Lync Phone Edition (LPE)

Lync Phone Edition (LPE) – AudioCodes offer Teams Ready device upgrade

Summary

AudioCodes is introducing a replacement program for Microsoft LPE (Lync Phone Edition) devices that will stop working with Microsoft Office 365 services beginning on October 31, 2018 when only TLS 1.2 compliant devices will be supported. The offer can be found and claimed on the AudioCodes website at http://online.audiocodes.com/lpeupgradeprogram.

What are Lync Phone Edition (LPE) devices and why won’t they work?

Lync Phone Edition (LPE) devices are the IP Phones first launched alongside Lync 2010.  The phones were produced by third-party certified vendors like Polycom, HP/Snom & Mitel/Aastra.  All of them run Windows CE 6.0 and a Microsoft written Lync Phone client. Windows CE – and therefore Lync Phone Edition – doesn’t support TLS 1.2, therefore, when Microsoft enforces TLS 1.2 only on Office 365, these devices will no longer connect.

Lync Phone Ediiton (LPE)

AudioCodes offers Teams Ready device for Lync Phone Edition (LPE)

 

The models of Lync Phone Edition (LPE) devices that are affected by this change are:

  • Polycom: CX500, CX600, CX3000
  • HP: 4110 and 4120
  • Mitel/Aastra: 6721ip and 6725ip

Why is this important?

Older TLS versions (1.0 and 1.1) are known to have vulnerabilities used by hackers. Security regulated markets (for example credit card processing) force services to only utilize modern TLS implementations. While Microsoft has stated that there are no known vulnerabilities in their own implementations of TLS 1.0 they recognize the potential for future vulnerabilities and making this change to more modern TLS. These newer regulations also encourage moving toward new security mechanisms – for example, Modern Authentication that Microsoft has implemented in recent years.  These newer security mechanisms are fully supported by AudioCodes phones.

Microsoft will enforce TLS 1.2 on the Office 365 Cloud on October 31, 2018. Affected phones can utilize different services within Office 365. As mentioned above, basic calling may be facilitated by Skype for Business Online so that is affected. Likewise, affected phones can utilize Exchange Online services for calendaring, voicemail services, Outlook contacts, call logs, and more. The fact that phones cannot access Exchange Online services will also impact on-premises/hybrid deployments using Exchange Online.

Will this affect my existing non-LPE devices?

All 3PIP (Microsoft 3rd Party Interoperability Partner) phones which are certified for Skype for Business Online will continue work after this Office 365 TLS 1.2 change and work with and be supported by Microsoft Teams. There will be no change to 3PIP phones connected to Skype for Business Server on-premises. They will be able to join Microsoft Teams scheduled meetings and place calls with the same user experience and features detailed above in the Microsoft blog.  LPE Phones will still be able to connect to Skype for Business Server on-premises as long as TLS 1.0 and 1.1 are supported in that deployment. Connectivity to Office 365 features like Exchange Online will not work after October 31, 2018.

Additionally, at Enterprise Connect in March 2018, Microsoft announced a new line of ‘native Teams’ phones that run a Microsoft Teams app directly on the phone itself. LPE phones will not work with Microsoft Teams. For more details check out the Microsoft Tech Community blog. The current Microsoft Office 365 roadmap shows this support coming in 3Q 2018.

How can AudioCodes help?  Are there trade-in/trade-up incentives?

Yes! AudioCodes is introducing a replacement program for Microsoft LPE Phones that will stop working with Microsoft Office 365 Services beginning on October 31, 2018 when only TLS 1.2 compliant devices will be supported. The offer can be found on the AudioCodes website at:  http://online.audiocodes.com/lpeupgradeprogram.  For every model of AudioCodes in this offer, we have a matching (or more advanced) set of features. On top of standard expected calling features, our AudioCodes phones have modern features like advanced boss-admin, sidecar options, resiliency options, superior centralized management and more.  A few charts detailing how AudioCodes phones compare – along with frequently asked questions – can be found on our LPE Upgrade Program FAQ page.

 

Direct Routing the future of hybrid voice with Microsoft Teams

Direct Routing the future of hybrid voice with Microsoft Teams

On May 15th, 2018 Microsoft announced Public Preview of Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams via this blog. You might ask, what is Direct Routing? Direct Routing is the future of hybrid voice with Microsoft Teams, allowing organizations to leverage on-premises voice infrastructure through Teams certified SBC’s (enter AudioCodes). You can find more information by viewing the Microsoft blog Here.

