Pros and Cons of Single Solution and Over the Top Providers

A session initiation protocol (SIP) single solution provider is usually attractive to those who only want to deal with the basics and one provider. However, an over-the-top (OTT) solution can provide a more durable situation with pricing and selection advantages.

This is because the OTT solution uses a separate carrier and separate content provider. Each type of option has its merits. Consider the following features:

Single Solution Pros


Single solution trunking means dealing with fewer providers. It eliminates subscriptions to other services that run up costs. It is also possible in most cases to grab a circuit bundle with the SIP trunking option to save even more.

Billing and Service

The idea of single solution trunking is to keep it simple. When it comes to invoicing, expect one monthly charge. Likewise, when it comes to customer service, there should only be one phone number and one company to contact for assistance.

Quality Advantage

The customer service quality of single solution trunking can be superior to OTT because the entire network operates under one entity. In a sense, the left hand knows what the right is doing, and problems are able to be sorted out in a more timely and organized manner. There are also the advantages of flexible usage and optimum bandwidth delivery.

Single Solution Cons

A big drawback to using single solution trunking is the fact that there is only one connection. In the event of failure, there are few resolutions until the provider can be reached to resolve the issue. Another drawback is the possibility of slow or inactive traffic at distant sites.

OTT Pros

Best of the Best

Competition is strong when it comes to vendors and the specializations they offer. An OTT solution breeds rivalry, so the consumer wins in the long run. In this aspect, there is a quality advantage in hiring the top candidate in whatever combination of vendors will work best.

Choice and Selection

As previously mentioned, an OTT solution prevents the individual or business from being married to all of the packaged providers. If one doesn’t work, it can be replaced. The favorable providers can be kept without penalty. This encourages good customer support and resolution.


Choosing the OTT option for any business or individual means having a more resilient, dependable experience. Not only are there two providers to work with, there is more than one media used. A variety of media (fiber, wireless, copper, etc.) can assist with constancy and performance.

OTT Cons

Switching over to an OTT option means existing carriers will have to be dropped. It also carries the disadvantage of having to shop around for the best prices. This can entail a lot of research, communication, and even haggling when necessary. A third problem that arises with OTT service is the fact that problems will be challenging to address when dealing with more than one vendor.

There are two choices when it comes to SIP trunking. Understanding the pros and cons of each option will make the selection easier and benefit the individual, small business or large company in the long run.


Effective Project Management

shutterstock_215762650Experts in managing business projects agree that there are strategies that improve the likelihood that a project is finished well, on budget, and by the deadline. 

At first glance, these steps to successful project management can appear direct and uncomplicated.  However, it takes only one wrong step to throw off the entire project.

 Managing a project effectively requires involving the right people,  communicating clear expectations, establishing concrete deadlines, and maintaining a flexible scope.

Preparation Details

A project manager and team need a complete set of sanctioned project details before beginning to plan. These details will help the process run smoothly and will prevent a crisis when a bump in the road looms. For starters, project details should be comprised of expected milestones, deadlines, and a budget worksheet.

Choose the Players

A project team should include the minimum number of people required to get the job done. These team members should have the best skills and experience that pertains to the project itself. A project manager needs a team that is reliable, yet small enough to communicate and work with effectively.

Clear Delegation

It is essential that each team member knows exactly which piece of the project he or she is responsible for accomplishing. Precise assignments—including their milestones and their deadlines—can prevent confusion and frustration. This also protects key objectives from slipping between the cracks. A strong project manager checks in on individual assignments and their deadlines on a regular basis.

Establish Milestones

From as early as the first meeting, milestones should be established and understood. These benchmarks should have corresponding deadlines to help team members stay focused on the final objective. This ensures not only a clear course, but it also helps avoid any uncertainty or doubts before they are too late to be comfortably addressed.

Reward Progress

Project milestones deserve recognition. A project manager who rewards team members who met deadlines boosts enthusiasm for the project, encourages creativity, and communicates success. Commending each successful step achieved helps ensure the final vision is realized.

Avoid Micromanagement

Effective project managers instill in team members a sense of equilibrium by balancing milestone checks with the freedom to work and create. Micromanaging is a poor form of control that can lead to confusion and discouragement. It also may affect the quality of the project’s final results.

