If You Ain’t First, You’re Last

Oct 2017

Ricky BobbyAs Ricky Bobby once philosophized, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”  Nobody likes being second best.  At Altus, we take great pride in the fact that our VoIP solution is built on the #1 global platform for cloud communications, BroadSoft.  Beyond that, Altus offers white glove installation service and back end support for a fraction of the cost of many competing carriers.  Perhaps when it comes to cloud based phone systems, you can have your cake and eat it too.

 

49% Market Share, And Rising

According to a recent report by the industry analysts at Synergy Research Group, BroadSoft not only retained its number-one position in the global Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) but expanded its leadership position, growing its market share of new line shipments from 42.6% to 49.4%, more than doubling the 20% market share of the second largest provider, Cisco1.  As with many things, being large has its benefits, as scale has enabled leading BroadSoft-based service providers, like Altus, to offer world-leading communications technology at very competitive price points.

If You Ain’t First, You’re Last

A Rising Tide For Cloud

The Synergy Research report also estimated that the global installed base of cloud based VoIP lines is approximately 37 million subscribers, with almost 17 million of those subscribers residing on BroadSoft platforms.  Gartner, another technology analyst, estimated that the shift away from on premise PBX phone systems to cloud based phone systems will continue to accelerate, with cloud line shipments increasing by 17.9% in 2017 while premise-based line shipments forecast to decline by 5.2%.  Furthermore, Gartner forecasts that cloud-based installations will surpass premise based shipments by 20202.

Don’t Skimp on Service

 What makes our offering at Altus unique is our commitment to personalized service and support.  Our team of experienced professionals has decades of experience in designing, implementing, and supporting business phone systems of all shapes and sizes.  Unlike most cloud providers, we conduct 90% of our installs on-site, enabling our business customers to embrace the benefits of cloud technology without sacrificing personalized service.

Are you looking for the best cloud based phone system for your business?   Do you want your next communications platform to be based on industry-leading technology without spending a fortune?  Then look no further.  Experience the Altus difference today.  Be first, not last.

Notes

(1) Synergy Research Cloud & On-Premise IP PBX Market Share Report June 2017. New shipments share for CY16, market share as of 1Q17

(2) Gartner, Forecast: Unified Communications, Worldwide, 2014-2021, 2Q17, Meghan Fernandez, et al. 27 June 2017

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

Preventing Business Disruption When Disasters Occur

Oct 2017

In recent weeks hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have devastated the lives and homes of many people.  Many of those affected by these disasters are not only recovering from the personal impact on their homes and property, but also the impact on their businesses.  Recovering from any natural catastrophe would be difficult, but taking the proper precautions beforehand can certainly relieve some of the pressure.  Most people carry insurance policies to cover the loss of personal property, but what about the loss of revenue or the impact on a company’s reputation when your customers or employees can’t communicate effectively in the aftermath of a disruption?

Preventing Business Disruption When Disasters Occur

Ultimately, it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause meaningful disruption in business communications. Every day, infrastructure mishaps, carrier outages, or building maintenance issues can also create downtime. What is the best way for your business to prepare for disaster recovery and business continuity?  When it comes to communications the answer is to choose a hosted VoIP provider.

 

 

Off-Site & Redundant Infrastructure

One of the major advantages of cloud-based VoIP is that it does not require the guts of your business phone system to reside in a single location as is typically the case with an on-premise PBX.  Instead, your business phone system sits in multiple carrier facilities across the country and is always available to handle calls coming into your business, even if your local site is without power or internet connectivity.  Your customers and employees will still be able to reach your phone system (and each other) which can direct calls to alternate offices or registered mobile users.

Business Continuity Planning

 Another benefit is that your company can create a continuity plan that automatically kicks into action the moment service to your place of business is hindered.  Since your customers can reach your phone system, this means all calls can automatically be forwarded to cell phones or another site without any break in the flow of business.  Another advantage to this is that the plan is fluid and can be changed on the fly in a matter of minutes. This gives your business the flexibility to improvise through unexpected changes or trouble.

No Extra Charges

Finally, all of these redundancy and business continuity benefits come without additional costs. With traditional systems this level of availability and continuity would cost a ton of money to purchase, implement and maintain. When it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity the best decision is to go hosted VoIP.

