Broadview Networks Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Small & Medium Employer

Time flies! It’s been a year since Broadview Networks has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Small & Medium Employers in 2016. Selected by a blue-ribbon academic Advisory Board, Broadview Networks was selected to receive this honour based on excellence in criteria such as employee communications, performance management, training/skills development, and community involvement.

“We’re incredibly excited to be honoured with a place on the 2016 Top 100 Small & Medium Employers list,” said Michael Orloff, President and CEO of Broadview Networks, “This serves as a well-deserved reward for the team’s diligent efforts.”

Canada’s SME sector is tremendously important to the nation and is responsible for over half of the nation’s gross domestic product, nearly 90 percent of the private-sector labour force, and over three-quarters of the new jobs created in the past decade. The complete list is published annually in a special magazine, available in The Globe and Mail.

“This is certainly recognition we’re proud to have achieved, and it’ll serve as a benchmark for Broadview Networks to keep working toward in the coming years,” said Orloff.

About Canada’s Top 100 Small & Medium Employers

Now entering its third year, Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers is an editorial competition that recognizes the nation’s best workplaces and forward-thinking human resources policies. Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers using the same eight criteria as our national competition:

  1. Physical Workplace
  2. Work Atmosphere & Social;
  3. Health, Financial & Family Benefits;
  4. Vacation & Time Off;
  5. Employee Communications;
  6. Performance Management;
  7. Training & Skills Development; and
  8. Community Involvement.

To determine eligibility, the Top 100 editors adopted the SME definition used by Statistics Canada, limiting the competition to private-sector commercial organizations with under 500 employees.

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Awards and Recognition

The 2 Secrets to Office 365 Success that Most Companies Neglect

The explosion of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools and applications has been a boon for companies of all types and sizes, and few SaaS offerings have been as widely adopted as Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 extends all the capabilities of your legacy, on-premises Office applications that you’ve come to rely on into the cloud.

The enhanced productivity provided by Office 365 can be a game-changer for businesses. Team members can work together remotely, enabling enhanced internal collaboration as well as the potential to better leverage external human resources, such as freelancers or business partners. Additionally, employees can access their work from any location where they have Internet access. This means that they can work on any project, anywhere, at any time.

So how do you reap the benefits of Office 365? For starters, your team has to adopt and use Office 365. This may sound obvious, but poor adoption rates are a common problem for organizations that attempt to implement Office 365 without the proper skills and expertise.

Compounding the challenge is the fact that, if your team fails to adopt Office 365 within the first ninety days, there’s only a 10% chance they ever will. [1]

There are three primary components to successful Office 365 adoption: migration, training and ongoing support. While most companies know how to secure ongoing support, many falter in the migration and training components.

Mitigating Migration Problems

The process of migrating to Office 365 requires a specialized skillset, as well as the right technology to ensure all your data is transferred properly. Many organizations make the mistake of taking on migration themselves. This do-it-yourself approach is likely to result in lost data and an uncertain migration schedule, leaving you to pick up the pieces.

Finding the right managed service provider can help you overcome the obstacles faced by migration. An expert onboarding team will work with you to schedule migration and any downtime that may be required. Because managed service providers do this on a regular basis, they will know exactly how long migration will take. When migration is done, employees simply log in and begin work in the cloud.

Training for Office 365 Success

Transitioning to the cloud and SaaS represents a significant shift for most businesses. Even if you get the implementation and migration right, you will still have to train staff on how to use their new cloud applications. Without human-assisted onboarding, staff members are more likely to become frustrated trying to work with unfamiliar technology, and will revert to using what they know.

It may be tempting to send employees a welcome email or pre-packaged instruction manual. However, these strategies are often ineffective, resulting in either information overload or a lack of adequate information. Like most new skills, it is far more effective to have staff trained in-person; this way, all sticking points can be dealt with in real time, with employees receiving instruction tailored to their individual needs.

It’s All About Starting Off on the Right Foot

At Broadview Networks, we use our four-step engagement process when implementing cloud solutions for our clients. This begins with a cloud assessment, in which we review the cloud-readiness of your data infrastructure, cloud usage (if any), existing applications and services, and organizational readiness. The cloud assessment provides us with a thorough understanding of how your business works, and what you require from a cloud implementation.

