Category Archives: Technology

Iowa Campus Swaps Telephone For Cloud VOIP

Iowa Campus Swaps Telephone For Cloud VOIP

Iowa Campus Swaps Telephone For Cloud VOIP

Traditionally, campuses would vaunt thousands of cell phone sets with equivalent switchboards and Iowa University has not been an exception to the rule, with its eight thousand handsets. Now, courtesy of cloud infrastructure that is creeping into its communication system, the institution of higher learning has a one-month marathon of trading old phones for VoIP-enabled devices. This means reducing the communication expenditure by six hundred thousand dollars per annum. This will also improve the way phone communication becomes an integral part of a larger network rather than just meaning a single device per office.

How the VoIP will Work

The university intends to replace telephone machines on the racks and bring in the cheaper yet efficient cloud calling system. The first advantage of the system is that it will forward, on an automated basis, calls to mobile devices of the staff. This will reduce the costly switchboard system of referencing with an operator. Secondly, the platform will upgrade the sketchy nucleus of communication in the campus. It will bring up a central calling ‘fabric’ as the management is referring to the platform. This will be the start of an integral web-based learning system which relies on one-on-one video or telephony connections.

VOIP

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Apparently, this will also be the beginning of overboard communication network with other campuses, courtesy of the cloud Internet provider that the university has hired for the transition job. The online company serves a consortium of two hundred and twenty United States’ institutions of higher learning, and tens of state-based and federal companies. Thus, the will oversee the embracing of not only an advanced communication system but one that brings in the community around, automatically.

The replacement, so far, is going ahead of its feasibility period. Though Iowa campus intends to swap the systems at a thousand handsets, each seven days, as of June 17, it has nevertheless already replaced more than that number for the cloud system. This would mean that it is likely that the new framework will soon be in use.

Though there will be an installation phase of Internet cables throughout the campus, it is through the magic of technology that this development will not have an effect on wireless installations in the halls of residence. Usually, many campuses around the United States allow uncharged internet on boarding rooms where the learners can use their phones to make calls over the web. The company at the center of the transfer will use its technical expertise to overcome interference hitches that can botch up existing communication lines.

The Iowa example is a brilliant manifestation of how Internet and cloud-based communication channels are rapidly taking over the traditional threshold of the telephone. Now, transitioning between a cell phone and the web during a voice call is an automatic function that requires no troubleshooting. The cloud aspect means more institutions and community centers can exchange data over the interconnected line without resulting to handsets on desks. Cloud systems where a single university offers its library database to a consortium of neighboring campuses has been in vogue in the US for the last decade. This is after the integration of VoIP, cloud servers and campus databases to facilitate library information at cheap rates, with 24/7 access.

By John Omwamba

Top 10 Benefits Of Social Collaboration To An IT Department And CIO

Top 10 Benefits Of Social Collaboration To An IT Department And CIO

Social Collaboration To An IT Department And CIO

1. Protect network information, while enabling internal and external collaboration in your company: Social collaboration offers individuals, project teams, IT departments and even entire organizations the ability to drive both internal and external interaction in a secure environment. IT benefits from a reduced risk of external individuals having access to the company’s private network. Many professionals are concerned about the possibility of their network credentials being exposed to the public. Secure social collaboration platforms can alleviate these concerns, improving internal collaboration while also enabling external collaboration with partners, customers, consultants and others to occur – which is critical in today’s matrixed world.

2. Resolve hyper-sensitive issues faster: Utilizing social collaboration software as a team to solve technical problems can result in faster problem resolution. An on-demand virtual space can provide a secure, global environment where ad hoc teams bring together disparate data, brainstorm, and resolve problems. End users can be engaged directly in a space to enhance collaboration even further. Some successful use cases for this include post-cutover “hypercare” support, critical time-sensitive business process support, and underlying problem management where real-time engagement between system experts and end users can streamline problem resolution.