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

Don’t Buy Yesterday’s Technology

Sep 2017

According to a recently released survey of telecommunications service providers around the globe, more than half of all businesses are anticipated to adopt cloud based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) by 2020, surpassing the traditional on-premise PBX systems championed by companies like Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, and ShoreTel for so long. There is a reason why Avaya is extending its stay in bankruptcy and ShoreTel just got eaten by Mitel … the old world providers are struggling to cope with the shift to cloud VoIP which is already well underway. As a business owner or IT manager you look seriously at hosted solutions or risk buying yesterday’s technology. You can read a lot of pieces about the benefits of UCaaS, but a couple of highlights are below.

Reduced Costs, Automatic Updates

Implementing cloud VoIP solutions greatly reduces upfront expenses – namely hardware purchases and installation labor – associated with upgrading a company’s communications infrastructure. The predictable monthly fees most VoIP providers charge, eliminate ongoing software upgrade fees as well as maintenance charges related to keeping your phone system operational. Because hosted VoIP solutions use an internet connection to make and receive calls, businesses are able to drop their local telephony carrier and redeploy that savings in a brand-new communications platform. Perhaps best of all, the cloud VoIP solutions are automatically updated without additional charges or the hassle of upgrades, so companies know that they will always be on the latest and best version of the application.

Moving Beyond Mere Telephony
Also important is the fact that hosted VoIP solutions can include a broad range of additional communications and collaboration capabilities beyond a mere voice phone call. These unified communications (UC) capabilities include video calling, chat, presence, web meetings, and persistent workspaces. And, as if this solution suite wasn’t enticing enough, these UC capabilities are available to both on premise and mobile workers, including employees using laptops, cell phones, or tablets. Any internet-connected device becomes a potential endpoint for business communications.

Business Continuity

Have you ever had problems with the PBX system that sits in the dark closet in your office? Everything seems fine with your business and then one day when you least expect it, your phone services go down and your customers can’t reach you. Circumstances like this occur every day and your risk for this type of event is probably much higher than you know. Common causes for these problems include:

• Carrier Network Outage – your telephone lines went downBusiness Continuity
• Equipment Failure – a critical component in your phone system has failed
• Inclement Weather – Thunderstorms, Snow, Ice, Hurricanes, etc.
• Power Outage – your power to your building was knocked out taking with it your phone service

Lost calls and service interruptions result in missed revenue opportunities, damaged customer relationships, and unforeseen expenses. With cloud based business phone systems, there is a better way to protect your business from these events. Cloud solutions offer inherent advantages over legacy premise based PBX systems in multiple ways:

• Cloud services are delivered from geographically diverse and redundant carrier data centers – as opposed to that dark closet in your office.
• Mobility applications that include full calling functionality on any registered mobile device, tablet, or laptop.
• In the event of a carrier or power outage where the cloud solution cannot connect to any registered device at all, whether on-prem or mobile worker, the business continuity services can still automatically direct calls to an alternate office, personal cell phone, or even a home phone number.

The traditional PBX that is tethered to land lines is simply not capable of offering this kind of redundancy and business continuity.

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily. Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs. Start communicating better with Altus. For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

 

The State of Enterprise Communications: 2017 Survey

Sep 2017

One of our favorite industry groups is the team of analysts over at nojitter.com.
Last week they published the results of their June 2017 Enterprise Communications Survey of nearly two hundred companies.  Some key takeaways below.

No Jitter

Rapid Adoption of Cloud Communications

The next three years will see a huge shift of enterprise communications from the premise to the cloud.  In response to the question “What is your organization’s attitude toward using Communications functions in the Cloud?” only 13% of survey respondents indicated that they would not consider it.  Another 34% indicated that they were considering it but haven’t done it yet.  38% of respondents said that they were moving some functions to the cloud, 11% indicated they had embarked on a strategy for full migration and only 4% said that they had already completed a full migration.   The obvious takeaway is that a huge majority of the marketplace (83%) is either considering cloud communications or already moving some functions to the cloud.

Team Collaboration Growing Importance

By now you have probably read all about Slack and how team collaboration is taking the enterprise marketplace by storm.  Here at Altus we have seen a number of customers indicate that they want persistent team collaboration capabilities, something we recently released as part of our solution suite.  One of the bigger surprises from the enterprise communications survey was that team collaboration has risen to the point where it is almost as important to companies as unified communications capabilities.

Cool Things On The Horizon?

