SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

PartnerPower: 3CX Review

I started on the 3CX telephone system journey with my customer hat on. I believed I could do it all. So, I jumped right in without, you guessed it, reading the manual (RTM).

I quickly discovered that this was my first telephony rodeo in a while and I needed help after I tripped up on a security 3CXcertificate implementation. Help isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean the 3CX is overcomplicated. Just the opposite as I discovered 3CX is very powerful and I needed the help of a certified 3CX partner.3CX

I reached out to my favorite telecom expert, Allen Miller, a well-known 3CX consultant based in Cincinnati, OH (Allen Miller Computer Consulting; www.MillerManor.net). Full disclosure: Allen and I worked together nearly a decade ago on a now discontinued Microsoft small business phone system. I credit Allen with introducing me to the world of VoIP. Needless to say, I trust him when it comes to everything telephony.

Over the course of a few working sessions, Allen and I configured 3CX for a test network at my company, SMB Nation. In the first session, we completed the server-side installation starting with the security certificate matter through the naming conventions and administrator authentication. We did this on a small Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop unit. And therein was one of the first magical 3CX experiences. This big-league phone system can run on tiny computers. Literally. Loosely translated, I’m saying the 3CX, which can scale well through mid-sized companies, has low overhead and hardware requirements. I was officially impressed!

Also, undertaken in the first session was configuring the external firewall. We configured the SMTP email connection to the email server capabilities as well.

At the end of the first session, I realized I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” about the 3CX system and its robust strengths are indeed its asset. I could see where I was of wise mind to secure the services of a subject matter expert (SME) like Allen. I recommend this as your very first step in working with 3CX!

In the second session with Allen, we set up the client side with desk phones. I offered to re-flash a few old Cisco phones from yesteryear for this stage. Allen overruled me. He was very strict in his beliefs to not only use approved phones on the 3CX support phones list but to use a specific few brands he had successfully worked with.

Allen shared that “Some suggestions – I am partial to Yealink phones. The one I use is the T48G which has a lot of soft buttons that you can use for speed dials which I like. I think you have a T46G which is nice with fewer buttons. They also announced a new line in the last couple weeks called T4S series. I believe these have blue tooth and Wi-Fi if those matter to you.” Yealink it was and a shout out of appreciation to 888VOIP.com (888VOIP also hosts 3CX Training events which are very useful for partners to get help toward their 3CX Certifications. Visit http://www.888voip.com/events/ for providing our test bed. This intercompany cooperation from all aforementioned parties is a credit to 3CX for having built a reputation where stakeholder and suppliers work together and want to cooperate. I’ve worked with other vendors where such a community didn’t exist.

By the end of the second session, we had successfully configured the desktop phones including assigning extensions, basic call rules, identities, etc. At this point, we had the server-side and the client side ready to go.
In the next and final session, we secured dial tone. Allen had arranged for carrier services to make the phone real and ready to roam in the wild using a SIP Trunk Allen provided from vendor/partner Vitelity.com. Again, deferring to my consultant, he quickly configured the proverbial last mile to give me dial tone. I then ran both traditional and secret tests. First, I called myself from my mobile phone to confirm the 3CX system was operational. Then I answered a Craigslist ad for boating merchandise where I normally wouldn’t want someone to know my real phone number. I asked them to call the phone number I had been assigned and the phone rang as expected without problem or concern. The call fidelity over my broadband connection was excellent.

Mission accomplished. A bona fide 3CX system was up and running real time and big time. I’ve had the test bed up for over a month. No drama. And, again, I want to reiterate, hire a 3CX partner as your first step. Don’t be like Harry as that was my second step. LOL.

Customer Evidence
Not content to simply share my own experience, I wanted to seek out 3CX customer evidence to balance my opinions. I didn’t have to look far. Since the first of the year, I’ve been working with a well-respected Seattle-area vendor in the technology ecosystem. It’s stock in trade is a number of global call centers. You know it takes telephony seriously. It depends on 3CX which is a testament right there. In this scenario, I’ve been using 3CX via the native softphone application. This is the basic CSG Services configuration for 3CX: softphones, not desk phones, for each of its 100+ employees in its call centers. While not my preference (I still prefer a desk phone), I grew increasingly fond of 3CX once I hooked up my Sennheiser professional headset, freeing me from a four foot USB headset cable and allowing to walkabout and pace on calls within Bluetooth range.

My experience on the 3CX customer side is this. It’s battle tested in the technology call centers. It has passed the test. By the way, it’s running 3CX on an Azure instance (that’s a whole future blog).

Goodness of Fit in an O365 World

Finally, I thought about how 3CX, a real phone system, fits into the Office 365 community. To me the answer is very simple. Microsoft is not a telecom at its core but a software company. I think you must strongly consider 3CX as your telephony solution when you are running Office 365. ‘Nough said.

Next Steps
Click HERE to learn more about 3CX.

