5 Ways to Streamline Your Hybrid Communications Solution

An increasing number of CIOs are considering a hybrid approach to their IT infrastructures, especially as they become more comfortable with cloud deployments. Among large enterprises, for example, Gartner found that nearly 75% plan to implement a mixed, hybrid-based solution by the end of this year.

Hybrid environments are enticing because they enable companies to have the best of both worlds: the flexibility and functionality of the cloud, while maintaining the hardware of their current onsite investment. Yet, many IT managers worry that pairing these two environments will make it more difficult to manage an IT infrastructure that combines and connects an onsite system with cloud-based functions.

Below are five ways CIOs can reduce complexity and still reap the advantages of a hybrid communications cloud solution:

1.  Develop a Holistic Strategy. With perhaps dozens of systems and hundreds of requirements across an organization, it may seem more manageable to address each system individually. But when CIOs put each into the context of their broader IT vision, it enables them to make more strategic decisions about deployment. Seek solutions that simplify communications deployment and management by integrating applications and data onsite and in the cloud, resulting in reduced complexity and cost and increased efficiency.

2.  Require Cohesive Management. Of course, complexity increases with the number of cloud deployments and onsite locations that are often served by a multitude of UC and IP telephony platforms. But it becomes really significant when IT managers must log into disparate communications systems in order to troubleshoot problems. When evaluating services, look for a solution that can provide a comprehensive view of the whole system. For example, a common,  integrated and service-centric communications solution like ShoreTel Connect gives IT managers a single-screen view of system administration across cloud and onsite communications, or any hybrid mix of the two deployments. This greatly simplifies IT management and enables faster troubleshooting should problems arise.

3.  Lean on Vendor Expertise. In large companies, IT teams have a diversity of experts. But CIOs in smaller businesses don’t always have the same luxury. They need to operate with greater efficiency, without necessarily having in-house help. By prioritizing internal expertise and mapping it to company initiatives, CIOs can determine which applications are best maintained in-house and which should be managed in the cloud by a services provider. For example, efficiency is created when a company can rely on ShoreTel expertise to manage the phone system in the cloud, thus freeing up the IT team to focus on other corporate priorities that require local control, such as overseeing private data security.

4.  Automate Routine IT Tasks. It’s not unusual for IT teams to manage routine tasks manually, but doing so should be the exception. With a hybrid communications solution, the CIO can take advantage of the cloud services provider’s ability to automate processes and provide the latest innovative updates quickly and easily, thus reducing the burden on internal resources.

5.  Build in Greater Flexibility. A strategic deployment of cloud assets can also create efficiencies when developing new initiatives. By providing flexible access to cloud applications as they are needed in hybrid communications, IT can enable teams to become more agile, streamlining the development process and enabling faster time to market and revenue.

As CIOs look to deploy hybrid communications solutions, complexity doesn’t have to be an obstacle. The key to success is maintaining a strong vision for an end-to-end cloud and onsite communications deployment strategy that is integrated and seamless.

To learn more about ShoreTel’s hybrid communications solution, visit ShoreTel Connect HYBRID Sites. This blog originally appeared on the ShoreTel blog

April Newsletter

Strengthen Your Security Stance.

Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is the easiest and most cost-effective way to stay secure. From mobile device management to secure file sharing… your role in keeping your organization’s data safe is a complex one. EMS is a comprehensive set of cloud-based security tools that use machine learning to keep threats at bay. Dive deep into the EMS tools >>> 

Thank you for your feedback!

In March we conducted a customer satisfaction survey. Thank you to everyone who participated. Your feedback helps us grow and serve you better. Congratulations to our $100 Amazon Gift Card recipient, Karen from R. Sabee Company!

If you missed the survey, click here to share your feedback.

Get hands on with Microsoft. Get a unique perspective on how Office 365 connected devices and tools will impact your day-to-day business operations with a Microsoft Immersion Experience.

The Immersion Experience is a hands-on session to “Experience the Possible” by test-driving Microsoft devices and solutions through simulated, everyday scenarios. Our team will help you experience the true impact of being a Microsoft-powered organization during one of these free, 3-4 hour sessions. Get a Microsoft Experience for your team  >>>



All About Azure – Disaster Recovery

Batten down the hatches! Prepare for unforeseen circumstances with Azure.

Let’s have a real talk about disaster recovery for applications…not just virtual machines. Your CIO stops by your office one day and asks, “What if we are hit by some unforeseen disaster tomorrow? Are you confident that we can run our critical applications, that employees will be able to work, and that we can get up and running again quickly?” So many disaster recovery offerings are just about recovering your services, with no promises for your critical business applications… think Quickbooks, Outlook, ERP systems (Epic), and CRMs (SalesForce, Dynamics).

Azure Site Recovery combines cloud-first design with a simple user experience that allows you to recover entire applications (and their settings) in the event of a disaster. This feature supports application consistency for a single virtual machine and across multiple VMs that compose the application. Why? Because most multi-tier applications have dependencies. For example, the database tier should load first, before the application or web tiers are recovered.

