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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 Reasons Retailers Love NaaS

NaaS not only supports scalability and flexibility for businesses prone to seasonal fluctuations, it also captures customer insights that drive revenue growth.

woman accesses tablet in retail location

Just as Software as a Service (SaaS) has made inroads into retail as a means of shifting IT responsibilities for applications to a third party, a similar model for networking has been gaining popularity. The Network as a Service (NaaS) model can solve the complexity created by deploying a network in a store—no matter the size—in terms of both installation and ongoing management.

Having Internet connectivity and a wireless local area network (WLAN) at any location makes a retailer responsible for security, administration, updates, modifications, scalability, and troubleshooting. Factor in the various endpoints that require connectivity—including wireless point of sale (PoS) devices and kiosks, along with identity management—and running a network becomes a complicated proposition. NaaS transfers many of these responsibilities to a third-party provider that offers a centralized network (as opposed to a WLAN) while delivering improved access to cloud-based management services and mobile enterprise solutions like apps.

In addition to the monumental task of security monitoring, the third-party provider can give retailers more to love about NaaS.

Control over allocation and bandwidth of the network

NaaS enables retailers to cost-effectively shift network responsibilities to their NaaS service provider in alignment with this cloud-service approach to applications. Coincidentally, this also increases the flexibility to support fluctuating numbers of users, mobile devices, and endpoints.

Improved security is another major benefit of moving to a NaaS model. Cybercriminals continue to mount attacks on high-profile retailers like Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and Target and expose customer data. Cyberthreats such as malware, botnets, and ransomware are increasing in frequency and ferocity. NaaS can relieve stress on a retailer by placing cybersecurity tasks like real-time monitoring and timely patching in the provider’s hands instead.

This retailer got a better Wi-Fi experience and security with its NaaS solution from CBTS.

Less time managing the network

Despite shifting network responsibilities to a service provider, NaaS can provide retailers with greater central control and visibility. This control means a retailer can have visibility across all networks from “a single pane of glass.” IT staff that can see every location in one dashboard can make better-informed decisions about allocating network resources and bandwidth. As a result, they spend less time managing the network and focus instead on strategic IT initiatives that support the customer experience and business growth.

Learn how Restaurant Management, Inc. (DBA Arby’s) focused on upgrading their customer experience with NaaS.

Endless scalability options

Scalability is critical, and NaaS can provide the agility to scale up or down in a business environment prone to seasonal fluctuations. Adding or removing users from the network becomes a much simpler task. And with the advent of the pop-up store, entire locations can easily be provisioned or decommissioned centrally in a replicable “cookie cutter” model.

A Southern-based company with food service franchises around the country used Network as a Service to connect new locations seamlessly with the parent company, creating a uniform experience for guests and employees.

Connecting multiple retail locations

Connecting multiple locations can create a bigger picture for the retailer, not just in terms of network traffic and bandwidth usage, but also in consumer behavior and customer feedback. NaaS provides a platform for capturing Big Data from various endpoints, including emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications, making it easier to intelligently invest in retail strategies that drive revenue growth.

This auto service dealer leveraged NaaS from CBTS to connect locations, learn more about their customers, and improve customer experience.

Network as a Service Transforms 6 Key Industries

NaaS Is the Future of Food Service Networking

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.

Continue reading:

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

Webcast recap: What does the workplace of the future look like?

When the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 sparked a nationwide shift toward remote work, many assumed physical offices would return eventually. Today, the business world realizes that there is no going back to the collaboration methods of the past. Which leaves enterprise leaders wondering: What does the workplace of the future look like?

Experts from CBTS recently hosted a webcast with the goal of shedding light on the future of remote work. Head of Business Development Jon Lloyd and Global Solutions Architect Justin Rice shared their thoughts and fielded audience queries. The conversation was centered around answering the burning question: What does the workplace of the future look like? For Lloyd and Rice, this issue boils down to three primary concepts.

Three must-know topics for building your workplace of the future:
  • Maintaining a consistent and satisfying user experience.
  • Ensuring your network is designed for a distributed workforce.
  • Security your remote workforce against any potential threat.

