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How UCaaS is changing the face of education communication solutions

Colleges and universities must be prepared for any number of disruptions, a lesson learned over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. And with any disruption, communication is key.

Man at university works on laptop, utilizing education unified communications services
UCaaS offers integrated cloud-based education communication solutions and services, supported by trained staff.

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) from CBTS is becoming a widely adopted tool for higher education leaders seeking to keep pace with the modern digital world. Forward-looking institutions are turning to UCaaS solutions for help navigating an IT environment that is becoming more unwieldy to manage and finance.

Evolving technology demands IT expertise and a large-scale upfront capital outlay that most schools can neither staff nor afford. Without expert support, poor security compliance and protection can erode the trust among an institution and its students, parents, faculty, and additional constituents. 

UCaaS offers integrated cloud-based education communication solutions and services, all supported by trained staff, available with predictable monthly pricing, and capable of scalability for physical or virtual campus locations. Active support from CBTS reduces the burden of network upkeep and allows for a greater focus on the development of services that address the unique needs of students and faculty.

This article will detail the education communication solutions by CBTS, especially for entities ready to make the transition from legacy networks to cloud-based solutions.

Also read: VoIP vs UCaaS: What is right for your business?

Savvy educators bring UCaaS to campus

Compared to other sectors, higher education is historically slow in adopting new innovations, including the paradigm shift associated with modern cloud-based solutions. It’s imperative for education CIOs to understand how the long-term benefits of cloud migration outweigh the temporary disruption of restructuring existing IT staff and services.

Put simply, the future is now, as the rapid pace of technological change can wreak havoc on higher education budgets. Savvy educators choose CBTS UCaaS for strategic cloud services that continuously deliver updated technologies and analytics, as well as tech support from anywhere on the planet.

Also read: Leverage SD-WAN to get the most from your UCaaS platform

Five ways UCaaS can help transform higher education:
  1. Increased operational efficiencies
  2. Improved safety and security
  3. Enabling next-generation learning
  4. Leveraging crucial education data
  5. Seamless connection to an expanding network environment

Five communication solutions UCaaS offers the education sector

Unified communications requires multiple functions to work together while enabling departments and colleges to function independently. Strategic technologies assist schools in boosting academic quality, which fosters innovation and improves student retention—goals that can no longer be tethered to legacy technology platforms and practices.

1) Increased efficiencies

As effective communication across all departments is key, UCaaS integrates communication channels, so that voice, teleconferencing, and messaging are woven into the student experience whenever and wherever they are needed.

Through UCaaS, educational institutions can:

  • Deliver seamless, simplified communications.
  • Offer single-number reach.
  • Simplify management.
  • Improve productivity.

2) Better-quality security

Managing data storage, compliance, and security is a prime concern of education leaders seeking new communication solutions, considering most higher education institutions can’t afford the costly blowback from a massive data breach. UCaaS solutions protect enterprise data against potential assaults thanks to network segmentation backed by qualified CBTS experts. Schools using UCaaS can also:

  • Enhance staff response during a crisis.
  • Easily share emergency messages, or send them in a simultaneous, real-time broadcast.
  • Expedite communications with first responders.
  • Notify parents and emergency contacts within minutes of an incident.

Also read: The Effects of the Coronavirus on Cybersecurity

3) Enabling learning

With the pandemic accelerating a need for reliable remote teaching, UCaaS can make a key difference in how your institution reaches young learners. From utilizing online sources and class notes to communicating easily with professors or improving how students submit projects, UCaaS integration provides campuses with a singular solution rather than a confusing mix of vendors, software, and solutions. By including UCaaS in day-to-day operations, colleges can:

  • Provide cost-efficient IP-based phone services.
  • Enable communications and collaborative learning.
  • Give students and faculty access to global resources.
  • Enhance parent-teacher-administrator communication.

Also read: How SD-WAN & NaaS come together to supercharge remote work productivity

4) Leveraging data

Data analytics tools can help schools find and retain students while identifying demographic trends that offer a competitive edge. This strategic analysis allows institutions to parse enrollment data alongside factors contributing to waning admissions.

At the governing level, business intelligence tools supported by CBTS give decision-making insight about every aspect of managing and sustaining a higher education enterprise. Education communication solutions from CBTS come with a single-pane management design, delivering operational analysis via dashboards and real-time displays.

5) Seamless connections

As campus footprints expand both physically and virtually, continuous connectivity will keep your entire digital universe operating as a single unit. UCaaS presents an integrated package of innovations that scales to both current needs and any future expansion.

A competitive edge through UCaaS

Migrating to UCaaS cloud-based services is a must for educators seeking to take their institutions into a competitive, secure, and future-forward academic landscape.

CBTS provides best-in-class UCaaS infrastructure and support to empower your educational transformation. See how CBTS assisted a higher-ed client in reaching its cloud-based communication goals.

Contact us for more information on how UCaaS from CBTS can enable innovative education communication solutions for your college or university.


Continue Reading: Reliable WiFi Access Vital to Universities

How Cisco Connected Justice modernized a county justice system

Remote accessibility has been a common goal for the professional workforce for the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to adapt to public health safety measures. These changes have been difficult to implement on an enterprise scale, and this difficulty is exaggerated for public services such as the justice system and regional courthouses.

These organizations are distinct from private sector businesses by nature of them being public institutions with strict security standards.

When a county court system in the midwestern U.S. struggled to virtualize its processes, it reached out for expert assistance.

That’s where Cisco Connected Justice came in.

Top five benefits of Cisco Connected Justice:
  1. Ensures the secure continuity of government organizations without jeopardizing public health and safety.
  2. Enables inmates to remotely conference with counselors, interpreters, visitors, attorneys, and more.
  3. Allows for the complete virtualization of arraignments and other courtroom proceedings.
  4. Streamlines rehabilitative programs and parolee supervision efforts.
  5. Increases citizen engagement in the justice system and engenders trust between civilians and government institutions.

Enabling Cisco Connected Justice for lawyers, judges, and more

Challenge

With inmates of the county justice system—as well as lawyers, courthouse staff, and the general public—requiring remote access to court services and functions, county leadership was in need of a virtualization solution that allowed for full accessibility without sacrificing on security or violating attorney/client privilege.

