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How Cloud-based Enterprise VoIP Solutions can Improve Network Security

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Let’s face it: many companies today simply don’t have the resources to protect their networks from external threats such as viruses, spyware, and other sophisticated malware attacks.  Nor are those enterprises effectively protecting their networks from internal misuse by employees – whether that exploitation is accidental or deliberate.  External breaches are also causing network security issues, as partners and vendors are being given access to internal networks in the interest of efficiency, without ensuring security measures are in place to adequately protect the corporate network.  All of these security problems become amplified in a globally-distributed enterprise, where locations are spread across several countries.

The brutal truth is that internal IT departments simply can’t keep up with the constant evolution of network security threats.

One of the biggest myths about IT security is that there is a simple fix out there. Buy a device or an appliance and all will be well. It would be nice if that were true, but it’s not. Enterprise security requires staff that is skilled at making adjustments to react to the ever-changing threats and conditions.

The problem is, when you start to look at the sheer magnitude of the network security challenge, it quickly becomes overwhelming — even for the best-staffed network security departments, at companies with the deepest pockets.  What many organizations are coming to realize is that they need a reliable, flexible, and scalable approach to managing network security — one that stops threats at the border rather than at the city gates.

The solution is: implement a managed network security solution via the cloud.

Done correctly, managed network security through the cloud combines technologies from the leaders in IP infrastructure and security, and blends them into one simple, scalable system.  Managed network security also eliminates single points of failure that too often occur in on-premises hardware solutions.  That’s why in order to ensure top performance of enterprise voice, video, data, and cloud applications, companies need a managed network.

Improved Network Monitoring

Another major benefit of using cloud-based managed network security is that it provides network-based spam filtering that identifies and eliminates current and emerging spam types. Since this filtering is now being done in the cloud, it reduces the load on mail servers, which in turn improves overall email performance.  Furthermore, it conserves bandwidth by more effectively routing inbound and outbound email.

Moreover, overall network performance is improved by scrubbing unwanted and potentially dangerous intrusions in the cloud, instead of on-premises.  And guarding against on-site intrusions and company-wide infestations saves money by proactively preventing the software upgrades and labor charges that come with a major threat.

Additionally, enterprises can benefit from historic trending analysis and network performance reporting provided by cloud-based managed network security. Through this service, application Quality of Service (QoS) tagging is shown on the network layer to confirm that traffic is being properly marked, prioritized, and delivered across the network  for the highest performance levels.

Control over Application Prioritization and Router Changes

With the emergence of Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS), companies can now easily incorporate voice, video, and data onto a converged network, eliminating the need for separate voice and data network circuits. Companies are also able to prioritize the QoS for each application to meet their specific business needs. This way last night’s ESPN highlights aren’t interrupting voice traffic or Salesforce.com access, for example.

And just because a managed network is fully managed by the service provider doesn’t mean a company doesn’t have control over its routers. Under a managed network framework, companies are free to make any changes they feel are necessary without fear. The service provider’s Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System (TACACS) keeps keystroke logs of any router activity and they can easily revert routers back to a previous setting in case a mistake is made.

Access to Certified Support Experts

Another reason for enterprises to rely on cloud-based communications service providers today is because they have the certified network design engineers that can minimize the technical, implementation, and investment risks.  These are risks they would face if they tried to design the network themselves, or if they tried to get a carrier to adapt their services to the company’s network design. This managed service approach also includes 24/7/365 proactive monitoring, so problems are often identified and fixed before companies even know they happened.

Better Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

A managed VoIP network  provider can also leverage the power of multiple Tier 1 providers under one cohesive network; but, to the customer, it functions as one network, significantly reducing the time and cost of managing multiple vendors. In addition to addressing business continuity concerns, multiple networks are used when failures occur, providing greater redundancy and survivability. A cohesive network approach enables a managed network service provider to leverage the power of underlying infrastructures to ensure the best delivery of service to the customer in day-to-day, as well as in failover scenarios.

