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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2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program

Hurricane Harvey has left a path of destruction along the southern parts of Texas and Louisiana. There are currently major fires ongoing in the majority of the northwestern states and California that are devastating thousands of acres along with many towns. Hurricane Irma has already wreaked havoc on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and the projections indicate similar destruction potential for Florida and the Southeast. NEC has many customers, as well as employees and Channel Partners in these affected areas. Our hearts and deepest sympathies are with the families and victims of these devastating natural disasters.

NEC has a sincere desire to help support businesses that have been damaged or destroyed by these devastating storms and fires. To assist affected customers and channel partners, NEC is implementing the 2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program.

This Program is designed to help our customers and channel partners recover as quickly and completely as possible. NEC understands that when your communications systems are down, your business shuts down. It is very important to get them up and running as quickly as possible.

The Program offers businesses with damaged communications and data center (servers & storage) systems in declared Emergency and Major Disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) special financing, payment terms, a technical support hotline, and select waived implementation fees.

For a customer or channel partner to qualify for NEC’s 2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program, they must be located in a county in the declared Emergency Disaster area and replacing equipment damaged on or after August 1, 2017. To confirm if you are in an area (county) that qualifies for this program, please refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Declarations web page of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security web site. To verify individual addresses, please refer to the Disaster Assistance.Gov web site.

Also, a great interim solution, as well as long term option, is NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services to get you immediately connected. A softphone can easily be loaded onto your mobile device until you can get your on-premises solution back up and running. Through this assistance program, NEC is waiving implementation/activation fees on UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services for disaster affected customers.

In addition to NEC’s 2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program, we remind you that your acquisition of new equipment and/or software should qualify for the Section 179 deduction. Section 179 can provide you with significant tax relief for this 2017 tax year. To learn more and calculate your potential deduction savings, refer to – Section179.org.

NEC is aware of the difficult times ahead and we hope that this Program will help with your recovery and rebuilding efforts, and make the process a little easier. Again, our hearts and deepest sympathies are with those affected and we want you to know that we are here to help in any way that we can!

Here are some links to resources that may be of help:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA Hurricane Irma
Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Declarations
DisasterAssistance.Gov
Disaster Recovery Center Locator
FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance
FEMA Emergency Management Agencies Information
Ready.Gov – Plan Ahead for Disasters
Please reach out to us if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance.

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Calling All SpiceHeads!

NEC Engages the SpiceWorks Community in 2016

With social media now a major part of our everyday lives, it is no surprise that groups with similar interests and experiences form almost instantaneously across the internet. Everyone knows the most popular social media applications like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter as well as a number of other applications and sites that cater to specific audiences.

For IT professionals, one of the major social media networking sites of choice is Spiceworks. The site connects IT pros with an online community of their peers from around the world. It also provides them with useful tools, for free, to help them do their jobs. Applications such as network inventory, network monitor, and help desk as well as rich APIs that developers and the world’s largest tech brands use to build applications and help IT pros solve their unique challenges.

It also provides a forum for IT pros to share experiences and expertise with millions of their peers, and they can reach thousands of vendors to troubleshoot, get product advice, keep up with tech trends, and even advance their careers. And most uniquely, it is a place where they can connect 1:1 and build real relationships with tech marketers.

NEC Corporation of America has its own Spiceworks vendor page with over 2,000 followers and regularly participates in the annual SpiceWorld IT Conference, with this year’s North American Conference held November 1-3 in Austin, Texas. There is also a European conference scheduled for May of next year to be held in the United Kingdom.

NEC sponsored a booth at the North American conference, where “SpiceHeads,” as they call themselves, from around the region were in attendance, many of whom learned that NEC is more than just projectors and LCDs. The interactive booth exposed them to the wide range of IT products and services XS that NEC has to offer. Subject matter experts (SMEs) were on hand to provide more in depth information about the solutions on display.