Ensuring that this virtualized courthouse solution would stand up to the future stresses that a government network would inevitably experience was also a primary concern.

Solution

CBTS, in partnership with Cisco, worked closely with the local justice system to implement Cisco Connected Justice, a suite of virtual conferencing solutions that would allow attorneys to interface directly with their clients via secure courtroom video conferencing, inmates to attend virtual court appearances, judges to confer with lawyers in private “side-rooms”, and more.

Through Cisco Connected Justice, these functions are available anytime, anywhere, from any authorized device.

Additionally, these solutions are built upon a flexible “plug and play” infrastructure that is designed to be easily updated, redeployed, and supported. This ongoing maintenance is critical for any entity that answers to taxpayers and has public-sector security and accountability standards to maintain.

For justice system agencies or government organizations in general, efficiency and ease of access are key. Virtualization solutions that enable courtroom video conferencing, such as Cisco Connected Justice, are steps forward in a widespread struggle to maintain public safety as well as efficiency in essential workplaces.

Results

By empowering the justice system to deliver crucial services virtually, Cisco Connected Justice helped to maintain public health safety, improved the response time of associated government services, and cut various costs, including inmate transportation.

Also read: Improving the remote collaboration experience

Benefits of investing in Cisco Connected Justice for lawyers and justice system administrators

For court systems and other publicly-accountable government organizations, it’s vital to be aware of the tools available to enable courtroom video conferencing and the many benefits they can deliver.

Cisco Connected Justice, when packaged with Cisco Webex, does more than simply enabling continuity of operations during an unprecedented pandemic: it grants easy and secure access to the justice system, increasing civic engagement and public trust.

The benefits don’t stop there.

Courtroom video conferencing solutions, when implemented properly, allow detention centers to more effectively quarantine inmates as needed; schedule telehealth appointments between inmates and doctors; arrange for remote educational programming, fully-virtualized court proceedings, and socially-distanced visitation procedures; and more. With solutions like Cisco Connected Justice, virtualized corrections departments and court systems can also remotely maintain rehabilitative programs for parolees.

Read this case study to learn how Cisco Connected Justice, a powerful suite of virtual conferencing solutions, modernized a county justice system.

Contact Us

Contact CBTS for more information on enabling video conferencing for lawyers and court systems with Cisco Connected Justice. Cisco Connected Justice can modernize the justice system for the COVID era.

LAN infrastructure from CBTS gives a boost to retail growth

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified demand across all industries for modern networking technology that enables seamless and user-friendly collaboration. Retail is no different, as local area network (LAN) infrastructure gives merchants and customers alike access to actionable information anytime from any location. Benefits include:

  • Faster customer information processing.
  • An enhanced customer experience.
  • Increased sales and reduced costs.
  • Improved network performance.

Cloud-managed security cameras—the latest addition to the CBTS Network as a Service (NaaS) product line—are equipped with advanced sensors and work seamlessly within the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline store operations, improve public safety measures, and optimize revenue without an increase in licensing costs.

LAN infrastructure gives a boost to retailers.
LAN infrastructure and cloud computing solutions give a boost to retailers.

LAN infrastructure also allows retailers to reduce spending associated with software and hardware development, maintenance, and staffing. Retailers can now deliver products and services at speed while monitoring data performance in real time.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many ways in which innovations in LAN infrastructure from CBTS empower retail clients nationwide.

Also read: Employ cloud-enabled security to safeguard your SD-WAN network

Unifying multiple store locations with NaaS

NaaS is putting LAN infrastructure within reach for every enterprise, including retailers not currently equipped to meet high demand for reliable, full-spectrum communication. When combined with software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) and hosted unified communications (UC), NaaS is capable of reinventing any store’s networking architecture.

NaaS delivers a Wi-Fi-enabled network that boasts shared wireless connectivity and analytics across multiple locations. By harnessing NaaS, retailers can:

  • Spend less time and money managing expensive, complex resources such as LANs, appliances, switches, and application delivery controllers.
  • Provide customers with Wi-Fi connectivity for loyalty and award apps as well product information and reviews.
  • Use Wi-Fi to obtain customer travel paths and additional data for dissemination of personalized in-store promotions—wireless access points provide information on where the customer moves in store, which can help retailers design layouts and maximize foot traffic.

Cisco Meraki MV cameras are the newest feature of the ever-expanding CBTS product portfolio. By tapping into cloud-augmented edge storage, Meraki MV cameras eliminate the costs and complexities of traditional security camera systems.

Meraki MV cameras are managed centrally through the cloud, eliminating the need for in-house servers and enabling automatic firmware updates, bug fixes, and instant delivery of new features. Users with a retail cloud computing focus can stream and create video walls for monitoring critical locations without needing to configure IP or install plug-ins.  

Also read: How Cisco Meraki + CBTS NaaS team up to deliver cost-efficient modernization for your network

Product highlights include:

  • Meraki dashboard for centralized management.
  • Cloud-augmented edge storage.
  • Easy scalability for multiple camera deployment.
  • Intelligent motion indexing.
  • Built-in video analytics tools.
  • Encrypted control architecture supported by SAML integration.

No special software or browser plug-in requirements.

Discover how LAN infrastructure and cloud computing are revolutionizing retail by downloading this retail networking guide.

Updating your retail operations with LAN infrastructure

Smart wireless networks are a treasure trove of customer information that offer retailers valuable insights into customer behavior—from foot traffic patterns to time spent in store. Retailers can further improve customer experience and brand loyalty via branded landing pages, integrated applications, and push notifications.

Secure access service edge (SASE) is a network architecture that rolls SD-WAN and security into a cloud service, delivering simplified WAN deployment, improved efficiency and security, and appropriate bandwidth per application.

As a cloud service, SASE can be readily scaled up or down based on usage, an attractive option for retailers looking for a viable cloud computing option. SASE’s designation as a single service cuts overall complexity and cost, thanks to a decrease in hardware and the number of vendors retailers must meet with. 