Also read: Key SD-WAN advantages your hybrid work from home model needs.

Experience is everything

The key to building toward the future of remote work is delivering reliability and ease of use to employees, Lloyd explains. Regardless of whether they’re in the office or working from home, employees expect their networks to function without difficulty. Members of a distributed workforce expect three things: no delays, no downtime, and “always-on” connectivity.

“Employees want the ability to work from anywhere,” Lloyd said. “The importance of the end-user experience is critical. That has to be (priority) number one.”

Lloyd urges enterprise leaders to think of remote work not as closing one centralized office but as opening hundreds of smaller offices. This means that each employee should enjoy the same performance at home as they would at company headquarters. One effective way to achieve this remote performance is to decentralize proprietary applications and shift away from physical data centers. That’s where the cloud shines.

“The first big winner in this new shift of work-from-home is cloud adoption,” Lloyd said. “There’s just no way for you to financially take an application and distribute it across the globe without utilizing a cloud provider.”

As organizations ask themselves, “what does the workplace of the future look like?” cloud-native network architecture is rapidly emerging as the answer.

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

Cloud-native, remote ready, and secure

Rice adds that prior to the pandemic, high costs discouraged many enterprises away from cloud adoption. As public health concerns pushed this technology to the forefront, many businesses leaped before they looked. This had the unfortunate result of distributed workforces utilizing applications that weren’t properly built for the cloud. That’s why cloud-native applications play a significant role in the future of remote work.

Cloud-native applications not only boast greater reliability but also tend to be more cost-effective. According to Rice, one network component that benefits heavily from decentralization is security. This is especially the case for enterprises struggling to secure the connections used by their distributed workforces.

That’s where Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) comes in. SASE works by implementing zero-trust network access at every endpoint. This means remote workers can safely utilize the applications they need without having to connect to centralized data centers.

When implemented and supported by an expert provider, SASE also has the benefit of superior visibility. With a single dashboard allowing access to your entire SASE framework, your enterprise can greatly simplify its cloud transition process.

These topics add up to one common goal: empowering remote workers to do their jobs from anywhere while maintaining high standards of network security and performance.

Also read: A Q&A on Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture

“What does the workplace of the future look like” and other questions

However enterprises decide to enable their distributed workforces, Lloyd and Rice were confident that remote work is here to stay. Whereas remote work was seen as optional pre-2020, the pandemic has made it mandatory and part of the “new normal.” As a result, enterprises are investing in giving their remote employees the highest-quality connections possible.

Flexibility is also becoming a key factor in the future of remote work, Lloyd and Rice added as they fielded audience questions.

“It’s not ‘work from home,’ it’s ‘work from anywhere,’ and it’s thousands of new offices on your network,” Lloyd said. “And I think—in the past—we treated work from home as ‘it doesn’t have to be as good’ or ‘it isn’t permanent.’”

“There’s certainly been a cultural shift,” Rice added. “Working from home, especially if you had a corporate office, it kind of felt like you’re on an island. Now, working from anywhere has become the new normal.”

Webcast attendees submitted questions on subjects ranging from outsourcing to how recruiters can make in-person office environments appealing again. Lloyd and Rice suggest that since the expectations of modern employees have changed, companies will need to adapt accordingly.

“It’s about making the office interesting and accepting that you’re going to have employees who just don’t want to come in,” Rice said. “What we’re seeing is more co-working spaces. It’s not coming back to a cubicle; it’s more of an open, collaborative environment.”

“We’re redefining what a workplace is. From a recruiting standpoint, for companies that are going to require (in-office attendance), they’re going to have to pay for it,” Lloyd added. “If you’re going to require folks to come in, you’re going to have a responsibility to keep them safe, which is going to increase costs, and you’re probably going to have to offer more than you typically would for that position.”

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

NaaS technology a boon for MLB during the pandemic

Major League Baseball returned this spring in full force following a shortened campaign in 2020. While maximum capacity crowds fill stadiums nationwide, organizations are still working through the social distancing challenges wrought by the virus crisis.