Next, we build a strategic cloud vision. This is where we begin to implement Office 365 by introducing the components that will let you see the most immediate benefit to end-user productivity, without overwhelming your organization and increasing the rate of app churn. A common strategic starting point is the transition to Exchange Online, as it provides the same user experience as legacy, on-premises exchange, but with more reliability, extra storage, and additional features.

After easing your organization into its cloud transition, we begin to look at some of the following:

  • Expanding mobile access to documents with applications such as Office 365 and OneDrive for Business.
  • Integrating a SharePoint environment for increased data availability, as well as streamlining workflows and processes.
  • Implementing Skype for Business Meetings for complex real-time communication and enhanced remote collaboration.

The third phase is cloud adoption, where we focus on onboarding and training your employees. Our IT instructors work with the technologies they teach in real-world deployment and support scenarios, and use this experience while applying classroom theory to the needs of your environment.

The fourth and final phase is where we test, review and revise. Did employees adopt new applications and processes? What’s working, and what requires further optimization?

To learn more about the benefits of working with an experienced Managed Service Provider for your Office 365 implementation, contact us today to get started!

Author: Michael Orloff

[1] The 90/10 Rule of Adoption and Customer Success

Microsoft, Office 365

Remote Access Solutions: Why VPNs Aren’t Enough

In a shifting business landscape that has introduced phenomena such as BYOD and teams made entirely of external contractors, the ability of organizations to provide their teams with remote access to data is proving more and more critical with each passing year. This should come as no surprise, as the benefits of an anytime, anywhere data infrastructure are numerous:

  • Remote data access gives employees flexibility over where they can perform their jobs.
  • “Day extenders” (employees who work after hours and on weekends) benefit from access to email and networked applications.
  • The ability to provide external contractors and teams with instant access to organizational data enables increased flexibility and more opportunities for business partnerships.

For years, organizations have relied on virtual private networks (VPNs) to provide remote employees and business partners with access to corporate and business systems. VPN technology is a cost-effective way for them to extend their network’s reach to anyone, anywhere, and has become ubiquitous with remote-access connectivity. However, the security risks posed by VPNs are beginning to outweigh the benefits.

The Trouble with VPNs

When a VPN is activated, there is usually a full connection between the remote network and the company network. This puts the company network at risk, as security threats have the potential to exploit the connection to the system through the less secure remote network. Additionally, employees may be accessing their company’s VPN from an unsecured network or an unsecured device, or without using security best practices (i.e. strong passwords), exposing them to cyber attack. Once an attacker breaks in, they have access to the same part of the network as the hacked employee does.

Further compounding the issue of widespread VPN use is the difficulty of support. VPN environments aren’t always compatible with every type of network, complicating end-user connectivity. For instance, users may find that their remote network is blocking access to the VPN, necessitating a needlessly complex set of steps for accessing company resources.

Introducing Remote Desktop Gateway on Windows Server 2016

Remote Desktop Services – specifically Remote Desktop Gateway (RDG) – enables the remote access capabilities of VPNs while providing a solution to their security and compatibility drawbacks. Via a secure sockets layer (SSL) connection, RDG allows users to securely connect to their work computer’s desktop via any machine with an Internet connection; all they need to know is the URL and name of their PC.

RDG is easily integrating into data environments, making secure, enterprise-grade remote management capabilities available to companies of all sizes. Anytime, anywhere access can be leveraged for critical business applications while providing remote users with the comfort and capability of their own computer.

RDG’s security and reliability are augmented when combined with Windows Server 2016:

  • Device Guard, a new security feature for Windows Server 2016 and the Windows 10 operating system, provides advanced protection against malware, and improved hardware and software system integrity that allows only trusted applications to run in your environment. Device Guard helps your organization better protect their operating system from being attacked by malicious outsiders, and strengthens your security posture.
  • Credential Guard provides secure Single Sign-On to a remote desktop server, making it easier for users to log onto a local PC once and access all remote services.
  • SQL Azure provides Remote Desktop Services Connection Broker database, allowing for multiple Remote Desktop Connection Brokers to access the cloud reliably.