SASE also supports zero-trust networking, which bases access on user, device, and application rather than location and IP address. End users can therefore gain access without worrying about security becoming a focal point for future cyberattacks.

Ultimately, SASE allows businesses to respond to crises faster, ideally minimizing their impact. Additionally, SASE better positions stores to employ new innovations such as edge computing, 5G, and mobile AI.

Also read: Q&A: Secure networking utilizing robust SD-WAN solutions

Crucial LAN infrastructure resources can replace outdated retail systems

UCaaS (unified communications as a service), a managed service for voice and collaboration, is an increasingly popular tool for retailers.

By implementing UCaaS, businesses can replace outmoded voice-only systems and operate VoIP, room-based video, chat, web conferencing, and other real-time applications. UCaaS is a scalable cloud computing solution that improves the quality of voice calls while adding omni-channel features such as call reporting, video conferencing, and e-mail.

With UCaaS solutions from CBTS, retailers can increase productivity and eliminate upfront costs. Cisco’s Context Service, included in all CBTS contact center solutions, collects customer data from multiple channels and organizes it for use in marketing, sales, and other applications.

SD-WAN is another valuable cloud resource for retailers to manage services among UCaaS, LANs, software as a service (SaaS) applications, security systems, and private and public clouds.

Among its other benefits, SD-WAN minimizes delays over long distances and improves overall network quality. The technology allows cost-conscious merchants to maximize multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) costs, or even replace MPLS entirely and switch to broadband. SD-WAN can be deployed over MPLS and Ethernet as well as cable, fiber, DSL, Wi-Fi, and 4G cellular LTE.

Also read: Enhance the customer experience by blending Five9 Contact Center as a Service with CBTS enterprise voice solutions

LAN infrastructure in retail ensures business longevity

UCaaS, NaaS, and SD-WAN are subscription-based cloud computing solutions with usage-based monthly payments, meaning retailers won’t be responsible for upgrade costs or ongoing hardware and software licensing. Merchants can now better connect with customers, maximizing visitor data to develop beneficial business strategies and perfect customer service.

Contact us to learn more about LAN infrastructure options for your enterprise and join a team of CBTS experts for an online-only LAN infrastructure for retail event.

Cloud delivered SD-WAN and 5 fixes for networking obstacles

Businesses from nearly every industry and vertical are embracing the capabilities of Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), especially in an age when it’s vital to empower remote workforces. But what exactly is SD-WAN?

Cloud-delivered SD-WAN explained

Simply put, SD-WAN technology is the natural result of business applications being migrated to the cloud. Most businesses are familiar with software and services like Office365, but businesses around the globe are also adopting cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Disaster recovery and backup services are also increasingly being managed via the cloud.

As applications migrate to the cloud, so too are network functions—and that’s where cloud-delivered SD-WAN shines. By moving network operations to the cloud, businesses are no longer required to manage their communications infrastructures at the local level while also gaining improved visibility and analytical insight. From there, mission-critical applications can be layered into the cloud-delivered network. SD-WAN ultimately drives business outcomes by giving customers a better experience when accessing these applications. 

Cloud-delivered SD-WAN software and cloud-based technologies:
  • Improve buisness agility with a software-defined solution that delivers faster deployment, on-demand bandwidth, and faster recovery.
  • Drive IT efficiency with automation and cloud management that takes the burden off in-house staff.
  • Reduce overall cost and stabilize IT budget management by eliminating data center upgrades and redesign costs.

Five remedies for remote or hybrid networking pain points

In the complicated global business environment, the versatility of hybrid and remote networking solutions enabled by cloud-delivered SD-WAN can grant a competitive edge—but only if they are implemented effectively. Enterprises often run into roadblocks when adopting a remote/hybrid networking strategy. Here are a few ways to minimize those obstacles:

1. Migrating your remote workforce onto the same network

Enterprises of all types and sizes have struggled over the past year to establish functional remote workforce networks. Given the chaotic conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no wonder why so many remote workforce initiatives have suffered from limited performance. By partnering with a proven service provider like CBTS, a variety of remote work and internet-based connectivity solutions can be put into place using software-based virtualization—meaning your enterprise can benefit from greatly improved connection quality, reliability, and security.

2. Protecting your network with enhanced security across remote offices

With large numbers of employees working from home, many enterprises are finding their network security unsuitable for securing networks across a high volume of remote connections. An SD-WAN cloud security solution can easily be service chained with a cloud security solution to consistently deliver protection from external threats, including phishers, scammers, bots, and viruses—even as users access the network remotely. This reduces strain on your organization’s data center while providing peace of mind for remote employees.

3. Identifying opportunities for cost reductions while empowering remote workers

Especially at a time when operational expenditures are being inflated and complicated by the ongoing public health crisis, it’s critical to take advantage of cost savings wherever possible. Cloud-delivered SD-WAN accomplishes this by abstracting your organization’s network hardware and application transport characteristics to simplify management and enhance performance. This allows companies to replace expensive private WAN connections such as multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) by building higher-performance WANs that use lower-cost Internet access.

SD-WAN can improve your enterprise’s bottom line by:

  • Eliminating capital expenditures (CapEx), the traditional capital investment in IT infrastructure.
  • Leaving behind the complexity and high costs associated with building, sourcing, and supporting high-performance and leading-edge technology.
  • Allowing your organization to pay less for an agile, high-performance network.

4. Migrating applications to the cloud

With cloud-based applications becoming key components of modern business operations, network administrators are constantly on the lookout for new methods to ensure access and increase bandwidth availability. This is leading many organizations toward the cloud. A cloud solution that fits the unique needs of your enterprise can be a game-changer, but migrating critical applications to the cloud can also be difficult without a qualified partner.

5. Creating a more consistent and satisfying customer service

By embracing centralized, cloud-delivered SD-WAN functionality, enterprises can reduce the burden of managing disparate networking equipment across several locations, thereby creating more predictable performance and increasing quality of service. This has the desired end effect of allowing organization leadership to focus less on network management and more on long-term strategic initiatives and customer satisfaction.