Meetings Matter

Regular meetings are important to keep progress moving steadily forward. Meetings should be brief and to the point; they should address the project status as a whole and allow each member to briefly update the team within an allotted time. Long meetings lead to boredom and distraction, both of which derail the team’s focus and enthusiasm.

Encourage Communication

Effective communication is a key player in project management success. Management experts recommend using a quality, user-friendly software program that all team members can access. This keeps information up-to-date and readily available. It also prevents confusion, loss, and poor time management—all of which may occur with simpler or cheaper methods like emails or online forum boards.

Change Is Inevitable

Finally, project managers need to remember this: Change is a part of life—even in business. Allow room for modifications in the initial planning stages of the project. Manage flexibility for deadlines by preparing for unexpected requests or problems.

It’s also a good idea to prepare the budget for inevitable hiccups. Be patient and encourage team members from the beginning to roll with the challenges and keep everyone informed. Planning for adjustments helps to maintain positive outlooks and inspires members to stay committed from start to finish.

Six Benefits of Platform as a Service for IT Departments

Using a public PaaS (Platform as a Service) has many benefits, including faster deployment of apps. Meanwhile, a private PaaS provides an excellent compromise between the freedom that developers crave and the security that is required to keep data safe.

Developers are already well aware of the benefits of using PaaS. However, there are also many advantages for IT. Rather than seeing management of PaaS as a chore, IT professionals should take a look at the ways that PaaS can help them.

1. Fewer Requests from Developers

No software can completely stop the requests that come in from developers, but a good PaaS significantly cuts down the time that IT has to spend addressing developer requests. By allowing developers to set up their environments for themselves, PaaS saves time for both developers and IT, because it cuts down on the number of requests being passed back and forth.

2. Easy-to-Monitor Applications

PaaS provides a lot of information for IT about how an application is operating. This means that IT can quickly identify any issues and take action to correct them. The results are greater reliability of applications and a more manageable workload for IT.

3. Cloud Security

Security is always a big concern for IT, and the thought of using PaaS can raise concerns for some working in this sector. However, a private PaaS can provide adequate security to protect applications and data. IT can maintain control over important security features to ensure that risks are eliminated.

4. Flexibility

When choosing a private PaaS vendor, IT will want to look for flexibility. Private PaaS vendors are able to work with any IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and can accommodate a public or private cloud set-up as well as a hybrid solution. Maintaining flexibility is often the key to efficiently developing a business, and a private PaaS can provide it.

5. Control User Administration

Using PaaS doesn’t have to mean giving up control of user administration. IT can keep control over this important aspect of the service as well as other areas, such as resource allocation.

6. Use a DevOps Approach

PaaS can facilitate communication, which is a key part of the DevOps (development/operations) process. Online dialogue allows groups of developers to decide how to allocate resources, how to handle scaling, and when to restart an application. The more communication takes place, the smoother the development process is likely to be.

A good PaaS should satisfy a business’s IT staff, its developers, and its end users. Though developers have been convinced of the benefits, IT has yet to get on board, though the IT staff has many

Risks in the Cloud

The cloud has made possible computing conveniences like scalable storage of data and applications, faster collaboration, unified communications, virtualization, co-location, mobility, and speedy disaster recovery. However, behind the cloud are risks that may impact organizations if these risks are not properly assessed and managed.

IT research firm Gartner advises that the inherent attributes of cloud computing require a comprehensive assessment of potential risks. Telecom agents, businesses, and any organization using the cloud should consider these  risks when migrating to the cloud:

Security and data integrity

Security continues to be a major obstacle to embracing the cloud. It is crucial for agents and businesses to make sure that cloud vendors they are dealing with are reliable and can be trusted. Once data is migrated to the cloud, how can the service provider guarantee the security of such data? Are encryption and access control mechanisms in place?

In addition, ask about how many tenants have shared access. What type of authentication and authorization is required for privileged users? All of these questions are important to answer when migrating to the cloud.

Data location

Due to the universal nature of the cloud, cloud service providers can store and process data in any jurisdiction that allows them to do so. Not knowing the virtual or physical location of your data can be an issue. Customers have the right to know where their data is going to be stored so that they may be apprised of any local regulatory compliance requirements in the selected host state or country.