What does this all mean and what benefit do I get?

What exactly does this all mean for you? It depends on where you are in your UC/IC journey. For some, the journey might be moving from an existing PBX to Microsoft Teams calling directly. Others might already be using Skype for Business / Skype for Business Online and ready to make the move to Teams calling. Still, others might have sites around the globe that are not yet able to migrate phone numbers from the local Telco providers into Microsoft Calling Plans.

Organizations looking to migrate to Microsoft Teams calling can now utilize direct SBC connectivity into the Microsoft Teams environment. This allows customers to bring their own PSTN trunk into the Microsoft environment via a Teams Certified SBC. With the combination of Teams and an AudioCodes SBC, organizations will now be able to take full advantage of Microsoft’s Intelligent Communications vision by providing a complete Teams experience for their users.

Direct Routing the future of hybrid voice with Microsoft Teams

What about my environment today and tomorrow?

Customers that currently utilize AudioCodes infrastructure to connect to their existing PBX, Skype for Business on-premises, or Skype for Business Online with Phone System (previously Cloud PBX) are in a great position. In this scenario, you have the ability to leverage your existing infrastructure and repurpose/reconfigure/update it to connect to the Microsoft Teams environment. If that current infrastructure is not already in place or maybe it needs an upgrade, AudioCodes has a large portfolio of certified SBCs that supports from a few sessions all the way up to tens of thousands of current sessions.

The benefit of a complete, unified portfolio is that AudioCodes has a solution to fit your needs today and tomorrow, from physical devices to a full complement of highly scalable virtual instances. Furthermore, depending on the level of functionality required, the SBC portfolio can also provide advanced high availability (HA).

Things to consider with Direct Routing SBCs from AudioCodes

Now that we know of the wide range of options available in Direct Routing scenarios, what about diving into some specific use cases that make the AudioCodes SBC stand out?

  1. Ever wonder what you are going to do with those existing analog devices? How in the world do I plug that analog wire into the cloud? That will likely never happen, but AudioCodes has you covered. Time and time again, the conversation comes up on how to integrate these existing analog devices (think elevator, common area, warehouse and laboratory phones) in organizations both large and small. For these scenarios you can easily place an AudioCodes MediaPack (analog adapter) behind the SBC, providing the necessary connectivity to allow Teams users to communicate with the analog device (and vice versa). Analog in Teams – no problem.
  2. What about sites that cannot have an SBC connect to the open internet and thus directly into Teams? Perhaps these sites only have MPLS back to a centralized site to funnel all outbound traffic. This is most common in larger organizations where local internet is not the best fit for the organization. The SBC can serve dual purposes to handle this situation – a centralized hub that hosts the main infrastructure (aka SBC) along with a spoke at a branch site with a local PSTN breakout. That local PSTN break out could be required due to local regulations or because of a cost-effective contract with a provider. Either way, the AudioCodes solution stack can make this type of scenario possible.
  3. Do you have a local regulation that requires routing of calls based on the location of a user? Specifically, when dialing emergency numbers (911, etc.) do you need to present to call to the PSAP in a specific fashion (aka ELIN)? That is a driving factor to leverage the SBCs ability to utilize the IP address subnets within a network and where the user generated the call to make logical and dynamic routing decisions. With SBCs in the environment, especially connecting to on-premises trunks, AudioCodes has the ability to utilize the SBC routing logic to make intelligent decisions based on the IP address of a particular user. This functionality is critical in emergency (aka 911) environments, especially when it pertains to larger campuses. A person making an emergency request may be pinpointed to a specific floor and room, allowing first responders to granularly identify their location.

What Next?

Now is the time for organizations who are looking to test Direct Routing with Microsoft Teams to contact your local AudioCodes representative or get in touch with AudioCodes via our website. Working with Microsoft for over 12 years, this is just another exciting step in the evolution of Enterprise Voice. AudioCodes is keen to work with you to architect the best path to the Teams future while keeping an eye on existing capabilities. If you already have SBC licenses in your environment, AudioCodes will be able to help determine the best way to connect to the Teams backend. For organizations that are not yet leveraging AudioCodes infrastructure, reach out today to get started with AudioCodes and Direct Routing in Microsoft Teams.

AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution | Don’t let distance stop your people talking feature

The AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution

Don’t let distance stop your people talking

Last week, I went on a whistle stop tour of Europe to meet some AudioCodes customers. It was, as usual, a pretty hectic schedule. On my last day before flying home, I was sitting outside a coffee shop sipping a nice short espresso, waiting to join a conference call with a long-standing customer, John. It was, indeed, a perfect way to round off my trip.

The AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution | Don’t let distance stop your people talking

Ironically, this conference call had been arranged because John had expressed an interest in the AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution – a room system specially designed for getting the most out of Skype for Business meetings. I say ironically, because practically every conference call-related myth, stereotype and cliché reared its head during this meeting. But it turned out to be the best marketing opportunity for our solution that I could have wished for.

After several long minutes had passed, I was admitted to the meeting, with John apologizing profusely for the delay. Evidently, he had been struggling to initiate the meeting.

This proved to be a great starting point for our conversation. I began by explaining to John that simplicity is the key with the AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution, and that initiating or joining a conference call is very easy and straightforward. You just press one of two buttons on the console’s head unit screen – MEET NOW to start an ad hoc meeting, and CALENDAR to review your daily agenda and select the meeting you want to join.

I began by outlining some of the unique features of the Huddle Room Solution. John wanted his IT manager, Anni, to join the meeting. Anni was working offsite for the day, so John had to search for the correct PIN code for this specific conference call and send it to her before she could finally log in from her mobile phone. Eventually, she was with us. This seemed like a good moment to point out that the AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution lets you add a participant to any call quickly and easily with just a few clicks. And all participants can see who else is participating and who the meeting organizer is.

While I was explaining how simple it is to deliver meeting information and PIN codes directly via the head unit, our call was interrupted by the sound of a plane passing overhead at John’s location. When we resumed the call, I told them that the Huddle Room Solution neatly avoids such disturbances by allowing you to mute any or all participants for any reason, just as you can with the Skype for Business client.

In fact, everything that you’re familiar with in Skype for Business – and plenty more besides – can be done from the Huddle Room Solution’s control interface. For example, if a confidential topic comes up during a meeting you can go private simply by picking up the handset.

Anni said that the thing she looks most closely at with any new technology purchases – apart from quality and reliability, of course – is easy and effective troubleshooting. I explained that we at AudioCodes always aim to provide comprehensive holistic solutions, and the Huddle Room Solution is no exception to this. Beyond giving you amazing sound quality, we take it even further by empowering your IT team with our dedicated management tool.

This powerful yet simple tool makes managing the Huddle Room Solution simplicity itself. You can relax in the knowledge that your huddle room will always be available for use – with the most up to date software and voice quality optimization – whenever you need it. Even better, any problems can be dealt with remotely by your IT people.

With only a few hours left before my flight, and with John sounding very enthused by our conversation, I arranged to have some samples sent to him so he could see – and hear – for himself what the Huddle Room Solution can do.

A week after they received the samples, I got a call from Anni. It was great news. She and John were so impressed by the Huddle Room Solution’s superior acoustics and ease-of-use that they decided to order several units.

I thought back to that pre-flight espresso, and how much easier my al fresco conference call with John would have been with the Huddle Room Solution already in place – because no matter where you are, it really does turn any space into a meeting space.

To download our application note,
Collaboration in Today’s World Made Clear and Simple, Wherever You Are,
click the button below:

Get it now

We at AudioCodes always aim to provide comprehensive holistic solutions, and the Huddle Room Solution is no exception to this. Beyond giving you amazing sound quality, we take it even further by empowering your IT team with our dedicated management tool.

CloudBond 365 and SBC at HQ reconfiguration

Meet AudioCodes’ CloudBond 365 OPCH – Future-Proofed for Microsoft Teams

The real alternative for Cloud Connector Edition and coexistence

While out on the road to present the AudioCodes strategy around the Microsoft Teams journey in the weeks after Microsoft Ignite 2017, it became clear to me that we’d had the right vision back in 2014 when we introduced CloudBond 365. The resource forest model as a foundation for each member of the CloudBond 365 family demonstrates more than ever that our CloudBond 365 solutions enable our customers and partners to be future-proof.

