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SASE: What is it, why now, and is it right for you?

For many organizations, the pandemic has been a driver for digital transformation. With applications and operations rapidly migrating to the Cloud, security must follow the user and not be tied to the traditional brick and mortar location. Digital transformation is a complex process since organizations now require expertise in both networking and security, and the move to the Cloud can be costly as well.

Woman looking at tablet on network secured with SASE

This is where Secure Access Service Edge (SASE, pronounced “sassy”) comes in. The term is a new concept, originating from Gartner in 2019. In the not-too-distant past, SASE stood for Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, and the evolution of the acronym exemplifies just how quickly our world is going digital.

With its Network Security as a Service offering, CBTS combines SD-WAN technology with SASE principles to provide efficient, secure, and cost-effective networks for organizations trending towards remote and branch operations. To help you embark on your own digital transformation journey, CBTS has prepared a guide on key SASE benefits, what challenges you should look out for, and why the trend is here to stay.

What is SASE, and how does it work?

In precise terms, SASE is a network architecture that combines software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and security into a singular cloud framework. That means organizations benefit from improved efficiency, heightened security, and simplified WAN deployment.

The SASE framework and philosophy is a novel approach to a cloud enabled enterprise network with many operational, business, and security benefits. For example, converging an organization’s cloud-based networking and security services reduces complexity, boosts network performance, and minimizes the number of vendors and devices IT oversees.

Additionally, there is a considerable reduction in hardware requirements, lessening IT staff’s workload related to deployment and maintenance while expanding actionable security alerting and monitoring.

By implementing SASE, you’ll engage with five core technologies:
  1. Integrated SD-WAN: Optimize network administration and performance by leveraging software and cloud-based technology for enterprise network connectivity.
  2. Cloud access security: Ensure safe use of cloud technology for your enterprise. Improving cloud security prevents malware infections, data leaks, and regulatory noncompliance.
  3. Firewall as a service: Deploy cloud-based firewalls to take advantage of advanced threat protection, URL filtering, DNS security, and intrusive prevention systems.
  4. Secure web gateway: Protect your internal network and users from potentially malicious unsecured Internet traffic.
  5. Zero trust network access: Reduce the risk of attacks and data leaks by verifying the identity of users or devices attempting to access your network.

  6. Learn more about how SASE and Zero Trust Network Access work together to deliver safe, secure, and reliable remote access to your network.

Learn more about how SASE and Zero Trust Network Access work together to deliver safe, secure, and reliable remote access to your network by downloading this e-book: SASE and ZTNA for Dummies

Complete your SD-WAN migration with improved security

Migrating to SD-WAN has become a critical endeavor for enterprises across the globe, and SASE provides the ideal path to a successful implementation.

Due to the swift spread of the coronavirus crisis, many enterprises quickly shifted to a distributed workforce. They soon realized that their existing VPN-based solutions were often unreliable, with limited performance and security measures. We’ve previously covered how SD-WAN security enhances critical business applications, but in short, enterprises benefit from a networking solution offering more affordable, reliable, and faster connectivity.

In the SASE framework, these benefits are realized alongside improved security for a remote workforce. With remote work here to stay, organizations must be able to support increasingly dispersed teams safely, and security is paramount to doing so.

SASE employs a flexible, cloud-based firewall that protects users and computing resources located at the network’s edge. It offers secure web gateways to protect companies from the threat of harmful outside resources. It also implements zero-trust network access, which bases security on identity rather than aspects like an IP address.

Altogether, by leveraging SASE, organizations ensure branch offices can take advantage of ongoing digital innovation efforts and improved security features as they scale.

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

Keep pace in a shifting digital landscape

Our increasing dependence on the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing necessitates a trustworthy, homogenized approach to cloud-based services and security. In this environment, SASE is already an essential aspect of a company’s digital makeup.

Remote workforces must be able to rely on sophisticated, tailored cloud services that allow them to perform their duties with confidence. IT staff cannot be held back by legacy hardware or features that are merely stitched together instead of well-integrated.

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and so are its threats. Our 2022 Cybersecurity Predictions asserted that ransomware attacks will increase. Additionally, nation-state attacks will see an uptick, while the number of states starting to give privacy rights to consumers is on the rise.

Enterprises can best address these concerns by deploying an integrated, complete response to the cloud-based security needs of modern organizations.

Reduce the burden of network and security maintenance

Beyond increased efficiency and reduced complexity, taking the plunge with a combined networking and security offering simplifies operations for an enterprise’s IT staff.

Regardless of where users are located, SASE ensures security policies are standardized. It also simplifies the authentication process by applying the right policies based on what the user requests at sign-in. In fact, IT executives can set these policies centrally using cloud-based management platforms. These procedures massively reduce risk, as the entire system is less complex and offers a universal approach.

Where an enterprise’s IT staff is often overloaded with menial, time-consuming tasks, a combined SD-WAN and security offering frees your team to improve business efficiency, address IT concerns that affect the bottom line, and support the organization.

Why CBTS for SASE?

If legacy infrastructure, increasing complexity, and skyrocketing costs are standing in the way of your team completing your digital transformation journey, CBTS is the right partner for you.