Framework reliability and compatibility

Existing operating framework should not clash with the chosen cloud services. Some changes in the current IT infrastructure may be necessary to make the new framework compatible with the cloud. Inferior framework reliability may lead to issues during peak periods, restricted access to important information, or unworkable administration tools.

Shared access vulnerabilities

Shared access or multitenancy is a common feature of the public cloud. It involves the sharing of the same computing resources, including storage, CPU, memory, and physical infrastructure. The shared setup is open to the leaking of private data to other tenants.

Researchers have started exploring the vulnerabilities of shared access and found that they have been able to peek into other tenants’ IP addresses and memory space. A few have been able to access another tenant’s computing resources. Gartner adds that multitenancy may be a big risk in the future if safeguards are not applied.

Disaster recovery

Gartner asserts that any cloud computing option that does not replicate data and application infrastructure in multiple sites is doomed to fail. Telecom agents and businesses need to make sure that their chosen cloud partners have the capability to perform complete recovery in the fastest time possible after a disaster.

Lack of standardization

A completely standardized cloud environment has yet to be implemented. Differentiating offerings can lead to major infrastructure changes that can be costly, time consuming, and manpower-intensive.

Long-term viability

Customers need to get assurance from their service providers that they will be able to provide additional services for their future growth requirements. More importantly, customers need to get the commitment of their providers that their data will remain available in case the latter goes bankrupt or is acquired by another company.

Computing has never been the same since the cloud began hovering over the technology world. Understanding vendor options and various cloud offerings in relation to a business’s unique needs is a good first step to know what risks to avoid.

IBM Study Highlights the Importance of Customer Engagement

Business is about people. It is about the people you hire, and the people you serve. Without people, your business ceases functioning. If you nurture the people element of your business, your business will grow and lead the way into the future.

Of course, our technologically driven modern world often neglects people in the equation. For that reason, the team at IBM decided to study just how important people were in the growth and success of modern businesses. What they discovered is causing those in the C-suite to change the way they do business and approach clients.


The study was a comprehensive global survey involving more than 1,600 CIOs, 880 CEOs, and 1,600 corporate officers who were asked to define the changing relationships between their businesses and their clients around the world. The insights and experiences they shared provide a reliable overview of the way they are rearranging their priorities.


The survey revealed that leaders are shifting their priorities from intra-enterprise efficiency and productivity towards more transparency, collaboration, and communication with their clients. What the survey also revealed is that this shift is being driven by the clients themselves. As technology advances, the collaborative technologies being utilized within our modern, 24/7 mobile workforce have empowered clients as never before.

Key findings:

  • Approximately 80% of CIOs are planning to digitize their front offices over the coming years so that they are in sync with their customers. This will lead to even more collaboration and greater efficiency.
  • The majority of CIOs say they are focusing on two key initiatives: Gaining deep insights from both structured and unstructured data via analytics and implementing cutting-edge technologies, tools, and processes within the front office. They hope to better understand their clients’ needs and remain in sync with their requirements.
  • CIOs acknowledge that obtaining meaningful actionable insights from the information they collect requires vastly improved information architecture so they an leverage the data they are gathering.
  • 84% of CIOs plan to or are currently investing in mobility solutions, business analytics, and optimization.
  • 64% of CIOs are investing in cloud computing, internal collaboration, and/or social networking.
  • Of participants, 70% of CIOs are planning to incorporate cloud technologies in an effort to improve collaborative processes with their clients.
  • CIOs want more collaboration with CMOs. This is because many are beginning to see that customer experience, sales, new business development, marketing, communications, supplier/vendor management, and IT operations are impacting the CIOs responsibilities.
  • CIOs are planning to implement more technologies designed to encourage and improve collaboration with clients, which will improve the overall customer experience. Chief among these plans is the incorporation of mobile technologies, which will be coupled with improved analytics models, to drive success.

The crucial role of technology

In the end, it has become clear to modern CIOs that these customer-related initiatives are critical to the success of their businesses. Leveraging technology is the best way to manage this and help businesses develop stronger bonds and relationships with the people they serve.

This is a trend that will continue as the technology that clients depend on continues to improve, and clients demand even greater access from mobile platforms, cloud technologies, and advanced business management software solutions.

