A Tiered Strategy for Hybrid Cloud Data Storage

Hybrid cloud environments present the capability to gain redundancy and lower costs with a tiered data storage approach.Enterprises appreciate a hybrid cloud environment for many reasons, but the main attraction is generally the ability to leverage public and private cloud solutions for optimized performance and cost savings. Hybrid cloud solutions offer flexibility and are ideal for companies running legacy systems.

A hybrid cloud environment offers other key benefits to enterprises that take advantage of ideal data storage possibilities through a tiered approach:

Hybrid data storage: In most hybrid environments, cloud storage is housed in the private cloud, where apps can access files and data. This is the highest-performing storage system within a data storage strategy.

Double up: In a tiered strategy for hybrid cloud data storage, public cloud can be used as a secondary data storage option. Storage has become so inexpensive that it makes sense to use this as an active backup for the primary storage system in the private cloud.

Accommodate with apps: When using a tiered system that duplicates data to a secondary tier, be sure to design apps with this structure in mind. Apps should be able to access both tiers to gather necessary data.

Add a triple layer: Storage is inexpensive, so you might think it’s worthwhile to add a third tier to your data storage strategy. Archived storage systems are low-cost and low-performance, designed to hold the data you no longer need for regular access. It can also be used to back up other systems. These types of data storage solutions are ideal for healthcare or financial industries where data has to be kept for a certain number of years, but is rarely accessed for use.

The benefits of a tiered storage structure in hybrid cloud environments:

  • Using three different storage receptacles allows you to optimize your storage with different price points and performance levels for each cloud option.
  • It allows developers and IT personnel to design application-specific storage strategies.
  • Tiered storage provides backup in both private and public cloud platforms, which offer distinct geographical locations, protecting data in the event of a natural disaster or other physical threat.
  • It reduces the risk of data loss, either by human error or system failure.

There is a wide variety of approaches to tiered storage solutions, but no matter how you organize your data, be sure to do a lot of testing to determine the safest and best approach for your enterprise.

Infinium Communications helps you access the best business telecom services available by conducting an in-depth analysis of your needs, both at a high level and down in the details. Contact us today and let us help you find the perfect fit for your data storage.

How Getting Into the Cloud Market Will Change Your Company

Getting into the cloud market will change your organization. Here are the areas it will impact.Cloud adoption is disrupting the IT market, and you may be wondering if it’s too late to get in the game and capture some of the opportunity for growth in the reselling market. While it’s certainly not too late to get into cloud reselling, you may want to consider the variety of ways that your company will need to change in order to become a cloud vendor:

The change needs to be initiated at the top. If your CEO, general manager, or president isn’t driving the adoption of a cloud reselling strategy, then it may be doomed. This is not a shift in focus that can be delegated to a manager, because it needs the push of the head of the organization.

Expect to market differently. Your marketing team needs to be aware that their target audience may shift significantly. Instead of targeting IT personnel and CIOs, their efforts may be more directed toward line-of-business managers. The drive for cloud adoption is largely driven by the customer and end-user experience, with companies working to be the first to offer mobile-friendly, performance-driven sites with frequent updates that only the cloud can deliver.

Additionally, you need to have a well-constructed value proposition. While your provider will have the responsibility of brand awareness and communicating the benefits of the solution, you still need a clear way to set yourself apart from other cloud resellers. Determine what expertise or values you have that set you apart from your competitors.

Anticipate that your workforce may change, too. There will be members of your team that won’t want to adapt and adjust to a cloud-focused selling model. There may also be a need to hire new talent that has more experience with cloud reselling. While this is expected in a shift to cloud reselling, it can seem as if the company is on shaky ground while the transition is happening, so be sure to communicate with your team about the changes taking place.

Determine which benefits you’ll deliver. There are many promises attached to cloud adoption, but you’ll need to decide which you’ll prioritize and deliver. Whether it’s increasing revenue or improving operational efficiency, decide what you’ll shape your strategy around. You may help organizations achieve cost savings and other benefits, too, but you’ll achieve only minor success if you promise to deliver every potential benefit.

Becoming a cloud vendor will bring significant change to your organization, but it also holds boundless opportunities for revenue growth. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential of becoming a cloud vendor, contact us at Infinium Communications. We have been providing telecom solutions for nearly two decades, and can help you move your business into the era of cloud technology.