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PartnerPower: 3CX Review

I started on the 3CX telephone system journey with my customer hat on. I believed I could do it all. So, I jumped right in without, you guessed it, reading the manual (RTM). I quickly discovered that this was my first telephony rodeo in a 3CXwhile and I needed help after I tripped up on a security certificate implementation. Help isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean the 3CX is overcomplicated. Just the opposite as I discovered 3CX is very powerful and I needed the help of a certified 3CX partner.

I reached out to my favorite telecom expert, Allen Miller, a well-known 3CX consultant based in Cincinnati, OH (Allen Miller Computer Consulting; www.MillerManor.net). Full disclosure: Allen and I worked together nearly a decade ago on a now discontinued Microsoft small business phone system. I credit Allen with introducing me to the world of VoIP. Needless to say, I trust him when it comes to everything telephony.

Over the course of a few working sessions, Allen and I configured 3CX for a test network at my company, SMB Nation. In the first session, we completed the server-side installation starting with the security certificate matter through the naming conventions and administrator authentication. We did this on a small Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop unit. And therein was one of the first magical 3CX experiences. This big-league phone system can run on tiny computers. Literally. Loosely translated, I’m saying the 3CX, which can scale well through mid-sized companies, has low overhead and hardware requirements. I was officially impressed!

Also, undertaken in the first session was configuring the external firewall. We configured the SMTP email connection to the email server capabilities as well.

At the end of the first session, I realized I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” about the 3CX system and its robust strengths are indeed its asset. I could see where I was of wise mind to secure the services of a subject matter expert (SME) like Allen. I recommend this as your very first step in working with 3CX!

In the second session with Allen, we set up the client side with desk phones. I offered to re-flash a few old Cisco phones from yesteryear for this stage. Allen overruled me. He was very strict in his beliefs to not only use approved phones on the 3CX support phones list but to use a specific few brands he had successfully worked with.

Allen shared that “Some suggestions – I am partial to Yealink phones.  The one I use is the T48G which has a lot of soft buttons that you can use for speed dials which I like.  I think you have a T46G which is nice with fewer buttons.  They also announced a new line in the last couple weeks called T4S series.  I believe these have blue tooth and Wi-Fi if those matter to you.” Yealink it was and a shout out of appreciation to 888VOIP.com (888VOIP also hosts 3CX Training events which are very useful for partners to get help toward their 3CX Certifications. Visit http://www.888voip.com/events/) for providing our test bed. This intercompany cooperation from all aforementioned parties is a credit to 3CX for having built a reputation where stakeholder and suppliers work together and want to cooperate. I’ve worked with other vendors where such a community didn’t exist.

By the end of the second session, we had successfully configured the desktop phones including assigning extensions, basic call rules, identities, etc. At this point, we had the server-side and the client side ready to go.

In the next and final session, we secured dial tone. Allen had arranged for carrier services to make the phone real and ready to roam in the wild using a SIP Trunk Allen provided from vendor/partner Vitelity.com. Again, deferring to my consultant, he quickly configured the proverbial last mile to give me dial tone. I then ran both traditional and secret tests. First, I called myself from my mobile phone to confirm the 3CX system was operational. Then I answered a Craigslist ad for boating merchandise where I normally wouldn’t want someone to know my real phone number. I asked them to call the phone number I had been assigned and the phone rang as expected without problem or concern. The call fidelity over my broadband connection was excellent.

Mission accomplished. A bona fide 3CX system was up and running real time and big time. I’ve had the test bed up for over a month. No drama. And, again, I want to reiterate, hire a 3CX partner as your first step. Don’t be like Harry as that was my second step. LOL.

Customer Evidence
Not content to simply share my own experience, I wanted to seek out 3CX customer evidence to balance my opinions. I didn’t have to look far. Since the first of the year, I’ve been working with CSG Services, a well-respected Seattle-area vendor in the technology ecosystem. CSG Services provides services to Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, CenturyLink and other clients. It’s stock in trade is a number of global call centers. You know it takes telephony seriously. It depends on 3CX which is a testament right there. In this scenario, I’ve been using 3CX via the native softphone application. This is the basic CSG Services configuration for 3CX: softphones, not desk phones, for each of its 100+ employees in its call centers. While not my preference (I still prefer a desk phone), I grew increasingly fond of 3CX once I hooked up my Sennheiser professional headset, freeing me from a four foot USB headset cable and allowing to walkabout and pace on calls within Bluetooth range.

My experience on the 3CX customer side is this. It’s battle tested in the CSG Services call centers. It has passed the test. By the way, it’s running 3CX on an Azure instance (that’s a whole future blog).

Goodness of Fit in an O365 World
Finally, I thought about how 3CX, a real phone system, fits into the Office 365 community. To me the answer is very simple. Microsoft is not a telecom at its core but a software company. I think you must strongly consider 3CX as your telephony solution when you are running Office 365. ‘Nough said.

Next Steps
Click HERE to learn more about 3CX.