The pace of change in technology can sometimes be breathtaking, and certainly we are living in an era of rapid innovation and excitement as sensors, wireless networks, and cloud infrastructure make possible things that were previously unthinkable.  While the excitement is justified over the long term, the survey did provide a much-needed dose of reality for today.  Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) all ranked as relatively unimportant technologies for the workplace today, but nearly a third of companies see these things as becoming critical in two years’ time.  You know what was listed as the most important business communications tool?  Email.  Yeah, email.

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

Altus Return Instructions

Aug 2017

Guidelines for Good Packaging

You can help to ensure that your package arrives safely and on time with these packaging guidelines and procedures developed from UPS research.
• Use a rigid box with flaps intact
• Remove any labels, hazardous materials indicators, and other previous shipment markings on the box that are no longer applicable
• Wrap all items separately
• Use adequate cushioning material
• Use strong tape designed for shipping
• Do not use string or paper over-wrap
• Use a single address label that has clear, complete delivery and return information
• Place a duplicate address label inside the package

Click here for a quick video for instructions on packing the phones.

Is Your IT Guy a VoIP Huckster?

Aug 2017

Over the past decade, the telephony market has been moving towards VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).  As the name suggests, this means that your business phone system is becoming just another piece to your growing network infrastructure. For most small businesses, this means that the IT vendor has become a trusted consultant when researching and choosing a new phone system. While this can bring a certain amount of continuity to the decision-making process, and makes sense in many cases, there are pitfalls.  How your IT vendor decides which VoIP solution to sell you may surprise you.

 

The Make-Believe Telephony Expert The Make Believe Telephony Expert

Most IT Vendors are great at what they do, but when it comes to business phone systems they aren’t nearly as informed and skilled as they would have you believe. Making a VoIP system work is relatively simple and the IT vendor should be able to accomplish this task. However, making a VoIP system work the way it is supposed to by building out QoS (Quality of Service), VLANs and proper call routing is not an easy task. The problem is that telephony has forced its way into the IT landscape and the IT vendor is forced to provide support for technology they haven’t properly prepared for.

 

 

 

The Middleman

When it comes to VoIP and business phone systems, the IT vendor is generally nothing more than a middleman. They do not provide their own VoIP solution and must rely on other vendors to supply their customers with the phone system. Historically this meant that your IT group resold either a premise-based PBX, or some kind of hosted VoIP offering. What this means is that your trusted IT vendor will not be responsible for the programming, deployment, or on-going support.

 

The Mercenary

Since IT Vendors do not supply and support their own VoIP platform, this means that they must choose from the dozens of VoIP providers competing in the market to bring to the customer. The nasty underbelly to this is that most IT groups select the VoIP provider that will pay them that largest commission, not the VoIP solution that is best for their business customers.  The IT vendors can sell many different types of VoIP solutions through Master Agent companies which provide hefty commissions and bonuses which can vary a lot through time.  When your business is negatively impacted by a substandard platform, the IT vendor places all of the blame on the VoIP provider, rather than the person who recommended the VoIP service in the first place, which of course is the IT vendor themselves.  The cruel irony is that your IT guy actually makes another commission selling you a second VoIP service, even if you had a bad experience with the first.  Human nature is difficult to curb, so be careful that your IT vendor selects the best platform for your business, rather than the best commission for himself.

 

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

The Cloud Is Only As Good As Your Network

Aug 2017

The IT industry is undergoing a period of Cloud is as good as your networkdramatic change as organizations of all sizes look to the cloud to consume best of breed business applications at the click of a button across all kinds of devices and networks.  A recent BCG survey of 750 CIOs indicated that nearly 2/3rds of companies have plans to migrate a piece of their IT  stack to the cloud within the next 18 months.  It is undoubtedly trued that the cloud can make us work smarter, faster, and cheaper, but many companies aren’t getting all they should from their investment—because the cloud has an Achilles’ heel—a poorly optimized network.

The Cloud’s Achilles’ Heel

Unfortunately for many companies, they overlook the importance of the network in their rush to embrace cloud applications.  A poorly optimized network, whether on the LAN side or the carrier side, can easily destroy the anticipated value of cloud deployments and applications.  The network can become a bottleneck, with applications running much more slowly than they should, and user experience suffering as a result.  The inevitable consequence is outrage from the line of business at IT managers and cloud vendors, when the real problem all along has been a lack of focus on network capacity.