CloudBond 365 and SBC at HQ reconfiguration

CloudBond 365 and SBC at HQ reconfiguration

After the announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2017, we at AudioCodes are highlighting the ability of CloudBond 365 to serve as an OPCH. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this Microsoft acronym, OPCH stands for On-Premises Configuration Hybrid. As such, our CloudBond 365 OPCH is a PSTN connectivity appliance for Skype for Business Online, and serves as an alternative to Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) where coexistence with Skype for Business Server is required. Paul Cannon’s Microsoft blog refers directly to such third-party OPCH specific appliances for those who don’t want to modify their main deployment.

Over the past few weeks, our partners have been asking me when CloudBond 365 OPCH will become available, strongly indicating that they are continuing to enable Skype for Business Online users with Cloud PBX (now renamed Phone System) in a future-proof way.

The OPCH deployment model has been supported ever since the introduction of CloudBond 365, which means that we have this solution available right now. In the past, we referred to the solution as Skype for Business Hybrid Voice. Today, we refer to it by the OPCH acronym. As a matter of fact, most of our CloudBond 365 appliances installed over the past few years are deployed in this Hybrid Voice model, enabling voice services for Skype for Business Online. The exact same CloudBond 365 solution will also bring voice capability to Microsoft Teams in the future, through Direct Connect.

Something that will be new to our CloudBond 365 family ties in very well with Microsoft’s announcement that Modern Authentication for Skype for Business Server has gone to Public Preview. This allows CloudBond 365 to authenticate Skype for Business users against the Azure Active Directory, eliminating the need to set up bidirectional trusts between CloudBond 365 and the on-premises user forest(s). For topologies that are now supported in Public Preview, please read this.

It is also important to note that our entire CloudBond 365 family of solutions have User Management Pack 365 built-in. This is a powerful but simple web portal that ensures a smooth deployment and provides a single pane of glass across all Skype for Business deployment models.

If we go back to Paul Cannon’s blog, we can see Microsoft’s recommendation for enabling on-premises Skype for Business for Hybrid PSTN. This is an excellent moment to point out that User Management Pack 365 sits intuitively on top of existing on-premises Skype for Business deployments, connecting the enterprise environment with Microsoft Office 365 (‘split domain’) via special connectors. After the initial setup, UMP 365 empowers IT departments by facilitating a gradual and fully controlled migration to Microsoft’s Phone System today, and to Microsoft Teams in the future, from any existing Skype for Business deployment.

Our goal is to help our partners and customers stay on track with their journey to intelligent communications across Skype for Business Server and Microsoft Teams. For me personally, it has been very refreshing and rewarding to hear from our community over the past few weeks that we have exactly the right solution – at exactly the right time – to do just that.

To talk with an AudioCodes expert, click this button.

Let's Talk

 

After the announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2017, we at AudioCodes are highlighting the ability of CloudBond 365 to serve as an OPCH. Our goal is to help our partners and customers stay on track with their journey to intelligent communications across Skype for Business Server and Microsoft Teams.

AudioCodes in the Spotlight at Microsoft Ignite or was I just Dreaming?

It’s one of those movie clichés, isn’t it? Something awesome happens to the star of the movie and he or she can’t believe it. “Did that really happen or was I dreaming?” “Someone pinch me so I know this is real!”

I still go back and read the session summary by Jonathan McKinney, just about every day….   But, first things first…

Microsoft Ignite 2017

Microsoft Ignite 2017

Well, I’m pleased to tell you I had just such an experience only a few weeks ago. I was attending Ignite 2017, Microsoft’s annual conference for developers,  IT professionals and exectives. It’s an outstanding event where we get to hear the latest news from Microsoft (and there was plenty of that this year as I’m sure you heard), as well as meeting up with partners and customers from all over the globe.

During the show, Francois Doremieux, Principle Program Manager Lead at Microsoft held a breakout session called “Customer Testimonial – Learn from Large Scale Skype for Business Voice Deployments”. In this session, four large Microsoft customers – Cargill, Bosch, ZF and BNSF – presented details of their successful deployments of Skype for Business.  These four companies combined have 631,000 employees worldwide.