Secure Unified Messaging

Another  advantage for enterprises that implement managed VoIP network solutions is in the area of unified communications – specifically in the area of unified messaging.  Unified messaging provides a group of tools that allow employees to securely access their emails, faxes, and voicemails, from anywhere, anytime, without leaving sensitive data exposed to the masses.  For instance, inbound faxes avoid the public fax machine and head straight into an employee’s inbox.  Furthermore, users can check voice mails even when they don’t have access to their inbox, either through a secure web portal or by dialing into the voicemail system from any phone.  These kinds of managed VoIP network solutions promote flexible work options for employees, without compromising the security of the corporate network.

With threat levels expanding exponentially and internal IT security resources dwindling, cloud-based communications and managed VoIP network security can be your tactical advantage, giving you the technology (and resources to manage it) without compromising your budget. Because network security is a battle your enterprise can’t afford to lose.

Hurricane Sandy – The power of resiliency and disaster recovery for UC

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Hurricane Sandy was one of the most impactful natural events in the past several years, leaving millions without power and resources. For businesses, many were shut down temporarily and some still haven’t reopened.

But in today’s economic climate, businesses cannot afford to remain closed for long, even as the result of a disaster like Sandy. Along the Atlantic Coast, businesses were struggling to stay “open,” either physically or virtually. Some of our competitors in the UC and telecom space even lost data center connectivity during the storm.

We are happy to say that West IP Communications clients in those areas were able to remain functional during the entirety of the storm, due to a combination of preemptive measures for business continuity/disaster recovery and West employees going the extra mile to ensure continuity for our clients.

Here are just a few examples of how our customers stayed online:

Altour, a travel and event management solutions company based in New York City, remained operational throughout Hurricane Sandy’s impact and aftermath. Although some of the offices were physically “closed,” preemptive call routing solutions using West IP Communications’ ControlMaxx allowed calls to be re-directed and Altour was able to manage its east coast clients from its mid-west and west coast locations.

One client based in North Carolina had to close its offices but keep its contact center open, so we helped them establish a makeshift contact center in a local hotel. Phones were shipped immediately to the hotel and new users were set up for the relocated agents.

We helped another large customer based in the Washington, D.C., area facilitate a large conference call that needed to happen in lieu of Hurricane Sandy. Their conferencing provider had gone down as a result of the storm, and we were able to employ our MaxxUM web conferencing solution within 30 minutes in order for them to complete the call.

Although not done as a direct reaction to Hurricane Sandy, one client had worked with its Solution Manager to set up a predetermined Hurricane Hotline along with call routing support for the line. As a large enterprise with widely dispersed office locations, the company used this hotline as a key piece of its business continuity solution during Hurricane Sandy.

We never know when natural disasters will strike, which is why it is important to be prepared and have a business continuity/disaster recovery plan in place. If you would like to discuss your company’s current plan and see how we can help you improve it, please contact us.

West IP Communications Captures the Bronze for Company of the Year in Best in Biz Awards 2012

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The 2012 winners of the Best in Biz Awards have been announced, and West IP Communications captured the Bronze in the Large Company of the Year category!  (West sister company InterCall won the Silver.)

Among the criteria for success were corporate achievements over the last year:

  • VoiceMaxx was named 2012 Communications Solutions product of the year by TMCNet
  • The MAXXIS Network was named Unified Communications (UC) product of the year award winner by Internet Telephony
  • West IP Communications was named a Top 50 Channel Program by the readers of Channel Partners Magazine
  • West IP Communication’s Chuck Piazza was named 2012 Channel Chief by CRN Magazine
  • West IP Communications rose to the No. 2 slot on Infonetics Research’s North American Business VoIP Services Leadership Scorecard

Best in Biz Awards’ judges are a “Who’s Who” from the world of media.  They include representatives from ABC, BusinessWeek, Computerworld, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Network World.

We’re grateful for this honor and are sowing the seeds for additional success in 2013, starting with our finish in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner’s 2012 UCaaS Magic Quadrant.

How D+M Group lowered communications TCO by 72 percent with VoiceMaxx CE

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D+M Group, a New Jersey-based sound systems company, is just one of many companies that finding the benefits of making a migration to hosted communications from Cisco and West IP Communications. Recently, the company adopted the Cisco HCS voice platform and as a result was able to lower the costs of their communications across the enterprise – and specifically, lower the TCO at the headquarters by 72 percent.

