UCaaS / Hybrid RFP: What Can Cloud Providers Deliver?

Are you looking to move your communications infrastructure to the cloud?

Download today the IP Telephony and Unified Communications System (Cloud and Hybrid Solutions), a free whitepaper / eBook from independent consultant David Stein of Stein Technology Consulting Group that offers the unique chance to examine cloud and hybrid cloud solutions based on actual vendor RFP proposals.

In this free eBook  you will get:

  • An unbiased evaluation of 7 proposed cloud and hybrid cloud solutions
  • Insight into the merits of 5 leading communications vendors
  • A explanation of vendor differentiators

Free Ebook: UCaas RFP 2016

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Download and share this information rich eBook with your decision makers so they can also understand NEC’s leadership position in cloud and hybrid cloud migration, the value of a cloud-based UNIVERGE® Blue solution that is backed by NEC’s more than 117 years of expertise as a leading technologies and services provider.

Free Ebook: UCaaS RFP 2016

Free Ebook:

UCaaS/Hybrid RFP & Review IP Telephony and Unified Communications System

There are significant differences in offerings from the major vendors in terms of architecture, functionality and total cost of ownership. IT organizations are encouraged to work with their business units to understand their unique requirements and to articulate these in an RFP or other formal procurement vehicle.



Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Requires a Highly Available Lifeline

Why should we care about an airport phone system? In the world of Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARFF), the crash phone system is the most primary lifeline for mobilizing its First Responders to an emergency situation.

A crash phone system is used only in case of emergency alerts, for the deployment of response teams to a potential safety threat, or to an actionable emergency firefighting scene. The crash phone system is the critical first step in real-life situations where the key concern is survivability.

The Need for Speed

The Atlantic City International Airport crash phone was located in the control tower and accessed only by air traffic control personnel, operating on an old copper wire system. Rainy days sometimes affected the copper connections, and the sound could be scratchy and unclear.

To fully understand the importance of the crash phone system to an airport, you should first know that the FAA has a very tough “3-minute rule” for response time when they inspect every commercial airport in the USA. This means that one second after the crash call, the airport’s crash vehicles (carrying at least 3,000 gallons of water each) have less than 3 minutes to arrive at the target—that’s midway on their longest runway—suited up, ready for business , with water turrets visibly deployed!

The consequences of failure can get serious for airport operations. An airport can be fined by the FAA (recently as high as 3.5 million dollars) for non-compliance to federal safety regulations, and it can even lose its commercial certification and all future commercial revenue.
Since the FAA Technology Center is actually housed at the Atlantic City International Airport, this particular airport’s training and levels of compliance are especially scrutinized.

ARFF training maneuvers are a necessary and continuous part of airport life– not just for FAA inspections, but for the team’s daily emergency readiness. With this much at stake, a crash phone call—even during a training run, can never be unclear or unavailable.

“What is the nature of the emergency?” “Where is the aircraft?” “Number of souls on board?”

With so much depending on that phone call, it has to be reliable and crystal clear, every time.

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NEC’s Solution

Addressing these concerns, the Atlantic City International Airport had determined that its outdated, crash phone system was becoming increasingly unreliable, and they required more network flexibility, preferably with redundancy and back up deployment measures.

NEC’s Smart Enterprise solution, the Airport Emergency System, transformed this customer’s critical communications crash phone system with the simple installation of a high availability UNIVERGE  solution, moving it from weather-affected, trouble-prone and often “dirty” sounding copper wiring, onto their fiber optics network. Now the alert can be originated from multiple locations, putting the tower into immediate conversations with fire stations, airport operations, and other response personnel, and instantly bridges 2 to 32 stations together into a conference call. Their new system meets FAA requirements, is dependable (24/7), easy to use, and also cost efficient and easy to maintain, which had not been so with the old system.

 

Free eBook: Achieving Higher Availability in UC

The Back-Up Plan

The South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) operates in a situation common for many airports. Strategically located within reach of surrounding municipalities, Atlantic City’s airport firefighters are responsible for both aircraft rescue/firefighting and responding to fire emergency alarms in the nearby communities.  ARFF teams are trained to handle aircraft, property and structural firefighting, and even EMT calls—however, since the old crash phone system only allowed initiation from the control tower, it was accessed only by busy air traffic controllers. NEC’s solution provided Airport Operations with secondary initiator access to the crash phone system, as an emergency back-up to the tower. Multiple initiators in a back-up plan ensures fast, dependable mobilization–to municipal fire scenes as well, when seconds also matter.

