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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-th-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.

Answering the vital question: What is NaaS, and how can it improve business outcomes?

Modern organizations face a host of communication obstacles, among them the issue of business growth outstripping network resources. When IT personnel are stretched thin, enterprise networks can suffer increased downtime and higher operating expenses. This can lead to lag and outages even during day-to-day operations.

Businesses across industry sectors are turning to Network as a Service (NaaS) to streamline their IT needs. With this solution, clients can offload their daily tasks to CBTS experts, freeing up resources better dedicated to mission-critical strategic initiatives.

So what exactly is NaaS, and how can it benefit your enterprise? NaaS from CBTS provides businesses with a scalable method of supporting, maintaining, expanding, and securing modernized commercial networks. This service also enables networks complete with cloud integration, security, switching, Wi-Fi, management, monitoring, and software-defined wide area networks (SD- WAN).

Whether you have a single location or multi-site operation, NaaS delivers features that support the unique needs of every client, including:

  • 24×7 monitoring, management, and support.
  • Instant service upgrades over any connection type.
  • Connections to single locations or multiple offices.

This article will cover the advantages, along with how this technology can be integrated into your business.

Watch: NaaS analytics provide business intelligence to drive growth

Simplifying the everyday needs of any enterprise

When asking the question, “What is Naas?” executives must understand the limitations of their outdated network environments. Traditional networks are simply not equipped to meet today’s high demand for reliable, full-spectrum communication.

NaaS can provide managed networking capabilities as both a comprehensive service and a simple transport method. When combined with SD-WAN and hosted unified communications (UC), NaaS can address a wide variety of Wi-Fi and firewall concerns. NaaS is easily scalable for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) requiring network expansion across multiple locations or facilities. 

MPLS architecture vs NaaS architecture

As a managed service, NaaS functions by clients essentially renting cloud networking services from providers. When deployed properly, it can replace hardware-centric VPNs, load balancers, firewall appliances, and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections.

Naas is built to simplify the day-to-day processes of every client, regardless of vertical or size of their business.

NaaS is built to simplify the day-to-day processes of every client, regardless of vertical or the size of their business. For example, it can regulate guest Wi-Fi usage and provide unified threat management (UTM) protection. It can also turn retail networks into powerful tools capable of enriching the customer service experience.

NaaS can improve critical municipal data infrastructure functions such as emergency services, utility management, and even traffic control. Just as crucially, it allows municipalities to shift costs from a capital expenditure (CapEx) model to an operational expenditure (OpEx) model. The results are lower upfront costs for network rollouts and an organization-wide focus on improving public services for constituents.

To ensure client success, CBTS establishes a monitoring environment that allows for continuous system auditing, patching, and improvements. A partnership between CBTS and software vendor ServiceNow allows for automated monitoring processes that proactively maintain their network databases long-term.

Also read: What is Cloud Networking?

By harnessing NaaS, industries of all types are driving real business outcomes.
  1. A concrete manufacturer with 17 locations used NaaS to increase visibility in their network and save over 87% in network upkeep costs.
  2. An auto retailer with 16 sites reduced reliance on expensive multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) connections.
  3. CBTS solved a school district’s unique needs for a reliable, secure network.
  4. A specialty foods distributor in the Southern U.S. embraced NaaS to integrate new locations and create a consistent customer experience.
  5. Single-site, customer-facing business to regulate guest Wi-Fi experiences and keep customer data secure.

What is NaaS? A future-forward, managed solution for your business

Through a NaaS solution, enterprise networks can quickly expand to new locations and automatically provision site-to-site VPNs for authorized users. Enterprises can also use it to ensure access to organizational servers. CBTS has established NaaS for more than 600 clients at 5,000 locations since launching the solution in 2016. This was possible with the help of partners such as Cisco and VMware.

What are the benefits?

  • No-touch deployment and management, where certified experts support the network on a year-round basis.
  • A centralized, mobile-enabled cloud dashboard with real-time data and network analytics.
  • Application, user, and device control where users can be searched for by any device—PC, mobile phone, tablet, and more.
  • Improved, lower-cost performance and security compared to MPLS.
  • Flexibility in adding new network locations without the expenses associated with MPLS expansion costs.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Usage of a public cloud carries some inherent risk of vulnerability—keep this in mind when selecting a provider.
  • Downtime is another potential hazard of managed network solutions.
  • Dependency on managed services, or “vendor lock-in,” is another aspect of managed cloud networking that merits consideration.