Continue reading
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Dan the Man: What Cloud Partner Program is Best?!

Long-time SMB Nation member Daniel Williams (Xpedeus) from Tampa, FL asked a very relevant question this past week. I wanted to crowd source the answer.

Dan asked: What MS “certs” or MS programs can our Xpedeus consultants gain for becoming “MS Cloud” consultants and transitioning Xpedeus to become an MS Cloud consultancy? In the old SBS days it was easy, just become Small Business Specialist. What is the equivalent in the cloud? It seems MS has so many programs for becoming a “cloud guy” I am not sure which applies best to Xpedeus customer base of 5-250 knowledge-worker companies.

danwilliams


Harry here. I’d offer the short answer is that Dan jump into the Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP) program with both feet. There are a few resources for Dan to learn more. One is Microsoft itself. https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-solution-provider The other concerns third-party Office 365 ecosystem partners such as AppRiver, long-time supporter of SMB Nation. https://www.appriver.com/partners/resell-office-365

But most importantly, I want to hear from YOU the reader in answering Dan’s important question. Please leave a comment on this blog which I’ll approve and also use in a follow-up contribution next week. Thanks in advance.

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What’s the real value behind Unified Communications?

I’m continually impressed by the good work coming out of Mitel with respect to community conversations. I think everyone agrees there’s no home for speeds and feeds BS content at SMB Nation. Rather – you want unique insights into matters that interest you. You want the community sponsors to be respectful; they want to be top of mind when you are ready to move forward. I think Mitel’s recent outreach to the SMB Nation community meets this high bar.

 mitel

Mitel has embarked on a journey to act as your guide by the side when it comes to your communications strategy. In particular, Mitel’s new communications landscape white paper that you can (and should) download here (“Making Smart Communications Decisions – an SMB Buyers Guide”) present the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) concept. Essentially ITC refers to the view that technology is an enabler. We used to call it data + voice but Mitel’s ICT concept is about the premise that today’s IP-based phone systems are gateways to this new world focused on applications.

Other topics in the white paper are:

  • Small business IT staff are more and more becoming cloud and applications managers. The assertion is that ICT staff are becoming more strategic and less break-fix.
  • Spending growth for a mobile world. Budgets are facilitating smartphones and applications to deliver a flexible work experience to employees who are becoming more mobile and geographically distributed.
  • Re-imagining work. The new workspace requires a new communications approach. I previously covered this conversation in my late December 2015 blog titled “I Love Work” that you can read here
  • Premium on protection. It goes without saying but you need to say it: security is important!
    Incremental, integrated solutions approach. This not only relates to cloud solutions but OPEX vs CAPEX financing.
  • Reshaping the customer experience. This is my favorite part of the Mitel white paper. There is a strong marketing conversation currently underway that with search, customers are doing much of their own research before ever speaking to a salesperson. So true. I’ve seen another report that nearly 70% of the decision has been made before customers speak to you. Google calls it the zero moment of truth. True that!

So you’ll have the read the rest of the report to get the good stuff. Highly recommended!

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Digium Discusses Benefits of a Phone System in the Cloud

Digium Discusses Benefits of a Phone System in the Cloud

Digium released last week an infographic detailing the benefits of cloud-based phone systems, a solution especially suited for SMBs.

and remote businesses looking to reduce costs, minimize IT resources and keep employees connected regardless of location. cloudinfographic

“The beauty of Cloud applications and VoIP phones systems are that they are located in secure data centers, and vendors take responsibility for owning, configuring, and managing them,” Cora Cloud, Digium content marketing specialist, said.

Full-featured Unified Communication solution Switchvox Cloud, designed for SMBs, includes UC features in a cloud format, which Digium suggested is the superior option for SMB phone systems.

According to the infographic, 82 percent of companies reduced costs by moving to the cloud, and cloud-based phone systems also saved energy and server space.

The full infographic is available  to the right.

P.S. Be sure to attend our online Office 365 connected conference, June 2-3. No travel, no hotel, no traffic! Sign-up here: getconnected.o365nation.com

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snom and Secusmart GmbH Partner to Advance Deskphone Security

snom logosnom technology recently announced that it has partnered with Secusmart GmbH to add an anti-tapping feature to its phones. Secusmart GmbH is the company that is currently responsible for securing the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s phone, and the two organizations have entered into numerous partnerships since 2012.

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Zultys Releases Update to MX Unified Communications Platform, New Cloud-Based IP Phone System

zultysZultys, a Sunnyvale, CA-based VoIP/UC solutions company, announced the debut of its MX Release 9.0, the latest version of its MX UC platform. In particular, this latest release comes with the addition of a cloud-based UC platform in the MXvirtual solution, and other features that allow the user to have a similar communications experience to a system admin.