Expanding the Network

Lastly, but certainly not least, the new system is scalable. Additional phone lines within the old system required a major effort and the “pulling of copper”. Today, NEC’s cost effective solution allows extensions to be easily added to the crash phone system, to expand communications within the network with minimal effort and expense.

For this Smart Enterprise airport customer, NEC’s answer was actually a low cost IP communication system that is a simple, out-of-the-box, “off the shelf” solution. The NEC Airport Emergency System on a high availability UNIVERGE platform was simple to install and easy to use and maintain, yet extremely reliable and flexible. This basic communications platform met FAA requirements, and continues to allow fully engaged coordination of airport emergency teams for response that is faster and better informed.

After all, NEC’s mission is all about bringing together the very best available Smart Enterprise solutions for our customers, to orchestrate a brighter world – and a safer one.

To learn more, check out this third party white paper about Airport Crash Phone Systems.

NEC Enhances STEM Initiatives with Its Educational Offering

We live in an age of wonder where technological advances have made our everyday lives resemble science fiction movies from just a few years ago. What seemed fantastical then has become commonplace – and technological revolutions continue to occur at a rapid pace.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school students are interested in or preparing for a technology–focused career, such as engineering or computer science.

Many schools are hoping to reverse this trend by instituting a STEM curriculum, which is a focus on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.

NEC hopes to contribute to this reversal by supporting STEM initiatives. Recently, the NEC Foundation of America endowed $250,000 to the STEM program of the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School.

NEC also supports STEM curriculums through its educational platform that is designed to align with any school’s STEM initiative.

“NEC’s STEM education offering, CCM Education powered by an organization called PassTheNotes (PTN), directly supports the federal strategic plan of STEM,” said Gregg Alvarez, education vertical practice manager at NEC Corporation of America. “Teachers and students have the ability to upload content. They can make it searchable and tag it to national standards, state standards, keywords, and a particular topic. It creates an interactive content repository that drives toward an enhanced educational experience. And the benefit of being a cloud-based offering is that students don’t necessarily have to be in school to have access to all the material and content they need for their projects and lessons.”

Today’s classrooms are evolving as quickly as the rest of the world. Concepts like STEM and teaching approaches such as project-based learning are transforming the traditionally rigid view of learning one subject at a time into a more cohesive learning experience.

“For example,” said Alvarez, “let’s say there’s news in Florida about a 16-foot, 800-pound alligator that was caught. A teacher can build off this news by creating a project on the ecosystem and environments of the Florida alligator. Through the CCM Education platform, students can reach out to educational websites and YouTube.edu to pull in specific, relevant content. However, they can go further and conference in a field researcher that was involved with the team that captured the large predator. This creates a community where students and working scientists and researchers can connect and engage. It obliterates the question of, ‘Where will I ever use this?’ because students get invested in real-world applications of science and technology.”

Naturally, an essential component is a teacher that is able to use technology and STEM concepts to engage and motivate students. That’s why STEM initiatives focus on preparing teachers to succeed in this new learning environment. NEC’s offering provides platforms and communication features to support STEM teachers in both their classroom preparation and professional development.

“Research shows that top performing teachers make a difference in the student’s academic success,” said Alvarez. “Achievement gaps narrow significantly for students who learn from these teachers year after year. That’s why our CCM education solution enables teachers to design content, create assessments that can be aligned to standards, and really encourage student collaboration and interaction between social learning features.”

In addition, teachers, administrators, and parents can rest assured that NEC’s educational platform delivers a safe learning environment for every student, including adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

“All content that students can access in the classroom is secure,” said Alvarez. “Teachers and administrators can denote elements that can be accessed. They have total digital rights management and total control of content. Students cannot pull material in from unauthorized websites. Our offering supports all the FERPA standards and has 256 SSL encryption to ensure the safety and security of the users in the environment.”

The ability to collaborate and work on projects as a team is essential in today’s workplace. STEM initiatives provide students with skillsets they will use as they move through school and ultimately in the job force.

“Students today are so tech savvy,” said Alvarez, “that maximizing their educational experience by giving them an equally tech savvy learning environment that incorporates real-world events and habits they are used to, such as social media and social sharing, provides them with the best chance moving forward.”

NEC Builds Bikes and Team Bonds during Annual Sales Conference

NEC Corporation of America’s (NECAM) Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) team had a bit of fun with a team building exercise during their annual sales conference.  Kevin Flynn, ETS Vice President, chose a team building event that would bring his team and the ETS supporting teams together by participating and competing in an event that gives back to the community.