Companies require network access immediately for remote workers. Learn how CBTS can help your team create an optimal home branch environment in our free e-book.


How cloud-delivered SD-WAN improves operational efficiencies

The intelligent controls of SD-WAN are capable of managing public and private network connectivity within secure and reliable wide-area networks. Cloud-delivered SD-WAN is also able to automatically deploy and maintain these WANs using VPN and other technologies. This allows multiple sites to remain connected and supported via redundant 4G failover links.

SD-WAN’s efficiency-boosting features include:

  • Superior connection remediation with packet-duplication over single Internet links.
  • Connectivity-agnostic architecture capable of integrating public, private, and hybrid (public/private) networks and applications with automatic site-to-site VPN.
  • A centralized, policy-based management portal with Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • Application enhancement and a high-quality user experience.
  • Dynamic link selection by aggregating multiple Internet connections and choosing the best path for traffic.

A suite of cloud networking solutions

To support organizations struggling to equip remote workers for success, CBTS has developed a suite of networking solutions designed to connect employees to reliable, secure bandwidth regardless of their location or the number of users or devices sharing the network. For decades, CBTS has been on a mission to optimize networks, making them more accessible and their users more productive. That mission continues with our latest CBTS remote worker bundles, including a Cisco Meraki Cloud Managed Security and SD-WAN Bundle, a VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud Bundle, and a VeloCloud + Check Point Harmony Connect Hosted Cloud Security Bundle. These predefined remote network bundles are built to get clients up and running quickly in order to meet the challenge for today’s environments that demand flexibility with work-from-anywhere policies.

Continue reading for more information on how cloud-delivered SD-WAN can modernize your network as well as your threat management strategy.

Understanding Total Cost of Ownership for UCaaS

Everything has a price, and enterprises looking to consolidate their communications infrastructures are as price-minded as ever—especially at a time when remote work capabilities are paramount.

Many have turned to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in a bid to simplify the flow of information throughout an organization and outward to customers, vendors, clients, and more. In making this transition, enterprise leaders often compare the Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) directly between UCaaS and their existing on-premises communication solutions.

While it’s an understandable comparison to make, a truly thorough TCO analysis goes beyond the upfront capital expenditures and maintenance cost line items and considers all the key factors of a UCaaS adoption.

Here are a few of the areas your TCO analysis should cover:

UCaaS savings for your data center

A properly planned and implemented UCaaS solution can be a game-changer when it comes to your organization’s data center operations in terms of cost reductions, improvements in efficiency, and many other factors, including:

  • Servers and storage.
  • Software and virtualization.
  • Real estate.
  • Power and cooling.
  • Redundancy.
  • Physical security.
  • Compliance.

Under a UCaaS solution, the provider is responsible for all of the above, reducing the workload on your internal IT staff and making for fewer expenses that impact your bottom line. With your UCaaS provider managing software procurement and maintenance, virtualization licensing and deployment, access control, and any compliance requirements unique to your industry, your enterprise can more freely focus on long-term strategic business goals instead of day-to-day communication operations.

These potential savings of both capital and personnel power should be taken into consideration in your total cost of ownership analysis.

How UCaaS can lead to IT staff savings

Many organizations struggle to keep up with the overabundance of daily management responsibilities that on-premises legacy communications networks demand. These burdens can include:

  • Service request management: IT staff have to be ready to respond to help tickets submitted by users.
  • Monitoring and response: The mission-critical nature of enterprise UC systems means that 24x7x365 readiness is a must-have, which in turn requires a large commitment of on-call tech specialists.
  • Updates and maintenance: Whenever bug fixes and upgrades are rolled out, careful planning and preparation are needed to ensure these updates are implemented smoothly.
  • Vendor and billing management: The process of billing and procurement with multiple solution vendors can be extremely tedious and time-consuming.
  • Disaster recovery and continuity: Communication infrastructures must be robust enough to continue operations and recover from disaster in case the unexpected occurs.

All of the above factors also demand a high standard of excellence from the IT experts hired to manage them. UCaaS providers take on the burden of recruiting, hiring, and managing the experts needed to keep these factors in check—reducing overhead for your internal staff and giving your IT teams valuable time back.

Cutting telecommunications spending with UCaaS

Telecom expenses can account for some of the greatest CapEx drain faced by modern enterprises, especially when considering the investments necessary to update and maintain legacy voice networks.

Under a UCaaS framework, the struggles inherent to traditional telecom systems are ameliorated by a customized, collaborative, and scalable managed solution that can easily incorporate new users, new devices, and new applications as needed—no new CapEx expenditure necessary. Additionally, the predictable monthly charge of a managed UCaaS framework means surprise expenses are a thing of the past.

UCaaS savings in an OpEx model

Another crucial component of your TCO assessment is a comparison of capital expenditure (CapEx) models and operational expenditure (OpEx) models, as this difference can be crucial information when making a decision regarding UCaaS adoption.

In a CapEx model, a large upfront investment of capital is needed to implement new technology or a new service, like an on-premises UC solution, for example. In addition to the upfront cost, this approach often involves ongoing maintenance costs as well.

In contrast, UCaaS functions as an OpEx model, meaning a fixed amount is spent per user. This makes it easier for enterprises to plan and budget for their UCaaS expenses, which are spread out over time as opposed to being concentrated in one large upfront capital investment.

Also Read: Cut costs and create a future-proof network with managed NaaS and UCaaS solutions

UCaaS offers flexibility in user count

The ability to adapt to changing conditions is another key factor that should be weighed in your total cost of ownership assessment, especially for enterprises with seasonal user bases that grow and shrink throughout the year.

With on-premises UC, adding or subtracting even a single remote site can eat up months; additionally, large capital expenditures may be required to increase capacity when user engagement surges. A UCaaS solution takes all of these factors out of the equation, offering unbeatable flexibility and agility when faced with shifting user counts.

The low initial capital costs of UCaaS technologies mean that it can also be onboarded on a trial basis, allowing an enterprise to “test drive” the solution and ensure it’s a fit for their organization’s unique needs.