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WhichVoip.com Spokesperson, Tony Campbell, Releases Informative BYOD Article

whichvoipWhichVoIP.com recently hosted an article from Tony Campbell, a spokesman for the company, which covered the “10 Things you need to Know about Mobile Solutions for your Office Phones.” This list includes a specific distinction between Mobile Apps for business phones, Virtual Extensions and Mobile BYOD VoIP, as well as offering an answer to whether or not a company can (and should) go completely mobile.

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snom Names New Chief Executive Officer

snom recently announced the appointment of Brian J. Kelley to the role of Chief Executive Officer. Kelley, who has been managing snom's Americas division, and has been a part of the organization since 2012, was appointed by snom's Supervisory Board.

“snom is committed to being at the forefront of IP-based voice communications and I look forward to growing our international presence and delivering a new generation of innovative business communications products,” said Kelley in a press release this week. “This starts with a relentless focus on the customer and working with our technology and channel partners to introduce collaborative-based products and services that deliver a high degree of value to our business customers.”

Kelley has over 30 years of executive management experience at companies such as Cognitronics Corp and Tii Network Technologies. In his new role at snom, he will be responsible for expanding the company’s market presence. His appointment to CEO will also come with a seat on snom’s Managing Board, and he will report directly to the Supervisory Board.

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VoIP-Catalog.com Releases List of Top 10 Business VoIP Providers

VoipCatalogLogoThis week, VoIP-Catalog.com announced their list of the top 10 Business VoIP Service Providers. The rankings below are based on pricing models, service options and customer reviews.

The top 10 VoIP Companies as rated by Voip-Catalog.com are as follows:

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snom Doubles Warranty of Its IP Phones to Two Years

snom technology saisnom logod that it has doubled its factory warranty to two years on its entire line of desktop IP phones and its PA-1 pager, lowering the total cost of ownership and boosting customer’s return on investment.

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Polycom Announces Expanded Interoperability with BroadSoft UC Services

polycom smallYesterday, Polycom, Inc., announced that it has expanded interoperability with the BroadSoft UC Services line. This announcement added Polycom’s VVX300 and VVX 400 phone models to the interoperability list, which will help SMBs provide HD video and voice capabilities in their offices.

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BYOD: Who’s *Really* in Control?

Ari RabbanBy Ari Rabban, Co-Founder and CEO, Phone.com

“Bring your own device” (BYOD) isn’t a new trend, but that doesn’t mean SMBs–or large enterprises, for that matter–have worked out all of the kinks. Part of the challenge has to do with how the change in ownership affects control over apps and the device itself.

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Avaya: We are Not Just Focused on Large Companies...SMBs Take Note

avaya logoAvaya said that its newest focus is to set a standard for collaboration and communications that are simple and effective and engaging. The company unveiled a set of new software and cloud-based services designed to transform the way enterprises and organizations work.  The company says that its simple, intuitive solutions will be designed for partners to help employees to work more effectively, engage more easily, and make decisions faster so organizations can experience the advantages of a new age of collaboration.

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Why UC is the Secret Tool for Building and Maintaining Your Brand

Brian Ferguson DigiumBy Brian Ferguson, Product Marketing Manager, Digium

Having a well-known and reputable brand is vital to a company’s overall success, today. Companies are increasingly dedicating more dollars to building and maintaining their brand, and it usually comes out of their marketing budget. Larger brands are shelling out millions of dollars to support brand building; but, for SMBs, an Unified Communications (UC) phone system is often an overlooked – and affordable – tool to help not only build their brand, but compete with the big guys.

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snom’s IP Desktop Phones Now Interoperable with Hosted VoIP via Clarity Telemanagement

snom logosnom technology said today that its 7xx series and 8xx series desktop IP phones, as well as the PA-1 SIP paging adapter, are now fully interoperable with Clarity Telemanagement’s hosted VoIP service.

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Bandwidth helps Phone.com Seamlessly Automate, Manage its Hosted VoIP Network

logo phonecomPhone.com said that it has chosen Bandwidth to provide voice network services in support of its hosted suite of products. With Bandwidth, Phone.com now has ready access to a nationwide network of local numbers using Service Management APIs to automate their inventory search and activation process.

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Guest Blog: Do you Know Who Controls Your Data?

Ari RabbanBy Ari Rabban, Co-founder and CEO, Phone.com

Would you pay $33,000 for a used Dell PowerEdge R410 blade server? What if it were the one that made WikiLeaks a household name?

That’s what someone paid on eBay, where Bahnhof, Wikileaks’ hosting provider, put the server up for sale. The auction is a cautionary tale for any SMB that outsources its telecom or IT to a cloud provider.

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Positron Telco’s New SMB Video Conferencing Solution Priced at Less than $2,300

Positron Telecom SystemsPositron Telecommunication Systems today introduced the G-124V, a full featured IP-PBX with integrated, easy to use desktop video conferencing at an MSRP (retail) price less than $2,300. It works with local or remote videophones, PCs, tablets and smart phones. A video conference of up to 12 participants can be set up as easily as a voice conference call.