Digital Transformation Has the Potential to Lionize CIOs — or Render Them Obsolete

CIOs need to capture the opportunities around digital transformation to take a position of leadership.Digital transformation is, for many enterprises, a weighty and expansive undertaking. It’s often driven by the need to remain competitive in a landscape that requires increasingly faster and better-performing technology. The end user’s satisfaction is closely aligned with a company’s ability to deliver mobile-friendly, personalized, high-performance technology, and CIOs’ job performance ratings go hand-in-hand with these metrics.

When digital transformation doesn’t deliver the cost savings, performance, and other benefits that were promised, CIOs often find themselves under fire. In many instances, digital transformation is such a long-term process that there are waves of alternating satisfaction levels among executives and end users. Much of digital transformation is trial-and-error, and CIOs must be ready to navigate the ups and downs that come with planned failures.

The Opportunity to Lead

The factors that place CIOs in the hot seat also give them the opportunity to shape the corporate narrative surrounding digital transformation. The problem is not necessarily whether each implementation of a cloud solution or network infrastructure change was seamless or whether the anticipated cost savings was realized. It is also whether the enterprise has embraced digital transformation and chooses to play the role of disruptor in their given industry.

A few years ago, companies were just beginning to embrace the idea of a digital transformation. Today, the concept of digitalization has overtaken the goals of most major enterprises. Corporations recognize that in order to remain competitive, their customers’ and other end users’ experiences must be a top priority.

The availability of subscription-based cloud software has put technology into the hands of startups that was previously only accessible to large enterprises with big IT budgets. If CIOs can take the helm of directing their enterprises’ digital transformation, they can outpace these smaller companies and remain competitive.

Many CIOs are discovering what happens when they don’t take the lead in the digital conversations in their companies. Enterprises are increasingly hiring a chief digital officer (CDO), which often places the CIO role back in the position of keeping the maintenance end of IT going and putting out fires instead of innovating.

CIOs are caught in a delicate balancing act of innovating while still maintaining high levels of performance and speed, without any interruption to business processes. While this presents a significant challenge, CIOs should embrace it as an opportunity to lead their corporations into a disruptive role where they are dictating the path of not just their company, but also their broader industry.

Guide CIOs into their most effective and transformational role by partnering with Infinium Communications. Located in Northern California, Infinium Communications services businesses of all sizes across the globe. Contact our consultants about helping CIOs navigate digital transformation with the right technology and the right partners.

What Are the Benefits of Implementing SIP Trunking?

SIP TrunkingBusinesses are making the switch to unified communications from Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTNs) because the Internet has made communications more cost-effective, flexible, and efficient. But as the demand for access continues to grow, network operators are making the move to better support all communications through unified solutions. In fact, in the next year Verizon will have discontinued all ISDN services, a platform used for data exchange, voice, and video.

Verizon’s move mirrors that of many telecommunications companies updating their technology to match the needs of enterprises across the globe. SIP trunking is replacing ISDN to support unified communications.  

What is SIP trunking?

A SIP trunk is a virtual connection between an organization and an Internet Telephone Service Provider (ITSP). The connection is either through lines that link the trunk to other IP traffic or through the Internet with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

The major benefit of SIP trunking in day-to-day business processes is that it eases the flow of communication between your representatives and your clients. There are additional benefits to SIP trunking:

  • You can significantly reduce the cost of contacting clients across the globe. While phone service providers typically charge roughly six cents per minute, SIP trunking allows calls to Europe and Canada at only 1.9 cents per minute with no hidden charges and includes features like voicemail and caller ID.
  • SIP trunks allow for an easier recovery of files in the event of a disaster. Developers are becoming more aware of the need for disaster recovery programs, which has informed the development process of SIP trunking. SIP trunks have a plug-and-play feature that allow them to run uninterrupted in the event of a power outage or other disruption.
  • SIP trunking also provides higher quality voice solutions over its predecessors. The flow of voice communications takes precedence over data sets that are being transferred through trunking channels.

How can you ensure a seamless transition to SIP trunking?

There are three basic steps that will help you fully enjoy the benefits of SIP trunking:

  • Choose a provider that is geographically close to your location, so that in the event of any need for troubleshooting they’ll be able to help you on-site.
  • Talk to the provider about alternative options for inbound traffic routing. This will be a valuable conversation, particularly if traffic to your DID numbers is not easily routed through your trunks.
  • Take time to complete full “proof of concept” testing. It’s important that you see how the product works, not just in a list of features or in a demo mode, but in response to the call flows that are typical for your organization.