As a global company with more than 2,000 employees, D+M Group was looking to increase operational efficiency, promote innovation through collaboration and lower the TCO of their communications. As a holdings company that is growing by acquisition, it is common for new companies that are brought on board to have disparate communications technology.

Working with Cisco, West IP Communications was able to unite all of D+M’s locations on a common communication platform, accessible via the cloud. VoiceMaxx CE delivers Cisco HCS in a hosted voice scenario, including full PBX functionality, advanced enterprise and personal call management tools, along with West IPC’s unparalleled client support and service. The platform is designed for users who need hosted communications, but have a specific need for an end–to–end Cisco unified communications and collaboration experience.

According to D+M representatives, the results have been very positive. Using Cisco hosted technology delivered by West IP Communications, they have been able to collaborate on a global scale and speed up decision making while traveling less. They were also able to lower their three year communications TCO at their headquarters by 72 percent.

To read the complete case study from Cisco, click here.

Cisco: Grow With Collaboration

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Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit was held last month on Oct. 15-17 in Los Angeles and seeing as West IP Communications is closely aligned with Cisco’s collaboration efforts, EVP Bob Wise was invited to speak on behalf of the company.

In addition to a session in which he described how West IP Communications is using our VoiceMaxx CE product to drive Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution, he also spoke on this Cisco-produced video about the trend of moving to hosted communications.

Our customers are very much interested in a hosted or cloud-based solution,” Wise said. “Web conferencing and instant messaging are still the primary tools, but they want to be able to take those further with the integration of all of the other workspace applications into those tools and do more with them.”

Cisco announces enhancements to Cisco HCS

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Cisco has announced several new improvements to its Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) to include advancements in many of its features. From TelePresence and Customer Collaboration to Unified Communications, Cisco is focusing a more robust UC experience as an “as-a-service” cloud-based model.

Furthermore, the Cisco WebEx Web Conferencing has been extended to the private cloud, as per the increased demand from its customers, providing the same collaboration capabilities and user experience that they’re used to.

“Although Cisco has put the ‘collaboration’ label on their new offering, Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), the functional emphasis is on person-to-person business contacts and interactions,” said Art Rosenberg, UC Expert at UCStrategies. “That includes mobile UC capabilities, as well as contact center customer interactions. What I didn’t see (yet), is the role that Cisco’s cloud services will play in supporting UC-enabled online applications for multi-modal mobile users, as well as CEBP process-to-person contacts for time-sensitive alerts and notifications. As I have stressed in the past, these will be particularly important as consumers/customers increasingly use smartphones and tablets to give or get personalized information and messages directly with automated business applications, not necessarily through people. UC-enablement, however, will allow click-to-connect contextually with people, when necessary.”

 

D+M Group Chooses Cisco HCS from West IPC

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Cisco has announced that D+M Group, a company dedicated to enhancing life through sound and video solutions, has chosen to adopt Cisco’s cloud-based Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) to significantly enhance communication between the organization’s more than 2,000 employees in North America, Europe and Asia.

This solution, offered to customers as VoiceMaxx CE through West IP Communications, gives companies like D+M Group the ability to easily roll out collaboration applications and services through the cloud. Some HCS capabilities include IP telephony, telepresence, contact center and web conferencing.

Specifically, through Cisco’s hosted cloud collaboration offering, D+M Group is increasing the depth and frequency of communication between employees, including those brought in through future acquisitions. The company is also looking to optimize IT resources, reduce operational costs, seek out the best talent regardless of location, and globalize its IT, human resources and finance functions.

Cisco’s partners offering HCS include service providers, systems integrators, wholesalers and resellers. Partners can also offer a version of HCS called HCS-LE (Large Enterprise) that supports private cloud deployments. This deployment option is often suitable for large companies seeking an “IT-as-a-Service” model, but would prefer not to utilize a public cloud option.

“We know that a company focused on providing top quality video and audio solutions to their customers expects the same from the collaboration offerings they deploy inside their organizations,” said Eric Schoch, senior director and general manager, Cisco Hosted Collaboration Business Unit. “We are delighted D+M Group has chosen Cisco cloud collaboration, delivered through West IP Communications, to facilitate outstanding collaboration among their employees around the world.”