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Sangoma Welcomes Microsoft Gold Partner Intrust IT to Reseller Program

sangomaEarlier this week, Sangoma Technologies Corporation announced that it has added a new partner to its reseller program. Intrust IT, a Cincinnati-based Microsoft Gold Certified partner and provider of technology services to customers throughout the Midwest, has planned to standardize all of its on-premise deployments of Microsoft Lync with Sangoma’s NetBorder Lync Express solution.

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8x8 Appoints Former Savi Technologies Executive as New CEO

vik vermaAs it enters its next phase of growth, 8x8, Inc. has appointed Vikram Verma as CEO, effective immediately. Former CEO Bryan Martin will assume the role of CTO and will continue as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

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Novus Adds IntelePeer As a Partner, Will Resell SIP Trunks Qualified for Microsoft Lync

NovusNovus LLC, said that it has added IntelePeer as a partner, and will resell its CoreCloud SIP trunking services, which are qualified for Microsoft Lync 2010 and 2013.

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Phonebooth Partners with Yealink

Phonebooth logoThis morning, Phonebooth announced a deeper partnership with Global To5 SIP Phone service provider, Yealink. To date, this partnership has allowed Phonebooth, a division of Bandwidth, to expand their reach into the SMB space.

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snom technology AG Named Gold Exhibitor at ITEXPO West

snom LogoThis morning, snom technology AG announced that they are a Gold-level exhibitor at the upcoming ITEXPO West Conference, taking place at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas from August 26-29. This year’s ITEXPO West will feature over 150 exhibitors and is expected to draw thousands of attendees.

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How BYOD Increases Employee Productivity an Extra 37 Minutes Per Week (per Employee)

AER Color dark 0024By Ari Rabban, Co-Founder and CEO, Phone.com

BYOD has quickly become one of the biggest buzzwords in business today. It’s also an opportunity for SMBs to spend less time using some other four-letter words, such as when they’re scrambling to recover after a disaster.

Part of the reason why so many enterprises–including SMBs–now have “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies is because they’re a way to leverage hardware that they otherwise couldn’t afford to buy for all employees. Another reason is increased productivity: an extra 37 minutes per week per employee, according to a recent Cisco study. For an employee making the median wage, that works out to an additional $350 in annual value – more than enough to cover a device subsidy for employers that choose to offer one.

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Guest Blog: Decoding UC: 5 Core Benefits of Unified Communications

Brian FergusonBy Brian Ferguson, Product Marketing Manager, Digium

The term Unified Communications (UC) has been poorly defined by the industry and clouded by mixed marketing messages. Every major IP communications vendor has a UC section on its Web site with hyperbolic statements such as, “UC is changing the way you do business” or “Reinvent your productivity capacity with UC!” To help clear it up for those SMBs that may be in the market for a UC system, let’s first define Unified Communications: UC is the merging of many different communication methods including voice, email, video and instant messaging into one unified system.

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Vocalocity is SMB Nation’s Official Phone System!

About 12 months ago, SMB Nation and Vocalocity teamed up on a partnership in which the hosted PBX provider would offer our company phone services for all of its employees at its Bainbridge Island, WA headquarters, and also those who work out of their home offices.

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Guest Blog: Five Ways the Cloud Makes Small Businesses Look Big

By Ari Rabban, CEO and Co-Founder, Phone.com

For small businesses, part of the appeal of cloud-based IT and communications services is that they provide access to technologies they otherwise couldn’t afford. That access helps level the playing field because small businesses now are better able to provide service and support on par with large enterprises.

Here are five examples of cloud technologies that are bridging the digital divide to give small businesses a large enterprise cachet...

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snom To Demonstrate PC Pairing Deskphones at Microsoft WPC 2013

snom LogoEarlier this week at Microsoft’s WPC 2013, snom technology AG announced that their UC edition phones will feature updated firmware, which will allow users to access expanded Lync features.

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Six snom IP Phone Models now Interoperable with FlowRoute VoIP Services

snom LogoEarlier this week, snom technology, Inc. announced that their Lync-enabled 7xx, 8xx and M9 cordless phone systems are now interoperable with Flowroute Wholesale VoIP services.  As of this announcement, snom technology has over 35 interoperability partners worldwide.

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Phone.com to Provide WebRTC Options for Users

phonedotcomEarlier this week, Phone.com announced that they would be developing new solutions to help the organization enter the Web real-time communications space. The first solutions developed would allow users to place voice and video calls to and from Android phones, as well as Google’s Chrome web browser.

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MyVoIPProvider.com Names Top 5 Money-Saving VoIP Companies

At the mid-way mark through the year, businesses are looking for new ways to save money for the second half of 2013. One of the most underrated means to save thousands of dollars each year is by changing phone service.

To help companies save a few extra dollars this year, My VoIP Provider is announcing the top 5 best VoIP providers to save businesses money this summer and the rest of 2013. 