Stress-Free Recovery

Disaster recover for applications should be a single-click stress-free, end-to end process with low RTO. Get the confidence for this ‘big red button’ moment with Azure’s Site Recovery. What’s more, Azure Site Recovery offers you the choice to work with other replication technologies, making it a flexible solution that can be your plan-A or your plan-B for application recovery.

Learn more about disaster recovery with Azure’s Site Recovery in this in-depth video series and in ‘Disaster recovery for applications, not just virtual machines using Azure Site Recovery‘ – a post that originally appeared on the Microsoft Azure blog.

Lock down your disaster recovery plan with a stress-free solution. See the role that Azure can play in recovering your business-critical applications quickly with an Azure Workshop.

Get a workshop >>>

Strengthen Your Security Stance – Microsoft EMS

Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is a holistic and cloud-based approach to security that solves user, device and data security challenges. The suite is the easiest and most cost-effective way for customers to get all of these Microsoft security-forward tools:

  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium
  • Windows Intune
  • Microsoft Azure Rights Management
  • Microsoft Advance Threat Analytics

In this blog post, we’ll dive into each tool within the Enterprise Mobility Suite. We’ll discuss what role it plays in a comprehensive security plan, and how companies are leveraging it to protect their employees from outside threats and protect themselves from internal threats.

  • Active Directory Premium: Think for a minute about how many cloud applications you use every day to get your work done. I’ll bet you can name 5 or 10 pretty quickly. Maybe you use Microsoft Office 365, a CRM system, a contract management system, a banking system, travel tools, a file sharing tool, your company HR portal, etc. Typically, all of these require a unique set of credentials to sign in, and often have different usernames and password rules, which can be an overall frustrating user experience. Active Directory solves this problem by being a single gateway to all your cloud applications. This solitary single sign-on key gives you access to all your tools and systems.
  • Intune: Mobile devices and laptops are traveling in and out of your office walls at a worrying speed. What devices have access to which tools, data, and systems? Which devices are password protected and which ones are not? And which devices already have malicious apps already installed on them? Microsoft Intune helps you keep a finger on the pulse of the devices in your environment. Easily wipe devices that get lost or stolen. You can even segment personal data from corporate data and wipe only what is necessary.
  • Azure Rights Management: We are sharing more files with more people than ever before. This means we are collaborating and moving our business forward faster – but this also comes with its own set of challenges. Security is the top challenge companies face with file sharing. Azure Rights Management allows you to encrypt and assign usage restrictions to files and emails. Control who can open, attach, edit or print your documents and attachments. Protect corporate data by allowing more secure access to company resources and enabling safe sharing of sensitive information inside and outside your organization.
  • Advance Threat Analytics: The average time an attacker stays in a network before being detected is over 140 days. And over 60% of all network intrusions can be traced back to credentials (log in information). How are we missing these attacks? Traditional IT security tools are often not equipped to handle the rising amounts of data, resulting in unnecessary alerts that distract you from the real threats. Protect your business from advanced, persistent cyber threats. From detecting known malicious attacks to uncovering abnormal activity with machine learning and behavioral analytics, identify threats to your organization quickly and take action swiftly with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics.

EMS in Depth

Here’s a great overview of how these tools work in harmony to fill in the gaps of your organization’s security. If you have 40 minutes to dedicate watch it from start to finish, it’s worth it. Otherwise, jump around to the parts that are most relevant to your security needs.

Get the tools you need to protect your business from external and internal threats. Meet the Enterprise Mobility Suite, hand-selected tools to fill all of your security gaps.


Get a personalized security recommendation >>>



Now Available! ‘Healing Power of Tech’ Training

Did you miss our ‘Healing Power of Tech’ webinar?

It’s now available on-demand and on your schedule. Last week we hosted Microsoft Director of Industry Engagement Health and Life Sciences, Shawn Remacle. Shawn is a former healthcare organization CIO and has a plethora of experience facilitating technology transitions in this high-regulated industry.

Meet the Modern healthcare organization.

The technology forward healthcare organization is powered by the cloud. With the right tools and technology – doctors, nurses and administrators are more connected and collaborative than ever. Microsoft is helping boost productivity and security in health organizations of all shapes and sizes.

With Microsoft, health professionals can get more done. Managing internal affairs and operations? Working directly with patients? Coordinating cross-team activities? Whatever role, Office 365 is designed to help healthcare practitioners make the most of each day.

In this training session we dive deep into the full scope of the tools available in the Office 365 suite.  We’ll cover specific implications for healthcare, including HIPAA / HITRUST compliance capabilities.

During this session we share how:

  • Clinicians can extend the patient care experience and improve care team collaboration
  • Health IT staff can expand business capabilities and realize geo-replication for disaster recovery
  • Finance can reduce costs and smooth budgets
  • Organizations can improve productivity and protect Personal Heath Information (PHI)

Complete the form to access this webinar session >>>



The One Thing Every Tech-Savvy CFO Does

There are CFOs who are comfortable with their involvement in the company’s IT and there are CFOs who continually struggle with their technical responsibilities. There are various reasons for the difference and those generally include their level of technical knowledge, their experience level managing IT, and the capabilities of their IT staff. Yet, there is one thing that almost always predicts which group the CFO falls into: successful CFOs structure their IT involvement.