A complete total cost of ownership analysis takes into account the above factors and usually results in substantial savings for UCaaS versus an on-premises solution.

Continue reading: Frost & Sullivan report places CBTS in top bracket for UCaaS innovation and growth.


Contact our team of experts for more information on how UCaaS can save your organization time and capital expenses.


Delivering effective online teaching tools for public educators

When shelter-in-place orders were given earlier this year, public schools were among the many organizations forced to adapt to the “new normal” quickly. One particular school district in Ohio was no exception. The district in question serves nearly 50,000 students, employs a staff of 8,500 teachers and administrators, and operates dozens of educational facilities, including elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as career technical schools.

Shifting each of these several components to a remote education framework was a daunting task, but the district had the skilled employees and partner necessary to pull it off.

Working closely with district personnel on a tight deadline, CBTS assisted in the design, planning, and launch of a suite of improved remote conferencing and collaboration tools for use by teachers, students, and administrators. Initially, the district’s remote conferencing system included around 100 users. Throughout the course of the new system’s deployment process, 10,000 new users were integrated. After the new capabilities were brought online, the total number of remote education and collaboration sessions exceeded 7,600 in April, compared to a high of 802 in March.

Learn how Webex enables virtual teaching and learning for primary education schools and improves administrative efficiency.

Defining the challenge

Early on in the process of modernizing the district’s online teaching tools, the academic community of the district sought a partner to ensure it had the network infrastructure, applications, and policies it needed to continue lessons throughout the pandemic. There was a wide variety of use cases to consider: teachers needed to be able to lead virtual classrooms with their students, students needed the capability to meet privately with instructors, administrators needed reliable contact with staff, and teachers and counselors needed to be able to reach students and their families at home.

Educators and IT specialists in the district were concerned that traditional collaboration platforms lacked the connection strength and security they were looking for. For example, Zoom sessions could be searched and accessed by uninvited participants. The district also hoped to give administrators and teachers the online teaching tools, such as Cisco Webex, that they needed to intuitively manage their classrooms while keeping education sessions secure.

Finding the solution

CBTS stepped in as not only a subject matter expert but as a partner dedicated to equipping the district with the right knowledge and capabilities to allow the 2019-2020 school year to continue with minimal disruption.

An extensive consultation process was initiated, during which CBTS worked closely with educators and administrators to define and plan for the multiple critical use cases the district needed to be addressed, from virtual classrooms to secure single sign-on and active directory integration for all employees and students. District personnel led the discussion around what they needed and how they needed it to be implemented.

Providing the online teaching tools was only a part of the equation, however. The district had little in the way of official policy guiding the proper use of these virtual collaboration applications. CBTS made specialized best practices training available for thousands of teachers in the district to acclimate them to remote teaching and prepare them to make the most use of their updated network and new conferencing programs.

When the strategy was decided on and district staff had been trained, deployment was executed on a very short timeframe, with a large number of new users requiring registration in the district’s active directory system. These directories were also updated to account for the substantial increase in student users of the system that would also need to be integrated into the single sign-on process.

These steps helped the district transition to fully-online instruction, with a record-high number of virtual sessions and meeting minutes being recorded in April. The district and its partners at CBTS are considering the implementation of virtual parent-teacher association meetings in the future as well.

Members of the local teacher’s union and IT administrators working at the schools themselves played a significant role in pushing for updates to the district’s remote education capabilities, seeking the expertise of CBTS to help make it happen.

Contact CBTS for more information on secure remote collaboration tools, training, and deployment support.

Frost & Sullivan report places CBTS in top bracket for UCaaS innovation and growth

The past year has seen a meteoric rise in the demand for, and proliferation of, remote collaboration technology as organizations of every size, shape, and type have scrambled to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an influential figure in this rapidly shifting atmosphere, CBTS has been recognized for its efforts in providing access to revolutionary solutions for mid-size and enterprise businesses.


Market research and business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan recently placed CBTS within the top quadrant of the 2020 Frost Radar™ for growth and innovation in Hosted IP Telephony and Unified Communications as a Service [UCaaS] for North America.


“CBTS differentiates from its competitors with its broad cloud, infrastructure, communications, and consulting expertise, and its unique ability to leverage the resources of a large organization and nimbleness of an entrepreneurial company culture to deliver excellent customer value. With its rich portfolio of cloud communications, collaboration and contact center solutions CBTS can effectively address the diverse needs of a broad customer spectrum—from SMB to large enterprise and from private to public companies. CBTS also stands out with its tailored approach to different industries. Specialized teams of vertical industry experts enable CBTS to custom-tailor solutions for SLED, healthcare, retail and other verticals’ highly specific requirements.”


Elka Popova
Vice President and Senior Fellow, Digital Transformation of Frost & Sullivan

The report further explores the tumultuous but opportunity-rich environment that managed service providers currently find themselves in.

“Digital technologies, including cloud communications solutions, have captured the spotlight in this time of crisis,” the study reads in part. “At the time this study is publishing, the global pandemic is already experiencing a second wave, which means that most businesses will be unable to resume normal operations for the foreseeable future.”

Despite the myriad challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020, there is also significant room for growth that agile and forward-facing organizations may capitalize on.

Although cloud migration rates could be hampered by the current economic climate, the Frost Radar report suggests considerable growth potential for the UCaaS marketplace.

“In the near term, UCaaS solutions are likely to see pockets of rapid growth in certain customer segments and verticals,” the report reads. “Service providers leveraging modern cloud architectures and with the ability to deliver services over public broadband, on any connected device and network utilizing technologies like SD-WAN, are likely to better capitalize on the growing demand for hosted IP telephony and UCaaS than providers relying on managed circuits, premises-based infrastructure (e.g., session border controllers (SBCs) and desktop devices.”

Frost Radar Report: Benchmarking future growth potential - Click this banner to download the report

The report elaborates that in the future, diversified offerings and comprehensive service suites that offer “one-stop shopping” for clients, such as unified communications, contact center solutions, and collaboration toolkits, are likely to provide the broadest avenue toward sustainable growth.