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Guest Blog: 7 Tips for an Effective Unified Communications Security Strategy

By Billy Chia, Technical Marketing Specialist, Digium

Unified Communications (UC) presents unique security challenges because it brings disparate technologies, such as VoIP, video, chat, email and presence, together into one unified messaging system. As the technology has become more complex and more accessible from the public Internet, the security threat has increased. While large businesses can dedicate substantial resources toward securing their communications, SMBs need solutions that are both effective and simple to manage security.

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D&H Expands Solutions Specialists Program with New Resources, Solutions Lab

D&H Distributing said today that it is expanding its Solutions Specialist program. D&H’s Solutions Specialist Team is a group of subject-matter experts that are at the disposal of resellers.  The team is expanding to provide more dedicated support on particular vertical markets, technologies and vendor solutions.  

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Guest Blog: 7 Things SMBs Must Consider When Choosing a Cloud Provider

By Ari Rabban, Co-Founder and CEO, Phone.com

If your company is like most SMBs, you’re either considering hosted IT and communications services, or you’re already using them. As more SMBs and large enterprises migrate to hosted solutions, the selection of cloud-based offerings and providers will continue to skyrocket as they try to capitalize on that expanding opportunity.

But the broader and deeper that selection becomes, the more challenging it is for SMBs to wade though their options. Here are seven things to help guide your decision...

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Oh My – OOMA Small Business Phone System…

To this day, there is still an opportunity for a “void filler” to satisfy the demand for telecom in small business, created by the abrupt departure of Microsoft Response Point in 2009/2010, and the slow fade of the Cisco small business phone systems a la its refocus on the enterprise. The very first one in the world was awarded to Jamison West (pictured at right in white shirt), a Seattle-based MSP, as part of the SMB Nation Spring Conference prize drawings.

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Ooma Office Now Available for SMBs via Staples, Ooma.Com

Ooma said today that its small business phone system, Ooma Office, is now available for purchase at Staples stores nationwide and at Ooma.com. According to the company, Oooma Office is the first product developed by Ooma to address the needs of small businesses. Ooma Office delivers the advanced features and service quality that come with a big business phone service at a price point that is more affordable than other solutions.  

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Auto-Provisioning for snom 7xx and 8xx IP Phones Available via Telinta

Telinta logoThis morning, snom Technology announced that cloud-based VoIP services provider, Telinta, Inc., has developed an auto-provisioning system for the company’s 7xx and 8xx series of business phones. This type of provisioning is designed to streamline the process of adding a large number of snom phones to a network, particularly in a call center setting.

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Digium IP Phones Now Include Custom App Creation for Open Source Developers

Digium has announced the general availability of the Digium Phone App Engine and Phone API Information Center for its IP phones. The Digium IP phones include an applications engine that uses a free and open API.  The JavaScript API allows developers to easily create custom phone apps that extend the power of Asterisk, an open source IP telephony software, and Switchvox, Digium’s Unified Communications solution, to the Digium IP phones.  These applications go far beyond simple XML pages and integrate custom business processes directly on the phone display.

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ShoreTel President/CEO Set to Retire

ShoreTel confirmed this morning that Peter Blackmore, the company’s president and CEO, has informed the company of his intention to retire as soon as a successor is announced.

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Infonetics Research Finds: VoIP and UC Market on the Rise

Infonetics Research yesterday released key findings from their most recent VoIP and UC Services and Subscribers forecast report. This report, which tracks vendors such as AT&T, Comcast, NTT, Shaw Communications and Time Warner Cable, found that the overall VoIP services market saw a 9% increase from 2011 to 2012, which works out to a $63 billion market for both residential and business subscribers.

Additional key findings include:

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Telephonation Rocks!

Telephonation Screenshot 16 AprilAt last week’s Channel Pro SMB’s SMB Forum conference, I was again surprised by how attendees visiting my booth are once again, discussing telecom. It seems like just yesteryear we were VoIPing with Microsoft Response Point and the Cisco 3xx line. But this time the conversation is different; it’s more mature. The reality is no one would promote PSTN in a digital world. It’s all sorted out over the years.

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VoIPReview.Org States: New VoIP Regulations are good for the End-User

Today, VoIPReview.org released a list of the three top reasons why VoIP customers shouldn’t be worried about the VoIP regulation/law changes in current discussion. In particular, there’s talk about how VoIP should be regulated, whether it should be defined as a telecom service, or regulated more like Internet services.

 

VoIPReview.org’s top three list is as follows:

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MegaPath to Use Edgewater Networks Solutions for Business VoIP and Data Offerings

MegaPath logoThis morning, the MegaPath Corporation announced that they will deploy all of their VoIP and SIP Trunking Services via Edgewater Networks’ EdgeMarc 4552 Series ESBC and EdgeView VoIP Support System. MegaPath chose the Edgewater Networks system due to its ease of integration into their network. By implementing the Edgewater solutions, MegaPath can easily offer Hosted Voice services to their customers.

