Latest Moves in UC Landscape Reinforce Need for Customer Choice

Market disruptors are commonplace in the unified communications (UC) industry, particularly over the past decade. We’ve seen the advent of BYOD, demand for more mobility, a plethora of new apps, better efficiencies through integrated technology, as well as an ever-increasing movement to the cloud. The industry is evolving due to consolidations, mergers and acquisitions and the emergence of new niche players. The latest announcement by Mitel that it’s going private and accelerating its move to the cloud adds yet another element to the competitive landscape.

With this latest move, Mitel is signaling a focus on growing its cloud business. Though the company states that it will still offer on-premises options for now, it’s easy to assume that less R&D will be focused on that line of business going forward. Fewer choices will be available, especially for customers that are not ready or interested in moving to the cloud at this time. Channel partners selling both on-premises and cloud solutions could also be negatively impacted.

UC customers benefit more by having options, be it cloud, hybrid cloud or on-premises, depending on their current business situation. A provider that can optimize the technology already in place, while helping to create an effective ongoing UC strategy, is more important than ever.

History of Understanding Customers’ Needs

NEC has demonstrated an ability for knowing what customers need when they need it and bringing value to help improve their businesses. We pride ourselves on giving customers options. Throughout our nearly 120-year history, NEC has proven to be much more than a voice communications and UC provider. Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan noted in the 2016 Enterprise Communications Transformation Strategies Company of the Year Award , “As organizations seek business transformation, they often wish to upgrade or implement their networks and IT infrastructure for integration with business systems and processes, as well as communications systems.”

Frost & Sullivan pointed specifically to NEC’s Smart Enterprise strategy when recognizing the company for this award. The Smart Enterprise approach brings together communications, networking and IT solutions to help people work and communicate better.

NEC’s approach is not to combine disparate components. Instead, we tap into our services-based offerings of cloud UC, analytics, biometrics, IaaS and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to design communications and IT solutions that meet on-demand requirements. Our broad portfolio brings the agility, flexibility and efficiency required for business transformation. A wide range of technologies and services helps us create solutions that address customers’ current and future business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. Our competitors really can’t offer that range of capabilities.

Additionally, here in the U.S., we have NEC Financial Services which delivers extraordinarily customizable leasing structures to customers nationwide. This allows customers to enjoy the benefits of an on-premises solution while taking advantage of the OPEX financial model which is the same as a cloud solution.

It’s a Matter of Choice

Each organization has its own requirements and aren’t easily configured into a “one size fits all” mold. They want options, and NEC has a track record of offering customers more choices. When moving to new UC solutions, customers benefit from being able to re-use or add value to their existing investments in communications technology. We can assist by offering on-premises, cloud or hybrid solutions. Our vast portfolio of solutions enables us to offer broader solutions to solve both IT and communications challenges.

Technology will continue to evolve. NEC has shown throughout our history that we have the capability of understanding customers’ needs and evolving our solutions to meet those needs.

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U.S. & APAC Companies Pay Attention: The GDPR Deadline Looms for the EU

With Facebook under scrutiny for sharing users’ data with third-party data brokers, more internet users are questioning the privacy of and access to their personal information. European Union businesses and citizens have been concerned since at least early 2012 when the proposal for General Protection Data Regulation (GDPR) was released. The official GDPR regulation was adopted by all member states and the European Parliament in 2016. Beginning May 25, 2018, any organization that has a presence in an EU country or houses the personal data of EU citizens will have to comply with the GDPR standards.
GDPR also pertains to any businesses that:

  • Has operations in the EU
  • Is doing business with an EU company or a US company that has operations in the EU
  • Has any level of data involvement with EU companies

The penalties for GDPR non-compliance are severe. Should North American or APAC businesses be concerned?

What Lead to the GDPR Proposal?

Until the 2012 proposal, countries in the EU had their own regulations due to each individual nation’s interpretation of the Data Protection Directive from 1995. The patchwork of inconsistent rules caused organizations to rely on additional resources to comply with different national procedures and laws, especially as more data was collected in the decades since.

