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My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 7. – July 25, 2014

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On Final Analysis the “Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)” claims by Cloud UC Providers is based on incomplete fair and balanced information!
American Technology Solutions (ATS) counter to these claims by Cloud UC Providers offers some points to take into consideration when the time comes to perform a fair and balanced review of TCO – Premise vs. Cloud.

1. Upfront Costs;
a. Onsite Infrastructure – Are upgrades necessary for;
i. Communications Cabling?
ii. LAN Data Switches Power over Ethernet?
b. Hybrid Infrastructure offered by AVAYA offers more options so a company may consider Investment Protection vs. complete forklift replacement;
c. Browser based support by AVAYA offers BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) support for PC’s, Laptops, MAC, iPad, iPhone, Android. This works in both a VoIP and Hybrid environment with Digital Phones.;
d. AVAYA IP Office offers up to 2000 users at one site or 32 sites in a network. Growth beyond these capabilities may be addressed by using the AVAYA Aura platform and maintain significant investment protection and growth beyond 100’s of thousands of users.;
2. Ongoing Support;
a. Does the Cloud Provider include the costs of Move, Add and Change remote and onsite in the initial offer?;
b. Do they include Service Level Agreement (SLA) time intervals that will meet your business needs?;
c. What kind of remote support coupled with onsite support options do they offer (24X7X365)?;
d. What about the call accounting and real time statistical reports they offer, are they additional costs and if so how much?;
e. Do they really deliver the timely professional services they claim?
3. Faster Install Time;
a. Data Access Line, do you need to upgrade and or replace to meet the needs of VoIP?;
b. Do you need to replace the Router/Firewall to accommodate the necessary Quality of Service (QoS) metrics and Security measures?;
c. Is the current T1/PRI Service reliable and meeting your needs? Are you in the middle of a multi-year contract that would be costly to terminate? If so, then keep these services and consider changing to SIP when the contract is nearing end of life. To add SIP it is only a software addition.
4. Training Costs;
a. Training costs are in AVAYA’s favor;
i. Customer may be upgrading from AVAYA vintage to new AVAYA, gentle learning curve;
ii. Train the trainer concept for onsite subject matter experts;
iii. YouTube training videos, make these training video’s part of the new employee onboarding process;
iv. Phones and features are intuitive and easy to use;
v. Phones with buttons vs. forcing all users to control phone via the PC or MAC, not all users are accustom to controlling the phone this way and will possibly cause the loss of very experienced and successful employees;
vi. Onsite training is nowhere near the costs of the claims by the Cloud Providers;
vii. Make sure you compare apples to apples.
5. Premise Based Equipment vs. Cloud Based Equipment;
a. Router/Firewall, in some instances you may have to upgrade this to meet the needs of Cloud Providers internet access needs;
b. Both solutions require LAN & WAN equipment, but in many cases Cloud Providers require forklift upgrades;
c. Statements claimed by Cloud Providers regarding Premise Based provider onsite servers are overstated. New technology is designed with Energy Star parameters and are very efficient. Cost to run for the latest technology is significantly lower than being claimed.;
d. Many companies have installed their servers at offsite data centers. Adding the Premised Based voice servers is easy to do.
6. Full Time Equivalent Costs;
a. How does the Cloud Provider support the following service needs;
i. Onsite Data Communications Support;
ii. Onsite Move, Add and Change (MAC) Support;
iii. Remote or Software MAC Services and how quickly are they performed if provided by Cloud Provider Service Level Agreement (SLA’s);
iv. Custom Reports to meet end customers required SLA’s for their customers

In the final analysis, make sure that you reach out to both sides and ask the same questions. Share the current and future needs of your business. See to it that they each answer with empirical data, not assumptions and claims. Ask for references from each and contact those references. Have the references answer these three questions; 1) Did they deliver on the claims made in the sales process? 2) Did they track and measure any Return on Investment (ROI) claims? 3) Was the decision to move forward considered a good or bad one? Check to see if the information proposed and claimed is specific to your needs. It is not unusual to receive a proposal that is generic and not a custom representation of your current and future business needs. There is a significant amount information out there. Often each are written from a spin that supports the specific viewpoint that meets the needs of the company selling the solution. Good luck in filtering out the “Myth vs. Reality.”
This is the Final Post in a series of 7 Posts coming daily this July.