It’s critical that the partner you select has experience in both network and security solutions. CBTS offers a wide range of expertise compared to other managed service providers. As a Check Point Software Technologies 5-Star Partner, it has a long track record of delivering extensive networking and security overhauls. In 2020, CBTS was named a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader for its VMware SD-WAN™ edge expertise. By combining VMware SD-WAN with SASE network security principles, CBTS delivers comprehensive cloud-native network security.  

Our experts work alongside you from the assessment phase to the implementation of your SD-WAN and security capabilities to provide ongoing, full-spectrum support for your organization.

Contact the experts at CBTS to enhance and simplify security for your modernized networking environment.

Four advantages food service enterprises can gain from UCaaS for retail

Next-generation communications functionality isn’t just for the high-technology corporate sectors. Customer-facing verticals such as the food service industry can benefit equally from a unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) solution just as much as an enterprise serving six-figure clients.

By modernizing in-store Wi-Fi capabilities, seamlessly networking brick-and-mortar locations and mobile applications, and layering in an up-to-date IT support platform to manage it all, restaurants can leverage UCaaS to transform their forward-facing digital footprint for the next generation.

Below are a few of the ways UCaaS can deliver the same benefits for your food service organization:

To offer your customers a truly modern and satisfying experience that will keep them from coming back, aim for the following benchmarks made possible through UCaas for retail:
  • Continuous and reliable connectivity with a high quality of service.
  • A customer-friendly in-store Wi-Fi experience.
  • High-end threat detection measures in every store.
  • A monthly managed service model that keeps expenses low.

Why reliable communications are crucial for the food service vertical

In a fast-paced, customer-facing environment, losing connectivity can very easily lead to a loss of business. When customers expect service quickly and conveniently, every dropped or disconnected phone call represents lost revenue. That’s why call quality of service (QoS) and circuit failover are key factors in a UCaaS for retail transformation. By protecting each individual telephone order with UCaaS, organizations can, in turn, prevent an avoidable loss in revenue.

Donatos restaurant uses UCaaS for retail

UCaaS for retail also delivers the tried and true key system functionality where on-hold customers show up as a blinking line on all phones. This visual representation of on-hold customers on every phone enables easier customer retrieval and simplifies employee training.   

Cloud-based call queuing is another valuable tool for food service enterprises. During particularly busy times, such as holidays or sporting events, cloud-based call queuing—along with a branded hold message—can put customers at ease and address their orders efficiently. UCaaS for retail can also enable these on-hold calls to be answered from any networked device without complex call park procedures or pickup codes, making the entire system intuitive and user-friendly.

Ensure a memorable in-store experience with UCaaS for retail

Modern customer service standards indicate that simply providing a product or service isn’t enough; guests expect to feel welcome in your place of business, and that means offering a well-provisioned guest Wi-Fi network. Through UCaaS for retail, food service enterprises can not only provide a secure, family-friendly Wi-Fi experience for restaurant patrons, they can also implement branded sign-on pages and rate limits to maintain bandwidth limits and keep guests engaged.

Protect your enterprise with next-gen threat detection

Another critical component for network modernization is the addition of a unified threat management (UTM) firewall at individual storefronts­—in this way, UCaaS can deliver next-generation protection for your organization. Store-level UTM solutions provide application control, identity-based web filtering, and safe search features. A UTM can be supplemented by SSIDs and VLANs at the store level to maintain digital security across all guests, employees, point-of-sale terminals, visiting vendors, and any other devices in the building.

Also read: SD-WAN: The perfect prescription for CIOs’ pharmacy network challenges

Keep expenses under control with a managed UCaaS solution

All of the above benefits can be delivered as a monthly expense with no capital costs required upfront, due to the CBTS UCaaS managed solution model. This service also includes 24x7x365 monitored support and even covers any necessary relocations, additional equipment, and service changes. Under the CBTS UCaaS for retail managed solution, your food service enterprise will enjoy greater control and transparency into its network while also freeing up resources to focus more on long-term strategic initiatives.

Contact CBTS for more information on how a managed UCaaS for retail solution can help your food service enterprise improve its customer experience.

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CBTS and Parallel Technologies combine strengths to modernize 200+ restaurant locations

Retail technology helps businesses generate wins

Cloud technology for retail drives opportunities

Optimize your remote work migration with a VMware service provider

The coronavirus pandemic amplified the need for organizations to become more agile and resilient. As a VMware service provider, CBTS has been helping businesses across industries embrace remote work, redefine their digital strategy, and accelerate large-scale migration efforts.

According to the 2020 State of Remote Work, approximately 98% of remote workers said they would like to work remotely—at least part-time—for the rest of their careers. With remote work here to stay, organizations supporting a dispersed workforce can leverage the CBTS and VMware partnership to transform their enterprise WAN connectivity and manage thousands of devices securely.

Establishing a powerful WAN Edge infrastructure with CBTS and VMware

For the fourth year in a row, Gartner has recognized VMware as a Magic Quadrant leader for their completeness of vision for WAN Edge Infrastructure. CBTS is a top VMware service provider and VMware Partner Innovation Award winner for SD-WAN. Together, CBTS and VMware transform enterprise WAN connectivity by harnessing the public cloud to host critical applications. 

As part of the VMware SASE™ vision, the SD-WAN solution is built to be future-proof, with the speed, simplicity, and security today’s agile businesses need. CBTS delivers on that vision by providing organizations with cloud on-ramp services via global cloud gateways, implementation of VMware orchestrator, and rapid deployment of edge appliances based on assessed needs.

