Archive for the ‘Unified Communications’ Category

Windows Server 2016 and Cisco Unified Communications Upgrades

Posted on: July 6th, 2016 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

The Network Team partners with Cisco and Microsoft, more than any other two vendors.  It is our opinion that the second half of 2016 looks to be a year with several “no brainer” offerings that deserve attention, including Microsoft Windows Server 2016 and Cisco Unified Communications.

Microsoft:  Windows Server 2016 goes mainstream

TNT has installed the product and intends to go production with it nearly as soon as it becomes available to us, as partners.  We have good reasons to look forward to the product.  Here is a breakdown of what is new, written in English (not the language of the Microsoft website).

  • Hyper-V is hyped up! The listed of features that are now included very much puts it on par with the needs of literally all Medium Sized businesses and smaller.  There were many features on Hyper-V that, once setup, applied to every virtual server on the box.  Not so now.  There are nano-servers now, that do and sound just like their name specifies….they have a small compute footprint and do very specific things.
  • Remote Desktop now offers fail over. For those of you who operate your businesses with a  remote desktop connection to a server, you can have a fail over option.  Today, that doesn’t exist.
  • You can upgrade a cluster without shutting it down and breaking it first. Although we seldom discuss this with people, it is important to know that if you want to get an oil change, you don’t have to take out the motor.  Well, with Windows 2012, you have to take apart the motor to change the oil.  With Windows Server 2016, you don’t.
  • File and Storage Services are upgraded. Features that used to come only with SANs and high end software are now a part of 2016.  Replicating data elsewhere now offers more choices, and you can de-duplicate data like the big boy vendors who specialize in storage do.
  • The best, if you bought software assurance (and most of you did, if you bought it from us), you can now get this upgrade for free, without the purchase of new hardware. If you have a 2012R2 Server, we can upgrade it to Windows Server 2016, nearly all the time.  That is going to save you money.  You own the software.  You already have the hardware.  Your investment now is the time for an engineer to do the upgrade and learn how to use it.

 

Cisco Unified Communications

TNT has operated on Cisco Unified Call Manager since our inception.  The new release, Version 11.5, has upgrades that people have been requesting for a solid 5 years now.  Here is what you can look forward to:

  • SIP Call Preservation. Too often, when there is an issue with the SIP trunk you are using to make a call, the call is dead, and you need to hang up, redial, and sometimes reboot your phone.  Annoying!  Now, there is a call preservation management parameter that helps us tell Call Manager to simmer down and not end everything.
  • The self-help portal for the users has more up-to-date guides on how to everything.
  • Location awareness for phones. When you add a phone today, you have no idea where it physically resides on the network. The location awareness features let you know where the phone is.  It even works with wireless phones.
  • Multiple device messaging is supported. Got a desktop client and a client on your mobile phone?  Now, all messaging is synced and shared.
  • Better integration with Skype for Business. Remote call control now lets your SFB client control the Cisco IP Phone.  LONG overdue.
  • Windows 10 support for administering CUCM. LONG overdue.
  • PIN for conferencing. Are you done with having a conference bridge that anyone can dial into?  Now, you can have a PIN.  There are more PIN related upgrades in CUCM, but this one has our attention the most!

Again, for most TNT clients, you already own the rights to this version of software.  All you need to do is schedule time with Vitaliy to get your upgrade scheduled, and he will hold your hand through the requirements, down-time associated with the upgrade, and what to expect.

And, for most of you, there is no new hardware required to perform the upgrade.  All you need are up to date Smartnet contracts on your call manager products, and we can begin the process.

Enjoy these services in 2016.  You paid for them!

 

by: Jeff Gaura, President

7 Questions to ask before performing an Office 365 Migration

Posted on: September 22nd, 2015 by webadmin No Comments

by: Jessica Diehl
Marketing Director

The benefits to migrating to Office 365 are numerous and profitable.  TNT has written about how Office 365 can improve productivity and help your business excel in a ‘better, faster’ generation. But even the best support system can only work best if it’s installed well.  If your company is planning on moving to Office 365, there are seven important questions you need to know the answers to first.

1.  How well do you know your email environment?

For most organizations, email is the lifeblood of your communication.  Therefore, you need to ensure the transition of Exchange goes as smoothly as possible.  Take the time to gather all the information about your distribution groups, public folders and calendar permissions.  You have to know what you currently have so you know what to configure for migration.

2.  Does your IT Department have the expertise and time to complete the migration successfully?

You will need to understand more than Outlook in order to complete a successful migration.  Do you know how all of your employees are using email?  On what devices are they accessing their email?  With the proliferation of BYOD, they may have a myriad of devices. Do you know how to configure Exchange on each of their phones and/or tablets?

 3.  Do you know your external DNS requirements?

Many of these may change after migration.  Does your IT department know how to touch all the external pieces of the Internet that point to your Exchange Server? And do they understand certificates enough to guarantee a secure environment?

 4.  Do you have enough bandwidth to avoid a slow migration?

You may already have made sure you have enough bandwidth to migrate to Office 365 in the cloud.  But you also need to have enough internal bandwidth to move folders if that is needed.  There are PowerShell commands you can use to determine the size of all your mailboxes.  It is a best practice to use this tool to determine the size of your migration. Once you know this, and your internal bandwidth, you will know how long the migration will take.

 5.  Do you user teams know the migration is coming, and are they aware of what is involved?

Before performing an Office 365 migration, important points you want to cover include what will happen and when, as well as what changes end-users can expect to see.  It is also a good idea to let them know what’s expected of them. Finally, clearly communicate to them how they should report any issues that arise (Such as if they are not receiving email, or if email is delayed, etc.) with the migration to Office 365.