Technology is mitigating ongoing virus-related obstacles in MLB, with the Cincinnati Reds finding success in keeping players healthy and socially distanced and their execs in constant communication. Franchises, including the Reds, typically carry about 35 players on the active roster and another 20 to 30 on a “taxi squad”—the informal name for a group of players who fill short-term needs on the major league team from its minor league AAA affiliate.

A Network as a Service solution built and continually managed by CBTS since 2017 ensures connectivity across all Reds locations, providing best-in-class security and Cisco Meraki cloud-controlled Wi-Fi. Today, the management team and coaching staff for the main roster at Great American Ball Park connect seamlessly to their counterparts evaluating the out-of-town taxi squad and players throughout their farm system through pop-up networks housed at every team facility.

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

A highly-scalable multi-location approach

With NaaS, Reds personnel can harness the network and remotely evaluate players at the major and minor league levels. This MLB-ready technology gives management, coaches, scouts, and players vital access to live video feeds—a cost-effective communication method compared to outmoded and time-consuming digital transmission. 

NaaS is highly scalable and meets all IT requirements of multi-location organizations. MLB teams like the Reds can pay a monthly fee covering equipment, network management services, and ongoing support. Additionally, an extended warranty program eliminates technology obsolescence by building managed hardware upgrades into the solution lifecycle.

CBTS and the Reds have established a customized infrastructure to address their specific IT needs. By partnering with CBTS, the Reds can use available resources more efficiently without sacrificing security. All MLB franchises and similar multi-location organizations can utilize this technology across their facilities, giving their teams access to bandwidth-intensive applications once limited to larger hub offices.

“MLB is an extremely competitive landscape, and leveraging NaaS technology from CBTS has given the Reds an important edge to develop top talent and scout across our organization,” said Brian Keys, vice president of technology for the Cincinnati Reds. “Anyone can buy technology or figure out how to mine data, but the secret is in how you analyze and present it to the baseball guys, and we do that well.”

With NaaS implementation from CBTS, the Reds now enjoy:
  • No-touch deployment and management – CBTS maintains the technology environment with a team of certified experts proactively supporting the network 24x7x365.
  • A centralized web dashboard – The CBTS single pane of glass, mobile-enabled cloud dashboard provides a real-time view of the entire network while leveraging crucial team data and network analytics.
  • Controlled applications, users, and devices – The Reds IT staff can search for users by device type—PC, mobile phone, tablet, and more—allowing them to monitor client or organization application usage.
  • Equivalent reliability and security with improved performance over MPLS.

Read more: CBTS NaaS Awarded Product of the Year by CIOReview

Basic functionality of NaaS technology for MLB

Perhaps the most significant impact for the Reds in integrating NaaS has been the increased flexibility. The organization quickly added its minor league location to the network without incurring typically steep MPLS expansion costs.

Fully managed NaaS solutions from CBTS provide the Reds with scalable methods of supporting, expanding, and securing its enterprise-wide network. Centralized service lets the team utilize the network from any location or device, unhindered by limitations of standard MPLS-based architecture.

Built on Cisco Meraki technology, full-service networking solutions from CBTS combine:

  • Automated virtual private networking (VPN) to connect and secure local area networks (LANs).
  • Robust scalability options to add or remove users.
  • Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology that enables centralized network management solutions.
  • Multi-level security protocols comprising next-generation firewalls, unified threat management, and advanced encryption standards.

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

Looking ahead to a high-tech future

From MLB teams to food industry giants, businesses across verticals are tapping into NaaS from CBTS. For the Reds, NaaS technology helps the team score big as they navigate an ever-evolving communications landscape.

“The current pandemic has forced everyone to be reactive and sometimes uncomfortable,” said Jon Lloyd, Global Solutions Architect for CBTS. “That truth applies for networking, too, and the CBTS partnership with Cisco Meraki allows us to be agile and flexible. We are proud to deliver an on-demand network and play a role in bringing baseball back to Cincinnati.”

Read more about how the Reds leverage the power of technology for Major League Baseball.

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.

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.