Why aren’t Microsoft Lync deployments moving past pilots?

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Although Lync business is growing strong for Microsoft (up 45% in FY2012 over last year), on the front lines the technology is causing companies some headaches when trying integrate the system across enterprise networks.

According to West IP Communications’ Jeff Wellemeyer, many enterprise Lync deployments are stuck in the pilot phase, where IT has only implemented IM, presence and some audio conferencing. But with the right implementation strategy, Lync can serve as a total communications platform, empowering the PSTN and IP network.

This challenge brought on the idea for a new type of system architecture from West IP Communications: MediaCloud. MediaCloud is an approach that lets enterprises manage the on-premise elements of Lync on their own, but use connections from West IP Communications to external networks.

As Wellemeyer told eWeek, “We’re fighting an uphill battle to get people to completely outsource their Lync deployments and in a lot of cases, it’s better on-prem because there is a lot of on-prem communication that is done, and taking it out into the cloud or onto the network for every call just doesn’t make any sense.”

MediaCloud services from West IP Communications allow a company to easily take full advantage of all of the services Lync has to offer, enabling features like audio/web conferencing and IP-PBX. To learn more about MediaCloud and how it can work for your company, contact us for a free consultation.

West IP Communications Announces ControlMaxx Update

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LOUISVILLE, KY, October 9, 2012West IP Communications, a subsidiary of West Corporation and a leading provider of cloud-based communication applications and services, today announced significant upgrades to its ControlMaxx cloud-based contact center solution, which will maximize efficiency, increase productivity and position administrators and agents to deliver more effective customer service.

“Call center administrators and agents live in a dynamic business environment each and every day.  They face changing business conditions, unpredictable call volumes, corporate governance policies and demanding customers,” said Bob Wise, Executive Vice President of West IP Communications.  “West IP Communications helps call center employees ensure excellence in customer service through ControlMaxx, which can scale with call volumes as contact center locations grow.  Both facilities-based and home-based personnel have full access to ControlMaxx tools with centralized management and reporting.”

ControlMaxx now includes an enhanced user interface, multimedia queuing, session tags and improved reporting capabilities.  Highlights of the new features include:

  • Enhanced User Interface – Redesigned menu system for easier navigation and updated call flow component layouts for visual consistency and ease of use
  • Better Security - Supports Secure web protocol (HTTPS/SSL) for enhanced security
  • Multimedia Queuing – Queuing capabilities for voice calls and chat discussions, opening up a new channel of communication with an organization’s customers
  • Queue Priority - Queues can be prioritized for call distribution, ensuring agents in multiple queues will get the highest priority call
  • Screen Capture Recording – Audio syncing capabilities with video for better monitoring, quality assurance and training purposes
  • Barge –Supervisors are able to join agents on customer calls, in addition to monitor and whisper features, for better call resolution
  • Session Tags – Administrators can provide relevant identifiers for use by agents during their calls or chats. Supervisors can also view and filter by identifiers in the Session Reports for better understanding of the relevance of a particular call or chat.
  • Enhanced Reporting – Dynamic searching and reporting capabilities of sessions in Excel, PDF and CSV file formats

West IP Communications designs, configures, manages and supports next-generation unified communications (UC) applications and services.  It specializes in transitioning organizations to a cloud-based delivery model for voice services, network services, contact centers and collaboration.

ControlMaxx delivers exceptionally powerful call routing, queue management, and performance reporting tools, providing high-performance enterprises with the capability to meet the expectations of their most demanding customers.  This newest version of ControlMaxx reflects the evolving demands faced by contact centers and is the direct result of in-depth feedback from West IP Communications’ clients.

For more information about ControlMaxx, please visit West IP Communications.

About West IP Communications
West IP Communications is a leading provider of cloud-based communication applications and services – including MPLS-based application network management, hosted voice, unified threat management, advanced contact center solutions, unified messaging, collaboration tools and professional services – all delivered as a unified suite of cloud-based applications.  West IP Communications’ scalable, on-demand applications and services can be integrated with a client´s existing network and telecommunications infrastructure, operational processes, and employee activities, enabling a customer to migrate to unified IP communications as its business requirements dictate.  For more information, visit www.westipc.com or call 1-800-773-3037.