3. Experience the “pulse” of the issue/project: IT can involve the CIO and other leaders with the issues/projects on which they are working by inviting them to a social collaboration space. The CIO and others can participate in conversations, or even just “listen.” This improves alignment both in terms of message accuracy and timeliness, allowing IT leadership to have a real-time pulse of the activity rather than having periodic status reports, 1-1s, or meetings solely providing activity insights.

4. Learn faster on pilot projects: Social collaboration software is great for pilot projects. IT can use it to gather feedback, discuss issues, test cases, and provide training materials. The key benefit is the real-time connection among pilot users, along with IT staff. Everyone in the space has visibility to each others’ issues and experience. This leads to faster learning of what is or isn’t working.

5. Enable “peer support,” a best practice for managing/embracing consumerization: Social collaboration software easily facilitates peer-to-peer communities to enable targeted knowledge sharing and issue resolution via peer support rather than IT directly. As consumerization via “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD)/cloud services places more of a demand on your service desk, social collaboration can help better address the situation. Depending on the technology and what IT wants its role to be, IT participation in the peer-to-peer community can be passive or active.

6. Streamline company-wide communication activities: IT departments frequently need to send company-wide communications. Before these messages are sent, they often have to go through multiple iterations and approvals, a tedious process that is often made worse when disparate versions of the message are being passed around in email threads with no revision control. Social collaboration is a proven way to streamline message creation and approval processes, increasing IT staff effectiveness as well as end user experience.

7. Reduce ticket escalation rates: Ongoing knowledge transfer from subject matter experts to first contact teams is critical to minimizing ticket escalation; however, it is often difficult to create a proactive culture for this. Social collaboration both enables experts to easily share information with first contact teams as well as facilitate “ask the experts” type of communities. In this type of social collaboration based community, knowledge sharing doesn’t get restricted to following formal publishing of system documentation or just working the relationships that you know.

8. Reduce administrative burden in today’s fast-paced world: Many popular social collaboration platforms are too heavy for many team leaders, requiring them to depend on IT to spend time creating a site for teams, putting up a roadblock in the collaborative process. Easy to use, cloud based platforms empower end users and allow IT to enhance, not hinder, the social collaboration process and focus their technical expertise in more value-added areas.

9. Communication that’s even more private than internal email: Using social collaboration software provides the ability to have private conversations in a way that is different than email. Instead of executives leveraging personal email accounts as an extra level of internal confidentiality for sensitive situations that shouldn’t be exposed to colleagues — including executive assistants and IT teams, it can provide a more secure and effective alternative for both internal and external collaboration.

10. Reduce frustration caused by individual email inbox limits: Most collaboration happens around large files and email does not support the sharing of these items due to file size and storage limitations. Collaboration in the cloud offers flexible, safe and secure file-sharing capabilities with no size restrictions for the user, eliminating user requests to IT for increased email storage. More people can get involved in reviewing, refining and commenting on shared documents, while large files shared in collaboration platforms are only stored once — rather than multiple times when attached to an email.

By Deb Fitzgeralddeb-fitzgerald

As Deltek’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Deb Fitzgerald is responsible for developing and implementing the technology vision for Deltek worldwide,  including the company’s Kona.com social collaboration. Fitzgerald is a skilled IT executive with over 20 years of experience delivering world-class technology portfolios that drive innovation for companies. Prior to Deltek, she was Vice President of Information Technologies at VeriSign, a leading provider of Internet infrastructure services. 

Misconceptions Traits Of Cloud Computing Services

Misconceptions Traits Of Cloud Computing Services

Computing Services

There will always be naysayer. Every time a new technology emerges, it’s soon followed by a long line of anti-supporters. Cloud computing services is no different. It’s new. It’s trendy. It threatens the business model of some companies so drastically, that many misconceptions have been perpetrated to try and debunk cloud computing and force clients back to traditional methods of computing.

Computing Services

Cloud Computing is Unreliable

A truly cloud computing system, one that has been properly designed and correctly executed, has many layers of redundancy built in. The network is constantly backed up. Most are self-replicating, ensuring that every bit of data is preserved in the event of a disaster. Cloud computing services by its very nature was conceived to increase reliability and availability to customers. Access to the data stored in the cloud relies on a connection to the network, usually the Internet, and the reliability of that connection can have a negative impact on the accessibility of the data in the cloud.