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Top 7 Considerations to Make when Selecting a Hosted VoIP Provider

Broadvox has published a new guide, “Hosted VoIP Purchase Decision Guide: Seven Key Considerations When Selecting a Hosted VoIP Provider,” which identifies and explains important issues that all businesses should consider before selecting a Hosted Voice provider. 

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ADTRAN Announces Expansion of VoIP Phone Portfolio

ADTRAN LogoThis morning, ADTRAN, Inc. said that they have added four new IP phones to their VoIP portfolio. The new phones, which include the VVX 300, VVX 310, VVX 400 and VVX 410, are designed to be more intuitive for users and can be deployed on existing hosted or on-premise VoIP networks.

A few key features of the new phones, as announced this morning, include:

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VoIPReview.org Releases Answers to the Top 3 VoIP Questions Asked by Business Owners

VoIPReview.org logoVoIPReview.org yesterday released a guide with the three questions business owners who are thinking of swapping to a VoIP solution have asked their community. The organization, an informative online VoIP resource, looked at the differences between the two main types of VoIP, Hosted PBX and IP PBX with SIP Trunking, to answer the three questions below.

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8x8 Releases Desktop Softphone Application

8x8 logoThis morning, 8x8, Inc. announced a new version of their Virtual Office Desktop softphone application. This app, now available for current 8X8 customers, is a part of the company’s Virtual Office package and features a new user interface.

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snom Releases Devices with Out-of-the-Box Provisioning for Microsoft Lync

snom LogoThis morning, snom technology AG announced a series of updates to their snom UC edition 7xx and 821 business phones. These updates, which include an auto-configuration feature for Microsoft Lync, are designed to help organizations simplify their enterprise deployments.

 

Additional updates announced this morning include:

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Broadvox Now Offering Call Bursting for SIP Trunking

Broadvox has released Call Bursting, a new add-on feature available with its SIP Trunking feature that gives customers the ability to utilize additional call sessions beyond the amount purchased for peak calling times. This optional feature can be added to any SIP Trunking order and is helpful for businesses or organizations that occasionally see bursts of increased calling activity, such as the increased calling activity a school may see on a snow day. 

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Novus Set to Distribute Sennheiser VoIP Headsets

Novus logoThis morning, Novus, a Connecticut-based telephony distributor, announced entry into a distribution agreement with award-winning recording and transmission device manufacturer, Sennheiser. Today’s announcement will pull a wide variety of Sennheiser’s wired and wireless devices into the Novus Endpoint Affiliate Program.

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Broadvox Launches Hosted Video Service with Polycom-Equipped Cameras

Broadvox said that it is bringing cloud-delivered video services to SMBs and enterprises. The service will use plug-and-play desktop solutions from Polycom, Inc., and will allow users to easily collaborate face-to-face with colleagues, partners and customers across a variety of standards-based video platforms.

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Top 5 Tips for High Quality VoIP Services from VoIPReview.org

VoIPReview.org logoVoIPReview.org, a VoIP search site, today released a list of 5 tips for having high-quality VoIP service on a budget. The company explained that although VoIP is, in general, a cost-effective option for residential and business purposes, many users are not aware of all of the service’s uses.

 

The top 5 tips outlined by VoIPReview.org today are as follows:

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Telcom & Data Announces Upgrade to Allworx Software

Reach App -Photo credit: PRWeb-This morning, business phone systems provider, Telcom & Data announced the release of the latest Allworx System Software Upgrade, version 7.5. The main feature of today’s upgrade is an app that allows users to extend IP-phone services to their mobile devices.

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Clearwire Releases 4G Wireless Broadband Offerings

Clearwire LogoYesterday, Clearwire Corporation announced a new 4G wireless broadband service for SMB customers. CLEAR Professional will be available beginning March 18 in approximately 80 US cities.

The following service options are available for the CLEAR Professional offering:

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Verizon Targets Mid-Market with New Partner Programs

Verizon announced today at the Channel Partners event in Las Vegas that it is simplifying its relationship with indirect sales channels and the companies that form its extensive technology ecosystem. Therefore, as a result, it is consolidating several existing business channel programs under a new “best-in-class” Verizon Partner Program to make it easier for its members to expand distribution and create new business opportunities for their customers.

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Vocalocity Announces Channel Program Enhancements at Channel Partners Expo in Vegas

VoIP provider Vocalocity announced today at The Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, that it is making changes and revisions to its channel program. The enhancements are expected to enable Vocalocity and its partners to further accelerate their growth.

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Infonetics Releases Q4 2012 VoIP/IMS Market Report Excerpts

Infonetics Research LogoYesterday, Infonetics Research released excerpts from their Q42012 Service Provider VoIP and IMA Equipment and Subscribers report. The report excerpts showed areas of growth, the first in nearly four years, as well as changing trends in the IMS and VoIP space.