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

Integrate Cisco Meraki-powered NaaS into your network

NaaS can be enhanced by Cisco Meraki, a platform that enables seamless expansion, maintenance, and security of a managed network. This puts the enterprise network in capable hands during scale-up, giving clients room to reallocate IT resources toward growth objectives.

Meraki-powered NaaS bolsters geographic expansion and increased revenue without the added burden of unnecessary operational expenses. Pricing packages that fold hardware, licensing, configuration, and implementation into one monthly expense can be scaled as needed.

The current iteration of NaaS by CBTS comes complete with Meraki’s single-pane-of-glass dashboard. This originated from a need to modernize outdated equipment without increasing costs or otherwise negatively impacting a client’s budget. The Meraki dashboard features a managed service provider’s (MSP) portal; this enables the management of multiple customer networks with fewer personnel than is possible with simple network management protocol (SNMP) tools. The partnership with Meraki has cut down on the provider’s quote-to-cash interval and operating expenses.

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

A streamlined network solution built for your needs

Commitment, flexibility, and collaboration are the benchmarks for answering the question, “What is NaaS, and what can it do for my enterprise?” By utilizing the latest technology available and anticipating customer needs, CBTS delivers future-forward managed solutions for organizations of every size.   

Contact us for more information on how CBTS NaaS can work for you.

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.

To learn more about the benefits of Microsoft Teams, click here.

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

Supporting secure business solutions on the cloud

Keeping pace with enterprise-level communications can be challenging in the digital age, as customers and employees both expect fast responses and seamless interactions across channels. Instead of toggling between platforms and devices to stay connected, agile organizations are looking for more effective ways to streamline and secure business communications on the cloud.

By integrating enterprise telephony, communication, and collaboration, CBTS helps companies deliver a seamless experience across channels. With hosted enterprise unified communications (UC), businesses can unlock significant benefits to protect from outages, downtimes, and other delays that might impede smooth communication.

Moving to the cloud can enhance communication and collaboration across an enterprise by enabling:

Read more: 5 ways the cloud protects your business

1. Carrier-grade protection

Expert engineers work around the clock to resolve issues instantly to support business solutions on the cloud.

When power outages or equipment failures shut down your network, you can’t connect with prospects, close sales, or collaborate with colleagues. To prevent these costly disruptions, CBTS delivers its hosted enterprise UC services over a carrier-grade network with 99.999% service level agreements to keep you connected.

Ten redundant data centers across North America provide disaster recovery and business continuity in case of an emergency, along with multiple server clusters, power sources, and network paths. Additionally, the U.S.-based Enterprise Network Operations teams at CBTS monitor and manage your network 24x7x365. Expert engineers work around the clock to resolve issues instantly, ensuring that your secure business communications won’t miss a beat.

Find out how Microsoft Teams synergizes with your hosted communications

2. One number, any phone

By connecting your enterprise telephony system to the cloud, you get the convenience and flexibility of using one number on any device. Whether you want to take calls through your desktop, tablet, smartphone, or handset, this capability allows calls to be forwarded seamlessly.

Using call pull capabilities, you can even move active calls from one device to another with a single click without interrupting your conversation. Meanwhile, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) handover maintains call quality as you move between data networks, switching from Wi-Fi to LTE. When you’re not tethered to a desk phone or on-site network, you can enjoy simple and secure business communication instead of contending with uncooperative technology.

3. Work from anywhere

If inclement weather, power outages, or other emergencies prevent your team from commuting to the office, the cloud can provide virtual meeting spaces to facilitate remote collaboration. Whether you’re on the go, working from home, or gathered in a conference room, CBTS offers a fully integrated unified collaboration experience with enterprise hosted UC.

By bringing together Webex’s advanced messaging and meeting capabilities within a single app, the cloud makes it easy to connect with voice, video, chat, screen sharing, file sharing, conferencing, and other remote collaboration tools. Wherever you are, you can join virtual meetings with a single click using your enterprise dial plan. With a unified solution that’s ”always on”’ across any device, you can be productive anywhere, anytime.