For organizations looking for remote access capabilities, RDG on Windows Server 2016 is the strategic option. For more information on how Broadview Networks can help you implement a remote access infrastructure, contact us today to get started!

Author: Michael Orloff

Microsoft, Windows Server

Achieving Outbound AND Inbound Internet Redundancy with Azure Traffic Manager and Azure DNS

From field services providers who complete all of their “paperwork” online to retail outlets that host their inventory tracking software entirely in the cloud, we are now living in an age where modern businesses require constant Internet access in order to remain competitive.  Additionally, connections between business units, vendors and Small Office Home Offices (SOHOs) are all needed for continuity purposes, which in turn are expected to run around the clock, seven days a week.

For these reasons, businesses are always looking for ways to improve Internet uptime, the gold standard that is often referred to as “five-nines (99.999%) uptime.” This level of uptime guarantees virtually constant connectivity while allowing for a small amount of downtime due to unforeseen incidents and scheduled maintenance.  This may seem like an unachievably high standard to set; after all, things break, and events outside our control inevitably occur. But, given the importance of connectivity for business success, a highly available architecture needs to be created in which such unforeseen events will leave your Internet access unaffected.

Network Redundancy: The Common Sense Solution

The standard solution to the problem of Internet uptime is network redundancy. If you only have a single point of failure, then when it fails you lose your Internet connection. By putting in a second, redundant access method, you will be able to connect to resources and maintain business operations should your primary connection go down.

Installing a redundant Internet connection makes sense intuitively: if your Bell connection goes down, you’ll be able to switch seamlessly to your Rogers connection. Right?

On the surface, a redundant Internet connection seems like the perfect solution. However, when examined more carefully, it becomes apparent that it solves only half the problem. While a redundant ISP allows you to access outbound services, such as web browsing, they do not make inbound services like email and applications servers redundant. This is because inbound services are reliant on a host name lining up with an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which in turn is tied to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This means that, with a basic redundancy solution, when your ISP goes down you lose access to any mission-critical inbound services that are tied to it.

Achieving Redundancy the Hard (and Expensive) Way with BGP

For years, the only way to achieve inbound service redundancy was to use Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). BGP involves taking the prouting of your IP away from your ISP, severing the tie between them, thus enabling you to direct all of your outbound services to any ISP.

There are two main problems with BGP:

  • BGP input/output routing is complicated to configure, which means that you’ll need a full-time IT staff present to ensure that failover occurs quickly and seamlessly.
  • BGP is expensive. Most network providers’ SMB packages don’t include BGP capabilities, reserving them instead for enterprise-class corporations.

Because BGP is largely inaccessible for Canadian SMBs, many struggle to overcome the challenge of meeting five-nines availability standards. Fortunately, there is a solution.

Meet Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager with Azure DNS

The solution to achieving inbound redundancy alongside outbound is found in the combination of Azure DNS and Azure Traffic Manager. Azure DNS replaces your current IP address for all of your inbound services. Then Traffic Manager checks your services for the ISP they are tied to, and sends back an IP address from one of your active ISPs. Traffic Manager then gives Azure an available IP address, while sending the correct IP address to the inbound service.

If this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. The important thing to note is that, with DNS and Traffic Manager, you gain inbound service redundancy without the expensive BGP routing.

Attempting to implement Traffic Manager and Azure DNS solutions represents a significant challenge for the IT departments of most SMBs. At Broadview, we help our customers assess which of their inbound services benefit from Azure Traffic Manager/DNS. We then ensure your firewall environment is set up for secure failover. We also configure your entire Azure environment, ensuring that everything works as it should.

For more information on how your organization can benefit from Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager and Azure DNS, contact us today to get started!

Author: Michael Orloff

Azure, Microsoft

Is your Network Future Ready?

Dell EMC Networking offers an innovative disaggregated-hardware/software solution for data center networking. This solution gives you the power to transform your network and accelerate data-center innovation with simplified, high-capacity network fabrics.