Remote Network Access

Cloud computing does require some type of remote access to the network. Such a connection is often supplied via the internet, but private options, such as a direct line to an off-the-grid cloud service can also be used. The reliability of the connections has a direct impact on the usefulness of the cloud. A connection that is unstable or not always available my give the impression that the cloud based service is malfunctioning. In fact, the cloud service is operating perfectly; it’s the user’s connection the cloud that is experiencing fault.

On Demand

The real advantage of cloud computing is its on-demand nature. Services can be scaled up to satisfy a sudden increase in network traffic. Likewise it can be scaled down during times of low traffic to conserve resources, which can help reduce operating costs. Cloud based systems are an ideal on-demand system. They can change size almost instantly to meet the needs of the users.

Self-service

Many modern cloud-based services have evolved to allow a certain level of self-service for the end users. Not only does this allow a user greater control over their cloud service, but it enables the users to make adjustments to their service without the need to contact their service provider directly. While the changes that a user can make are limited, as to avoid a situation where the client lacks the expertise required for a certain change, the ability to self-service the cloud service can be a big benefit to some companies.

By Deney Dentel,

deney-dentel

Deney Dentel is the CEO at Nordisk Systems, Inc., a managed and cloud computing service provider company in Portland, OR. Deney is the only localised and authorised IBM business partner in Pacific Northwest. You can also follow him on LinkedIn.

Cloud Infographic: What Is The Employee Engagement Crisis?

Cloud Infographic: What Is The Employee Engagement Crisis?

What Is The Employee Engagement Crisis?

There has been lots of discussion with regards to BYOD over the past year. On one side you have concerns surrounding security and compliance in the workplace and on the other side, the positives it presents by establishing a higher level of employee satisfaction.  So there is a wide gap between the two sides, and its going to take some work to meet in the middle.

Workers Prefer Their Own Tools

Employees cite several reasons they prefer to use their personal devices at work. 41% said that clients often contacted them using their personal phones, and 35% said their jobs were mobile in nature. Being more familiar with the software of their personal devices was sited in 28% of replies, 26% felt more engaged on their own devices, and 39% sited greater functionality of their personal devices. 23% simply felt less stressed using their own devices. Read Article. Another excellent article with helpful research reports can be viewed here.

Below is an excellent infographic produced by Badgeville which covers many other areas to help increase employee satisfaction in the workplace.

Employees

Infographic Source: Badgeville

5 Effective Findings Cloud-Based Enterprise Collaboration Carries Out Business Value

5 Effective Findings Cloud-Based Enterprise Collaboration Carries Out Business Value

5 Effective Findings Cloud-Based Enterprise Collaboration Carries Out Business Value

Cloud based enterprise collaboration is the future for carrying out business values. It may not be the future after all, since it is already happening now with the growing collaborative revolution centered on driving internet traffic to business websites through news feeds, email marketing, message boards, mobile marketing, video conferencing and business oriented social media marketing schemes, according to the Forbes Insights publication. More businesses are embracing the cloud based enterprise technology in order to further enhance results from using these tools and applications in order to achieve remarkable and broader results in business performances and marketing.enterprise collaboration

The use of Cloud application is embraced by most companies because of its advantages and beneficial features. According to the report, business executives are beginning to realize that cloud based enterprise collaboration could enhance their company productivity, boost the business performance and give more value to their business.

Here are 5 insights regarding the findings how cloud based enterprise collaboration could improve business value.

1. Improve, enhance and mobilize results

The adoption of cloud based technology within the organization helps in implementing a more agile and flexible collaborative efforts and communications from the top level management down to the rank and file employees. Most companies use the cloud applications as an initiative of collaborating with all personnel through the use of video conferencing, involving team leaders and creating virtual teams for productivity enhancements, creating internal communities and improve team workspaces and consolidating communication infrastructures. Other forms of medium and applications used through the cloud technology involves collaborating with external organizations, enable workers remotely located to collaborate with other workers as if he or she is in the office, and delivering large scale visual communication, monitoring social media and creating a multi-channel customer service. This finding provides the result that about 64% of executives report that the use of cloud based collaboration has improved their business value by 82%.