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

4. Safely store sensitive data

As information travels faster than ever across a growing number of channels and devices, keeping your data safe is critical. End-to-end encryption helps bolster the security of your business communications through the cloud, while robust analytics allow your IT team to keep a close eye on your business in real-time.

When enterprise data is stored on the cloud, information can be synced instantly and accessed compliantly from any location. Paired with data loss prevention and risk assurance practices, the cloud enables collaboration while protecting your data, users, and devices. Hosted UC keeps your communications compliant and secure without sacrificing the must-have features you need to run your business.

Learn how Cisco Webex keeps your business communications secure.

5. Integrated cloud contact center

Customers expect prompt service from knowledgeable agents every time they contact your business, and if you can’t engage with them quickly and conveniently, they’ll find another company that will. An integrated omni-channel, cloud-based contact center can equip your enterprise to adapt swiftly to these evolving expectations.

Leveraging CBTS Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) can enhance the experience for your agents and your customers alike. With predictive analytics, adaptive routing, and active blending, CCaaS empowers agents to shift automatically from outbound to inbound queues when your call center traffic peaks. Bringing these robust contact center capabilities together on the cloud results in more productive agents and more satisfied customers.

Learn how Five9 Contact Center empowers extraordinary customer experiences.

Ensuring secure business communications

Omni-channel communication can be daunting for enterprises especially while balancing a remote workforce with regulatory compliance. With CBTS as your guide to navigate these communication challenges, your business can reap the benefits of the cloud to drive revenues while reducing risks.

The engineering experts at CBTS can custom-design a voice and data solution for your business, leveraging UC to integrate the tools that connect your company with your customers on the cloud. With multiple service delivery options, ongoing support, and automatic upgrades, CBTS is with you every step of the way.

Contact the UC experts at CBTS to streamline and secure your business communications today.

Answering a crucial question: What is SD-WAN?

Read this article to understand what SD-WAN is, why it is vital for your evolving business needs, how it compares to SDN, and tips on how to choose the right SD-WAN partner.

What is SD-WAN, and why is it vital for your evolving business needs?

Software-defined wide area network, or SD-WAN for short, uses software and cloud-based technologies to simplify the delivery of WAN services to branch offices. Software-based virtualization enables network abstraction that simplifies network operations, allowing busy IT managers to deploy Internet-based connectivity quickly and securely.

Although SD-WAN is a key component of modern business agility, many organizations lack the infrastructure to stay competitive in today’s high-speed cloud networking environment.

Also read: SD-WAN for dummies

Companies relying on MPLS networks are stuck with high-latency/low-performance cloud applications, meaning remote users must settle for less from VoIP and other real-time applications. What’s more, security and management requirements often associated with MPLS tend to complicate branch operations and increase IT staffing costs.

For organizations considering a new beginning for their secure branch networking, it may be time to explore an SD-WAN solution.

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

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What SD-WAN can do for your organization—and what it can’t

Traditional MPLS systems that transmit traffic from a branch to a centralized data center don’t deliver the high-performance access to cloud applications that is a mainstay of SD-WAN.

As the COVID-19 crisis is sending more workers into remote settings, SD-WAN provides a range of benefits:

  • Rapid deployment of bandwidth and firewalls removes the need for IT personnel to be on-site. The ability to easily add or reduce bandwidth means more agility for your business.
  • Internet connectivity through SD-WAN—including cable, DSL, and ethernet—is quick to deploy and costs a fraction of equivalent MPLS circuits. Ultimately, software-defined wide area networks provides the advantages of reliable, secure WAN services at Internet-comparable price points.
  • SD-WAN eliminates backhaul penalties of MPLS networks, leveraging the Internet to deliver secure, high-performance connections from branch to cloud. Remote users will also see improvements in their experience when using the cloud/SaaS-based applications.

Also read: Technical guide to SD-WAN

As applications continue to migrate to the cloud, so too will network functions. By moving these operations to the cloud, businesses gain upgraded visibility and analytical insight while no longer having to manage their communications infrastructures at the local level.

From there, mission-critical applications can be layered into the cloud-delivered network. SD-WAN drives bottom-line outcomes by giving customers an improved experience when accessing these applications. 