CBTS has demonstrated expertise as a VMware service provider, enabling organizations to take full advantage of the SD-WAN technology through deployment and ongoing monitoring and management across locations. The award highlights the significant ways CBTS empowers organizations of all sizes in their digital migration, with a full suite of flexible technology solutions that drive business outcomes, improve operational efficiency, mitigate risk, and reduce costs for clients.

Read more: How SD-WAN security enhances critical business applications

Adopting UEM strategies for modern desktop management and improved security

Last year, VMware was also named a 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant leader for unified endpoint management (UEM) tools. VMware scored highest in three of four use cases in the 2021 Gartner Critical Capabilities for UEM tools. CBTS has been at the forefront of helping customers mobilize for the “anywhere” workforce spanning geographies, use cases, and a myriad of devices.

Organizations leverage CBTS expertise in VMware Workspace ONE UEM to establish modern desktop management, including BYOD and increasingly diverse endpoints, for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Chrome OS, among others. CBTS assesses network vulnerabilities to enforce security-centric UEM strategies to protect against cyberattacks on the perimeter.

CBTS and VMware partnership in practice: a powerful networking combination 

CBTS teamed with VMware for SD-WAN beginning in 2017 to help enterprises deploy flexible, secure WAN connectivity across their remote and branch locations. 

So, when a large healthcare system in Indiana approached CBTS to build out several pop-up clinics during an upswing in COVID-19 cases, CBTS engineers were ready to deploy an SD-WAN solution to support clinic operations in only 24 hours.

Read the full case study: IU Health deploys COVID-19 remote testing centers in 24 hours with SD-WAN

Partnering with CBTS as your VMware service provider enables your organization to:
  • Address performance issues associated with latency while accessing data sources distributed across locations, devices, and geographies.
  • Reduce overall costs and stabilize IT budget by eliminating sweeping redesigns and the expense of maintaining outdated, disparate networking equipment.
  • Improve network reliability, redundancy, scalability, and security.
  • Remove IT burden from staff through reliable automation and cloud management.
  • Transform business outcomes with enhanced real-time operations and agility.

Growing alongside an evolving ecosystem

CBTS and VMware power the world’s complex online networking infrastructure, an ecosystem that will evolve alongside ever-changing enterprise needs. CBTS SD-WAN technology powered by VMware optimizes available bandwidth for remote workers in three ways:

  • Giving higher priority to business traffic than to social media and streaming service traffic.
  • 24×7 monitoring of the traffic path for packet loss or delay while applying forward-error correction to increase throughput and reduce packet loss.
  • Using traffic-handling techniques to throttle unnecessary application traffic.

By leveraging the CBTS and VMware partnership, your organization can implement cloud-based connectivity—and all its benefits of ubiquity, high bandwidth, and low cost—with assured quality, reliability, and security.

Frost & Sullivan names CBTS among its top UCaaS providers for second straight year

The pandemic has accelerated long-standing trends around remote work, the rise of virtual organizations, and customer interactions over digital channels. These rapid changes in industry norms require that companies take action to keep up. Forward-thinking businesses understand the importance of flexible solutions that support shifting workforce and customer needs. With the help of top UCaaS providers, enterprises across industries are making the changes required to future-proof their businesses.

As a recognized unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider, CBTS can help your enterprise organization evolve alongside a constantly changing digital landscape. With a rich portfolio of cloud communications, collaboration, and contact center services, CBTS can deliver custom-tailored solutions across industries.

Operating as one of the industry’s top UCaaS providers has garnered CBTS recognition among its peers. Frost & Sullivan, a market research and business consulting firm, recently placed CBTS in the top quadrant of its 2021 Frost Radar™ in Hosted IP Telephony and UCaaS for North America. 2021 marks the second straight year that CBTS has received the honor, thanks to expert design and a team of engineers ready to support hosted solutions for any industry sector.

“CBTS has been particularly effective in serving organizations in the public, healthcare, and retail sectors, which have been disrupted in the past two years. With its diversified technology portfolio services, CBTS has proven a trusted partner for businesses at varying stages of their transformation journey. Much of CBTS’ past UCaaS growth has come from substantial deployments, including many in SLED and retail. CBTS is poised for continued growth in these sectors as government and education organizations embrace cloud services to support the rise in remote/hybrid work.”

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

Read more: Six ways to enable business transformation with UCaaS

CBTS delivers robust cloud services for successful remote work

CBTS differentiates itself from competing top UCaaS providers with its extensive cloud, infrastructure, communications, and consulting expertise. A highly consultative approach results in custom-tailored solutions that leverage third-party technologies for its Hosted Enterprise UC, Hosted Unified Communications, Microsoft Direct Route, and Cloud Calling offerings.

The broader CBTS portfolio—which encompasses fiber connectivity, multiple as-a-service network models, integrated contact centers, and SIP trunking—provides additional value to its UCaaS customers. Today, CBTS also acts as a strong worldwide partner for Cisco Broadworks and Cisco HCS and as a leading provider for retail, healthcare, and state and local government and education (SLED) verticals. With 27 offices in five countries, CBTS is positioned to scale its UCaaS operations moving ahead. Much of the company’s prior growth derived from large deployments in SLED and retail. CBTS continues to grow in these sectors as government and education entities embrace remote work-supporting cloud services.