“Going forward, providers with broader cloud services suites are likely to experience faster growth than those selling point solutions,” the report reads. “Integrated cloud collaboration suites such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Cisco Webex will gain traction as businesses seek to deliver more compelling user experiences whereby users can use a single pane of glass to access a variety of modalities including, voice, video, team messaging, SMS, and more.”

By leveraging technologies from trusted third-party vendors such as Cisco HCS, Cisco Broadworks, Microsoft Teams Voice, and Cisco Webex Calling, CBTS is able to offer the following solutions with unparalleled reliability:
  1. Hosted Enterprise UC
  2. Hosted UC
  3. Microsoft Teams Voice
  4. Cloud Calling

Additionally, CBTS spares no effort when consulting and collaborating with clients and partners in order to deliver superior business outcomes.

Contact us to find out how CBTS can prepare your organization for the future with tailored UCaaS solutions.
 

 

Enhance the customer experience by blending Five9 Contact Center as a Service with CBTS enterprise voice solutions

Customers today demand faster service from companies across multiple communication channels. They expect contact centers to deliver extraordinary experiences with every interaction—but that becomes more challenging as communication technologies rapidly evolve.

Thanks to their widely recognized reliability and flexibility, cloud-based contact center solutions can help companies keep pace with these changes by equipping agents to provide stellar service across channels, leveraging advanced features and unlimited integration capabilities to stay ahead of the curve. By offering Five9 Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), CBTS gives enterprise clients a scalable platform from which to enhance the customer experience while streamlining agent workflows.

By combining industry-leading contact center software from Five9 with trusted Cisco UCaaS solutions from CBTS, this powerful new platform empowers companies to future-proof their contact center experience for both remote agents and customers. Below are a few of the ways Five9 and CBTS are working together to expand your enterprise communication capabilities.

Delivering a seamless contact center experience

Call center agents can’t provide a streamlined customer experience if they have to toggle between multiple systems to field incoming calls, use outbound dialers, or switch from voice to other channels. The Five9 blended contact center unifies inbound and outbound calling features to bridge this gap, so agents can access multiple applications simultaneously through a single cloud-based platform.

Five 9 Hosted Call Center Solutioins

CBTS and Five9 work together to connect agents with customers across voice, e-mail, web, social, chat, and mobile. Built-in integrations and advanced API capabilities offer connectivity to critical business applications that agents use every day. Customers ultimately benefit from this seamless experience, thanks to integrations with Salesforce, Microsoft (Dynamics), NetSuite, Oracle (Service Cloud), ServiceNow, Sugar CRM, Velocify, Zendesk, and Zoho. This collaboration also includes open REST-base API functionality that integrates with existing systems, enabling higher quality service across channels.

Bundling Five9 Contact Center software with CBTS Unified Communication as a Service solutions can reduce expenses while streamlining your company’s telecom infrastructure with a single vendor. As a single solution provider, CBTS can fully customize each client’s communication capabilities, allowing you to Bring Your Own Voice (BYOV) provider or adopt a cloud-based voice solution like Hosted UC or Hosted Enterprise UC to support your agents’ PSTN calling.

Empowering call center agents anywhere

As the omni-channel contact center experience grows more complex, it can be challenging to maintain consistency and continuity. With more companies shifting toward a remote work environment, it’s even more important to equip agents with the same service capabilities regardless of where they’re geographically located. Make sure you’ve set your remote work agents up for success; learn more about remote work best practices here. 

Whether your agents work from one central office, multiple locations, or remotely from home, Five9 Contact Center and CBTS offer scalable support. The flexible cloud-based platform keeps agents connected anywhere, on any device, by providing reliable access to all the tools they need.

Five9 also offers comprehensive supervisor capabilities that let you monitor, whisper, and barge into calls from any location, so you can manage agent interactions everywhere. Plus, real-time insights and robust performance metrics help supervisors manage contact center operations at a glance.

Preparing for the future

Aging on-premises contact center solutions can’t keep pace with the rapidly changing telecommunications landscape, and limited technical capabilities can even hold companies back. By contrast, the feature-rich functionality of Five9 Contact Center as a Service from CBTS keeps enterprises nimble and poised for growth.

Read more: Now More Than Ever it is Time to Move Your Enterprise Contact Center to the Cloud

CCaaS offers flexible scalability as your contact center needs grow and change. You can simply add more agent licenses with our concurrent user-based pricing, IVR ports, and line capacity as you need it—paying only for what you use to make growth more affordable. The interfaces are intuitive and training is included so administrators can easily add and change routing strategies and IVR call flows.

Even when natural disasters, power outages, and other emergencies strike, CCaaS helps companies maintain communication without interruption to support business continuity. Together, Five9 and CBTS provide peace of mind through:

  • 24x7x365 network availability.
  • Redundant global data centers.
  • Strict end-to-end security protocols.
  • Real-time software upgrades.
  • 99.990% uptimes.

Why CBTS?

CBTS and Five9 will help you adapt quickly to the constantly changing environment and stay ahead of the competition.

  • Single account team, project management, training, and implementation.
  • Overlay hosted unified communications advanced PBX features.
  • No interruption of service, ease of migration.
  • Common calling plan and extension dial legacy systems.
  • 24x7x365 U.S.-based support.
  • Bundle integrated collaboration and unified communications solutions to reduce expenses.
  • Consolidated billing for all solutions.

As a leading Five9 Contact Center provider and integrator, CBTS offers enterprise solutions to future-proof your contact center with reliable cloud-based tools that deliver consistent, high-quality customer experiences across channels, devices, and locations. The streamlined platform enables service with more flexibility, functionality, and consistency—ultimately boosting agent productivity and customer satisfaction.

Contact us to learn more about bundling Five9 Contact Center as a Service with CBTS enterprise voice solutions to enhance your contact center experience.

A Q&A on Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture

CBTS recently put together a three-part webcast series centered on Microsoft Teams and competing collaboration tools. Part one of the webcast series, moderated by Channel Chief Rob Messmer, features CBTS Sr. Director of Solution Engineering Matt Douglass, Senior Solutions Architect Justin Rice, and Senior Sales Engineer Alex Broome. Part one is a comparison of major collaboration platforms and how they integrate with UCaaS.

