to the cloud accordingly.  (For those looking to dig even deeper, please see AudioCodes’ White Paper: To Cloud or not to Cloud? A Practical Guide for Embracing the Communications Future.)

If you’ve already deployed Lync, Skype for Business, or are seriously considering doing so, you may be compelled to start migrating some users – likely those who may not need the full feature set of the server – to the cloud. The good news is the migration can be done gradually and smoothly.  The AudioCodes solution set provides a practical approach, addressing the reality of today with the cloud’s promise of tomorrow. 

What is Cloud PBX?

Cloud PBX is the set of Call Management features of Skype for Business Online, which is the new version of Lync Online and is the Microsoft hosted version of Skype for Business Server. It is part of Office 365 and is included in selected E-Suite Plans. Cloud PBX includes a subset of the PBX features available in the server edition, enabling such things as outbound and inbound calling through on-premises PSTN Connectivity (using local service providers or local telephony systems) or through a Microsoft  PSTN Calling Plan (available only in select regions).

Challenges and practical considerations in the transition to Cloud PBX

As of December 2015, the lack of feature parity between the online and on-premises offerings remains significant.  Among the main features not included online are branch survivability, response groups, location based routing, call admission control, analog devices, common area phone, and integration with on-premises PBX (can be achieved when using on-prem software such as Cloud Connector or Skype for Business server).  Given that reality, the first step in the migration process is to profile your users and understand which ones should be included in the first migration batch.

In planning a migration strategy to Cloud PBX, several practical considerations need to be taken into account:

1) Which users do you want to migrate to the cloud? How many people really need all the PBX features? How many people outside the office (on the road) can be satisfied by the cloud features?

2) Do you have an existing on-premises telephony infrastructure that you want to co-exist with or gradually migrate away from? (Call center, PBX, IPPBX, etc.)

3) Do you have devices (faxes, video rooms, analog devices) that you need to continue to use?

4) Do you need to maintain local connectivity to the PSTN (existing contracts, or availability, regulatory and Quality of Service reasons for branch offices)? 

Getting the Cloud Right: A Practical Approach

Taking into account the considerations noted above, perhaps the most important thing to do is develop a clear voice migration strategy. Such a strategy would comprise of several stages including assessing corporate requirements (firstly in the headquarters), building an infrastructure that meets those requirements, migrating relevant users to the cloud and finally, expanding that migration by assessing the needs of branch offices, building a corresponding infrastructure and migrating branch users to the cloud as required.  We here at AudioCodes leverage the following model when helping our customers build their strategy: 

Assess – Inventory Your Profiles

In this initial state, it is important that the organization understands its requirements. This is the opportunity to pause and analyze what users are doing, what their needs are and which users can stay local and which can be moved to the cloud. Once the requirements are understood, a hybrid strategy can be developed to build the appropriate infrastructure, adopted to the organization’s needs today and its plans for the future.

Build a Hybrid Platform and Migrate Information Workers First

Once the requirements have been mapped out, an infrastructure need to be built that addresses the needs identified in the assessment stage. The solution is a hybrid platform that is both versatile and flexible, one that can meet not only today’s requirements but ensure that the investment made now can be leveraged for the coming years as well.

With a flexible hybrid platform in place, it’s time to take a second look at the users that were profiled in the assessment stage and choose the first batch of users to be moved to the cloud.

Expand Rollout to the Branches

With the platform deployed and the first users moved to the cloud, the organization can begin examining the needs of its remote branches. An assessment similar to the one done in the assessment stage at HQ may be warranted for the branches as there may be different requirements to consider, including resiliency needs and custom applications such as IVR and contact centers. An assessment should be done as to whether a hybrid platform is needed to meet those requirements. 

Migrating Gradually with AudioCodes CloudBond 365

To facilitate the migration to Cloud PBX, AudioCodes takes a gradual approach based on the steps noted above and proposes a unique solution that enables the transition of some users to the cloud, but also allows other users to enjoy the full feature-set of Skype for Business server.

AudioCodes CloudBond 365TM, the next generation of the One Box 365TM, is a modular, adaptable solution for the data center, customer premises or the branch. A versatile all-in-one Skype for Business appliance designed for hybrid environments, it combines the best of the Skype for Business server, the cloud-PBX and the service provider’s voice services.  It is available as a hardware appliance (Standard, Pro and Enterprise Box Editions) or as a Virtual Appliance.

The CloudBond 365TM provides a fully integrated solution.  When necessary, it has the required Skype for Business servers built in, including the front end, mediation, monitoring, edge and reverse proxy servers.  The appliance also contains an embedded Windows server 2012 R2 and an embedded SQL Server Standard 2012, as well additional virtual machines for trusted 3rd party applications. The CloudBond 365TM Box Editions have built in gateway and session border controller (SBC) capability as well as a host of specialized tools including Office 365 and Active Directory connectors, a deployment wizard, and IP Phone management software.

CloudBond 365TM connects and syncs with Office 365 and the local Active Directory, allowing for voice enablement and an easy setup of voice policies.  Skype for Business users can be registered on CloudBond 365’s Skype for Business server Front End or in Microsoft’s Cloud PBX and can be moved at any time in both directions, providing tremendous flexibility. For users that were migrated to the Cloud PBX, the appliance provides the required mediation, edge and PSTN/SIP trunking connectivity.

The Ideal Bridge

CloudBond 365TM is the ideal bridge for a gradual, smooth migration to full cloud-based connectivity, allowing companies to migrate at their own pace, moving from an on-premises PBX infrastructure to a true hybrid structure. While the Microsoft cloud offering is still evolving into a viable PBX replacement, AudioCodes’ solution exists today, creating the critical bond between today’s UC and the cloud of tomorrow.  For enterprises that want to leverage the flexibility, dynamicity and economical model of cloud services, but still need the power and control of the more traditional on-premises model, the wait is over. You can have tomorrow’s UC today!

For more information, see our Application Note: Getting the Cloud Right – A Practical Guide