Read more: How UCaaS is changing the face of education communication solutions

Through top third-party UCaaS technologies such as Cisco HCS, Cisco Broadworks, and Microsoft Teams Voice, CBTS has become a reliable provider for solutions including:
  • Hosted Enterprise UC.
  • Hosted UC.
  • Microsoft Teams Voice.
  • Cloud Calling.

CBTS is a top UCaaS technology company for your cloud migration needs

CBTS UCaaS and collaboration technologies are built to ensure your successful transition to the cloud.

Microsoft Teams Voice is a fully integrated voice and collaboration service utilizing:

Hosted telephone unified with Microsoft Teams.

  • Robust integrated feature sets.
  • Advanced integrated solutions.
  • Diverse location configuration capabilities.
  • Around-the-clock monitoring by expert engineers.

Hosted UC brings cloud-based unified communications capabilities as well as:

  • Enterprise-grade VoIP.
  • Flexibility to scale with your business.
  • Advanced integrated solutions.
  • Key system emulation.

Hosted Enterprise UC provides secure industry-leading technology with benefits including:

  • A powerful Cisco HCS backbone.
  • A simplified management portal.
  • Ability to scale users up and down as needed.
  • Integrated Contact Center as a Service.

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

Going forward, CBTS can continue to enhance its standing as a top UCaaS company through integrated collaboration services. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, third-party productivity, communications, business, and vertical software and services are opportunities to further impact mission-critical business processes among the CBTS customer base.

In particular, the healthcare and SLED verticals are ripe for transformation in the coming months and years. CBTS is well-situated to capitalize on increased demand for UCaaS in these ever-growing marketplace sectors.

Contact CBTS today to discover how CBTS can bring tailored UCaaS solutions to your changing organization.

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CBTS lauded as top Frost Radar Report communications leader for second year

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

Building the best Microsoft Teams adoption strategy for your company

Organizations are adopting Microsoft Teams strategies to make collaborative processes more productive and efficient. Business connections are critical in today’s remote work era, making Microsoft Teams the ideal digital teamwork tool.

Microsoft Teams implementation can come with some difficulties. Read key Microsoft Teams adoption strategies to ensure adoption by end-users and leadership.

Microsoft Teams is a modern communications hub enabling channel- and team-based threaded conversations, along with support for live and streamed events, external application integration, file-sharing, and real-time networking. All are accomplished through a single user interface that operates consistently across devices.

However, as with any digital collaboration technology, implementation can come with some difficulties. For starters, enterprise leadership and IT personnel must develop a plan to ensure end-user buy-in and adopt security practices specific to Teams. This blog will explore key Microsoft Teams adoption strategies and how your company can best utilize this technology to its advantage in the changing communications landscape.

A host of business-critical features

Microsoft Teams is a persistent chat-based platform complete with document sharing, online meetings, and other essential communication features. Shared workspace software makes remote teamwork easy, especially for large companies with groups of remote employees.

Companies adopting strategies around Microsoft Teams can harness features including:

  • Teams and channels: Teams consist of people, content, and tools organized around different projects and objectives, open to anyone within the organization or made private to invited users. Channels are dedicated threads within a team created for specific subjects, disciplines, or project functions, with file-sharing and storage capabilities utilizing SharePoint.
  • Chat and channel messaging: Instantly communicate among teams, groups, and individuals with customized features and roles defined by the organization’s global or multiple messaging policies.
  • SharePoint document storage: Every Microsoft Teams member has access to SharePoint Online, where files specific to conversations are shared and stored.
  • Online meetings: Host groups of up to 10,000 users for department and project updates, training sessions, or even regional or company-wide meetings, with built-in scheduling aids, a note-taking app, and in-meeting chat messaging.
  • Power Apps Integration: This highly intuitive, low-code application development platform allows individuals to solve business problems with visual tools that don’t require code. When integrated with Microsoft Teams, it can be used for everything from customizing SharePoint forms to building end-to-end solutions that can reduce time-to-market, rapidly streamline processes, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance worker productivity.

Read more: The widespread benefits of Microsoft Teams

Companies adopting Microsoft Team strategies are challenged by:
  1. Sprawl: Any user can create a team and—without active supervision—the environment can become confusing. Additionally, teams that cluster storage space can remove silos and blur lines of demarcation between internal groups.
  2. Guest access: While inviting guest users to Teams can help employees make decisions, granting access to your enterprise’s internal documents has its pitfalls. The challenge here is collaborating with clients and partners without oversharing or compromising crucial data.
  3. File management: With information uploaded and shared in private chats and Microsoft Teams channels, it can be tricky to manage files effectively. Users may have to move files manually to the correct location, wasting time and potentially clogging up your document library with hundreds or thousands of files.

Solving common challenges in Microsoft Teams

Although Microsoft Teams adopters often face hurdles while developing their implementation strategy, these obstacles can be overcome with thoughtful planning.

For example, organizations can minimize teams sprawl by:

  • Preparing an adoption strategy: Before implementing Microsoft Teams, your IT staff will need to establish governance to guide the management of users’ access and data security in compliance with your business standards. With input from executives and department leads, establishing governance involves preparing use cases to set policies and organizing ongoing communications and training plans after deployment.
  • Crafting clear messaging: One of the primary reasons for teams sprawl is impatience. Before Microsoft Teams deployment, organizations must communicate to staff the difference between teams and channels, channel conversations versus chat messages, and common use cases. 
  • Guest access solutions include:
  • Admin center implementation: As a Global Administrator or Teams Administrator in the Microsoft Teams admin center, you can grant guests minimum privileges for their projects without exposing data or communications outside of project scope. For instance, if an executive is concerned about possible information leaks during a video meeting, the admin can disable the Microsoft Teams screen sharing capability.
  • Sensitivity labels:  During the team creation process, team leads can set up sensitivity labels that mark delicate data as “confidential.”