The second part of the CBTS webcast series takes a technical deep dive into Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams Direct Route, and UCaaS. CBTS Director of Solution Design Chris Pope joins the panel to break down the little-known advantages of Cisco’s Webex Teams toolset and the new integrations with CBTS Cisco UCaaS offerings.

The third and final part of the webcast series features an expert panel including Cisco Cloud Calling Specialist Bryan Wilson, CBTS Director of Cloud Networking Jon Lloyd, and CBTS Senior Director of Solution Engineering Matt Douglass. Together, they break down what collaboration tools mean to the new work-from-home paradigms.

Bryan Wilson, please give an introduction and explain who you are and what you do for Cisco.

“I’m a Cloud and Hosted Calling Product Specialist at Cisco. I came into Cisco via the BroadSoft acquisition. I support partners like CBTS in navigating all the architecture offerings that we have at Cisco.” – Bryan Wilson, Cisco Cloud Calling Specialist

Matt, can you explain some of the differentiators between both platforms and why someone might look at Cisco Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams?

“Webex Teams for BroadWorks—which is really Webex Teams and Webex Meetings—I think is a game changer approach. Clients have all the things you’d expect in a comprehensive environment that goes along with our BroadWorks call control. So we’re trying to help customers understand they don’t necessarily need Microsoft Teams because really when we sell this new kind of UCaaS 2.0 clients can set aside Microsoft Teams.” – Matt Douglass, CBTS Sr. Director of Solution Engineering

We hear a lot of terms around Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Direct Route, and UCaaS. All of these offerings are discussed together. How can we talk to customers in ways that bring them all into a common solution?

“I think that’s probably the biggest opportunity for us and for partners with customers today, because customers are still confused when they think about it. They think they get Microsoft Teams, it’s on their desk, and they can turn it into a telephone. But that’s not the case. One of the great opportunities for partners with vendors like ourselves with companies like CBTS, is that now we can come in and really do a consultative approach and understand again, what are their business problems, and we just get to be more glue to help understand and you teach them really, that okay, you think maybe you’re going to move all your voice components there? Well, that’s not going to happen, you’re going to have to have a mix and match of different pieces.”  – Matt Douglass

With COVID changing the way we work to a new model of work-from-home, how does Cisco view this new world?

“If you look back maybe two years, the rate of video participation was only 30%. Most people would just be on audio during a web meeting. But since COVID, I’ve personally seen video participation well above 80% on every call I’m on. We’re going to start seeing pieces of plastic that were dedicated for calling be changed out for pieces of plastic dedicated for video.” – Bryan Wilson

With work-from-home users, how does SD-WAN play into that world?

“I have an SD-WAN device that sits here in my network. It can broadcast a wireless SSID, that SSID can have radius authentication back to my corporation so now I’m tied in. I can create a work specific segment to it, and now I’m not worried about how do I connect my DX80 in so that I can optimize Webex traffic over the same internet connection that my neighbors’ kids are doing virtual learning, and my kids are streaming videos and playing games, and all of that stuff that’s going on. People say all the time, ‘We’re reducing our office footprint, we closed 70 offices.’ No you didn’t, you opened 1,200 new ones when you sent those 70 offices full of people home, and that’s the challenge. It’s not just how do we connect, but how do we start to prioritize these mission critical functions.” – Jon Lloyd, CBTS Director of Cloud Networking

Bryan, how does Cisco view the channel? What would you say to partners as they’re looking into their base of customers on why they should start thinking about a Cisco powered solution—preferably in our case CBTS—but compared to an 8X8 or RingCentral or some of the other folks that are competitors to Cisco?

“Cisco has done a great job enabling managed service providers (MSP) like CBTS to have transactional velocity. In a sense, you have a Cisco team in the field that is working with you to close the business, and gets the transaction through a Cisco commerce workplace. In the past, where a lot of deals got bogged down was in the transaction and how it was transacted. With Webex for BroadWorks and a lot of other offers that you’re going to start seeing from Cisco on both the security and the network side with Meraki and others, is to empower our MSPs such as CBTS to have all of the tools in their toolkit to transact and to turn up customers and to build them all on their own.” – Bryan Wilson

As partners start working more with Cisco representative, how do you see them working together and not competing on opportunities? Is a relationship between the trusted advisor or channel partner and Cisco representative part of the go-to market strategy with Cisco?

“I think that piece is going to take a lot of education, not just on the channel partner side, but quite frankly a lot of education within our own field. In a lot of cases these folks are used to going to battle with each other, they’re used to viewing the channel agent as a competitor, and they don’t understand that they’re selling a cooperating solution. So what I would just say for—and this is something that we do in my role—is go out and meet with all those commercial sales teams, educate them on Webex for BroadWorks, educate them on our go-to market initiative, and for any of the partners that are on the phone today, if you run into a deal where there’s maybe an existing Webex seat or there’s an existing CUCM, work with CBTS, work with us, and let’s get you in contact with that field team, that Cisco team, and let’s take down business and win together.” – Bryan Wilson

Matt, talk about where our partners’ customers have some type of Cisco offering already, and how we’ve been able talk about Cisco Webex Teams and start selling the full portfolio from Cisco versus thinking that is competitive.

“I think this UCaaS—we’ve been calling it UCaaS 2.0, this opportunity to start to use the Teams work space, Webex Teams for BroadWorks—obviously we’d love to keep pushing, but that team space and opportunity, that UCaaS 2.0, is really allowing us to have a different kind of conversation that’s about a deeper relationship and hopefully a longer term relationship with a customer. So those are the things we’d love to help partners with talking to their customers.” – Matt Douglass

So Bryan, why CBTS? Why are you on this call? And why are you saying CBTS versus others in the market? What are the differentiators that CBTS brings?