My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 6. – July 24, 2014

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Support Staff savings claimed by Cloud Based Providers is often overstated vs. the reality!!!
American Technology Solutions (ATS) has found this claim assumes that the customer IT staff is somehow displaced completely because the Cloud Based Solution Provider service takes care of all IT site support. That is not ATS understanding. Is the replacement of IT staff covered in the end user bundle fee from the Cloud Based Provider or are these services at additional costs? Make sure you understand and ask about this. Your company will still require IT support for the following;
• LAN and WAN equipment move, add, change and support services;
• The voice solution move, add and change service for onsite changes;
• Voice software only changes for move, add and change remote service
If the answers to some or all of these questions is yes, then what deliverable metrics, Service Level Agreement (SLA’s), does the provider commit to for these service needs; same day, next day, three days, 5 days, etc.? Often the SLA’s do not meet the need of a fast moving company that may need to add new employees quickly. If your needs are ad hoc and need to be done expeditiously, will the SLA’s from the Cloud Based Provider meet the needs of your business? ATS has enjoyed the great fortune of customers retreating from the Cloud Based Provider solution due to the ongoing service support not meeting the needs of their business or the costs were found to be prohibitive to meet those needs. This is another area in which checking with Vendor provided references is very important. Don’t short change your business by making a fast decision only to find later that a few phone calls with the questions that your business needs are asked and answered.
This is Post 6 in a series of 7 Posts coming daily this July.

My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 5. – July 23, 2014

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How much equipment do you really need onsite with Cloud Based vs. Premise Based???
American Technology Solutions (ATS) views this claim being unique to each situation, but here is ATS fair and balanced comparison. Comparing Apples to Apples; an all new VoIP solution by both Premise and Cloud based must have a router and PoE data switches. The only difference is typically a 1 or 2 Rack Mount Unit (RMU) Server in the equipment room of the customer. If the customer desires resiliency then you might have to double that. Therefore, these claims of significant power savings are likely overstated. An AVAYA IP Office single site with 2000 Users would require space for 4 RMU to house 4 Single RMU Servers and provide resiliency. Power consumption’s claims for tens of thousands of dollars in energy savings are not reality. The claim by Cloud Based routing calls to another location quickly in the event of a customer site disaster is interesting, does your company have another location sitting idle or would you have to setup temporary operations at a Disaster Recovery Site? The latter being the likely case both Premise and Cloud based solutions are in the same situation, but in the case of the Premise Based Solution rerouting of calls will be provided by the customers Service Provider to a Disaster Recovery site. In some cases these Service Providers offer Business Continuity Service Centers and therefore, in the event of a disaster you may be able to restore business operations in hours or a day. Disasters do happen and Business Continuity Plans should be considered for companies providing mission critical services. Although, there may be some cost savings in energy consumption, don’t plan on tens of thousands of dollars. Be very careful and look closely at the solution provided by both companies and use actual manufacturer specifications to acquire an accurate assessment of the power consumption for the premise based equipment necessary for each solution.
This is Post 5 in a series of 7 Posts coming daily this July.