Joined by NECAM president and CEO Shin Takahashi and other executives, the group was divided into teams that competed to complete a series of challenges similar to those from the popular television game show “Minute to Win It”.  Each time a team won a challenge, they would receive a part of a bicycle that they would later build.

Once all parts for the bikes were given out, each team received the base of the bike that they were to build.  But there was a twist.  The bike bases were all marked with a specific color tape, as were each of the parts.  Teams had to barter and negotiate with each other to obtain the parts that had the same color tape as the frame they were given, truly putting their sales expertise to the test!

The finished bikes were donated to Texas Bikes for Tykes, a non-profit charity organization that builds or repairs bikes that are given to underprivileged children and adults in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as well as Mexico, Honduras, and Ghana.

Can You Really Predict Technology Trends?

Every year there are always plenty of fresh predictions and industry trends brought forward and discussed. They make for interesting reading, and beg the question – are they really predictions or are we just susceptible to the power of suggestion?

Many predictions have solid backing, such as Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends, announced at the Gartner Symposium / ITXpo. Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization, including a high potential for disruption to the business, end users, or IT; the need for a major investment; or the risk of being late to adopt. They look at trends that will impact an organization’s long-term plans, programs, and initiatives.

For 2016, Gartner predicted the following trends:

  • The Device Mesh
  • Ambient User Experience
  • 3D Printing Materials
  • Information of Everything
  • Advanced Machine Learning
  • Autonomous Agents and Things
  • Adaptive Security Architecture
  • Mesh App and Service Architecture
  • Internet of Things Platforms

In another set of predictions, No Jitter showcased the top four UC predictions for 2016. These included:

What Do They Have In Common?

When we read some of the trends and predictions, they almost seem too good to be true. It would appear that technology is moving toward almost an AI state where we can rely on it for everything. Science fiction aside, the one constant we do see is how technology improves the lives of those in business, communities, government entities, law enforcement, and individually at home and school. What we see is that all these trends have a common thread, one that we believe is critical to consider with every innovation we create at NEC – effective communication, collaboration, and orchestration of lives using Smart Solutions to improve and enhance every aspect of our lives.

For example, when adding UC to Workforce Management, contact centers are even more empowered to provide excellent customer service. If you combine Unified Communications with SDN, you have a powerful system that not only ensures your employees are communicating in a more efficient manner, but the system is now able to align itself with any traffic, making disaster recovery or even challenging inclement weather much easier to overcome.

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Biometrics is another solution that has so many applications to positively impact our lives. Whether it’s the ability for law enforcement to rapidly and correctly identify a bad guy on the spot, or retail establishments to provide their customers with an amazing experience, biometrics will impact a multitude of industries, improving customer experiences and empowering the forward momentum of the Internet of Things.

Information is at an all-time premium, as businesses move toward more efficient and effective operations. When combining SDN with our server technology, our clients now can focus on their business needs and let the technology support the flow of data in an efficient manner to ensure constant access and improved uptime.

Of course, when you think about the Information of Everything, it is important to include data analytics as a foundational element. According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost every topic imaginable. There will be an abundance of data, but how do you make sense of it? Data analytics is no longer a single solution to consider, but a necessary component to capture data and provide appropriate information to create actionable results. Those companies that harness the power this data provides will have a competitive advantage.

Speaking of data, companies are not the only ones who have a significant need for big data, analytics, and positive user experiences. NEC focuses on various solutions, such as water leak detection systems; integration support for semantic interoperability into the NEC Internet of Things and Smart City Platforms; and integrated platforms for distribution of grid management, energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy storage, just to name a few.

Just like Gartner and No Jitter, NEC invests significant effort and resources into research to ensure that solutions we develop will not only meet the needs of our clients today, but also their upcoming needs tomorrow. This serious focus on research and development has been part of the core philosophy of NEC since our inception. We believe that as recognized innovation leaders we can ensure our solutions truly meet the needs of our clients while continuing to keep pace with emerging trends and the expanding capabilities technology affords for the future.

Can you predict technology trends? We believe so—but only by keeping your finger on the pulse of business and societal needs.  NEC’s focus on solutions perfectly aligns with the trends we see, combining powerful technology to empower our clients and enhance their lives. Whether  providing platforms for significantly improved communication, ensuring improved flow of information through powerful data analytics, or inventing new solutions for society that support a better life, NEC will continue to focus on improving our lives through technology.