6.  What migration method will you use?

You have the option of utilizing a Cutover Migration, where all the data is migrated in a single transfer.  You could also choose a Staged Migration, where you move mailboxes in small segments.  TNT often recommends a Hybrid migration. This is where you keep the Exchange Server on-prem and use it to help manage Office 365.  Otherwise, you will have to manage Office 365 through a more complicated interface.

 7.  How will you maintain the system long-term?

Again, you need to determine if your IT department has the expertise and time to manage the system.  Focusing on the maintenance of Office 365 keeps your IT department from focusing on the more important business imperatives that make money.  A Managed Service plan takes those routine tasks off your IT department’s plate.  The Network Team has bundled several services together to ensure proactive maintenance and support, and the most efficient running of your Office 365 environment.

The Network Team can help guide you through these questions and ensure a smooth process of migrating to Office 365.  Contact our Expert Engineers, who can perform a free 2 hour network assessment to begin answering these questions.

TNT achieves Cisco Advanced Unified Access Specialization

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by webadmin No Comments

The Network Team is extremely proud to announce we have achieved the Cisco Advanced Unified Access Specialization.  In awarding TNT the specialization, Cisco acknowledged that TNT has the highest level of understanding of networking technology offered by the world’s largest provider in networking.

TNT president Jeff Gaura says of the Specialization, “this proves what TNT and our customers have known for years. Our engineers are experts at the highest level, who continue to challenge and improve their knowledge in order to serve our clients’ unique needs.”

In order to qualify for the specialization, 5 employees of TNT had to fulfill rigorous requirements for certifications.  Engineer Justin Peatross passed his test for the certification with a perfect score.

According to the Cisco Channel Specialization Team, “by achieving the Advanced Unified Access Specialization, The Network Team has proven they have the ability to provide sophisticated, value-added Cisco Unified Access solutions through their in-depth sales capabilities, technology skills and service offerings.”

The Network Team has partnered with Cisco since TNT started.  We are a premier partner with expertise in routing, switching, wireless, security and voice.  The Network Team offers several different managed IT services along with traditional project-based offers.  TNT implements solutions that reduce operational costs, boost productivity, and increase revenue.  We service public and private sector enterprises, with nearly all of our business originating from companies that have a presence in the Carolinas.  We use nearly all the technology that we sell to our customers, removing any ambiguity or false confidence about our services. All employees are certified, and all engineers are multi-vendor certified.

Microsoft Office 365 Hands-On Lab: What can you expect?

Posted on: March 4th, 2015 by webadmin No Comments

Before I arrived at work today, these were the tasks I had on my schedule for the day:

  • writing this blog post
  • creating a campaign for an upcoming webinar series
  • researching and planning some website overhauls
  • a phone meeting with a new partner for TNT
  • an in-person meeting with my boss about marketing plans for the next 6 months
  • Ordering new company shirts for everyone
  • Along with the everyday tasks of responding to emails and answering calls (usually from random vendors trying to sell me lists of ‘spot on Technology Users who use the very product you sell. Honest, these are really the real contacts!’ )

As I was driving into work,

  • My boss emailed me about an issue with some marketing funding I requested. (That needed to be rectified ASAP)
  • An Account Executive emailed to ask if I could help him tweak and launch his email campaign (He’s new to the company and still learning our CRM system, of which I am the Mistress)
  • My Sales Manager asked me to create a report template to track some specific performance metrics in a series of new campaigns

Most days are like this at offices across the world.  At The Network Team, I accomplish all these tasks and more utilizing Microsoft Office 365.  It’s one of the team’s favorite productivity tools. That’s why we are so passionate about teaching you about it in our Office 365 Hands-on Labs.

The Microsoft Office Hands-On Lab allows you to test drive Microsoft technologies including Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Dynamics CRM and Power BI.

It is NOT a generic sales pitch.  You are in the driver’s seat as a trained facilitator guides you through scenarios from a common work day like maintain productivity while being mobile, connecting in real time to colleagues and clients, and using social networking to complete tasks.

TNT president Jeff Gaura facilitates the sessions with a laid-back but informative teaching style.  Jeff was a teacher in New York City Schools as well as South Carolina for nearly 10 years. He loves sharing knowledge and showing people more effective ways to work. And it comes across in the session.

Noelle DeAtley, of Creative Thinkers attended the Hands-On Lab in Charlotte in February, and had this to say;

“You rock. Your team is super awesome. Your session made 3 hours feel like 5 minutes. You all took a problem and turned it into solutions without blinking an eye. I was thrilled to gain insight and understanding of Microsoft and software. I have new ideas bouncing through my head for my clients and started implementing solutions as soon as I left you yesterday.

I have been teaching for over 30 years and you are at the top of the class. It is rare that I find someone of your technical skills with a talent for teaching and a brilliant business mind.”

Here’s a glimpse at what you can expect:

  • The session starts with a discussion of common daily tasks and the pains surrounding them
  • The facilitator guides attendees through Office 365 starting with Outlook, focusing in on how fluidly it inner-operates with other Microsoft technologies like Word, Excel, Dynamics CRM and SharePoint.
  • Attendees experience the ease of setting up IM’s, calls and meetings with Skype for Business, as well as the collaboration power of sharing desktops, whiteboarding and polls.
  • Attendees navigate through SharePoint, learning how easy it is to store, share and manipulate documents and even websites.
  • The facilitator shows users the in-depth, easy to use, reporting tools of Power BI.
  • The sessions are open to questions, or offshoots if there is a particular tool or topic you would like to learn more about.