Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a cloud delivery mechanism used by enterprise communications. It supports six communications types, including enterprise telephony, mobility, unified messaging, meetings, instant messaging and presence, and communications-enabled business processes. The UCaaS provider owns, operates, maintains, and delivers the infrastructure to its end users. In this article, we explore UCaaS and its features, advantages, and disadvantages. Read More
In the technology landscape, fundamental shifts bring new IT security concerns. Continuing developments open new portals of vulnerability and weakening security threshold levels for businesses – significantly increasing the complexity of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role.
CISOs face new challenges in the IT rat race
A recent example of a real and consummated threat is the hacking of Code Spaces, a code-hosting company. As described in initial reports and on their website, a distributed denial-of service (DDoS) attack took place in June within a matter of 12 hours. An unauthorized person succeeded in partially or completely deleting data, machine configurations, and backups. The hack rendered the company unable to continue operating.
Code Spaces asserts that they have been able to overcome many DDoS attempts in the past. This time, the hacker may have worked around the weakest links to achieve such a debilitating goal. It is thus critical that CISOs and IT security officers take a proactive approach with regard to emerging threats, detecting vulnerabilities in systems, and knowing the danger levels and prevalence of such threats, so that they are better prepared for worst-case scenarios.
Essential expertise for the cyber age CISO
With constantly emerging technologies, the old CISO concept has changed. Beyond being tech-savvy, the new role of CISOs requires a transformed level of management competencies and leadership to succeed in a shifting environment.
New CISO skills include:
Business-mindedness with a new mindset – In the past, CISOs were confined to their own silos attending to technical matters, like maintaining machines and devices. Their new role now requires them to be a part of the big picture. They are needed in the boardroom to present a new vision, muster the resources to turn that vision into reality, and engage employees in new practices.
Leading and influencing by example – True leaders lead by example. They maintain a high standard of ideas, discipline, and ethics that are consistent with their actions. CISOs must earn the respect and loyalty of their team members, including superiors, to ensure the security of their business in cyber space.
Effective leadership communication skills – Good communicators, as opposed to good talkers, are able to reach their audiences, are active listeners, keep an open mind, and can read between the lines. Cyber security is an organizational priority that must engage all stakeholders in the organization to ensure fail-proof protection.
CISOs await a host of new challenges as IT changes happen, with new threats appearing and existing threats evolving. Enterprises now recognize that the role of CISOs is at a turning point, one that should strengthen their ability to repel and withstand such threats.
The Internet has been around for so long, the question of “Should I get the Internet or not?” has changed to “Which Internet service provider (ISP) should I choose”? With so many of them around, and with each one seeming to offer the same product in the same package, it can be difficult- but not impossible- to know what to look for in an Internet provider.
Type of Use
Businesses and individuals look for different things with an Internet provider because of demand, use and capability. Whereas an individual usually just surfs the Net, watches movies and does word processing, a business relies on much more than that, with many more users needing to do their work at the same time. Businesses likelier need Internet with higher bandwidth and bandwidth speeds so that more data can travel more efficiently.
Type of Contract
Going on a contract typically saves money, as your ISP knocks off a few dollars each month in agreement to you sticking with them for a certain length of time. The downside to this, of course, is that you’re locked in with one ISP for one to three years and might pay a penalty to get out. The alternative is to go with an ISP on a monthly basis: you might pay a bit more each month, but you retain your freedom to go with another ISP whenever you want.
Type of Coverage
In the United States, there are dozens of ISPs to choose from and they range in size from local to national. The benefit of going with a nationally-known ISP is that you know exactly what you’re getting, the ISPs have years of reputations behind them, and it’s fairly easy to get parts and service because of how big the company is. Conversely, going with a local company has its pluses, too. Local Internet providers tend to be more competitive because they want to grow and attract a wider customer base, so they’re likelier to offer better deals on a more regular basis. They also haven’t been swallowed up by size, and can usually offer better customer service, treating you like a person instead of a number.
Type of Equipment
To get service started, you need a certain piece of equipment from your Internet provider- a modem. Some ISPs will happily sell or loan you a modem, which comes with pros and cons. While it’s easy and convenient, it also puts more money in their coffers. If you can find an ISP that lets you use your own modem, not only can you control the type and quality of it, but you’ll also pay a lot less.
No matter what you look for in an Internet provider and who you choose to go with, remember that Integrated Communications is here for all your business and personal telecommunications needs. Visit our home page to see the wide range of services we provide.
Jackass Pictures Presents: Bad Grandpa
Integrated Communications Presents: A Bad Grandpa Movie Review
The Bad Grandpa movie, starring Johnny Knoxville, is the equivalent of a hilarious prank played-out to the maximum in as many ways as possible; and, it comes with a plot! Grandpa’s wife dies at the start of the flick. At her funeral, which is filled by caterers and church singers, grandpa sees his daughter and grandson for the first time in many years. The daughter is being sent to jail and decides to drop her son, Billy, off with grandpa to be “shipped” away to his father’s house in South Carolina.