Enterprise organizations are dealing with highly dynamic computing, storage and networking needs at a greater capacity than ever before. The primary factors driving the industry are mobility, cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things (IOT). However, In today’s data center, rapid increases in virtualization, cloud deployments, and big data analysis have created new challenges as organizations look to build IT infrastructures that meet today’s and tomorrow’s business demands.

This open approach enables businesses to simplify their data center networking through complete disaggregation, including disaggregating the operating system from the hardware, disaggregating the virtual network from the physical network, and disaggregating the control plane from the data plane. Dell truly believes that our open network solutions stimulate rapid innovation by helping our customers achieve unprecedented levels of flexibility and efficiency. As well as, enables IT managers to leverage open-source tools and provide expertise to help reduce costly engineering overhead.

Broadview Networks commitment to networking expertise with Dell EMC’s award-winning line of switching products.

Contact us today to get started!

Dell, Networking

Dell EMC Compellent SC Storage

Dell EMC SC9000 is one of the fastest, most capable, and scalable midrange storage systems. It’s a highly impressive storage array that surpasses all their expectations. The SC9000 provides an ideal solution for large-scale storage, high-end workloads, and distributed enterprise environments. It is ideal for a private cloud deployment, provides business continuity, and enable transparent auto-failover to synchronized backup volumes on another SC series array.

The SC9000 combines centralized support, education and sales resources with 24×7 active system monitoring to help improve performance and stability. With SC9000, flash becomes practical and cost-effective at any scale, extending its proven competitive advantages to more aspects of your data- business.

Pros include:

  • Best-in-class data deduplication and compression technology
  • Integrated management with Dell EqualLogic PS arrays via the Dell Storage Manager
  • Dell Copilot integrated support platform

The SC9000 is the perfect capstone to a virtualized next-gen portfolio that now encompasses entry to the largest enterprise in one unified platform. With this release, Dell is actually offering ALL businesses an on-ramp to a supremely adaptable solution that can evolve cost-effectively to the highest levels.

Modern SC family values:

  1. Better flash optimization
  2. Deeper tiering, beyond flash
  3. Faster assimilation of new technologies
  4. Simultaneous scale UP and OUT
  5. Smarter data reduction
  6. “Always available” storage
  7. Pervasive enterprise integrations

Contact us today to get started!

Dell, Storage

Dell EMC Servers

Broadview Networks has a deep commitment to server expertise within Dell EMC’s award-winning line of PowerEdge blade, rack and tower servers. Partner focusing on Dell Servers through the Platinum Partner levels form the basis for server solution deployments.

Upgrading your server infrastructure on a regular schedule improves relative performance, consolidation, management efficiency, and reliability. The benefits of upgrading server infrastructure on a regular refresh cycle far outweigh the risk.

5 reason why it’s time to upgrade your servers:

1. Relative server performance declines over time as costs increase

On average, server performance erodes by 14% annually. By the fifth year, a server has only 40% of the performance it had when it was new. Lower performance and higher failure rates increase unplanned downtime by 20% annually. At the same time, higher maintenance costs require additional investment in aging systems.

2. Modern features enhance asset management

As businesses scale quickly, modern management tools allow better workload tracking and performance analysis. Upgraded servers have the latest firmware and patching updates, keeping devices secure and in compliance with enterprise and government specifications.

3. Optimized systems accelerate performance

Modern servers improve the capability for higher virtual machine density and larger virtual machines. This allows high-end business applications to migrate and run in a virtualized environment. Fewer, more powerful systems can also reduce energy and cooling costs, data center space requirements, maintenance time and licensing costs.

4. Predictive diagnostics improve reliability

Continued usage beyond the optimal life span of servers often causes unplanned downtime due to mechanical components and software aging. Newer systems come with predictive capabilities that warn of incompatibility issues or imminent failures. Automatic notification and proactive support improve reliability, adhering to uptime Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

5. Soon-to-expire service warranties

Following the average server life cycle, service contracts typically expire after three to five years. More frequent failures result in higher labor costs, and replacement parts are expensive and hard to find. Altogether, buying a new server is often more economical than extending the service contract on a legacy system.