“One of the things that CBTS does really, really well is letting the customer’s requirements drive the design. There’s a lot of folks out there that have CUCM, and maybe they have an on-premises business and that’s sort of their only calling solution, or maybe they have SD-WAN and their only SD-WAN solution is one thing. CBTS has different solutions tailored for different customer needs. The needs of the large enterprise are going to be very different than the needs of a user in the mid-market. The needs of a user that has highly distributed work force or lots of retail locations are going to be different than a one headquarters or a campus environment. And I think one thing CBTS does really well is sort of obscure the technology from the end customer and you don’t even talk platforms until you’re on that third or fourth conversation where you’ve really sharpened your pencil on the customer requirements, and then you come in and give them the right approach, which I think is great.” – Bryan Wilson

Matt, what kind of licensing can we provide our partners with so they can try out the different Cisco offerings we have in our portfolio and experience it? What’s available from your team from a demo perspective?

“First of all, Webex Teams is available for free. So one, I would urge everybody to get out there and load Webex Teams up and get a feel, because you can start using it. The other thing some partners have seen and started to do is what we call our partner certification program. So far that partner certification program has been around our SD-WAN offerings and our NaaS offerings and you’re going to see the same thing now in UCaaS.” – Matt Douglass

Visit Expert Breakdown: Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture 3.1-3.3 Webcast Replay for a full recap and to view all webcasts in the series.

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CBTS

CBTS is a leading technology provider to enterprises in all industries, including dozens of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies. What sets us apart is the agility, flexible delivery models, and client focus of a smaller company coupled with the ability to deliver the resources, scale, and capabilities required by large organizations. Ask how CBTS can help you capitalize on the cloud today.

Contact us for more information on how CBTS can implement the right meeting solutions for your organization.

How CBTS is Integrating Hosted UCaaS with Microsoft Teams

As more businesses settle into long-term work-from-home environments, remote teams need more efficient ways to connect with each other and to the critical applications they use every day. Instead of patching together disjointed systems for voice solutions and cloud-based collaboration, forward-looking companies are looking to synergize and streamline their corporate telecommunications experience and employee experience.

To help businesses maximize their remote work capabilities across channels, CBTS has combined its Cisco Broadworks-powered enterprise voice solution with Microsoft Teams. Using Microsoft Direct Route as a bridge, this powerful integration unifies Microsoft Teams with the robust public branch exchange (PBX) features, flexibility, and reliability offered by CBTS.

By combining VoIP communication with collaboration into a single integrated platform, companies can offer a true Unified Communications experience and tap into their full employee potential by boosting the productivity of their remote workforce. Meanwhile, IT can now enable a fully-featured PBX solution to Microsoft Teams users and their entire organization. Here’s how Microsoft Direct Route from CBTS empowers business collaboration and continuity.

Full application integration

Microsoft Teams Voice from CBTS enables businesses to connect their organizations’ Microsoft Teams users with PBX capabilities whether that’s through hosted UCaaS or SIP trunking, giving advanced functionality at a lower cost than the competition.  CBTS enhances this solution by integrating the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams and the essential business tools of Office 365 with the industry-leading enterprise voice platform Cisco Broadworks—giving clients access to all the communication features their businesses need, such as:

  • Contact center functionality.
  • AI-enabled IVR.
  • Multi-level auto attendants.
  • Advanced hunt groups.
  • Analytics and call reporting.

As a certified Microsoft Gold Partner and Cloud Service Provider, CBTS integrates these enterprise voice features and omnichannel contact center functionalities with the Microsoft Teams collaboration suite to deliver a seamless telecom experience from a single managed solution provider. This frees your IT department from having to spin up patchwork solutions or support multiple VPNs to connect remote workers to the tools they need.

Reliable remote collaboration

By offering local and remote workers secure access to all the business applications they use to do their jobs, the CBTS Microsoft PBX solution from CBTS equips employees to work anywhere from any device. The 99.999% reliability of CBTS Microsoft PBX, combined with the redundant network design of CBTS enterprise voice solutions, ensures uninterrupted call delivery and business continuity, even during emergencies and power outages.

Microsoft Direct Route enables businesses to take advantage of Microsoft Teams’ collaboration features like video conferencing and group chat, while seamlessly supporting employees’ daily workflows across Office 365 programs, third-party applications, and existing telephone systems. Using this integrated solution, companies can keep their teams connected with robust chat, voice, and video features that help employees collaborate effectively through shared files and app integration.

Engaging meeting features

Blending VoIP, dial-in audio conferencing, and HD video makes online meetings more dynamic. Microsoft Direct Route from CBTS lets your company communicate with parties around the globe by extending the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams to your employees, customers, and partners.

Instantly launch online meetings with a single click and invite guests to join from any mobile device, desktop, or web browser, instead of requiring proprietary conferencing software or complicated login instructions. Facilitate real-time collaboration with screen sharing features and integrated applications that make meetings more meaningful and productive.

Benefitting the bottom line

Combining your enterprise calling plan with the powerful collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams enables more scalable, flexible, and reliable communications—making employees more productive whether they’re remote or on-premises—while also giving them the option to communicate however they prefer, whether that’s on a soft client, handset, or mobile device.

Deploying this unified solution can even help reduce telecom costs by leveraging your current phone systems and eliminating the need for additional network gateways, with fixed monthly expenses to help plan your IT budget without any surprises. Bringing CBTS voice solutions into the Microsoft Cloud through Direct Route delivers an average monthly savings of 30% compared to Microsoft’s calling plans—giving clients the best of both worlds without adding financial burdens. CBTS Microsoft voice solutions come with additional benefits as well:

  • Customized implementation and delivery models.
  • Robust network delivery like SD-WAN, NaaS, or OTT.
  • 99.999% service level agreements.
  • Ongoing 24x7x365 U.S. support.
  • Common enterprise dial plans.
  • Extension dial to existing PBXs. 
  • Pool long distance usage.
  • Dedicated project and account management.
  • SIP handsets are available.

With customized implementation, adoption, and ongoing support from CBTS, you can future-proof your company’s collaboration solution by integrating the best communication tools from Microsoft and Cisco from an experienced provider like CBTS.

Contact us to learn how CBTS and Microsoft Direct Route can enhance your organization’s remote collaboration, voice, and conferencing capabilities.


Learn more about the CBTS/Microsoft Partnership.