2. Going beyond the boundaries to accelerate business results

The use of cloud collaboration is able to accelerate business results and drive better business value to the company performance and productivity. The process of cloud collaboration makes a company more competent in communicating better, tap new business ideas and innovative strategies, deliver company products and service information, sharing and brainstorming across boundaries and zonal limitations. About 55% claim that cloud collaboration increases the business value and performance while the figure rises to 87% among company leaders and executive who claim the same improvement insights.

3. Optimizing business processes

There is a significant improvement in business processes, more particularly in the company’s collaboration in terms of its marketing, technical and sales support that tend to improve the business value and efficiency in the company performance. About 90% of the executives admit that the cloud collaboration indeed improves the company business processes where collaborative efforts could lead to empathy, resulting in a better understanding and receiving more support in refining the business processes. At some point, the effect may be indirect but there is an obvious improvement in the business process where the efficiency of the company performance accrues from the collaborative efforts and connections of a motivated workforce with a cooperative service from employees that grow in a unified business goals.

4. Generate more profound business innovation

Companies have the vision that cloud collaboration could stimulate the growing innovative process that will add to the company value and efficiency. About 93% of business executives and leaders embrace this insight about cloud based collaboration in enterprises. Using the technology is by far a stimulating medium to encourage the propagation of innovative solutions to effective communication, especially in transgressing the boundary limitation, where activities become more process oriented and efficiency driven. A better understanding is achieved in all departments of a company, driving them to exert efforts in exchanging relevant information to help improve the overall performance of a business enterprise. Using the cloud innovation improves the communication process with improved service delivery options to enhance business performance and value.

5. Cloud collaboration has a broader decision making perspective

The integration of cloud collaboration is beginning to bolster the limitation of making it a more efficient tool that is only for the IT literates. About 75% of companies report that non-IT executives are becoming engaged in using the cloud collaboration technology in order to enhance the implementation of business management and performance. The insightful findings is that the use of cloud collaboration does not involve merely an IT discussion but requires a broader discussion involving non-IT decisions as well. Thus, with cloud collaboration advantageous features and innovative process, the question is now focused on how companies should use the cloud instead of asking whether to use cloud collaboration to their business.

By Stacy Carter,

Stacy is a freelance writer and guest blogger. She likes writing about internet marketing, social media, cloud computing, technology and seo news. She is a permanent contributor to iflexion.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Government Intrusion Into The Cloud

Government Intrusion Into The Cloud

Government Intrusion Into The Cloud

The latest revelations about our government’s surveillance of “telephony metadata” is a scandal for some but a yawner for most Americans. 56% said they didn’t mind as long as the information was being used to catch terrorists. The thing is that while Contractor Snowden named names: PRISM, Microsoft, Verizon, Google, he didn’t tell us anything that hasn’t been in the press for years – even decades.

privacy-government

But, what if you run a cloud service, communications network or even an email server, and receive a government demand for customer data? Can you tell your customers? Should you? What is your risk is as a provider?

There are several avenues for the government to access your customers’ electronic records. Ironically, two of them are “privacy” laws designed to put some restraints around law enforcement and the intelligence community: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”). But it was the Patriot Act that really boosted electronic surveillance by the FBI through the National Security Letter (“NSL”) statutes. None of these laws are new. The Patriot Act is now 12 years old. FISA turned 35 this year, and the ECPA is 27 years old.

Contractor Snowden’s leaks appear to be related to FISC orders, the secret court authorized by FISA that may issue orders for the surveillance of non-US citizens without their knowledge.

The ECPA came about to give early email users comfort that their mail providers wouldn’t just turn over their email to anyone who might ask. In defense of the ECPA, it requires law enforcement to get subpoenas, search warrants or court orders through normal channels. It also requires the provider to get customer consent to disclose the contents of their communications, but not for disclosure of customer account information.