About West Corporation

West Corporation is a leading provider of technology-driven communications services.  West offers its clients a broad range of communications and network infrastructure solutions that help them manage or support critical communications.  West’s customer contact solutions and conferencing services are designed to improve its clients’ cost structure and provide reliable, high-quality services.  West also provides mission-critical services, such as public safety and emergency communications.

Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, West serves Fortune 1000 companies and other clients in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, retail, financial services, public safety, technology and healthcare.  West has sales and operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America.  For more information on West Corporation, please call 1-800-841-9000 or visit www.west.com.

West IP Communications Receives Cisco’s Highest Cloud Certifications

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct 04, 2012 — West IP Communications, a subsidiary of West Corporation and a leading provider of cloud-based communication applications and services, today announced that it has achieved the Cisco(R) Gold Partner and Cisco(R) Cloud Provider certifications. These certifications reinforce West IP Communications’ ability to deliver the most advanced Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) applications available today.

West IP Communications also holds the Cisco Managed Services Channel Program (MSCP) Master certification, making it one of fewer than 25 providers in the U.S. to hold all three certifications.

“Our long-term partnership and commitment to delivering Cisco technology to our clients is a key reason we sought out and achieved these three critical Cisco certifications,” said Bob Wise, Executive Vice President of West IP Communications. “We will continue to provide our clients with world-class solutions, such as Cisco HCS (Hosted Collaboration Solution), and the professional services and expertise necessary to make every UCaaS implementation a successful endeavor.”

The Cisco Cloud Provider certification means West IP Communications is part of the Cloud Partner Program and operates its own Cisco-powered cloud to support Cisco HCS. It also proves the company’s ability to execute end-to-end cloud solutions to drive UCaaS applications across clients of all sizes. West IP Communications has demonstrated this ability through large scale contracts for Cisco HCS in both fully hosted and hybrid environments.

The Cisco Gold Certified Partner is Cisco’s highest VAR (Value Added Reseller) recognition. West IP Communications falls in the one percent of Cisco’s 12,500 partners to hold a Gold Partner status. This certification is attained only through achieving four advanced specializations: unified communications, routing and switching, security and wireless LAN. West IP Communications will be audited annually to ensure the company consistently delivers industry-leading support and maintains the rigorous Cisco standards for network expertise and support capabilities.

“By achieving status as a Cisco Gold Certified Partner and Cisco Cloud Provider in the Cloud Partner Program, West IP Communications has demonstrated a strong commitment to providing its clients best-of-breed Cisco Unified Communications services and collaborative applications,” said Eric Schoch, General Manager of Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Business Unit. “Further, West IP Communications has shown a strong ability to effectively deliver Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration across a diverse set of client requirements.”

West IP Communications has been a Managed Services Channel Program Master Partner for more than three years, but in order to become recertifed, the company completed an extensive audit of its infrastructure, processes and procedures. West IP Communications was shown to support Cisco advanced technologies at all ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) lifecycle phases, as well as have the proper ITIL and Cisco certified technicians in place to serve clients effectively.

 

About West IP Communications

West IP Communications is a leading provider of cloud-based communication applications and services – including MPLS-based application network management, hosted voice, unified threat management, advanced contact center solutions, unified messaging, collaboration tools and professional services – all delivered as a unified suite of cloud-based applications. West IP Communications’ scalable, on-demand applications and services can be integrated with a client’s existing network and telecommunications infrastructure, operational processes, and employee activities, enabling a client to migrate to unified IP communications as its business requirements dictate. For more information, visit www.westipc.com or call 1-800-773-3037.

About West Corporation

West Corporation is a leading provider of technology-driven communications services. West offers its clients a broad range of communications and network infrastructure solutions that help them manage or support critical communications. West’s customer contact solutions and conferencing services are designed to improve its clients’ cost structure and provide reliable, high-quality services. West also provides mission-critical services, such as public safety and emergency communications.

Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, West serves Fortune 1000 companies and other clients in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, retail, financial services, public safety, technology and healthcare. West has sales and operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America. For more information on West Corporation, please call 1-800-841-9000 or visit www.west.com.