Needless to say, many funny scenes take place on a road-trip of a lifetime for grandpa and his grandson, Billy – thankfully it’s all captured on film, and from multiple angles! Along the way, Billy and the “bad grandpa” meet many interesting characters including: a church choir, a bar full of bikers, and some fellow bingo-goers, Billy searches the crowd for a new dad, and grandpa makes quite the appearance at an all-male dance club – and so does some of grandpa’s “southern” parts.
Johnny Knoxville does NOT fail to bring a laugh, or two, or ten! The simple fact remains: “pranking” people across the country posed as an 80 yr. old man with a penchant for sex, booze, and rock N’ roll, is just plain hilarious!
Integrated Communications rates this movie with a 4 out of 5 star average.
*probably NOT suitable for everyone!!
Halloween is a time for imagination, fright, social gatherings, and, of course… sugar! Remember Halloween years ago – the frenzied parents looking for costume ideas that may appeal to their “tween”, and the search for a great scary movie with more than a cheap thrill – which can sometimes seem impossible to find; well, just as technology has shaped businesses and made things easier, so has it morphed Halloween!
The Tracking Application
With a simple download of a free application, every parent can now release their child from the ever embarrassing parent-chaperoned trick-or-treating and keep track of their child via Smartphone as they knock down doors for Halloween goodies! By downloading the various apps (i.e. Find my Friends, AirCover Family Locator, etc…) parents can rest-assured their child is safe with older siblings and/or friendly neighbors and allow their child a night of Halloween fun without compromising their child’s safety or their own peace-of-mind.
Whether it’s a local haunted house that’s getting rave reviews, or the newest trends in costumes, social media and the Internet has changed Halloween forever! By finding reviews, costume pictures, and your favorite celebrities, technology has made it easier to enjoy Halloween and share it with people from around the globe. So, when you dress-up for the grown-up Halloween party or take a picture of your little pumpkin, you can now share that image with extended family members and those who are miles away.
Although YouTube may be considered a social media platform, it deserved a spot on our list all on its own. YouTube has drastically changed Halloween costumes…
Any average Joe/Jane can now expertly apply special effects makeup to create more realistic costumes and make scaring others an even more frightful event! A few YouTube special effects/makeup channel favorites are:
And so many more… (Literally type in “Halloween makeup effects” and you will be overwhelmed by what’s available)
Sure, as a kid the sound of a chainsaw starting, or a plain white mask may have scared the “bejeebus” out of you. Fortunately for the growing movie fanatic, technology has changed the way scary movies operate and the fear-factor they now ignite! Take the horror thrillers, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, for instance; these films changed the way many horror flicks are presented to audiences. By incorporating the technological advances of the handheld video-camera, these movies have now transformed unrealistic monster stories into “it-could-happen-to-you” point of view whodunits! Even more pivotal is the switch from character-scare to special effects chills. Before technological advances, films such as The Shining and The Poltergeist could only rely on characters for a frightful effect. Now, many modern horror films blend scary characters and special effects to create the ultimate in horror adventures.
Let us know what other amazing ways Technology has transformed Halloween!
With Halloween right around the corner, and the last bit of Fall weather slowly fading into the dark Winter abyss (note sure about you, but I saw snowflakes the other day), we wanted to share some of the experiences and joys team Integrated has encountered this Fall season!
AT THE OFFICE…
Our conference room is coming along, don’t you think? We’ve added quite the impressive monitor in our conference area, as well as phone displays! Kip has already hosted a few phone demos in the new presentation area, showing our clients that as a company we strive to provide them with solutions we comprehend first-hand.
FAMILY HALLOWEEN FUN…
It looks as though Thalina and her family have enjoyed the fall season with extra Halloween flare! I love the picture on the right – (Thalina, her daughter, and her son… at least I think that’s them).
SUPER DEAD ANIMALS…
Nate’s joked for the past few months that the only “update” pictures he has are of dead animals. Ha! So, enjoy these very rare, very dead, and very awesome pictures of the hunter himself and his prey!
Nick and Setara have been preparing for the birth of their first son, Lincoln! Less than 2 months to go – the nursery is complete! Here are a few pictures of the jungle-themed nursery the couple has designed for their little monkey to be.
I CAN’T GET NO, ZOMBIE-FACTION…
So, while most were being productive with their Saturday night, Nick was in full Zombie garb for the 2013 MPLS Zombie Pub Crawl – just kidding, it was a fun time! Unfortunately, the awesome bald-cap he’s wearing (no, he’s not really bald) left quite the “impression” on his face the next day. Ouch!
Have a great rest of your Fall, and be sure to check back for the next “Keeping-Up” with Integrated Communications post!