Infinium Communications is the one source for all your telecom needs. Talk with us about changing unified communications technologies and how they can benefit your organization.

Developing a Disaster Recovery Strategy

Disaster RecoveryAre you looking for disaster recovery guidelines to keep your organization’s data safe, secure, and always available? Many organizations take key steps to make sure their business operations aren’t interrupted by data loss, and it is critical you follow their lead.

Disaster Recovery: The Last Line of Defense
Netflix tests the integrity of their systems through a “Simian Army,” which is used to randomly check the resilience of systems against all types of failures. This is key because after all business continuity plans fail, disaster recovery becomes the last line of defense.

Disasters are expensive, costing companies close to $60 million a year according to IHS Markit. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) has drawn guidelines regarding how long IT systems can be down. Not only will a disaster lead to many challenges for your company internally, but the FFIEC will level penalties should your organization go beyond the downtime you’re allotted.

Compliance Considerations
A disaster recovery plan needs to begin with establishing your goal.  Most solid strategies focus on taking data and moving it to a safe, cost-effective location. The next step is to make sure backups are constantly updated to reflect what is happening in real time.

Before you can do this, you need to be aware of the compliance issues that can impact how you choose where you’ll store your backup data. HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act provide regulations which need to be considered. Any personal data that goes to the cloud, for example, can’t leave the country of residence under these regulations.

On-premise vs. in the Cloud
It’s really up to the structure of your individual organization whether you go with an on-premise data center, one in the cloud, or with a hybrid solution. It’s a fine balance between risk and cost against what is legally required. Some organizations enjoy the hybrid IT infrastructure, either private or public, because they have control of their data performance and security throughout the enterprise.

The Evolution of “Disaster”
In the past, the main focus of disaster recovery planning was around natural disasters. Today it is critical to protect against or develop a plan for how to react after a cyberattack, such as ransomware, which is malware that holds data hostage until a ransom is paid. The consequences of this can be avoided by having backup disaster recovery solutions that are as simple as “snapshot” management software.

Because it’s no longer an issue of if a disaster will strike, but when, organizations are becoming more creative in how they approach disaster recovery efforts to prevent data loss as well as the loss of money and credibility. It’s more important than ever to get to know which threats are most likely to prey on your data.

At Infinium Communications, we strive to exceed our customers’ expectations in designing, delivering, and supporting custom-fit telecom solutions. With a single, unified team, we provide voice, data, and professional services. Give us a call to discuss how we can help your business.

Successful Virtual Network Deployment Starts With a Plan

NetworkDeployment of anything new in the corporate environment is set to fail if you don’t have the right steps in place to ensure success. This is true whether the plan is to change your Internet Service Provider, select a new font for all communications, or implement a virtual network. After all, the simplest change can have far-reaching implications.

For instance, did you know that selecting a new font could drastically hurt your brand if you don’t have a clear plan in place for identifying all communication channels, points of interaction, and even an inventory of all print materials? Without careful planning, the resulting change can turn into a significant mess.

The same is true for the deployment of a virtual network. You’re making the change for all the right reasons, yet those benefits will soon be overshadowed by confusion, frustration, or outright refusal to use the new system if you fail to keep four key things in mind.

The Plan

While it seems like a given that you need to map out a change like this, a number of companies start the process without thinking about key factors:

  • Do you understand user behavior and how it will be impacted by the change?
  • Has your team been communicated with so they understand the value of this change?
  • Have you determined all processes and functions that will be affected and developed a strategy for how they will be handled during the transition?

The Team

When implementing a virtual network, there’s too much to do for one person. You need to have a team in place who can map out the plan and ensure everything that needs to be considered is included in that plan. The team will determine desired outcomes and outline how those outcomes will be achieved, as well as drive compliance with the set timeline. Be sure to include security specialists, network administrators, server and storage admins, application development engineers, and even end users on this team.

Use What Works

In an implementation or change, it’s important to determine what works and stick with it. It is possible to deploy a virtual network while still relying on existing systems. You don’t always have to start from scratch and can save a lot of heartache, time, and other resources by investigating opportunities to keep some of your current technology when building out the plan. Just be sure in the process that you’re also planning for the future. If what you have won’t sustain you a few years from now, it doesn’t make sense to keep it.