Also read: How SD-WAN is revolutionizing hybrid networks for the cloud era

SD-WAN may be a comprehensive solution for your networking needs. However, SD-WAN:

  • Does not include the traditional, bookended WAN optimization applicable for private MPLS links and TCP-only connections.
  • Is not just multilink WAN bonding with path control.
  • Is not a last-mile cloud-gateway solution for providing application-based caching and acceleration techniques.
  • Does not offer multilayer integration of packet and optical networks in a telco backbone.
  • Is not private, dark-fiber networking that avoids telco services.

Watch: Why invest in SD-WAN

How CBTS SD-WAN architecture differs from MPLS graphic
By harnessing SD-WAN, companies can:
  1. Virtualize their networks.
  2. Enable a secure overlay.
  3. Simplify the delivery of services.
  4. Provide interoperability.
  5. Leverage cost-effective hardware.
  6. Support automation within a business policy framework.
  7. Monitor usage and performance.
  8. Support interoperable and open networking.
  9. Enable managed services.

Also read: Healthcare provider requires secure network

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How SD-WAN compares to SDN

In the last few years, enterprise networks began transitioning into computer virtualization and the adoption of cloud delivery models. As mobile devices and new applications enter enterprise workloads, networks are still struggling to meet demand. This is primarily due to bottlenecks arising from standard architecture based on proprietary and outdated technologies.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is one solution to these problems, thanks to a sophisticated platform allowing organizations to transition from proprietary hardware devices to more agile software-defined networks.

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking is an extension of SDN that is transforming the enterprise branch office.

With software-defined wide area networking, the advantages of SDN are no longer limited to the data center. Instead, SD-WAN abstracts network hardware into a control plane and multiple data planes, which are then connected to cloud-based management and automation interfaces to simplify branch-office service delivery. This work is done with the manageability, performance, and reliability that today’s fast-moving enterprises expect.

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

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SD-WAN ensures network safety and security, even in remote environments

Many professionals working remotely are struggling with insufficient wireless networks and constrained bandwidth—not the kind of “new normal” executives expect when maximizing branch capabilities and targeting mission-critical business goals.

Partnering with a proven service provider like CBTS empowers organizations to meet these new challenges. Use cases for a software-defined wide area network solution include on-premises, cloud, and hybrid deployment models that require a Quality of Experience (QoE) for VoIP and other real-time applications regardless of where users are located.

Watch: Enhance your end user voice and video experience with SD-WAN

Network solutions can be further bolstered by Check Point Harmony Connect from CBTS. Check Point Harmony Connect from CBTS is a cloud-hosted threat prevention service that protects SaaS, IaaS, and branch-office assets with scalability, intelligent provisioning, and consistent control across physical and virtual networks.

Additional security strengths

SD-WAN delivers a secure cloud network through a secure overlay. This transport-independent overlay works across any combination of public-private circuits, enabling connectivity to both enterprise data centers and SaaS applications.

Additionally, an SD-WAN cloud security solution can be service-chained with another cloud solution to deliver protection from any number of external threats: phishers, scammers, bots, viruses, and more—even as users access the network remotely. This reduces strain on your organization’s data center and provides peace of mind for remote employees.

Also read: Protect your SD-WAN network with cloud-enabled security

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Industries that benefit from Software-Defined Wide Area Networks

A wide variety of verticals can see significant return on their investments into SD-WAN, regardless of location or sector of the economy they occupy.

Retail and food service organizations, for example, often have narrow profit margins that limit the scope of networking infrastructure they can invest in. Software-defined wide area networks fit this niche thanks to its lower infrastructure costs—without any compromise in terms of connection quality.

Meanwhile, the healthcare industry also has unique needs that SD-WAN is suited for. With SD-WAN, healthcare agencies can create specific policies and customized routing protocols for their mission-critical healthcare applications and the large, widely-distributed environments they operate in.

Government agencies also derive substantial value from the streamlined application and service management that SD-WAN offers, especially those with public-facing entities that must field thousands of phone calls per day. SD-WAN offers these organizations a single pane of glass interface through which to manage their local, statewide, or even nationally distributed network environments.

Also read: Staffing company has uneven call quality

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How to build an SD-WAN architecture

When the decision is made for your organization to begin transitioning to a cloud-delivered software-defined wide area networking environment, there are a few key factors to consider.