INTEGRATED TEAM IN CHICAGO
September 11, 2013, a few employees of Integrated Communications trekked to Chicago for the Cloud Partners Event! Many things were learned, and the keynote speaker really portrayed the importance and relevance of “the cloud”, but, of course, we also had quite the Chicago adventure.
Check out pictures from our Chicago outing and the great experiences we endured – including the engagement of two Integrated employees!
“THE L-TRAIN EXPERIENCE”
We all bought train and bus basses for Chicago, and I’m sure we all HIGHLY recommend going this route if you’re ever in the area. It was a convenient and affordable way to travel around the great city.
“THE CLOUD PARTNERS CONVENTION”
They keynote speaker for the event was excellent. She had some interesting statistics and bits of insight – definitely a great choice!
“THE CHICAGO ART”
Who knew pants could be art? Chicago did!
Buddy Guy came out on stage while Setara and Nick had FRONT-ROW seats at Buddy Guy’s Legends! It was an awesome experience, the music was great and the gumbo was fantastic!
Dialogue Conferencing was spectacular and invited all four of us to attend the lake and river boat tour with them! We captured some beautiful scenery shots while on the boat. Enjoy!
“THE LINCOLN PARK ZOO”
This place was amazing! The FREE zoo captured out hearts with Lions, Tigers, and Bears, OH MY!
“THE WILLIS TOWER”
Yes, we went UP, WAY UP (about 110 floors) to the top of the tallest tower – once named the Sears tower, this tower comes equip with a sky deck, and one heck-of-a-view!
While in Chicago (on the last day and last stop), Nick proposed to his girlfriend and Integrated employee, Setara. Right next to Lincoln Park at the butterfly conservatory, this couple got engaged – It was SPECTACULAR. I love you Nick – I DO 🙂
The usual even-flow of office dynamics at Integrated Communications was no different yesterday, September 4th, than every other day at the small business in Golden Valley, MN. Kip and Thalina headed-out around 9:30 am to meet a client, Sandy shuffled through the morning mail, Mary was hard at work in the front of the office, and Nate, Nick, and Setara were wrapped-up in some calls in the three back offices within close proximity to our D-Mark. All was silent, all was still for a brief moment in telecom history, when a POP emanated from our electrical room, followed by heavy drilling noises. “What was that”, Nick yelled. “I’m not sure; is someone drilling”, Setara questioned. Thankfully Sandy made her way to the back of the office building to give Nick some mail, and that’s when she noticed the fire.
Our morning was filled with chaos, fire-fighters, a local news crew and a disaster recovery plan as our office encountered a small disaster; an electrical fire broke-out in our back electrical room.
How did we handle the disaster at our office?
Besides a crazed pregnant lady running panicked out of the building, the employees at Integrated were ready to contain the disaster, and start implementing a solution.
- Get everyone out of the building and to safety – We evacuated the building and stood a good distance away from the perimeter of our office
- Call 9-11 – The police were informed of the fire and the location of our building ASAP (further on this topic will be discussed)
- Extinguish Fire? – It was possible for our two shining heroes at Integrated (Nick and Nate) to locate a fire extinguisher and put the fire out, and then exit the building to get to safety while public safety officials arrived
- Notify Boss – Although Kip was on his way to meet with a client, we called him immediately to inform him of the situation ensuing at Integrated
- Speak with Public Safety Officials – After a few fire trucks arrived and the men and women of the Golden Valley Fire Department did their diligence in assessing the disaster, we spoke with the fire-Chief and received information on what may have occurred, and the proper steps to take now that the fire has been terminated.
- Contact proper channels – Insurance, Electrician, Clean-up Crew, and our folk at A Couple of Gurus (IT Company in MN) were called within minutes of the incident to be informed and to gear-up in an effort to help us solve any problems that may have occurred. (Thankfully, A Couple of Gurus accommodated our server worries and backed-up our entire system within a few hours of the fire).
- Go to lunch to debrief and come-up with a company game plan – After the event took place, and the proper people were notified, we ventured out to Doolittle’s for a quick lunch and company chat about what our next steps will be. While the office was to be cleaned and fumigated that night and the following day, we decided it was safer for the employees’ health to work from home until Friday (or further notice of safety has been recommended).
A HUGE piece of our disaster recovery plan was knowing who to call in case of an emergency. All of our bases were covered, and the proper people were informed of our situation within a moment’s notice. Great partnerships and equipment also hold value at a time when disaster strikes: Dave Johnson with Velocity Telephone graciously offered office space if necessary until our office and system were cleared for work…
And, on that note, the use of our VOIP phone system through Velocity Telephone came in handy in several ways on the day we needed it most. When the fire started, our phone lines were in flames as well – fortunately, with our VOIP phone system we were able to dial out to 9-11 without operating phone lines. Furthermore, our plug-and-play VOIP phone system made the capability of our employees working from home extremely feasible! Anywhere there is Internet, we are able to plug in our office phones and work – what a great feeling.
**Make sure your company is prepared for a disaster, no matter how big or small the event may be
And now for some pictures…