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snom Announces Interoperability of UC Edition Portfolio with Microsoft Lync Server 2013

snom LogoMore news from the Lync Conference 2013 today as snom technology AG announced that their UC Edition IP phones have completed interoperability testing with Microsoft Lync 2013. snom is currently showcasing the 7xx series at this week’s event in San Diego, CA.

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Broadvox Releases New Feature Guide for SMB VoIP Users

Broadvox logoBroadvox today announced the release of a new Feature Guide for their Managed Hosted Voice service. The goal of this guide is to further education of the Managed Hosted Voice service’s advanced features for both existing and prospective users.

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Guest Blog: Top 4 Factors SMBs Should Consider when Switching to VoIP

By Rachel Greenberg, Site Editor, My VoIP Provider

It’s a new year, it’s the perfect time for companies to save money in new ways, and the company phone bill is the perfect place to start. This is 2013, and today there is phone technology that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet, rather than through traditional lines or through cellular networks. VoIP technology cuts down these pricy phone bills, while also providing a slew of features not offered by traditional phone providers.

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snom Technology Expands Microsoft Lync-Compatible Desktop Phone Portfolio

snom technology AG is currently debuting a new line-up of SIP Lync-qualified business phones highlighting its new, 7xx series – at ITEXPO East 2013 in Miami this week. According to the company, snom’s standards-based portfolio of IP desktop phones represents the industry’s largest and most comprehensive offering of endpoints fully interoperable with Microsoft Lync.

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Broadvox Adds New Functionality to Managed Hosted Voice Offering

Broadvox logoThis morning, Managed Business VoIP services provider, Broadvox, LLC announced the availability of a Voice Control Technology bundle for their Hosted Voice solutions. This new offering includes features to simplify the move to Managed VoIP for SMBs.

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snom Technology Names 2013 Platinum, Gold Level Distys for North America

snom technology AG announced today its snom Americas Gold and Platinum Partners for 2013. Novus, LLC once again attained the coveted Platinum Partner status, and ABP International, Inc., and TeleDynamics, LLP were named Gold Partners for the second year. Gold and Platinum partner status is awarded to recognize strong sales of snom products, as well as high levels of support provided by partners to snom customers throughout 2012.

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Broadvox Announces Special Business VoIP Offers

Broadvox logoYesterday, Broadvox announced new promotional pricing for two of their solutions, the standard SIP Trunking offering and their Managed Hosted Voice solution. Broadvox will be offering a 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee for both of these solutions.

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Intermedia Enters Into Agreement to Acquire Telanetix

Intermedia logoTelanetix logoYesterday, Intermedia and Telanetix, Inc. announced that they have entered into a merger agreement through which Intermedia will acquire cloud-based telecom provider, Telanetix. Both companies expect the merger to close within the next six months. This announcement will allow Intermedia to become one of the largest SMB VoIP providers in the US.

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Estech Systems, Inc. Set to enter SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX Market

ESI logoYesterday, Estech Systems, Inc. (ESI) announced that they have acquired the branding and retail assets of Vintalk from Vinculum Communications, Inc. This acquisition allows the ESI, acommunications service provider with 25 years in the industry, to enter the hosted PBX and SIP trunking market.

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Guest Blog: What does 4G LTE mean for SMBs?

By Michael Roden, SMB/VoIP Analyst, GetVoIP.com

The small-to-medium business sector represents one of the most demanding groups, for myriad of reasons. Efficiently allocating time, resources, employees, and more is crucial to survival in the tough economic climate we’re all experiencing. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of solutions on the way and in development, designed to incorporate reliability and speed into one compact package.

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The Top 5 Coolest VoIP Features that can Improve your Business

We all know that VoIP is an affordable technology that transfers voice and data through the Internet. Unlike traditional phone service providers, VoIP companies accommodate businesses with numerous features at no extra cost. However, as some top VoIP companies provide as many as 40 features in their basic plans, it is sometimes difficult for businesses to fully understand each option and use all of them on a daily basis.

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snom 7xx Line Now Interoperable with Epygi Quadro IP PBX

snom Logosnom technology AG today announced that their snom 7xx phone series are now interoperable with Epygi Technologies’ full Quadro IP PBX line.

“Epygi’s interoperability with the snom 7xx series reinforces Epygi and snom’s long-standing interoperability partnership,” explained Mario Cuello, CEO, Epygi, in a press release today. “The pairing of our IP PBX systems with snom’s new series of business phones provides resellers and end customers alike with an affordable and feature-rich telephony solution.”

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GetVoIP.com Announces List of Top 5 VoIP Providers

GetVoIPYesterday, GetVoIP.com announced their list of the top 5 business VoIP providers that are set to revolutionize the sector in 2013. To build this list, GetVoIP.com looked closely at consumer reviews, pricing, features, innovation and overall performance over the last year to choose their top 5.

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Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit between two VoIP Technology Providers

Yesterday, netTALK announced that magicJack has filed a motion to dismiss the patent infringement suit that they filed against the company in April 2012. The federal courts have dismissed the entire case, including all claims and counterclaims, permanently.

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