My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 4. – July 22, 2014

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Premise based training costs may be significantly exaggerated by the Cloud Based Solution Providers…
American Technology Solutions (ATS) has found that AVAYA has the largest installed base of any premise based solutions, therefore, two factors to consider; Number 1, it is possible that the vintage system being displaced is an AVAYA legacy system. Therefore, the terminology, phones, features, and voicemail interface may be very similar or in some cases the same. AVAYA is often able to support the existing vintage phones on the new platform and therefore not only is training a user how to use the phone not a factor, but the costs associated with product and labor are eliminated. Number 2, AVAYA unlike many Cloud Based Solution competitors does not attempt to place minimal button phones in place of many button phones rich with the many features that users have grown accustom to using and therefore, require the user to access the features via the PC or MAC. This works fine for most of the younger generation, but in some instances it may be intimidating to the older more experienced veteran. With the AVAYA solution you can almost do everything directly from the phone with an easy to use interface as compared to the Cloud Based end user being forced to use the browser based portal. It is ATS belief that AVAYA offers a more flexible solution that is easily tailored to each unique user’s preferences vs. pigeon holing them into one interface. Another factor to consider is that due to AVAYA’s over 100 years in the business the likelihood of some or many of the users having already used an AVAYA system is a high probability; therefore, the learning curve for those individuals is minimal. AVAYA being an industry leader is blessed with not only AVAYA produced YouTube training videos, but AVAYA has over 2,000 business partners that some have produced their own YouTube videos. The access to this plethora of self-help training videos is a clear training advantage and provides low cost or even free access to train AVAYA end users.
This is Post 4 in a series of 6 Posts coming daily this July.

My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 3. – July 21, 2014

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An installation interval of faster to market is an interesting claim by the Cloud Based Solution Providers!!!
American Technology Solutions (ATS) finds that Cloud Based Solution Provider ride a pure data/internet access line. Most customers have internet access, but they have not been sized to provide the addition of the VoIP service requirements necessary for the Cloud Based Solution. Therefore, a change to this service is likely necessary. The interval for making changes to the internet access by a service provider is therefore a factor in the other direction. Adding to this could be costs for a Router/Firewall that will support VoIP and Quality of Service (QoS) features that may or may not be available on the current customer provided Router/Firewall. The claim that the Cloud Base Solution shortens the interval for the install is a false claim in ATS experience. In fact, a new premise based solution may re-use the existing T1/PRI’s of the current premise based solution and that would not be the case with the Cloud Based Solution provider. Therefore, reality is that in many and most instances Cloud Based Solution installation intervals are longer. If you couple this with an upgrade of the cabling and data communications infrastructure, the costs additions may be prohibitive and the timeline even greater.
This is Post 3 in a series of 7 Posts coming daily this July.

My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 2 July 19, 2014

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Ongoing Support, are the Cloud Providers telling the truth???
American Technology Solutions finds that yes, the monthly fee from the Cloud solution often includes the maintenance and upgrade costs in the user bundle. Does it include hardware and software MAC (Move, Add and Change) costs? If not, what are those costs or does the customer take this responsibility on for themselves. As well, many companies desire call accounting and reporting packages, is this included with the user bundle or not? My experience has uncovered that these are hidden costs that often are very expensive. How does the AVAYA IP Office premise based solution compare? AVAYA IPOSS (IP Office Support Services) is a low entry cost with many options that may be customized to uniquely fit the customers’ needs. For example, 1, 3 and 5-year Pre-Paid terms with 8am to 5pm or 24X7X365 that include these features and unique options;
a. Remote Technical Support;
b. Advance Parts Replacement (APR) – Next Business Day or 4 hour delivery;
c. APR with On Site Technician;
d. Free Software Upgrades for the Term of the Contract;
e. Free minor Software releases, service packs and software/firmware updates;
f. Enhanced remote connectivity through SSL-VPN for increased security and faster remote support resolution;
g. Low TCO and very competitively priced
Many call center companies desire reports ad hoc, in real time and possibly required by Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). This flexibility is often either not available or very expensive to receive from the Cloud Based Providers. Make sure you do your homework here. These hidden costs and factors can make a significant difference in the TCO and in some cases meeting SLA’s with your clients. AVAYA has many partners that design solutions for call reporting that range from basic to advanced and these solutions are browser based, easy to administer and have many standard reports with the option for custom reports. Another big factor is Real Time Reporting and AVAYA is the Worldwide Leader in call center technology including Real Time Reporting capabilities. AVAYA provides 90% of the Fortune 100 Companies Call Center Solutions. AVAYA is the leader vs. Cloud Based Providers as followers.