SpiceHeads have established SpiceCorps groups throughout the country that hold monthly meetings, often held at vendor locations. NEC sponsored a meeting of the Dallas/Ft. Worth SpiceCorps Group, with 24 members in attendance. The event provided an opportunity for the DFW SpiceCorps group to tour our Executive Briefing Center, where they learned that NEC is much more than display screens, we provide products and services that empower the Smart Enterprise.

Prior to the meeting, NEC sent out a survey to the members and asked them what topics they would like covered. This was an effective way of ensuring that the presentations focused on the topics they wanted to hear about, as well as provide an opportunity to discuss how NEC solutions can help tackle their most challenging IT issues. Members noted that NEC was the first vendor to use this approach and they were appreciative and impressed.

NEC executives Larry Levenberg, Vice President – Sales & Channel Marketing, and Ram Menghani, Vice President – UC Products & Support, were on hand as well as SMEs from every NEC business unit. Topics during the highly interactive and informative presentations during the meeting ranged from Software Defined Networking (SDN), business continuity, data storage solutions, and a preview of NEC’s cloud-based solutions. NEC’s Sam Safa presented Simplifying the Network with Software Defined Networking, which was especially popular, with members engaging with him during and after the meeting ended. Some fun was mixed in, with prize giveaways of NEC branded items and other promotional gifts, as well as the big prize of a drone. Congratulations to Aaron Siegal of TXI Corporation, winner of the drone!

NEC plans to host more SpiceCorps meetings around the country several times a year. Be sure to subscribe to the NEC Today blog or follow us on Spiceworks for insightful posts on IT and Communications industry topics, updates on NEC products and services, and dates, times and locations of upcoming NEC sponsored SpiceCorps meetings.

 

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NEC’s Collaborative Solutions: Highlighting Interop 2016

Connect. Communicate. Collaborate. These three tenets of our organization were proudly on display as NEC showcased its Smart Enterprise solutions at Interop 2016, the 30th anniversary of the conference.

The Interop conference was founded to focus on network interoperability and openness. Initially, the show just emphasized IP networks, but throughout the years it has broadened its scope to technology collaboration in today’s cloud computing era.

All the NEC solutions on display were well integrated with this year’s Interop theme – that behind every successful innovation is effective communication and collaboration.

One of the highlights of our booth was NEC’s partnership with Dell to demonstrate our strengths in campus networking.

Campus networks include many diverse and challenging requirements, such as technology integration, provisioning, and security policy enforcement. By their nature, campus networks are frequently multi-tenant, meaning the networks must be virtualized so various users can ensure their distinct policy enforcement. Layered switch fabrics, ever-changing connectivity requirements, wired and wireless connectivity, and complex regulatory environments make campus networks difficult to manage.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller overcomes these obstacles. This solution enables network owners to control and manage their network centrally, bringing the same benefits of server virtualization.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller with @Dell S3100 switches will optimize campus network ops #SDN Click To Tweet

Together with Dell, we demonstrated how to deliver the performance, security, and agility campus networks demand in a cost-effective, easy-to-manage way. Deploying NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller with Dell S3100 switches will optimize campus network operations and reduce management overhead, boost scalability, and deliver secure and reliable connectivity.

Also showcased in the booth was NEC’s global open networking partner program, SDN Partner Space. With NEC and Netcracker SDN/NFV expertise behind it, SDN Partner Space enables network and IT vendors to enter the SDN/NFV market and redefine the rules imposed by traditional flat networks, while also benefitting from new business opportunities.

Joining SDN Partner Space can help transform the traditional business by including new applications and services that are only available in virtualized network environment. Moreover, SDN Partner Space enables in-house virtual network functions to be compatible with other SDN/NFV solutions so they can be cross-sold to businesses in any market.

Visitors to our booth were also able to see our high-availability data center on display. Large data computing tasks and the evolving requirements of the Internet of Things requires intelligent fault tolerant solutions to power a Smart Enterprise. Whether on premises or off premises, NEC’s infrastructure solutions provide the necessary foundation to meet these demands.

Interop 2016 was a great opportunity to share ideas, connect with the world’s IT community, and illustrate NEC’s commitment to orchestrating a brighter world.

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.