Although each nation had its own data protection laws, the enforcement of those laws was negligent. EU businesses were given security guidelines to follow and were self-regulating, but PwC’s 2018 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey states that only 54% of global organizations have conducted a fraud assessment in the past two years. One in ten had not performed any type of risk assessment in the same time frame.

With the implementation of GDPR, the EU market will save an estimated 2.3 billion euros or $2.85 billion every year. However, they are also held liable for data security and fraud protection.

What Does GDPR Require?

GDPR sets minimum standards for data protection for any business that:

  • Has a presence in any EU country or
  • Processes personal data of EU citizens

GDPR compliance applies to any business that:

  • Has 250 or more employees or
  • Processes sensitive or large amounts of personal data

Personal data is defined as any PII or personally identifiable information such as name, identification number, location data, email address, photographs, social identity, economic status, physical abilities or anything that refers to that individual.

Users have specific rights under the GDPR including:

  • The right of transparency including clear data consent forms, which data is being collected, access to that data and how it is being used
  • The right to rectify inaccurate data
  • The right to be “forgotten” including withdrawing consent and deleting all personal data from a business
  • The right to object how the data is being used
  • Data portability to transfer data between companies upon request

Companies must report data breaches within 72 hours and specify the number of exposed records, the types of data breached, what has been done to address the breach and mitigate any adverse effects, and the consequences of the breach.

Companies must also perform assessments to identify and address the risk of fraud or breaches. If the organization meets any of the requirements of 250 or more employees, processes highly sensitive or large amounts of EU citizen data, regularly collects or monitors data subjects or are a public authority, they will need to hire a data protection officer to oversee compliance.

Depending on the type of non-compliance, penalties could be from 2% or 10 million euros  up to either 4% of the business’ annual global turnover(based on the previous fiscal year) or 20 million euros.

How Will Companies Comply with GDPR?

5 Critical Features of a Long-Term Data Storage InfrastructureThe penalties and stringent requirements of GDPR have organizational leaders worried about compliance by the May deadline. Although the regulation was adopted by the EU, global organizations could be at risk for punitive fines. Over 70% of U.S. businesses have begun preparing for GDPR and have spent $ 1 – 10 million to prepare. Some businesses have opted to reduce their EU presence temporarily until they meet GDPR standards.

Companies can prepare for GDPR compliance by:

  • Documenting what data is collected, who has access, and where it is stored
  • Creating rules and processes for data access and use
  • Building security controls for protecting data
  • Establishing protocol for responding to data breaches
  • Assessing the risks of data fraud and GDPR non-compliance

How Can NEC Help?

GDPR compliance challenges are prompting business leaders to lean heavily on their technology partners for solutions. A provision within the data protection regulation is “privacy by design” which requires technology solutions to natively build in data security from the onset. The good news is that NEC has a robust data platform that is built to secure data and help make data manageability easier: NEC HYDRAstor.

HYDRAstor offers a scalable and customizable platform for small-to-medium and enterprise businesses, including the ability to upgrade with no disruptions and expand to almost unlimited data growth.

NEC’s erasure-coded resiliency eliminates a single point of failure, keeping data protected and secure on HYDRAstor’s grid architecture. Erasure coding distributes data across the storage grid, so disk or node failures don’t disrupt the availability of data. Data resiliency automatically rebuilds only bad sectors, enabling a faster disk rebuild than traditional RAID.

HYDRAstor’s encryption technology protects data from unauthorized access to lost or stolen disks by encrypting data prior to being written to disk. Data that may need to be classified can exist in the same system as unclassified data due to HYDRAstor’s Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) capability for regulatory compliance.

NEC’s HYDRAstor backup partners such as Veritas, Veeam, Commvault, and more, are also preparing for GDPR compliance, offering simplified management interfaces for data protection managers.

Concerns about data availability, security, and the deletion of user’s personal data can be handled seamlessly with NEC’s HYDRAstor. To learn more about NEC HYDRAstor, visit www.necam.com/HYDRAstor.

In a dynamic and global economy, our experts anticipate that GDPR compliance will be universally adopted in the near future.

If your company has presence in any EU country, please contact us today for a complimentary consultation on your data storage and security requirements.