Organizations in need of better file management can:

  • Upload files to folders: Use the Files tab of your respective channel to create required folders. You can then copy shared links and paste them into private chat or channel conversations. This method will keep your Document library organized and avoid file loss or duplication.

Accessing certified experts during integration

To guide Microsoft Teams integration, enterprises often need to augment their IT organizations with experts who have day-to-day experience with essential Microsoft Teams adoption strategies. CBTS, as a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, has a large pool of experts who can assist IT teams with the challenges encountered during an integration, as well as provide 24×7 monitoring and support afterwards. 

Download the e-book: Build a modern workplace with Microsoft Teams and Power Apps 

Future thinking is critical

Microsoft Teams is a robust collaboration environment that will continue to grow as remote work expands. Your business has unique processes and technology needs, making planning ahead critical.  With decades of experience in delivering communications services, CBTS experts can help you leverage Microsoft Teams to meet your unique needs and prepare your business for the future of remote collaboration and hybrid work.

To learn more, watch our LinkedIn Live Tech Talk with expert engineers Justin Rice and Jon Lloyd. They answer the question, “Are you prepared for the revolution in tech communications?”

Contact CBTS for more information on adopting Microsoft Teams in your organizational strategy.

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Microsoft 365 Business Voice: Always Stay Connected


Microsoft 365 Business Voice: Always Stay Connected

Why are so many companies turning to Microsoft 365 Business Voice? A big part of the drive is that so many organizations are already using Microsoft Teams. With the recent boom in remote work, Teams has become an integral part of routine business operations for many enterprises. This solution is typically used as a business communications system through Teams. It acts as a logical replacement for traditional telephony providers and seamlessly integrates with existing Teams clients. Considering all the benefits of Teams, adding purpose-built enterprise voice functionality is an easy choice.

woman on phone. collaborate with Microsoft Business Voice

Find out: How Microsoft Teams Voice by CBTS can boost collaboration for your organization.

Who is Microsoft Teams for?

This enterprise voice solution is an excellent choice for all businesses using Teams as their collaboration tool today. Microsoft Teams Voice empowers businesses to take advantage of all Microsoft Teams collaboration features while also fully integrating CBTS’ robust VoIP core capabilities like contact center, AI-enabled IVR, call recording, advanced analytics and call reporting, and many more advanced applications enterprise requires.

And because Voice integrates with Teams, you can turn any computer, phone, or tablet into a phone that uses your business voice number. Remote team members using Microsoft Teams can respond to calls anytime and anywhere. When you make the transition, you’ll be able to keep your existing phone numbers by porting them over to the new enterprise voice interface.

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

When you make the switch to Microsoft Teams Voice, you can:
  • Unify onsite and offsite business calls.
  • Experience easy, on-the-go communication.
  • Stay connected anywhere.
  • Get all the standard phone system features.
  • Keep your current business number.

Keep your business connected offline

Whether you’re looking for a better way to keep your remote workers connected or wanting to bundle your communications and cut costs, Microsoft 365 Business Voice can help. Seamless communication, both online and offline, is key for a business of any size. Teams Voice is the easiest way for growing businesses to stay connected no matter what their conditions require. It’s ideal for companies of any size that need integrated communications with Teams-enabled clients. When you make the switch to Teams Voice, you get the following features and more:

  • Phone system — Standard phone features including voice mail, caller ID, call menus, shared phone lines, and emergency calling.
  • Domestic calling — Calls within your country or region are free. International plans and toll-free dialing are also available.
  • Video and audio conferencing — Host conference calls with people who don’t have collaboration applications or a reliable Internet connection.

Also read: Give your remote teams the tools to connect seamlessly with Cisco Webex

How to make the switch to Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite is one of the most powerful business tools available. Working with a certified Gold Microsoft Partner like CBTS ensures that you get informed recommendations based on your unique IT environment and business needs. Even if you’re already using Office 365, CBTS can help you optimize how you use it and integrate Microsoft 365 Business Voice.

Talk to an expert today and discover how CBTS can help your team connected.

Leverage franchise technology solutions to foster a satisfying customer experience

The fast-casual restaurant business is no longer defined by simply serving meals with speed and convenience. Modern customers expect a comfortable and welcoming experience, from the time they order to when they leave the restaurant.

With this climate in mind, many corporate restaurant entities and franchise operators are investing in purpose-built technology solutions. These innovations take many shapes, but examples include app-based ordering systems, drive-through operations optimized by smart tablets, and more.

However, these tools are only as useful as the networks that power them. To make the most of cutting-edge customer service technology, corporate enterprises and franchise owners alike must improve their in-store networks. Managed Network as a Service (NaaS) by CBTS could be the ideal method for taking your business network to the next level.