In the last 5-years there has been a strong trend by many companies to move to VoIP and Cloud Based Solutions. It has been American Technology Solutions (ATS) great fortune to displace nearly 30 of these adopters in the last 2-years. The main reason for these companies to move back to premise based was regarding this specific area;
a. Ongoing Support for MAC, the timeliness often days to weeks vs. meeting the needs of the business;
b. Hidden costs when special reporting is required;
c. Isolation of user related issues may be a finger pointing game between the Cloud Based Solution provider and the customer/data vendor. Timeliness may be disappointing and added costs may be a factor to closely consider.
This is Post 2 in a series of 7 Posts coming daily this July.

My Take on Premise vs. Cloud Unified Communications (UC) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Myth vs. Reality – Post 1 July 18, 2014

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Upfront Costs often left out of the discussion…
American Technology Solutions finds Cloud based UC Solutions tend to advertise no upfront systems cost, because the “Systems” that they speak of are based in a data center. But, they don’t address that the existing onsite infrastructure must support VoIP (Voice over IP) because all Cloud solutions require a cabling and data communications infrastructure that must be VoIP capable and in most cases PoE (Power of Ethernet) capable Data Switches to power the VoIP/SIP based phones. The PoE and cabling upgrade if necessary is a very expensive step often left out of the discussion. For example if the company considering an upgrade for their UC is already in business and currently has a TDM premise based system they likely have two separate infrastructures that they have already paid for (investment protection); a cabling and data switch solution (non PoE) providing either 100 or 1000 base T to the desktop and a TDM (Time Division Multiplexing or sometimes considered Traditional Telephony) separate cabling infrastructure for the voice solution. If this sounds familiar then significant costs for the “System” will be a factor that they often leave out of the financial considerations and analysis. AVAYA’s approach is more flexible due to the hybrid nature of the technology they offer. In the scenario above there is no need to add VoIP and lose out on any UC current or future capabilities. For a customer that has 2000 or less users the AVAYA IP Office platform is scalable from 6 users to 2000 users at one or up to 32 sites. If your business is beyond the 2000 user current capacity, but growing, the AVAYA Aura platform may scale up to 100’s of thousands of users and unlimited sites. One of the great added benefits is that if your business fits the IP Office sizing, but is blessed and grows beyond this current cap of 2000 users you may upgrade to the Aura platform without losing out on your initial investments. The users with AVAYA Digital or TDM phones have equal feature functionality and ease of use and the concern often illustrated by the Cloud UC providers about soft clients, PC or MAC users, is not valid. AVAYA end user clients are browser based and therefore a non-issue for either platform. If your company has users that work at home or branch offices VoIP is a requirement and this is another area that AVAYA shines. In the scenario above the main site may be using the TDM solution for the onsite users, but in the same solution may have users in home offices or other remote branch offices using VoIP. Flexible, yet the decision to replace/upgrade the entire main office data communications infrastructure is put aside and provides significant investment protection. Of course if this is a new site (Greenfield) a new VoIP infrastructure with the latest cabling and data communications with PoE is the way to go. In this case the TCO begins on a level playing field and owning, leasing and renting considerations should be considered carefully to analyze the TCO. This is Post 1 in a series of 7 Posts coming daily this July.

American Technology Solutions announces creation of VETS, VoIP & Emerging Technology Solutions. A partnership with American Veterans.

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The name “American Technology Solutions” (ATS) is a natural fit for our latest venture. The creation of VETS, “VoIP & Emerging Technology Solutions” is a partnership with Veterans of the United States Military. VETS will provide interested Veterans a great career opportunity in the growing Communications Industry. With two great options; ownership of a company that sells and services communications solutions, or a sales and/or services position in this fast paced industry. ATS will provide training to build a business in support of the sale and service of AVAYA’s product portfolio. This new venture was spawned from watching how Bill O’Reilly & the Independence Fund www.independencefund.org and Sean Hannity & the Freedom Alliance https://freedomalliance.org/ have teamed to fill voids left by our government for our veterans. On June 5th, 2014 I was a guest on a radio station “Vets on Media LLC.” This station was created by two Veterans, Adam Bird and Jeff Fawbush and is an internet based radio station created as a means to discuss veteran issues over internet radio in an open forum. Select the link below to listen to the recorded program and learn more about our new VETS opportunity. Although, VETS is in its infancy, we hope with our outreach that we can help one, two or many veterans fulfill their destiny of becoming a successful sales and/or services expert in the technology field in support of Small & Medium Enterprise companies. If you have a family member, relative, friend or acquaintance please have them reach out to ATS and take that first step in the next chapter of their life. Thank you to our Veterans for serving our country and those passing on this heartfelt message.
ESQ Radio “Vets On Media LLC” – Radio Show June 5, 2014 9AM Broadcast https://www.atsolutionsaz.com/?attachment_id=690/