Invest In Your Network

CIOs and IT decision makers should take the time to evaluate their network requirements before rushing into cloud deployments.   On the carrier side, this means organizations should consider redundant circuits from separate carriers, dedicated connections for real-time applications like VoIP, and wireless backup to utilize in conjunction with standard best efforts broadband connections.  On the LAN side, companies should prioritize time-sensitive data traffic and invest in the modern network infrastructure (switches, routers, firewalls, access points, etc.) to ensure their users enjoy a good experience.  Do not let your next cloud deployment fail because of network issues.

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

Mitel To Buy ShoreTel

Jul 2017

Mitel just announced that they signed a definitive agreement to purchase all of ShoreTel’s outstanding shares at a price of $7.50 per share, which values ShoreTel at an enterprise value of $430m in an all cash deal. To accomplish the acquisition, Mitel announced they would be taking on over $300m in additional debt.  But this isn’t the first time these two have been linked.  In 2014, ShoreTel declined an offer from Mitel for $574m. And last year, Mitel dismissed rumors they were once again interested in ShoreTel saying the purchase didn’t make financial sense.

Shoretel under water

What Changed?

Over the last 12 months, Mitel attempted to purchase Polycom but was left at the alter in the 11th hour. During the same time, ShoreTel announced they were looking at strategic alternatives for the company including the option of selling the business. With the Polycom deal off the table, it appears Mitel changed course with a cloud-first strategy and took aim at a wounded competitor in ShoreTel.

Mitel Blue & Mitel Orange?

Now that the definitive agreement is signed, Mitel has the tall task to create the synergies that they envision for the combined business. Announcing that all branding will move to Mitel, it seems that the beloved ShoreTel orange will soon hit the scrap heap.  To achieve the hoped-for $60m in cost savings, significant layoffs from within the ShoreTel organization are almost certainly in the future.

More importantly, the rabid ShoreTel Partner community is presumably being left to sell Mitel, and possibly left without the aid of their legacy ShoreTel sales support organization.  With these and other challenges coming down the path, what should customers expect?  Certainly, support will be available for those on premise ShoreTel customers, but significant risk for end of life on those systems now exists. The existing ShoreTel cloud based customers will also have to entertain a new roadmap for platforms, billing, and support.

We all remember when the beloved Nortel was acquired by Avaya becoming Avaya Blue. The great synergies, customer base, technology, patents, and distribution channels – all the essential elements underpinning Avaya’s strategy – evaporated more quickly than any of us in the industry expected. Hopefully this time, ShoreTel doesn’t become Mitel Orange and Mitel doesn’t end up like Avaya.
 
About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  As an FCC-registered service provider, Altus offers enterprise-grade performance across its secure, geo-redundant carrier platform. Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

PBX Market Continues to Shift

Jul 2017

At the heart of every business phone system is the PBX – the centralized switch which integrates internal phone extensions with outside phone lines and allows calls to be set up, routed, and transferred.  For many years, PBXs were big physical machines.  At first they were switchboards with human operators, and then later they became automated and installed on-site at a company.  Today most businesses have a PBX installed in a dark closet somewhere on site.  But this is changing.

PBX Installed in a Dark Closet

Old Telecom Closet

A Shifting Market

Over the past decade there has been a rapid move towards a new type of PBX, the cloud PBX (aka “virtual PBX”, “hosted PBX” or “UCaaS”), where the essential components of the business phone system are hosted in the cloud and the operating business accesses the system over some type of internet connection.  Companies still may get new desktop phone sets, but instead of registering to an on-site PBX in a dark IT closet on premise, the phone sets register to the cloud service providers phone switches off-site.  A recent study by Software Advice found that over 57% of companies where seeking to switch to a cloud business phone system.   Nemertes found that whereas in the past security concerns were preventing companies from adopting cloud PBXs, now many IT managers view third party cloud offerings as more secure than on-premise offerings, further accelerating the shift towards cloud business telephony.