Also read: Network solution for retailers delivers sales

Where franchise technology solutions are heading:
  • Restaurants are rethinking drive-through lanes, using networked mobile devices to process orders faster and instill brand loyalty.
  • In-store Wi-Fi is no longer optional—customers expect to be able to enjoy a steady Internet connection while they dine.
  • If your restaurant doesn’t offer the option of ordering through a streamlined web page or mobile app, you’re falling behind the pack.
 

What holds restaurant networks back

When foodservice organizations grapple with the issue of modernizing the networks that support their stores, roadblocks aren’t uncommon. Some enterprises struggle to cut through the entanglement of sluggish long-term contracts with multiple service providers. Others are held back by licensing agreements that can prove frustrating to break out of.

Another common trial faced by restaurants is the issue of network consistency. Corporate entities and even franchise owners often find it challenging to maintain consistent network performance across disparate locations.

These obstacles lead to one result: many restaurant enterprises and franchise owners face overwhelming difficulty in implementing advanced technology solutions.

Also read: Cloud technology in retail increases productivity

Modernizing restaurants with NaaS

Businesses of any size and vertical can benefit from the cost savings and high-end performance of NaaS by CBTS. However, foodservice organizations are uniquely positioned to drive results and reduce expenses with this managed solution. At the same time, they can position their brands for the next generation of franchise technology solutions.

Downtime can be deadly for restaurants, which is why CBTS works closely with clients to deploy NaaS on demanding deadlines. This means NaaS by CBTS quickly delivers tailored networks that offer consistent performance across multiple storefronts and devices. Moreover, around-the-clock support from CBTS means owners and managers can worry less about network upkeep and focus on serving customers.

NaaS is also built to be flexible and scalable. As businesses grow and add additional franchises, restaurant enterprises can rest assured that their networks will grow with them. This flexibility also means organizations can adjust and customize their networks on the fly with minimal disruption.

Also read: NaaS solution meets automobile retailer’s needs

Enabling the next generation of franchise technology solutions

The very concept of fast-casual restaurant service has taken on a new dimension. The customer experience is of high importance and modern customers expect convenience through technology as well. Capabilities such as checking the status of an order through a mobile app or table-mounted smart display are increasingly common. But these solutions need robust and reliable in-store networks to function.

With CBTS as your cloud networking provider, you can equip your restaurant with the conveniences your customers expect. At the same time, you can reap the rewards of lower networking expenses, simplified billing, dependable performance, and much more.

Read the full case study to learn how NaaS by CBTS prepared dozens of Arby’s locations to leverage new franchise technology solutions.

The widespread benefits of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based team collaboration software and makes up a part of the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suite of applications. Core features and benefits of Microsoft Teams include business messaging, calling, video meetings, and file sharing.

woman looking at laptop with notebook and pen. benefits of microsoft teams

As a 15-year Microsoft-certified partner, CBTS can help customize an organization’s unique business functions while pointing users to a myriad of best-in-class features available within the Microsoft Teams platform. Microsoft Teams is especially useful for remote work, as it keeps dispersed groups of workers connected and communicating.

Enterprises can utilize Microsoft Teams to create customized video meetings, engage employees in chat-based workspaces, and collaborate on documents in real-time. This blog will illuminate the many benefits of Microsoft Teams that can make your meetings easy and enjoyable and further enhance productivity with integrated voice.

Also read: Your Quick Guide to Conducting Secure Videoconferences

Messaging and video round out the dynamic Microsoft Teams package

One of the several benefits of Microsoft Teams is its ability to enable local and remote workers to communicate in real time across different devices. The platform also integrates with other Microsoft business applications such as Exchange, PowerPoint, and SharePoint.

On the features side, Microsoft Teams is built around clear communication with a side order of fun. Key features include:

Messaging chat – Teams is a chat-based workspace that combines individual messaging with threaded and persistent conversations. When sending an important message that needs to be seen immediately, users can simply change the delivery option to “Urgent.” This will show the receiver that their attention is desired ASAP.

Alongside one-on-one chats and voice and video calls, users can incorporate emojis, GIFs, and images into conversations. With the emoji feature, for example, you can add your appreciation and joy to online communication. Meanwhile, sending an amusing GIF to co-workers may be just the ticket to brighten up their day.

Video meetings – In addition to audio-only calls, participants can conduct virtual meetings. Microsoft Teams offers some key videoconferencing benefits such as customized virtual backgrounds, meeting recording functionality, transcription, whiteboarding, and breakout rooms.

Microsoft Whiteboard is a “digital canvas” bringing together people, content, and ideas. Whiteboard is automatically enabled for applicable Microsoft 365 tenants, though users can also sign in via Windows, iOS, and Microsoft Teams. To enable or disable Whiteboard:

  1. Go to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

  2. On the Admin Center home page, go to the Search box on the top right, then type “Whiteboard.”

  3. In the search results, click “Whiteboard Settings.”

  4. Go to the “Whiteboard” panel, then toggle “Turn Whiteboard on or off for your entire organization” to On.

Webinars – Microsoft Teams supports interactive meetings and webinars for up to 1,000 attendees, while Teams webinars can accommodate 10,000 people in a view-only broadcast. Larger broadcasts of 20,000 viewers are available until the end of 2021 due to the surge in pandemic-spurred remote work.