Search for an SD-WAN partner, set goals, and get executive buy-in to ensure a successful SD-WAN deployment.
Search for an SD-WAN partner, set goals, and get executive buy-in to ensure a successful SD-WAN deployment.

Firstly, your enterprise must determine whether or not to engage with a managed service partner to implement your software-defined wide area network architecture. There are many benefits to this; but care must be taken to choose an SD-WAN partner who will offer full transparency into the transition process without demanding total control.

A successful SD-WAN deployment is also dependent on complete buy-in from your organization’s leadership. Executives must be thoroughly informed of the mission and goals of the SD-WAN transition to ensure an efficient and effective migration. This means having productive conversations early on and getting all sectors of the business invested in the smooth deployment of cloud-delivered SD-WAN.

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

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Choosing the right SD-WAN partner for your business needs

Identifying the right partner for your managed software-defined wide area network solution is crucial for organizations looking to build a network architecture that can support high-level business imperatives. Providers should have expertise in smoothly transforming a legacy MPLS network into a cloud-powered hybrid or SD-WAN architecture, regardless of industry.

A provider must also work with a client’s IT team to:

  • Identify vulnerabilities.
  • Map out the existing network environment.
  • Plot out an optimal transition plan.

The right SD-WAN partner brings a modern approach to an enterprise’s security situation. This can include layering solutions like Check Point Harmony Connect throughout the managed service architecture.

Put simply, your would-be network provider should have layered and comprehensive answers to the question, “What is SD-WAN?”. Finding the perfect partner will help you assess your current network to not only optimize bandwidth, but also safeguard important data and applications as well.

Also read: The key to finding the right SD-WAN provider for your organization

SD-WAN is defining both the present and future of enterprise networking. However, it takes an expert guide to navigate these turbulent waters. Choose your partner carefully to get the most out of this technology.

Click here for more information on how SD-WAN can modernize your network and threat management strategy.

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How NaaS can be a game-changer restaurant technology

The past year has been difficult for everyone, especially those in the food service and hospitality industry. Enterprises in this vertical have been forced to contend with a variety of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, not the least of which is a severe decline in business, as well as demanding safety measures and a great deal of uncertainty.

Amid this trying climate, many food service organizations are discovering the benefits of empowering their restaurant technology with managed networking solutions such as Network as a Service (NaaS) by CBTS.

NaaS works by replacing legacy networks with a scalable, agile, and potent cloud-capable environment that can be managed and supported by capable off-site experts. With everything that restaurant operators must juggle and considering how important the customer experience is to the success of a hospitality venture, it’s no wonder that food service leaders are looking to offload their network architecture with customized NaaS solutions.

The following blog details the primary benefits of customized NaaS solutions for restaurant technologies and hospitality management.

Managed NaaS solutions can:
  • Provide a uniform customer experience across disparate storefronts.
  • Generate useful analytics to better understand customer behavior.
  • Allow for the easy onboarding and networking of new locations.
  • Be secured with full malware protection and 24x7x365 provider oversight.

What NaaS can do for your food service enterprise

In the customer-facing hospitality world, experience is everything. Retail customers expect a positive experience when interacting with your business, and delivering services and features such as reliable public Wi-Fi is key to ensuring customer satisfaction. Chances are you must also maintain an in-house network for a wide variety of restaurant technologies such as point-of-sale (POS) terminals, tablets, registers, inventory databases, and more. A managed networking solution like NaaS can simplify and enable these aspects of your business.

By partnering with CBTS for a networked restaurant technology solution, your organization can easily and seamlessly network POS devices, guest Wi-Fi connection points, internal databases, and more, all of which can be scaled up and down as needed to accommodate new locations. This flexibility is especially crucial for seasonal businesses and those looking to expand as the pandemic eventually winds down.

Also read: 4 Reasons Retailers Love NaaS

On top of the functionality that managed NaaS solutions offer for food service, enterprise leaders can gain an even greater resource: time. NaaS takes the burden of network management off in-house IT personnel and offloads it to a qualified service provider such as CBTS. This means food service and hospitality managers can spend less time on network upkeep and more time on customer service and long-term strategic goals.