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How to Safely Manage the Massive Influx of Data Growth

We are living in an ever-present, data-driven economy. Connected devices and IoT are driving up the collection and distribution of data and creating capacity and management challenges like never before. Not only does the data need to be securely stored, it needs to be available within seconds and 24/7. CIOs and IT directors must identify and face these data management challenges with an efficient, scalable and customizable solution.

Let’s identify these challenges and key questions IT leaders must face to uncover a powerful answer to the enormous influx of data growth.

Platform Scalability and Customization

In 2017, The Economist declared data as the world’s most valuable resource, over oil. With the rise of smartphones and the use of the internet in our daily lives, data has become a valued resource for governments and businesses alike. Every prediction of new future-forward technology involves the collection, dissemination and long-term storage of data, no matter the size of the organization.

The Questions: How can a business effectively store the growth of such a valuable resource? What about legacy systems already in use for storage?
A robust platform is required that can be scaled and customized for both small-to-medium business and enterprise growth. The storage scalability, including upgrades and technology refreshes, must also be seamless and non-disruptive to be a competent solution to this challenge.

The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor easily handles the data needs and growth of SMB and enterprise businesses, scaling from 1 to 165 nodes, and managing petabytes of data through compression and deduplication. Upgrades are non-disruptive with the ability to add up to 3 generations of hardware, simultaneously in the same system. The grid architecture features two different node types: hybrids (HN) for expanding both performance and capacity or storage (SN) for expanding capacity only. Data deduplication is distributed globally, across all nodes, and resources required for more power and more capacity are aggregated through the grid. Depending on the needs of the organization, the platform can be configured as required for near unlimited data growth.

Backup Performance, No Failures and No Disruption of Service – NEC/Segue Case Study:

Data Reliability, Availability and Protection

Healthcare organizations rely on accurate data to make life or death decisions for patients. Autonomous vehicles rely on data access to operate safely. Digital financial transactions are monitored for criminal activity and must be available almost instantly. With these and other organizational shifts to the cloud, data must be easily accessible, dependable and secure.

The Questions: Can data be both accessible and secure? Is there a high availability solution that can handle inevitable disk failures or other data disruptions?

The Answer: With no single point of failure, NEC’s HYDRAstor grid architecture offers advanced data protection with erasure-coded resilience. Erasure coding involves distributing the data across the entire storage grid, tolerating up to six concurrent disk or node failures with no disruption. Data resiliency is ensured by the automatic rebuilding of only the lost data, enabling a faster data rebuild than traditional RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks).

HYDRAstor offers data encryption prior to being written to disk, securing it from unauthorized access to lost or stolen disks. Classified and unclassified data can also exist within the same node, boosted by HYDRAstor’s Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) capability and data-shredding for regulatory compliance.

Legal Services Company Turns to NEC:


Simplification of Management

Data migrations are a common pain point among IT departments. Managing a complex data storage solution can be convoluted, especially with the challenge of fork lift upgrade of legacy systems and disparate data backups.

The Questions: How can a storage solution be introduced into an existing environment and still be simple to manage? Is there a need to replace the current systems and software already in place?

The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor offers simplified intelligence management software and works with existing backup applications such as Net Backup, Veritas, Veeam, Commvault and more. The system dynamically allocates storage capacity as needed, without user intervention or configuration, through auto provisioning. It also provides a simple, non-disruptive ability to replace legacy hardware and add additional capacity without interruption of data access.

NEC’s Data Storage Partners:

NEC’s HYDRAstor: A Cost-efficient Solution for Data Growth

In 2013, Science Daily predicted that 90% of the data in the world had been generated in the previous two years. Many predict that data will continue to grow exponentially as far into the future as we can imagine. CIOs of small, medium and large organizations must be prepared for the long-term storage and backup of this data, but are understandably concerned about the costs.

The BIG Question: Can a storage platform be all this and cost efficient too?

The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor storage platform is well-equipped to handle these data challenges and help create cost-efficiencies in the process.