It was great to hear how these huge organizations had successfully navigated the turbulent waters of Skype for Business migration. What was truly mind-blowing for me was the number of times AudioCodes was named as a strategic vendor partner in these major projects. Whether it was our analog gateways, SBCs, IP phones, management tools or call recording, our entire One Voice portfolio – or individual parts of it – are playing a crucial role in ensuring companies’ transition to Microsoft UC can be achieved smoothly and reliably.

At the end of the session, I joined this elite group up on stage to introduce AudioCodes to the audience and join the panel for the Q&A. Even then, questions from the other Microsoft customers in the audience also referred to AudioCodes as their vendor of choice.

Since joining AudioCodes two years ago, I have enjoyed being at the forefront of voice technology and helping customers and partner achieve their goals. AudioCodes’ One Voice solutions cover virtually any voice need for PBX replacement, All-IP transformation and UC deployments, in particular Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams. It has been a pleasure working with such a great team of experienced voice professionals and R&D teams churning out market-leading products and solutions.

In the course of my work here, I have met a wide range of extremely satisfied customers and yet, to hear our name being mentioned as a key player in the deployments of such a prestigious group of companies and in such a public forum was something to behold.

So was I dreaming? In some ways, it seemed too good to be true. However, I am very appreciative to Jonathan McKinney, a Skype for Business MVP from Time2Market, who summarized the session for Microsoft’s Skype for Business Ignite blog. You can read Jonathan’s blog for yourselves to get a feel for how large organizations are migrating to Skype for Business. If  you need more convincing, you can even listen to the recording of the full session.

I encourage you to read the blog and if you have a bit more free time, listen to the recording. AudioCodes is right there where it matters – a strategic vendor enabling enterprise voice in these large Skype for Business deployments.

So it seems that dreams do sometimes come true!

To learn more about AudioCodes’ solution for Microsoft 365, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, visit our website or contact your AudioCodes representative.

Keep it simple

Deploying Skype for Business: Keeping it Simple

We live in a complex technology world.  A very successful businessman, Sir Richard Branson, once said: “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”

Keep it simple

This statement comes to mind again in the context of our S-S-D pitch for CloudBond 365: Simplification, Standardization and Demarcation, three words that I often use in presentations.

The CloudBond 365 solution provides three pillars: The User Management Pack™ 365 built-in management suite, an Active Directory Connector and an Office365 Connector. This makes CloudBond 365 the spider in the web between Office 365 and the local customer enterprise. The solution provides a fully preinstalled Skype for Business solution on an AudioCodes gateway, server, or virtualization platform in the datacenter, standardized on Microsoft’s resource forest model. CloudBond 365 enables this Skype for Business silo model to be a fully integrated with the enterprise and provide these S-S-D benefits. Of course, User Management Pack™ 365 can also run on top of a fully (self-) deployed Skype for Business environment.

Here are a couple of examples:

From a technical perspective, simplification not only brings value for the initial deployment but also for the years to follow. ‘Simple things’ tend to break less and if they break they’re easier to fix. From a business perspective, professional services can now be enabled for integrating Skype for Business with the business processes of an enterprise.

Standardization is key not only for the deployment phase, but also for the support period in the following years.

  • Support engineers ‘know’ exactly what the architecture is
  • The exact customer environment is always available in the lab to reproduce test
  • Problems and solutions for one customer are now applicable to most other customers as well

If you’re in the business of selling Skype for Business, standardization allows you to offer the solution without assuming the risk of covering potential trouble shooting or ‘unknowns’ within the customer environment. Standardization means there are no projects that are open ended.

The demarcation provided by the CloudBond 365 solution presents a very clear line between the Skype for Business deployment and the customer enterprise environment (in which Active Directories, Exchange, SharePoint, etc. are being managed). There is no need for discussions on SLA and who’s responsible for what. This same demarcation line also helps the business to stay out of competition with the new customer’s current ICT partner and doesn’t require managing two ICT partners within the same network.

Skype for Business designs usually have a complex enterprise setup which can cause projects to become more expensive than at first anticipated.  This complexity can have a major effect on the TCO in the years that follow going “live” with a Skype for Business deployment. The CloudBond 365 solution provides additional simplicity for daily maintenance via the User Management Pack™ 365, an important ongoing benefit to an organization realizing a quicker ROI by means of a lower TCO.