Also read: Considerations for Remote Work

A few key terms for Microsoft Teams’ newbies:
  • Teams – Teams are groups of people who connect through the platform and work together on projects.
  • Channels – Within each team, users create channels to organize communications by topic.
  • Tabs – Located at the top of each channel, tabs link users to files, apps, and services.
  • Mentions – Users can use mentions to message and alert other participants.
  • Feeds – The activity feed provides a summary of messages, replies, mentions, and other activity happening within team channels.
  • Threads – A series of messages creates a thread; within the tread, users can schedule voice and video meetings.

Additional benefits

  • Calling – Integrated Microsoft Teams Voice with your existing PBX or have CBTS manage your Microsoft 365 portal for your calling.
  • Screen sharing – As the name implies, the screen sharing function permits users to share their desktop screens in real time during Teams calls or video meetings.
  • Calendar – Teams features extensive calendar capabilities so employees can track their work week, meetings, and daily appointments. Teams calendars are also highly integrated with Microsoft Outlook calendars.
  • File sharing – Through this document management feature, remote employees can store, share, and edit files with Teams.
  • External collaboration – The “Guest” feature in Microsoft Teams enables users to invite people from outside their organizations to join internal channels for messaging, meetings, and file sharing. Teams Connect is an additional external collaboration option that gives companies a shared workspace in which to chat, meet, and edit documents.

Also read: Evaluate collaboration technologies

Microsoft Teams: the ideal communication choice for your company

As a Microsoft Gold Partner and Cisco Gold Partner, CBTS is in a position to design, deliver, and implement many benefits of the Microsoft Teams platform and integrated Microsoft Teams Voice. CBTS also offers around-the-clock support, which gives organizations the collaboration infrastructure they need to thrive today and into the post-pandemic era. Contact the experts at CBTS to learn more about the benefits of Microsoft Teams.

Who uses Microsoft Teams and why? Read Microsoft 365 Business Voice: Always Stay Connected to find out more.

Three Advantages of Managed IT Services for Healthcare

There’s no question that the healthcare field has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources have been stretched thin and organizations have been forced to adapt to an unprecedented and dire situation.

Hospital contact center employees and other non-medical staff were among the many professionals to embrace remote work early on. While this adaptation kept staff safe and vital medical services operational, it also revealed an opportunity for improvement. As healthcare organizations expanded their networks to accommodate remote employees, many realized that their network technology was lacking.

Fortunately, managed IT services specialized for healthcare are available for a variety of applications. These solutions include Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Network as a Service (NaaS), software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

Three ways managed IT services for healthcare can transform your organization:
  1. Deliver secure, reliable network access for remote employees.
  2. Streamline communication and ensure solid connectivity.
  3. Layer cutting-edge network security into every layer of your business.

Below are some of the main benefits of software-defined managed IT services that your healthcare enterprise should be aware of.

Also read: The value of the cloud in our new reality

1. Empowering and safeguarding remote work with SD-WAN and NaaS

SD-WAN is a trusted and cutting-edge technology solution that revitalizes aging network infrastructure for the cloud era. While many verticals can benefit from this functionality, healthcare enterprises are uniquely positioned to embrace SD-WAN to its full potential.

Many hospitals have historically relied on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) infrastructures that offer privacy but tend to be expensive. Legacy MPLS can also lead to jumbled network atmospheres bloated with disparate connections. The vendor-agnostic nature of SD-WAN makes carrier diversity a strength rather than a weakness. By virtualizing networks, it allows hospitals to deploy whatever form of connectivity is needed regardless of licensing agreements.

Instead of needing hundreds of MPLS circuits to network all their devices, SD-WAN gives hospitals one streamlined, unified interface. This “single pane of glass” lets doctors, nurses, administrators, and support staff access every endpoint from anywhere in the network.

What makes SD-WAN an ideal managed IT service for healthcare, however, is the remote work capability it offers. When contact center employees and other non-medical personnel were sent home due to COVID-19, secure and reliable connections were critical. SD-WAN allows these employees to safely access hospital databases remotely without fear of sensitive data breaches.

Additionally, NaaS by CBTS can be deployed as a business model to standardize hospital communications systems. Healthcare networks tend to grow by absorbing the infrastructure of smaller organizations, leading to cluttered and patched-together phone systems. NaaS can be used to streamline each voice asset through a single provider to keep costs low and facilities running smoothly.

Also read: Four Considerations for Building a Remote Network with SD-WAN

2. Making cloud voice attainable with UCaaS

Many hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations struggle with an overabundance of communication systems—from landline phones to two-way radios. In many cases, these organizations were reluctant to make the switch to cloud voice until 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic made remote work a necessity, the benefits of cloud voice technology in healthcare became clear.

In the healthcare field, where lives hang in the balance each day, efficient communication is paramount. That’s why leading clinicians and hospital administrators across North America are embracing UCaaS as an advanced communications solution. UCaaS transforms networks of traditional handsets into hybrid communications models that combine existing devices with cloud voice applications. As a managed service, UCaaS by CBTS also offers predictable expenses and ongoing ground-level support to ensure dependable performance.

The last thing medical professionals need to worry about is whether their phone systems work. Managed IT services for healthcare like UCaaS can be leveraged to mitigate this issue.

Also read: Stepping up your UCaaS experience with SD-WAN

3. Integrating security measures into each layer of the network

Network security is a top concern for much of the enterprise world, but especially so for healthcare organizations. With hospitals and clinics processing and storing sensitive patient data every day, breaches must be prevented at all costs. To meet these standards, healthcare leaders are seeking out network security that accounts for every possible contingency.