– Replication to and from disaster recovery sites with encrypted and deduplicated streams ensures data is safe everywhere, is stored cost-effectively, and is moved as fast as possible between sites.
– Storage capacity consumption is reduced through inline global deduplication offering near unlimited storage for data growth.
– For small-to-medium businesses, HYDRAstor is available on virtual appliances using VMWare ESXi or Microsoft’s Hyper-V.
– For enterprise organizations, HYDRAstor can be built out from one to 165 nodes, reaching up to six petabytes of throughput per hour.
– HYDRAstor supports all main backup software vendors and multiple generations of hardware, reducing the need for rip and replace or forklift upgrades.
– Grid architecture and erasure coding distributes data across all nodes for no disruptions in the case of disk or node failures.

Schedule a hassle-free strategic consultation below to learn more about how NEC’s HYDRAstor can help your organization.

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Keeping Your Cool When Severe Weather Hits

Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.

Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.

5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore - Read the Free EbookThe cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.

It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.

Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.

Keeping Data Center Operations Humming

For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.

Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.

IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.

The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:

  • Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
  • Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
  • Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
  • More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
  • Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
  • Less burden on internal IT teams and staff

During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster.  Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers  offer five 9s of uptime and scalability.  A grid storage system  helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.

NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.

Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.

Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters

When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.

Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.

Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.

Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster.  An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.

When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.

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Marketplace Buzz at SpiceWorld 2017

Image Source: Spiceworks

“So How Can We Really Secure Our Network?”

Network security seemed to be at the top of everyone’s minds this year at the SpiceWorld 2017 Expo–how to protect your critical operations and secure your data. While we were demonstrating fault tolerant (FT) high availability servers in the NEC booth at the Expo, we met with IT pros from around the globe and had the opportunity to show more than 100 demos, and hear first-hand what’s at the top of many IT worry lists.

Repeatedly, concerns were voiced that if large Multi-National Enterprises (MNE’s) with seemingly endless resources and (we’re told) "top tier network security" can be hacked, then where does that leave smaller and mid-tier organizations?

The big question was “How do we protect our data, and make sure our business is disaster-proof?” What practices can we put into place for an actual worry-free, easy to manage IT environment?

Some specific topics that emerged were:

  1. Doing More With Less Many were interested in exploring how we can better secure our networks, and simplify our server storage administration, and still meet infrastructure needs with minimal cost. Organizations want to see a single solution to address backups, archive data, meet requirements for encryption and deliver a mechanism to move data offsite. These worries inevitably led to talks about HYDRAstor®, an award winning high-speed tier 2 data repository that will simplify administration, and save both time and money while addressing these needs.
  2. Disaster Recovery (DR) There was willingness to take a hard look at what we can do to deploy a reliable and cost effective recovery strategy—which is when the FT servers and the NEC IT ecosystem were of major interest. These kind of conversations about DR usually led to a predominant theme that week, about ways to protect our data from external attacks, like from cryptolocker, etc., and how we can efficiently replicate data off-site for DR and for business continuity purposes.
  3. Securing End Points and Mobility  Part of securing your network means not allowing your system to become vulnerable to letting viruses in. This defensive mode also touches on the deploying of technologies that secure all your end points, like smart phones, desktops/laptops, and protecting your remote and mobile work force.
  4. High Costs of Critical Ops Downtime Several manufacturing businesses recognized the value add of the fault tolerant (FT) server as it relates to the high costs of downtime, especially for avoidance of any assembly line disruption, application inconsistency or data log collection for legal purposes. We discussed the very real damages that can occur as result from a manufacture’s lack of ability to demonstrate product quality consistency through the production process. In manufacturing, it’s important to prove that data logs are collected, without interruption, so there is 100% data consistency and no chance of missing information. Yes, time is money, but so are production errors, especially when mistakes are really not acceptable–and evidence is needed to demonstrate as much.

It became very apparent that data security and ways to safeguard business continuity is a hot button right now. If some of these worries are keeping you up at night like so many at SpiceWorld this year, please check out the smart NEC data storage and operational resiliency solutions. This is real, proven data security, folks–solutions that can deliver some serious peace of mind.

To keep up with us on the latest at NEC, please join us on our NEC Spiceworks page.

For more information and to discuss your IT needs, feel free to reach out to NEC. Just let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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