The CEO might be the head of the company, but it is the modern, mobile customer that is the savvy new boss that companies need to pay attention to.

Creating Strong Partnerships Between CIOs & CSOs

The complexity of technology means that organizations need their technology and security teams to work together to develop and implement solutions. In particular, companies need their CIO and their CSO to work in collaboration to achieve the company’s objectives. Here are some ways they can achieve this.

Have both parties share their similarities in roles.

One of more common issues between the CIO and the CSO is their approach to the job. While CIOs enjoy taking risks with new platforms, CSOs have to look at the security risks involved with new programming, which can lead to miscommunication between the two departments. Instead of butting heads on differences in job responsibilities, Jo Stewart-Rattray, who is the director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich, recommends that both parties discuss the similarities in their jobs. By doing this they can accomplish two things:

• Both parties will notice many similarities in what each position entails and the differences they discover won’t be as far as first perceived.
• It sets a healthy framework for collaboration by both parties. When each examines the other’s position with an open-mind, it develops the foundation for collaboration.

Open communication throughout the organization.

In a security survey conducted by the Global State of Information, respondents noted that their biggest obstacles to security are a lack of strategy from a security standpoint and a lack leadership that understands how innovations of future business needs impact the company’s security. Simply, this means there’s a lack of communication between the executive, information, and security departments. This represents a significant concern because without open communication from all parts, it can make it difficult to achieve future business objectives. This is why it is imperative that there is open communication between the CIO and the CSO.

By doing so, they can open a healthy flow of information and collaboration between the security and information technology departments that way during new implementations IT isn’t vulnerable after they consider all security risks.

Both parties need to report to each other.

Another area of disconnect in organizations is when the CIOs or CSOs report directly to the CEOs instead of to each other. The problem with this is it can create rift between both positions because it inhibits the flow of information to each department. This is why it is vital in an organizational structure that the CIO and CSO work in collaboration with the CEO or executive board.

By doing so, it opens a dialogue between all parties involved. Benefits are these:

• The executive committee knows security risks for new technology.
• The IT department understands the vulnerabilities associated with new platforms.
• The security department is able to evaluate risk on new platforms.

The result is open communication whereby each part works together to achieve the company’s objectives in a safe manner.
Overall, CIOs and CSOs must work together. When they do this, they create a partnership where both departments collaborate during the designing and implementation process to make new transitions smooth and safe.

3 Broadband Speed Tips For Business-Friendy Internet Provider Services

With recent increases in access locations and speed tiers, selecting a business-friendly Internet provider may be more difficult than ever. According to the 2013 “Measuring Broadband Across America” report, the FCC cites a current average U.S. broadband speed tier that tops 15 Mbps (1). In the last six months of 2013, more than half of the U.S. consumers still running at less than 1 Mbps upgraded to a quicker speed tier.

The following three points focus on the critical areas of business-friendly broadband Internet services.

1) Speed — How Much Is Sufficient?

Every new generation of devices increase the demand on broadband speed. But without predictability and dependability, your Internet services quickly become worthless. According to Measuring Broadband Across America, speeds above 10 Mbps do not greatly affect page downloads. However, HD streaming video as well as multiple resource sharing can force quick reductions in delivery speeds.

2) Data Limitations

Uploading may be even more critical than downloading. Modern business management has turned to “cloud services.” From video conferencing to interactive learning and from file sharing to email, the software, the data and all the associated files flow in both directions. To further hinder the process, some business broadband business Internet service providers limit your single-instance data transfer options. Make certain your services do not dead-end due to file size restrictions.

3) Latency

Latency defines the time lag between real-time data transmission and data packet delivery. When uploading a file into “cloud” storage, latency may not present any major complications. However, latency can greatly affect the efficiency of real-time video conferencing and online phone calls. For efficient real-time communications, make certain that your Internet provider and cloud management services use equipment designed to eliminate data latency.


Although not the only criteria for business Internet service, speed plays the major role in home and business connectivity. Before choosing any Internet provider resources, consider the importance of:

  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Portability
  • Plan Restrictions
  • Contract Requirements
  • Managed Services
  • AND Speed.

The Advantages of Having All Your Communications Needs Met By A Single Provider

You have a lot of options when it comes to your business communication providers. From landline phone service and Internet data providers to videoconferencing and VOIP, you can pick and choose who you prefer to keep your company connected. There are times though when more options are not necessarily better, at least when you want to focus on actual communication and less on screening numerous service providers.