CloudBond 365 is all about simplifying something complex, allowing enterprises to benefit from Skype for Business as much as SMBs.

Sir Richard Branson had it right. Just keep things simple.

Read this Application Note to see how User Management Pack™ 365 really is simplicity in action.

Download-Now

 

CCE

Top 10 Reasons to Use AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances

Making Migration to the Cloud Pure Simplicity

CCE

Because of the importance of cutting costs and increasing productivity in today’s fast-moving and ever-evolving world, the lure of cloud communications has never been stronger. However, in spite of the cloud’s numerous advantages, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed, including how to migrate to the cloud while preserving on-premises connectivity with local service providers.

AudioCodes Mediant 800 CCE and Mediant Server CCE appliances rise effortlessly to this challenge, bundling AudioCodes field-proven session border controllers (SBCs) and media gateways into a single elegantly packaged 1U chassis. They seamlessly integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, and are easy to deploy and manage. The Mediant 800 CCE appliance is certified for Microsoft Skype for Business Online and is now shown in the Microsoft product catalog. So let’s have a look at the top 10 reasons why you really should think about using AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances.

  1. A broad portfolio of quality products.

AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances are made up of well-known, tried and tested products in the AudioCodes portfolio. You can be confident that these Microsoft-qualified platforms will deliver enterprise-grade security and reliability that you can count on, time and again.

  1. Two feature-packed models to choose from, depending on your deployment needs.

AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances share common functionality but provide different concurrent session capacities, so you can be sure that you’ll find a model that suits your needs. Whatever your business’s size and connectivity requirements, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Very easy to install.

The powerful and intuitive installation wizard is designed to get you up and running in around two hours. No need to bring in a PowerShell expert who will cost you valuable time and money.

  1. Simple to monitor and operate.

An easy to understand dashboard clearly shows you everything that’s happening and lets you configure your Mediant CCE appliance without needing to use PowerShell scripts. In addition, the appliances are natively integrated with the AudioCodes One Voice Operations Center (OVOC), so you don’t have to tie up financial and human resources in developing proprietary monitoring tools.

  1. Easy to update and upgrade.

The AudioCodes wizard and dashboard have automatic Cloud Connector Edition version detection and self-adjustment for forward and backward compatibility. This makes it easy to schedule updates and upgrades, including on a per site basis. Again, all this can be done without ever having to write a single PowerShell script.

  1. The AudioCodes Helpdesk and the Microsoft Office 365 Service Operations Center have integrated support procedures.

AudioCodes is certified by Microsoft to provide support for the Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition. This collaborative approach assures that any technical issues that might arise can be dealt with very quickly, bringing you real peace of mind.

  1. Effective High Availability (HA) configuration functionality.

The Mediant CCE appliances support HA configuration, which can be easily set up using the AudioCodes wizard. They also support SBC floating licenses. Importantly, the Microsoft live upgrade process does not negatively affect your service or traffic.

  1. Part of an advanced Cloud PBX Networking Solution.

The Mediant CCE appliances natively integrate with AudioCodes Routing Manager (ARM) topologies, enabling global call routing and policy enforcement to be centrally managed from a single location. The appliances also include support for the One Voice Resiliency (OVR) cloud resiliency solution, bringing you a level of dependability that you know you can rely on.

  1. Cost-effective.

No matter what your capacity needs are, AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances represent excellent value for money. If keeping the cost down is a priority for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

  1. Available on an OpEx pay-as-you-go basis for trials.

The Mediant 800 CCE appliance is included in the AudioCodes Go Cloud offer. Go Cloud makes it simple and risk free for you to trial Microsoft Cloud PBX. You also get 9×5 support, Cloud PBX certified AudioCodes 440HD IP Phones, and IP Phone Manager Express for provisioning. You can stop anytime and just return the equipment. All this for one convenient and transparent monthly fee. What have you got to lose?

Call recording

My Skype for Business Calls Need to be Recorded, Right?

Call recording

Anyone who calls a customer service or tech support line has gotten that “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” announcement in their lifetime.  That typically means that the contact center you called has a recording system and most likely will record your call, whether it’s to understand how their employees handle customer calls or possibly by law to meet specific compliance purposes.  The expansion of Skype for Business in the enterprise is slowly replacing the traditional phone system and the number of options to record calls is limited to a few companies.  With such a narrow choice of products, why should you record your Skype for Business calls?