Monitor

While it’s critical to monitor the virtual network deployment process, it’s also important to track the health of the network in order to identify problems. Additionally, there is significant opportunity in mining network traffic for valuable business insights. Consistent monitoring should be part of the virtual network implementation process as well as the ongoing management of the network.

Making the move to a virtual network has the potential to be very beneficial. To ensure success, have these four elements in place and talk to our experts at Infinium Communications.

Avoid Provider Lock-in When Moving to the Cloud

CloudIncreased agility, cost savings, and performance benefits are all great reasons to move applications, servers, and networks to the cloud. Enterprises are pushed forward to digital transformation by a business-driven focus in which a superior customer experience often gives companies the competitive edge.

As investments in the cloud grow, many companies are leery of locking in with only one provider. They want the flexibility to access the best tools from multiple vendors as their business processes demand different technological services.

For companies concerned about lock-in, here are four tips to protect against it:

  1. Evaluate vendors for the ability to access data with interoperability. First, you — as well as an attorney that specializes in cloud vendor contracts — should read your vendor contract carefully to determine how data is accessed. Make sure you know the true cost of extracting data, because even a tiny percentage of a cent becomes costly if enough data is moved. Determine what the process is for migrating data to see if it’s realistic for your business.
  2. Watch out for proprietary data formats. When you store your data, is the cloud vendor using a proprietary format? If so, it may be a cumbersome and costly process to transform it back into something usable. In some cases the data is compressed in a storage format that makes it nearly impossible to use.
  3. Avoid data gravity’s pull. Companies tend to use what they know, so once you’ve got data stored with a cloud provider, you’ll likely keep storing data there without any real technology strategy behind the decision. This is not always a bad thing, because keeping data in one place reduces latency and may improve performance, but you’re sacrificing leverage when you choose only one provider.
  4. Don’t be limited by distinctive characteristics. When you sign with a vendor, be sure that it won’t be necessary to adapt and customize your software applications and execution in order to fit with your provider’s platform. Once you’ve recreated all of your systems for one particular provider, it can be very hard to migrate to a different vendor.

 

None of these tips are meant to imply that you shouldn’t access cloud services to optimize your technology infrastructure. These tips simply help you cautiously navigate a lock-in situation.

At Infinium Communications, we provide one solution for all your technology needs. Contact us about your concerns with lock-in, and we’ll walk you through them.

Cloud Migration Offers Elasticity to Companies with Variable Workloads

Cloud migrationCloud migration is a growing trend, and it offers clear benefits to the companies that make the transition. Little or no investment in hardware, the ability to scale services, and the providers’ handling of all updates and implementation mean that moving to the cloud is often a great choice for companies.

In a cloud migration, however, there are often requests to simply “lift and shift” an application to the cloud. For obvious reasons, line-of-business managers are often attached to the systems their employees already know, and it seems easiest to move those systems to a cloud environment.

In many situations, though, this switch eliminates the benefits associated with cloud technology. The cost of duplicating the system in the cloud and the loss of elasticity that should be a cloud benefit are not realized and, in most cases, the IT team will determine that a lift and shift is not beneficial.

Elasticity Provides Significant Cost Savings

Elasticity is likely the most impactful benefit with a move to a cloud solution, because it allows you to only pay for the resources that you need. Consider a company with a variable processing load, like an accounting firm that specializes in public accounting.

From January to April, this firm may require 500 servers, but from August to December they only require 20. From May to July, they require 100 to handle extensions and corporate returns. This type of variability would normally require an on-premise system to invest in 500 servers, because that’s what’s needed at the busiest time.

With a cloud system, the accounting firm enjoys a variable server accessibility, and no longer pays to use 500 servers all year. A company with variable business processing time should keep an eye on their cloud system usage to be sure costs are being optimized.

 

Applications That Do Well in a Cloud Environment

If you’re new to cloud migration, you may be examining which types of processes can best be completed in the cloud. There are three main components that should be evaluated to determine whether they align well with cloud usage:

Horizontally scalable: The service must be horizontally scalable, which means that a single instance can handle a small number of requests at the same time that thousands of instances are handling many requests.

Fast startup times: If the application isn’t able to quickly start, it won’t do well in the cloud. In order to alleviate the load, it must be able to seamlessly fill the gap without any delay to handle variable demand.

Resilient to server activity: In order for an application to be appropriate for cloud migration, it must be able to handle servers coming and going at will.

Infinium Communications is your source for all of your customized solutions. Talk with one of our consultants to learn more about the variety of services we offer, including cloud communications.