Advantages of a Single Business Communication Provider

Simplicity is always a focus for companies seeking an edge over the competition. The fewer steps you have to take to reach your goals, the more efficient you can be at keeping your company competitive and improving your profitability. It is this type of simplicity that is one of the major advantages of seeking a single source for your telecommunication needs.

At Integrated Communications we work to bring everything you need straight to you. This drastically reduces the amount of time and effort your company spends on sourcing telecommunication services. We find you the web conferencing, landline and data/internet solutions you need for your specific business practices. This can save your company up to 25% off of your monthly telecommunication costs and guarantees you are getting the best options for you.

One Call Vs. Many

Having a single company to call to find all the services you need is quite a bit easier than screening numerous providers in hopes of finding a winner. You do not have to make multiple phone calls to discover who has what you need and you do not have to ask the same questions over and over. We take care of all of this for you.

We also have a good grasp of what companies excel in specific areas, meaning we can match your company quickly with the service provider that will have what you want and need.

If you would like to learn more about how you can save money on your communication services, please contact Integrated Communications today.

Could Net Neutrality Impact VoIP Telecommunications Services?

The often debated topic of net neutrality is usually approached from the angles of online censorship and web services, but there are also very real ramifications for the Internet-based industry of VoIP telecommunications. Put simply, “net neutrality” is a principle by which internet service providers cannot discriminate against the data that they transmit. Under net neutrality, all data is required to be transmitted with equal fidelity and at the same price. Without net neutrality, an ISP can alter its pricing structure and bandwidth prioritization based on type and source of traffic.

There are two sides to net neutrality: charges to the consumer and charges to the content provider. Without net neutrality it would be possible for an ISP to charge someone more for having VoIP telecommunication services with another telecommunications provider. Further, the ISP would also be able to prioritize the data sent to and from this other telecommunications provider as less important, thereby lowering overall call stability. The ISP would also be able to charge VoIP companies more regarding the amount of data it transmitted. This could increase the overall price of VoIP communications.

Many companies do not contract services for VoIP telecommunications directly with their Internet Service Provider; commercial VoIP services tend to be contracted specifically through telecommunications companies, while residential services are more likely to be contracted through an ISP. Should ISPs desire to limit this type of traffic or promote their own commercial services, a lack of net neutrality could become costly for corporate VoIP clients. Other clients may see the stability or the speed of their telecommunications service slow down drastically.

Restricting external VoIP services in this way may seem unlikely, but it’s exactly what many individuals are concerned ISPs will do regarding streaming video services, which have become competitive with the television services provided by cable-based Internet service providers. At the same time, Internet Service Providers are assuring consumers that a lack of net neutrality will not significantly alter their product offerings .

Three Reasons Why the Business Telephone is More Important Than Ever

More companies than ever are using VOIP (voice over internet protocol) or allowing employees to “bring your own device” and use smartphones on the job. With options like this at the disposal of an organization, is there a need for standard business phone systems any longer? Actually, a regular telephone line is still an important investment for most businesses. Consider these three reasons why having a business phone service is important for your organization.

Business Phone Systems Offer Quality – While smartphones and internet telephone options are convenient and often affordable, the audio quality does not compare to the quality of a standard business phone service. This is important if you use the phone to conduct business internationally–it can be very difficult to understand the other person talking if the line is not clear.

These Systems are Secure – When you are in a business that deals with confidential information, you want to protect the integrity of the data you share by phone. A quality business phone system is easier to secure and protect against wiretapping devices than a simple cellular phone.

A Business Phone Service Grows With You – Even if your company is on the small side right now, choosing a good system will allow you to expand it as the company grows. Right now you may only need a line or two, but these systems can be expanded to allow for dozens of lines across multiple locations.

These reasons are only the beginning. Having a “landline” phone for your business may not be one of the latest trends in technology, but it is an important way to make sure your company operates at the top of its game. Finding a company that can provide business phone systems, as well as a full-scale internet solution is a great option for the business owner who wants to save time, money and effort while he or she puts a company-wide communications plan together in or around Minneapolis or the Twin Cities in Minnesota.