Some Key Differences

So what is driving this shift?  Many factors.  There is a growing sense of comfort with cloud technologies in general.  Dispersed workforces and remote employees are demanding better mobility offerings.  Companies are shying away from Cap Ex projects, owning fewer IT assets, and shifting more spend to outsourced service providers.  Increasing numbers of millennial workers are causing companies to make sure that their business communications infrastructure incorporates all of the necessary bells and whistles like video calling, web meetings, persistent workspaces, chat and presence – things the on-site PBX was never designed to deliver.  But even if all you are looking for is a basic business phone system, there still are some key differences you should be aware of when comparing a traditional on-site PBX to a newer Cloud PBX offering:

On-Site PBX Cloud PBX
Cost A company usually purchases the phone switch, desktop phones, and all associated licenses and pays for a telecom technician to install and configure the system.   These costs vary dramatically based on brand of system, complexity, and feature set. Cloud business phone systems are sold as a service and have recurring monthly charges.  They will almost always have lower initial costs than an on-site PBX.   Depending on the maintenance and upgrade costs of the on-site option and the feature set, the ongoing monthly costs of a cloud phone system might be higher.
Maintenance The on-site PBX requires either a knowledgeable IT manager or third-party technician to add, remove and change phone extensions and perform periodic maintenance.  All updates / upgrades usually involve the purchase of new hardware and licensing. The cloud business phone system is maintained off-site by the service provider and included as part of the service.  Configuration changes can usually be made remotely or self-service by either the service provider or the business customer.
Features The feature set of the on-site PBX has expanded through time, and is determined by the level of licensing purchased by the end customer.  Many PBXs now support some type of desktop soft phone or mobility feature. The cloud service providers are at a distinct advantage when it comes to advanced features like mobility, because of the way they can seamlessly reroute traffic across different networks and devices.
Flexibility The number of users an on-site PBX can accommodate is based on the number of ports and licenses acquired at time of purchased.  More users or remote offices can be added in the future, provided that additional hardware and licenses are purchased.  Companies generally do not decrease or shrink their PBX over time. You can usually add or remove users in increments of one, and also tie in or decommission specific sites or locations over time.  Depending on contractual terms, you may be able to increase or decrease the number and types of features as well.
Carrier Costs Most businesses today pay or a bundle of phone lines from a local telephone company in the form of analog lines or PRIs.  These costs are in addition to the costs of the on-site PBX hardware and licensing. Businesses usually eliminate their local phone carrier and all associated POTS or PRIs.  Instead of traditional phone lines companies run their call traffic over the internet (dedicated or shared) and usually eliminate local and long-distance usage charges.

 

As is the case with most IT decisions, the devil is in the details and it is important that you make sure the system you select is well adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of your business.  But if you aren’t at least considering cloud PBX as an alternative to the on-premise PBX, then the likelihood is that you haven’t looked hard enough at the relevant tradeoffs.

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  As an FCC-registered service provider, Altus offers enterprise-grade performance across its secure, geo-redundant carrier platform. Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.

5G On The Horizon

Jun 2017

Although 5G is still in its infancy, with the telecom industry still carrying out trials and setting standards, widespread adoption may come sooner than many analysts expect.  According to Ericsson’s recently released “Mobility Report”, a whopping 25% of mobile subscriptions in North America are expected to be 5G by 2022.   Both Verizon and AT&T have gone on record saying that they plan to deliver 5G as soon as possible to domestic markets.

What is 5G?

5G, which stands for fifth-generation, is the set of standards for the next generation of mobile networks subsequent to the current 4G LTE technology now prevalent in mobile devices around the globe.  Every new generation of wireless networks has delivered better speeds and more functionality for devices. 1G brought us the very first cell phones, 2G let us text for the first time, 3G brought us online, and 4G brought us the speeds and uses cases that we enjoy today.  So how is 5G different?  5G is a combination of technologies including millimeter wave spectrum (spectrum which has never been used before for mobile), fiber
backhaul, and small cell networks which will together create a more efficient wireless network with more capacity and faster speeds.  It should be able to handle 1000x the traffic at 10x the speed of today’s networks.

Use Cases for 5G

The implications of 5G technology will stretch well beyond the telecom business to a multitude of other sectors; including automotive, medical, industrial, agriculture and banking.  Perhaps most importantly, 5G is expected to support the burgeoning Internet of Things market, comprising billions of connected devices.  The Ericsson report estimated that there will be approximately 18 billion connected devices related to IoT by 2022, including cars, sensors, consumer electronics, wearables, machines, an
d much more.  These devices will require low latency connectivity coupled with very high data throughput which is exactly the benefit 5G networks are expected to provide.  5G will theoretically load 4K or 8K high-resolution videos on mobile devices very quickly and enable AR/VR, or augmented reality and virtual reality, gaming.  The possibilities truly are endless.5G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Altus

Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and securetechnologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily.  Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs.  As an FCC-registered service provider, Altus offers enterprise-grade performance across its secure, geo-redundant carrier platform. Start communicating better with Altus.  For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.