The answers are simple.  I’ve outlined a few bullets that will help you decide on whether you should record or not.

Protection – Any verbal transaction that involves your company and a customer or partner should always be recorded.  A recording will protect your company and employees during verbal monetary transactions, no matter how big or how small the transaction is.  Further, in cases where specific laws take place, such as financial investments or order by phone, it is required by law to record the conversation.  More importantly, even if it’s a casual conversation between an employee and customer, the minute a commitment is involved, the conversation should be recorded.  This will help in cases of disputes where the customer or employee may make a claim of “he said, she said”.  Recordings don’t lie, the conversation can simply be played back and the dispute can be settle.  Even in cases where there is no contact center, like in finance for instance, your finance administrator may not speak with customers on a regular basis but at times calls might get escalated to them.  In these situations, wouldn’t it be great to recording the conversation so that there are no discrepancies?  By using Record on Demand, the conversation can be recorded and saved for future reference.

Understanding Your Customer – By recording conversations between your employees and customers, the organization can get a better picture of how it communicates with its customers and how its employees are positioning the company and its products.  Sampling conversations can easily provide a picture of what your customers are looking for, or perhaps outline areas of improvement for your organization.  Sometimes it’s not what the customers says, but rather how the customer says it or implies it.  You can’t get that from your employee.  They can only provide you a recollection of what was said, and in their view only.  Recordings provide an unbiased view of the conversation where management can make informed decisions.

Compliance – Compliance is at the forefront of every conversation in the enterprise.  Many companies have Compliance Officers that manage communications between the firm and its customers.  With the expansion of data breaches, hacking oblog.af technology and identity theft, compliance laws have been implemented over the past few years to protect consumer information such as personal financial information (social security numbers, credit card information, etc.) and even healthcare information from being exposed.  Further, laws such as MAD II (Market Abuse and Market Manipulation) which protects the consumer from misleading or misguided information on financial investment vehicles.  MAD II manages the company’s sales practices and protects the company from disreputable trades.  Other compliance laws such as MIFID II, which is scheduled to be implemented in the European Union in July 2017 stretches the compliance monitoring standard from investment brokers to sales, administrative personnel and certified financial planners.  So, the expansion of compliance is requiring that conversations or basically any communication with the consumer be recorded.  With that requirement, Skype for Business users must have both voice and chat (IM) sessions recorded to protect the consumer and allow the firm to monitor the activity of their employees.

SmartTAP is AudioCodes Skype for Business recording platform.  Built specifically to support Skype for Business, SmartTAP provides a secure, tamper proof environment to record both voice and chat sessions, either consistently, or on a Record on Demand / Save on Demand basis. Through SmartTAP’s Media Server protection, Skype for Business calls are never exposed to the internet, thus adding another layer of protection from outside intrusion.  SmartTAP also stores voice and chat sessions in an encrypted environment, with a Digital Signature added, where original recordings can never be touched.  Expanding SmartTAP throughout the organization is easy by deploying the Skype for Business Toolbar that embeds directly into the Skype for Business client.  Tagging calls, recording calls on demand are made easy by simply selecting the SmartTAP option on the Skype for Business client.  These capabilities only scratch the surface of what SmartTAP can do for your Skype for Business deployment.  Find out more by visiting our website at www.audiocodes.com/smarttap.

Coexistence & Migration

Clouducation Episode #2

Coexistence & Migration

Coexistence & Migration

I know most people don’t want to hear it, but is it time to start thinking about removing legacy infrastructure and beginning the journey to rolling out a new telephony solution?  The old adage of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ might no longer fit with the rapid pace of change.   Perhaps you have already started the process of modernizing the work place and the voice communication and collaboration aspects that tag along.  Either way change is inevitable and this is really where a decision should be made of “how” that modernization should occur – not if.

In the old days, when moving from one PBX to another, the theory was much more of a “rip and replace” mentality where the users would leave work on Friday, then come back Monday morning to a new phone on their desk with a little cheat sheet on any new buttons or features that the new PBX has to offer.  But is this really the best way to make this type of change?  Is it fair to the users to be “forced” to immediately adopt the new platform?  Well, in many opinions, it is no longer the right way to go about this process and options now existing to smooth out this process.