Bringing Executives and IT Together to Manage Cybersecurity

CybersecurityIn today’s work environment, it is common for one part of an organization to be reading from a page quite different from another. When it comes to cybersecurity, it is critical that corporate America be more unified in its planning efforts. According to a recent survey from a cyber defense monitoring company, Bae Systems, C-suite and IT departments have disparate views on cybersecurity.
The survey found that 80 percent of executives think the issue of cybersecurity is a significant challenge they have to face. Conversely, only 50 percent of ITDMs would make that same statement.

Another difference is in relation to cost; ITDMs have estimated that the cost of a breach hovers around $27 million, while executives put the cost closer to $6 million. Finally, around 50 percent of executives believe human error is to blame when an attack occurs, while only 31 percent on the IT side believe human error is the cause.

Obviously, the C-suite and the IT department need to come together on the topic of cybersecurity because an attack can cause far reaching implications that include a lack of customer confidence, fines and more.

We have to recognize that these two factions have different priorities. Most executives will be more focused on various business decisions and the risks involved. IT professionals are focused on technology, maintaining it, upgrading it, watching out for new solutions and all the technical support that provides for a smooth day-to-day operation.

While both sides see news about data breaches and can agree that there are risks out there, and they both believe they could be victim to one at any given moment, they need to agree upon and implement best practices that will reduce their risk to such attacks. Both groups need to be educated on how these attacks occur, where weak points might be within the organization, and how to find a solution to quickly detect when an attack has occurred.

Your departments need to come together for a strategic approach to cyber defense measures to take. Plan for the unknowns, because if you’ve already audited your system for weaknesses, the attack that gets you is going to be a surprise. What business continuity practices do you have in place to ensure that if the worst happens, you’re going to be able to minimize the damage?

Threats continue to evolve and it seems that with each new day, hackers are finding a new way into what are thought to be secure areas where data is locked away. Unfortunately, the threats are real and the consequences are dire.

When you partner with Infinium Communications, you’re partnering with a company that helps you lower your bills and save many hours on negotiating with carriers. Unlike other telecom carriers that put themselves before their clients, we’re 100 percent committed to serving you, so contact us today and let’s talk about all communication issues that are causing you concern.

Measuring the Effectiveness of a Unified Communications Implementation

Unified CommunicationsInvesting in unified communications comes with high expectations of reduced costs and improved efficiency. While it’s exciting to see immediate payoff with your transition, it’s easy to be blinded by metrics that are not capturing the full picture.

For instance, a company may measure the reduced travel costs resulting from the introduction of web conferencing for their sales team. What’s easy to overlook, however, is that after six months, there are two resignations from the sales team as a result of team members feeling less connected than they did when monthly on-site sales team meetings were the norm. What the company saved in travel costs, they more than spent on hiring costs.

In another example, a company might introduce video conferencing for their financial planning meeting with clients in an effort to augment phone conversations and reduce travel costs. However, the company may overlook the impact when video conferencing appointments are not user-friendly for clients, who might grow frustrated with technical difficulties. The company may reduce other costs, but when they lose clients, the cost is too high.

The problem is that companies often measure activity-based metrics rather than outcome-based metrics. What a company thinks indicates a successful implementation of a unified communications system isn’t always the right way to measure success.

There are some questions that are universally valuable for evaluating the effectiveness of your transition:

  1. How does the unified communications implementation add value for the customer? There are a variety of industry-specific ways to measure this, but you want to ensure your investment has a direct, positive impact on your customer.
  2. Are you experiencing results that demonstrate measurable growth each quarter? Whether it’s sales dollars or volume, you need to see that your transition is positively affecting the bottom line.
  3. What’s the ROI of your unified communications implementation?Remember to measure both activity-based and outcome-based metrics.

An effective implementation includes some basic components, making it easy to assess whether the transition was successful:

  • First, determine your needs. Don’t get dazzled by the features of a unified communications system before you complete this step. If you have a clear idea of your needs and the ways you use the communications tools you currently have, you’ll more objectively identify the system you need.
  • Second, create benchmarks. What would it look like if you were using your unified communications at its full capability and capacity?
  • Finally, set up performance indexes. Identify where you have performance gaps and opportunities for improvement, and make any necessary adjustments.

When it’s time to invest in unified communications, partner with Infinium Communications. We can help you identify the metrics to gain a clear picture of the effectiveness of your implementation and get the best possible return on your telecom solutions.