SASE by CBTS tackles this challenge by implementing industry-leading firewalls at the edge of globally distributed cloud networks. This means every networked device can be as secure as the internal data center, with no weak links left vulnerable.

This solution is complemented by an industry-leading cloud security implementation process that starts with a thorough assessment by CBTS engineers. CBTS is capable of moving every security measure into the cloud, meaning security is no longer tied to physical buildings. This cloud-native approach marries well with the managed IT services for healthcare mentioned above.

Also read: MDR: Another security fad? Think again.

Evolve your enterprise with these managed IT services for healthcare

New technologies change the face of medicine on a regular basis, and healthcare organizations often struggle to keep pace. That’s where managed services come in. A trusted partner can help your enterprise utilize the benefits of cloud technology in healthcare while mitigating risk and simplifying expenses.

Contact CBTS today to learn how managed IT services for healthcare can take your hospital or clinic to the next level.


Top 4 cloud solutions that will improve patient outcomes

Technology and innovation for better healthcare

October 7, 3:00 p.m. | Live webcast

Balance employee health and productivity with remote work best practices

Communication channels are rapidly changing alongside evolutions in software. With remote work now commonplace, agile enterprises are turning to hosted unified communications as a service (hosted UCaaS) to maximize productivity. For organizations adopting the Cisco Webex collaboration tool, leading technology provider CBTS is delivering an integrated platform that empowers companies to stay completely connected.

While such integration can increase your organization’s productivity and efficiency, staring at a computer screen all day can also have an impact on your staff’s physical and mental well-being.

This blog will detail remote work best practices that can help your teams adjust to working from home. Implementing these best practices can result in happier workers and higher levels of productivity.

Also read: Give your remote teams the tools to connect seamlessly with Cisco Webex

The impact of remote work on mental health

According to a survey conducted last year by health benefits provider Aetna International, around 33% of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic were concerned about their mental health.

The online survey compiled responses from more than 4,000 employees and 1,000 employers in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates. Based on this sample population, the survey found that:

  • Stress (32%) and weight gain (43%) were the top health concerns for remote employees.
  • About 74% of all workers—including 88% of those aged 18 to 24—said poor mental health had negatively impacted their productivity.
  • Nearly 84% of employees surveyed agreed that their mental health was more important in 2020 than the year prior.
  • 40% of employers expressed concern that a lack of social interaction would have negative long-term effects on employee mental health.
  • Around 61% of workers want to return to the office by mid-2021. 81% said they would return if able to work remotely for part of the week.

Since March 2020, CBTS has been exploring ways to enhance the remote work experience. As businesses move from pandemic mode to long-term planning, executives must put remote work best practices in place to create a working environment that supports the needs of employees.

Also read: Four Considerations for Building a Remote Network with SD-WAN

CBTS suggests the following best practices for remote work:
 
  1. Stand up and stretch at least once an hour, or take a five-minute walk outside or around your home. Simple exercise not only improves your circulation—it can make it easier to focus on work as well.
  2. Add a block of time to your calendar for a relaxing lunch.
  3. Change your online status to “Out to lunch” or “Be right back” to let co-workers know you need some downtime or use the “Do not disturb” function on your phone or collaboration app.
  4. Create a daily schedule when working from home, including dressing as you would for the office. This will put you in the right mindset from the moment you boot up your computer.

Make the best out of your remote work practices with Webex

The CBTS Hosted Unified Communications (UC) solution is now fully integrated with Webex. This combines two powerful platforms to deliver the ultimate collaboration and communications experience.

Building on our mutual vision to delight the small to medium business customer, Cisco is thrilled to join with CBTS to deliver Hosted UC with Cisco Webex. With fully integrated Webex technology, CBTS users will experience a modern, all-in-one collaboration tool that delivers simple, flexible communications, making their businesses more productive and more secure.
 

Tony Lopresti
Product Management Director
Webex
Implementing remote work best practices keep teams productive and engaged.
Implementing remote work best practices keep teams productive and engaged.

At the click of a button on the Webex app, users can:

  • Make and receive calls.
  • Send and receive instant messages.
  • Set up audio conferences.
  • Host and attend video meetings.
  • Share screens and files.
  • Integrate apps to build relationships and speed projects forward.

This convenience, flexibility, and user-friendly operation aligns Webex with remote work best practices that keep teams productive and engaged.

To get the best out of your remote work situation, CBTS also suggests these best practices for remote work:
 
  1. Find the right place to work: It helps to have a dedicated working environment, whether a spare room or a table in the living room. Even simple things—like using the same side of the table each day—can help get you into “work mode.”
  2. Get your equipment ready: Take time to fine-tune your keyboard, mouse, displays, speakers, coffee mug, and any other remote workplace accessories.
  3. Cancel out noise: For folks sharing space with children, spouses, pets, or roommates, a good pair of headphones can be a lifesaver.
  4. Check in with teammates: Make time for Friday happy hours or other non-work events with Webex.

Also read: Your Quick Guide to Conducting Secure Videoconferences

Conclusion: Bringing power to the people who work remotely

Seamless integration of Cisco Webex permits workers to meet instantly and securely while ensuring the best and most stress-free remote work experience possible.

Contact CBTS for more information on how Webex can keep your remote teams healthy, productive, and engaged.