The industry is going through an era of digital transformation, maintaining a modernized infrastructure enables IT to remain agile in the face of change and drive the business to successful outcomes.

Contact us today to get started!

Dell, Servers

Fuel IT innovation with All-Flash

Flash is the new normal thanks to its affordability, agility, speed and efficiency. Adopting All-Flash technology is key to keeping pace with and exceeding customer demands in today’s digital world. Achieve new levels of success with the broadest solutions enhanced with feature-rich architectures and software to meet the specific need of your dynamic IT environment.

Please find below five ways All-Flash storage can modernize your data center and accelerate your IT transformation:

1. Faster performance

Ensure consistently fast response times for mission-critical applications with 3x faster performance,1 ultra-low latency2 and sub-millisecond response times.3

2. Higher availability

Maintain seamless operations with up to 99.9999% always-on availability4 and 24×7 VDI uptime.

3. Massive scalability

One size does not fit all. Choose where you want to start, from entry-level to enterprise, and grow from there. Scale up to 4PB with response times under 500 microseconds.5

4. Low TCO and fast ROI

Keep IT expenses under control by reducing costs up to 80% over three years,6 along with 5.8x lower storage admin costs7 and up to 50% lower CAPEX/OPEX.8 Lower your power, space and cooling requirements while storing 6x more data than traditional disk-based storage systems.

5. Easier deployment and management

Manage storage up to 8x faster9 in a fully integrated and optimized All-Flash converged infrastructure. Run backups 50% faster.

Be a Flash innovator with All-Fash!

Contact us today to get started!

Dell, Storage

Azure training is an investment in your awesomeness

Do more with less, said everyone always. But still be innovative, flexible, and prepared for anything. And do it quickly and securely. Seems like a lot to ask. The good news is that with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, it’s really not—at least, not as long as you know how to make the most of it. Enter Microsoft Learning Partners.

We’re talking about training, but not just any training. It’s more of a get-ready-to-be-seriously-awesome-at-this kind of training. That’s because only Microsoft Learning Partners can teach official Microsoft courseware, which, by the way, is developed by the product designers. And these instructors are amazing at what they do, to help you be even more amazing at what you do.

It’s true what they say: You get what you pay for. Or, even better, you get what your company pays for. Training like this comes at a premium because it empowers next-level performance. What company doesn’t want that? All you need to do is ask the question: Do you want to get the most out of your IT investment?

If the answer is yes, and we’re willing to bet it will be, just find a Microsoft Learning Partner near you and enroll in Azure training.

Contact us today to get started!

Azure, Training & Skills Development

The sky’s the limit with Microsoft Office 365 training

So your company upgraded to Office 365 and now you have this amazing new technology at your fingertips. You’ve discovered the life-changing benefits of team collaboration; you’re switching from laptop to phone, and from phone to tablet, and back to laptop again without missing a beat; you’re having virtual meetings in your PJs; your team is innovating like you never thought possible; your getting way more done in way less time; and you’re sleeping better than you have in years.

Or at least that’s what was supposed to happen, right? But the problem is, you just don’t know enough about Office 365 to tap all of its capabilities. At least not yet. You need the skills. The knowledge. The chops. And you’re not alone.

That’s where Microsoft Learning Partners come in. If you’re not familiar with Learning Partners, here’s the scoop: they’re the only training providers that teach Microsoft’s own courseware, developed by the product designers themselves, and taught by certified expert instructors. These guys are the real deal, and you’ll leave their class an Office 365 savant.

But world-class training isn’t cheap. So how do you get trained without having to shell out your own hard-earned cash? Simple—ask your boss to pay for it. Here’s the deal: If your company has made the upgrade to Office 365, they’re looking for the biggest possible return on that investment. The only way that’s going to happen is if you have the skills necessary to get the most of Office 365. That’s a straightforward, convincing ROI argument that any manager will seriously consider.

So let’s get this done. Ask your manager to sponsor your training in either or both of these courses:

  • Course 20346 Managing Office 365 Identities and Services
  • Course 10968 Designing for Office 365 Infrastructure

Contact us today to get started!

Office 365, Training & Skills Development