This is particularly interesting given almost every good CFO has a sound structure set up for their financial responsibilities. So it should be no surprise that CFOs who effectively manage their IT responsibilities well do the same. From a practical standpoint, this means they create systems and processes to:

1.      Ensure their work is performed well
2.      Ensure their work product is in line with company expectations
3.      Create a repeatable process to attain a desired level of consistency.

When put this way, it seems obvious. Yet, what happens in most cases is CFOs find themselves out of their comfort zone and they rely on their technical team to provide them with a structure. This is a mistake. Here’s why:

IT people are some of the sharpest, most creative, and dedicated people you’ll find in the workplace. However, unless there’s a CIO on your technical team, developing a business structure for the company’s technology is unlikely to be the IT-team’s forte. Even more, most IT professionals don’t really want that job. Hence, when CFO’s allow the IT team to create the structure – whether it’s by design or the lack thereof – they’re delegating work they’re almost certainly better at. Additionally, the structure put in place by the IT team will generally be technically-driven instead of business-driven and although the technical components are critical, they won’t lead to good IT for the company all by themselves.

At a basic level, the structure a CFO needs will address:

·  Who’s responsible for what?
·  Who does what and when?
·  How does it all work in practice?

The bottom line is that both a technical and business skill set are required to create a good IT structure for any company. The challenge, of course, is how to blend them (business and technical) in a way that works for everyone.

This blog originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, authored by Joe Ulm, a Senior Technology Consultant.
You can access this article ‘The One Thing Every Tech-Savvy CFO Does’.  

All About Azure – Top Features

Here’s what we love most about Azure.

Imagine getting unlimited, on-demand compute, storage, networking and software as a service… from anywhere in the world. Welcome to the cloud. Cloud computing is changing the way networks are utilized, managed and secured. Network traffic is now shifting from on-premise, private and closed networks to the public cloud. Whether you are a one-person shop or a global enterprise, Microsoft’s cloud computing makes it easier to do business with customers and partners around the world.

  • Security
    Your data and communications have to be safe. Microsoft has made significant investments in security, compliance, and privacy. With features like Multi-Factor Authentication and Azure ExpressRoute, Azure provides the most secure sign-on experience and network security. Read more about the robust security features of Azure in ‘Safeguarding your cloud resources with Azure security services’.
  • Connectivity
    Reach people all over the world. Connect from anywhere, to anywhere from any device. Plus Microsoft has just added strategically located network edge sites. They now have over 130 edge nodes around the world and more than 4,500 connections globally. Which means….less latency for you.
  • Performance
    Your business demands it. Microsoft has created a scalable data center network fabric. Each virtual machine is provided with up to 25 Gbps bandwidth, with optimized end-to-end performance. These network optimizations free up your CPU to handle application workloads, which means a great networking experience for you and your customers.
  • Scale
    …Because you want to be able to access anything you want, wherever you are, and whenever you need it. Scalability means flexibility. Have a seasonal business? Perhaps you are an online retailer and gearing up for the holidays. You know that 80% of your sales happen during October and November. Turn up your network for smoother online transactions during high volume times, and pay only for what you actually use.

Microsoft has been a pioneer in cloud networking. Azure is their flagship public cloud. Learn about all unique features their cloud offers for end users, your business, your customers and your services. Join ITP for an Azure Workshop, a half-day session dedicated to understanding the impact Azure could have for your business. You’ll leave with a proof of concept that is custom to your environment and business needs.

Get a workshop >>>

Mobile Device Threats: Protecting Your Data

The numbers behind the threats that exist today to mobile devices are staggering (and growing). Fake apps and games plague Google Play Store and Apple App Store. In 2016 alone, there was an estimated 65 million mobile threats that were blocked. Of those blocked threats, 19.2 million of these threats were unique and malicious Android Apps.*

It’s no surprise that IT Security professionals are increasingly concerned about the security of mobile devices. In one study, the Ponemon Institute found that 84 percent of IT security practitioners are very concerned about mobile malware.* These security-focused professionals realize that application malware is a big concern, and that it’s important to be proactive in protecting the devices and individuals with devices in their environment.

The scary part? Experts are estimating that the attacks on mobile devices have just begun. Security trends for 2017 put mobile devices in the cross hairs of hackers and cybercriminals. From unsecured websites to Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile devices are an easy entry point into an organization’s worst security nightmare.

Take a proactive security stance for mobile devices with Trend Micro’s Worry-Free Services. This cloud-based product is a industry-leading endpoint security solution that protects iOS and Android devices from a single web management console. 

Other threats covered by Trend Micro Worry-Free Services:

  • Ransomware
  • Viruses
  • Hackers
  • Spyware
  • Dangerous Websites
  • Phishing
  • Data Threats

Already have anti-virus or Continuum? Consider Trend Micro’s Worry-Free Services as an additional layer of security to your environment and specific to mobile devices. That extra insurance that the devices coming in and out of your organization are safe, secure and being actively monitored. Get the peace of mind that your data is locked down with Trend Micro’s Worry-Free Services.

*Fake Apps, Fake Games: An update on Gaming Malware – Trend Micro