Sincerely,
Bob Edens
President of American Technology Solutions, LLC

It is time for a technology enabled remote and mobile workforce. See how American Technology Solutions & AVAYA may help your company.

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For several decades companies have either tested or implemented a remote worker strategy. Terms like Virtual Office, Virtual Worker, among others have been coined. Companies and employees alike have struggled with this concept. Issues like productivity, functionality, security, quality of service, employee satisfaction, among others have been difficult to both address and overcome. Flash forward to 2014 and this trend has much more traction. With the latest technology, faster internet access speeds, higher cost to commute and the demands of faster response to your customers communications have significantly changed the landscape of remote working. Businesses must lower cost and offer flexibility to meet the needs of their customers, remain competitive and maintain high employee morale and loyalty. Some of a company’s workforce requires mobility to perform their job and maintain easy access to the office or customer and some employees must work from home, but have the same capabilities of their counterparts that work in the office. The only issue is a company needs the platform to be able to mobilize their workforce and or facilitate working from their homes. This technology can be purchased from a telecom provider such as “American Technology Solutions” (ATS) . ATS offers such a platform that delivers a simple and flexible premise based telecom system that has the capabilities for employees to access their work material from anywhere. This telecom system is necessary for a business to adopt and capitalize on the re-emerging remote worker trend.

ATS is always working with customers to implement a telecom system that caters to their company’s needs. Whether your business has numerous remote workers or none, ATS is comfortable providing a telecom system that meets the current and future needs of your business. Remote workers can utilize the unified communications provided with this system. If a face to face meeting via Video Conferencing is needed then Scopia courtesy of AVAYA is a video conferencing software that is simple and easy to operate. With either a desktop PC, Laptop, Tablet, or Smart Phone. A company’s remote worker may easily join in a group Video Conference meeting. Their first email invite includes an application that will install in less than a minute and any person may join the video call by clicking the link sent via email. This technology allows for remote workers to be face to face with fellow employees and customers by the click of a single button.

With better remote security offered today by the latest technology you are able to overcome security concerns. With the historical or real-time reporting of the AVAYA IP Office you may track, report and insure the productivity metrics are being met. Access to all the same features and productivity tools are available to the remote worker as well. Higher bandwidth from service providers insures a much higher level of voice transmission therefore virtually eliminating voice quality issues. Many employees enjoy having the flexibility to work from home or mobile workers from anywhere. Therefore, better morale and employee loyalty. These gains with the solution offered by ATS and AVAYA will go directly to the company bottom line and provide a competitive advantage in a highly competitive marketplace. In addition, a remote employee eliminates the commute time and expense which translates into productivity. I grew up in the northeast and a huge issue during the winter commute is snow, many times making the roads impassable. By working remotely an employee does not have to deal with poor weather or huge traffic delays and ultimately is at work regardless of weather conditions.

Without a telecom system like the one offered by American Technology Solutions with Avaya, a business will likely lose; ground to their competition, employees due to morale, and lastly revenue and profit. Often companies overlook these type of investments due to concern of Capex (capital expenditures) or Opex (operating expenditures) when a close analysis will show a short ROI (return on investment) with the many competitive benefits illustrated above. It is critical that companies see the importance of implementing a reliable, flexible and remote accessible telecom platform. Without the latest in telecom technology, communications will not be a positive influence throughout your business. However, by adopting a telecom platform from a provider such as ATS, a company will see the benefits immediately and will be able to save money and lost time by installing remote and mobile workers.