Business leaders are also constantly on the lookout for opportunities to cut costs. Compared to legacy multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) networks, a managed NaaS solution operates as a less expensive broadband solution while presenting a predictable monthly expense. This also allows enterprise leaders to modernize their networks without costly capital investments.

Conclusion: Prepare your restaurant technology for the future with NaaS

Embracing NaaS for food service is only the beginning of your enterprise’s transformation—it’s also vital to partner with the right provider to help you meet your specific goals. CBTS has extensive experience in delivering customized NaaS solutions for a variety of industries, including food service and retail.

Moreover, NaaS comes complete with 24x7x365 support. Any time your business suffers an outage, slowdown, or any other networking obstacle, CBTS will be there to address the issue so you can continue providing your guests and customers with the experience they expect.

For more information on how CBTS can deliver a custom NaaS solution for your business, also read:

Contact CBTS to find out how NaaS can modernize and streamline restaurant technology across your entire organization.

How CBTS and Opex Technologies teamed up to implement a state-of-the-art NaaS platform to address healthcare network challenges

Network as a Service (NaaS) for healthcare has emerged as the most reliable solution for healthcare providers needing to scale, especially considering that healthcare providers tend to possess extremely sensitive data for a large number of patients. When a provider begins to grow and starts expanding from a single office to multiple locations, they can be faced with adding new equipment, platforms, licensing, and all the costs of expanding IT architecture.

Then there’s the added data burden of the office staff, who must coordinate information from multiple platforms to meet regulatory requirements, process billing, and coordinate with hospitals, pharmacies, and other providers, all while maintaining communications with patients.

MindPath Care Centers, a southeastern-based mental health provider, was facing these same healthcare network challenges when they expanded to multiple sites across several states. The disparate infrastructure became difficult to manage, they suffered from a limited IT staff, and they needed a knowledgeable IT partner to streamline their growing multi-office operations.

Also read: A Q&A on Taking the Vertical Dive

Network as a Service (NaaS) for Healthcare

The solution came in the form of a state-of-the-art Network as a Service (NaaS) platform powered by the Cisco Meraki dashboard. The solution addressed a number of key requirements, including a low start-up cost with simplified operations and upgrade processes. It solved the need for full compliance with HIPAA and other regulations. In addition, the solution came in an agile format offering cloud-delivered deployment and management of hybrid public, private, wireline, and wireless networks.

“As we adapted to expanding our company, it was eye-opening to see how flexible the CBTS team and our trusted advisor Opex was. Their teams make it easy to add locations and make changes to their solution as our company evolves.”

Eric Garrison, CTO, MindPath Care Centers
By implementing a NaaS for Healthcare Platform, you can:
  • Easily scale branch locations up or down.
  • Significantly reduce month to month operating costs.
  • Improve your network’s performance and functionality.
  • See real-time data analytics.
  • Avoid downtime with 24x7x365 monitoring.

Download the full case study to learn more about how CBTS and Opex Technologies created a cloud-enabled networking solution that solved MindPath Care Centers’ scaling and IT infrastructure problems.

Powered by Cisco Meraki

NaaS, powered by Cisco Meraki, packages hardware, licensing, configuration, implementation, and co-management into one monthly expense. It can easily be scaled up or down according to your needs. Today, CBTS supports NaaS for Healthcare solutions for more than 600 clients and can install a managed network in as little as 30 days. 

Today, MindPath Care Centers is in full command of a fully-virtualized network ecosystem that connects its multiple sites and allows for deep visibility into network traffic conditions to ensure optimal data flow. The day-to-day management burdens have been offloaded to CBTS, freeing the internal IT team to focus on higher-level operations.

Also read: Why SD-WAN is a powerful healthcare technology solution

“CBTS was very easy to work with and accommodating,” said Auburn Holbrook, president of Opex Technologies. “The Channel manager and solution engineering team were quick to respond and creative when it came to generating a solution that satisfied the customer. At the end of the day, they strive to always put the customer needs first.”

Contact CBTS for more information on how NaaS can help your organization address a variety of healthcare network challenges while expanding operations with ease and confidence.

Learn more about our Channel Program from CBTS today, and how you can be the hero in your story.

Continue reading: How NaaS helped a cannabis company manage its rapid growth

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