Instead, companies are starting the concept of “migrating” to the new platform with some level of “coexistence” with the old and the new.  Let’s dive into a couple of things to keep in mind during this process as when done right, it is great but when done wrong…ouch…

A great example is in a larger organization, where many offices may exist in different geographical locations, and doing a complete cutover in a couple of days is usually impossible.  The IT teams do not have the manpower to make all the changes without a negative impact on the users – especially while focusing efforts to ensure successful deployment and functionality along the way.  This is where coexistence is key!

Coexistence allows IT managers to have both telephony platforms up and running, while meticulously identifying users and groups to migrate at a much more reasonable pace.  Users in one office can start the migration to the new platform, adopt the new technology, and continue working without interference.  At the same time, users in other offices will see no change in their daily activities, as they will continue to use the existing telephony infrastructure until they are selected and ready to migrate.

Now that is all well and good, but what about the IT department?  Having to manage two telephony environments, especially in cases where administrators may only have knowledge of one or the other but not both, can become very challenging.  This also could pose issues with the ability to manage and enforce dial plans to provide a similar experience across both platforms.  Many things to think about while beginning the journey but things that industry experts are able to assist with and reduce the pains that could come up along the way…

No need to despair and fret over the choices – there are solutions that can help in both scenarios.

We plan to cover all of the above (and much more) on our upcoming “Cloud”ucation Episode #2 – Coexistence & Migration, so please do join us to hear it from the experts.  If you have not already signed up, please do so at the following link: http://online.audiocodes.com/clouducation

CloudUcation

CloudUcation

Clouducation Episode #1

Devices and Endpoints

CloudUcation

In today’s fast paced and ever changing world, companies are quite often looking to the latest and greatest technology to get the elusive competitive edge.  This is true from the flashy ‘front door’ of their website/mobile app to the more pedestrian – but equally critical – voice infrastructure, especially when deploying Skype for Business.  The latest in voice technology allows for users to ubiquitously connect to others using virtually any piece of technology they can get their hands on. This often includes their PC, iPad, Surface, mobile phone, or tin can and string – it should not matter (except for that last one which is a stretch!).  Well, at least that what users want to think…

Allowing users to make their own unfettered decisions about what device to use is great in theory, right up until the point where they continually have quality issues and turn their attention to blaming the back end infrastructure, rather than realizing it is the device or connection they are on that is the culprit.  At the same time, it is important to realize that users are people, and for people their device choices are personal.

So how do organizations overcome this challenge?  Well, first and foremost is to properly train their users on how to utilize SfB properly.  Secondly, and arguable more important, is to provide the appropriate devices for the users to utilize at all times to ensure they have the best possible chance for a successful experience.  This is where it is extremely important to provide users with a couple of options, including certified IP phones and headsets.

So what are the key things to consider when placing an IPP on a user’s desk?  Let’s take a quick look at some of those topics briefly below, before we dive much deeper during Episode #1 of the “Cloud”ucation series:

  1. Connectivity – When it comes to IP phones, making sure the user always has a “constant” connection readily available at all times helps to alleviate those times where your PC has conveniently decided to install updates and require a reboot.  It seems like a small inconvenience, but we have all been there!!
  2. Ease of use – IP phones can also help to bridge the gap from user’s past experiences on other voice platforms, with the new ways SfB has to offer for communicating.  Why would anyone want to “relearn” how to use a phone?  It is a silly concept for sure and great options are available to alleviant this concern.
  3. Manageability – This might not be something the users think of, but who wouldn’t want to be on the latest software load and be able to report all statistics back to the IT manager automatically?  We have all been there as well, having a bad call experience, and calling the IT folks to get the old “send me more information” response.  Users should not have to concern themselves with this type of stuff, and that’s why the endpoints need to be the eyes and ears of IT.

Pretty interesting stuff to consider, especially in the BYOD world we live in!

On top of that, there is an interesting new term that I have just learned of from Mauro Caule over at Jabra called a “Confetti day”.  Think of it this way, we all work in different places and spaces, but how do we keep ourselves “on task” with the increasing number of distractions we have around us?  Mauro is going to touch on how headsets can help mitigate a lot of those distractions and keep users on task no matter what is going on around them (except the NFL playoffs, who can work during that?!?!).