NSLs have a history of abuse by the FBI and have suffered repeated constitutional challenges with the latest adverse court ruling just in March of this year. A US District Court judge declared the entire statute unconstitutional and told the FBI to stop issuing them. However, in a remarkable reversal a few weeks ago, the same judge ordered Google to turn over most of the requested user information anyway, pending a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court. Stay tuned on the status of NSLs.

So what’s eating Snowden? Has surveillance activity under these laws spiked? Due to the secrecy requirements, we, the general public, get only an annual report on numbers of FISC orders and NSL authorizations. On Monday, The Daily Show reported to outraged laughter that FISC had issued 1788 orders last year. But that’s not the half of it. The FBI issued 15,229 NSLs pertaining to 6,223 different US persons – not including requests for subscriber information only. While this may be shocking, the reality is that the numbers of FISC orders have been reasonably consistent since 9/11, and the number of reported NSLs has dropped 50-70% during the Obama administration.

In the end, what does this mean to a cloud company that gets a law enforcement demand to turn over customer information?

  • A subpoena, search warrant or court order issued under the ECPA may or may not require notifying the customer and getting the customer’s consent prior to disclosure. Make sure it’s validly issued and get consent if necessary before complying. If you follow the law, the ECPA provides you immunity from actions claiming improper disclosure.
  • Check your customer contracts including any confidentiality agreements. It’s common to agree to notify the customer, if allowed by law, prior to disclosing any customer information so that the customer may seek to limit or deny the request. The ECPA doesn’t require secrecy. FISA and NSL authorizations typically do.
  • A FISC order is secret and literally would take an act of Congress to change. However, in 2008 FISA was amended to give immunity to communications providers who follow the law. Now do you understand PRISM?
  • It’s unclear if NSLs are still being issued during the appeal of the Google case, but any NSL bears careful scrutiny before complying. In addition, there is no immunity for communications providers under the NSL statutes.

By Cindy Wolf

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The Mobile Cloud App Infrastructure: Centralizing Apps Across Mobile Platforms

The Mobile Cloud App Infrastructure: Centralizing Apps across Mobile Platforms

There are currently two leading Mobile operating systems in the market – the Android OS by Google, and the iOS by Apple. These two OS’s dominate the mobile market while Android is currently holding the larger market share of the two. But in terms of device proliferation, iOS holds that crown as all the devices using it are made by Apple while the Android market is fragmented with different devices from various manufacturers with very different hardware specifications, not to mention all the different flavors and versions of Android currently in wide use. We also have our holders of the smaller shares of the pie, Windows Phone (previously Windows Mobile) and the Blackberry 10 OS.

This fragmentation means that not everyone will be able to enjoy the same applications unless they have been ported to their respective mobile platforms. And this is tedious work; developers have to change a lot of features and functions because of the type of processor, screen size, and other hardware and platform specific quirks to make a proper port. This is especially true for business applications until fairly recently. They usually supported only a single platform and those that adopt this application are forced to adopt the platform as well. For a while, this proprietary nature has been used by the platform vendors themselves to sell their platform. But the status quo right now is that multiplatform is the best way to go for any application, which allows it to penetrate a wider market audience.

So how can we go multi-platform in today’s mobile environment considering the fragmentation we have? The answer is obviously Cloud Computing. All of these mobile platforms share something in common – the ability to get on the internet. We require a common Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) that is available on all mobile platforms. Mobile applications can run on the Cloud and accessed through the MEAP, allowing everyone to have a common ground in mobile application consumption.

Another method is to use HTML5. Since all platforms have full browser capabilities, or at least close to it, HTML5 can become the common ground where developers create their apps and not worry about device-specific quirks. This is mainly because of HTML5’s ability to scale to any screen size and processor because it is a common standard that everybody will be implementing on their mobile platforms.

The future of Cloud Computing rests partly on the mobile market, and for companies and businesses to be successful in this space, the would need to think in the Cloud and go multiplatform so that they get a shot at the whole market rather than just a piece of it.

By Abdul Salam

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