Tag Archives: Home Office

Introduction to Session Border Controllers

High definition video conferencing is a standard right now. If it will change, it will only change to an ever higher definition such as Ultra HD (involving 4K and 8K). Virtual workplaces, telecommuting and working from home becomes more and more easy and so organisations go expanding, sometimes forgetting about network requirements ending up with new capacity limits or reduced quality of their video communication solution.

A Session Border Controller can help with many problems there might be, but it is not a remedy for every issue ever to occur on your video conferencing network. I wrote this article to give you some more insight into what a Session Border Controller is, what it does and how it can help your corporate communication.

Session-Border-Controller-Setup-Visio-Drawing-Network-Video-Conference-Example-Gatekeeper-Endpoint-Data-Media-Signaling-Telepresence24-Unified-Communications

Click for large version

What is a Session Border Controller?

A Session Border Controller is a network component designed to safely link networks with a different security requirement and setup. They are mostly utilised for VoIP and video conferencing networks to establish secure connection sessions. The Session Border Controller therefore allows control of signaling and transfer of media data in a secure way.

What can I do with a Session Border Controller?

Session management allows service providers to control the session routing, establish interoperability across environments with differentiating standards, enforce bandwidth policies or create an interface to a third party application. To keep it short and simple: A Session Border Controller optimizes solution performance and overall service quality, it allows a rapid service deployment or growth and it protects infrastructure from malicious attacks.

Who develops Session Border Controllers?

Based on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Session Border Controllers from October 2012, Acme Packet (recently acquired by Oracle) excels in execution as well as vision scope, making them the leader of the magic quadrant (see graphic). Other competitors are Huawei, Sonus, Genband, Metaswitch Networks, Dialogic, ZTE and Technicolor.

gartner-research-analyst-magic-quadrant-session-border-controllers-acme-packet-oracle-leader

Magic Quadrant for Session Border Controllers by Gartner Research

Acme Packet is very interesting due to their focus on unified communications networks and even offering solutions especially designed for video conference networks of manufacturers such as Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya / Radvision, Cisco (including former Codian / Tandberg technologies), LifeSize, Polycom and Vidyo. Supporting and enabling interworking these technologies the Acme Packet solution avoids potential for vendor lock-in, protecting the investment made in video conferencing infrastructure and endpoints.

What are the technical functions of a Session Border Controller?

The functional scope of a Session Border Controller can vary, depending on what the individual device is designed to do. However to reflect a maximum of capability information, we would like to list the following functions that can be found in Session Border Controllers:

Connectivity

  • IPv4 / IPv6 interworking
  • SIP manipulation
  • NAT traversal
  • VPN connectivity
  • H.323 / SIP interworking

Quality of Service (QoS)

  • Traffic policies
  • Call admission control
  • ToS / DSCP bit setting
  • Resource allocation
  • Rate limiting

Security

  • Defense against DoS attacks
  • Can prevent toll fraud
  • No topology hiding possible
  • Malformed packet protection
  • Signaling protection via TLS and IPSec
  • Media protection via SRTP

Media processing

  • DTMF delay and interworking
  • Media transcoding
  • Tones and announcements
  • Data and Fax interworking
  • Support for Voice and Video calls

Regulatory

  • Call prioritization (e.g. for VIP usage or emergencies)
  • Auditing functions for internal audit or for law enforcing organisation
  • Business Intelligence, reporting, management information, source for billing information

Summary

Even though not a mandatory part for VoIP or video conferencing networks, Session Border Controllers have a great potential to add value to the communication services of organisations. The relevance increases for service providers companies as the functions described above can significantly increase the quality and performance of a serviced network.

If you have questions, remarks or other types of feedback please drop us a line in the comment section below. Thank you!

5 Business Ideas That Enable Working From Home

For the last couple of years, the internet has provided opportunities for people to work not only in the offices but also in their homes. This is through “working from home” business that is currently popular among many people in the world because of the numerous business ideas possible through it. So, what are examples of business ideas that enables people to work from home?

teleworking, telecommuting, working, from, home, home, office, smartphone, man, cup, laptop, notebook, desk, remote, workforce, shirt, busy, working from home

Example of a home office setup (Photo: Kevin Shorter)

1. Working from Home – Freelance

Freelancing is one of the home based business idea that will enable you to work from home while providing services to the rest of the world population. Currently numerous websites offer online businesses that make a good business idea once implemented. This will let you work from home at the same time enhances create jobs to other people whom you hire to assist in your everyday chores.

2. Academic Assistance

TeleEducation – Internet technology has enhanced the process of education by enlarging the accessibility of these services. This is a great work from home business opportunity. Through video conferencing services, you will be able to tutor thousands of students that need tutoring services through internet in your home. Many people are currently using this new business opportunity to earn amazing amounts of money. This has allowed people working from home without the need of travelling to these academic institutions.

3. Medical Services

TeleHealth – Provision of medical advisory services is another idea to work from home business especially if you have a medical background. Instead of seeking to work in a hospital, you can subdivide your house to medical room where you offer services to clients that are indeed of medical services. This will not only create huge amounts of dollars but also create jobs for those people who will help you conduct the services. In addition, you can also offer virtual medical assistance through the internet where you help even those people beyond your geographical reach.

telehealth, telemedicine, young, doctor, female, woman, polycom, healthcare, care, examination, diagnosis, windows, hdx, 7000, example, photo, working from home

An example TeleHealth setup with Polycom equipment (Photo: USDAgov)

4. Online Office Virtual Assistance

The internet also offers another amazing opportunity to provide virtual assistance especially in office functions. Through the internet, at your home, you can find a job as an office assistant. This will enable you to exercise any delegated office job such as answering of mails, drafting letters as well as memos among other numerous services. This will not only be a good opportunity to earn money from home but also ensures that corporate communication with the clients is enhanced to greater heights. To gain leverage, you have to be familiar with some of the most common tools used by businesses. Look at this Pure Leverage review to learn a few.

5. Construction Or Engineering Advisory Services

Offering advisory services in the engineering services is one of the ways to create a home based business especially if you have an engineering training background. Currently there are numerous clients both online and offline that needs construction services. Through your services, you can solve their problems that will help you make money at home without the worry travelling to an office. This will also improve accessibility especially when you are settled in a strategic position.

Summary

I believe the above top ideas on how start a home based business that will enable you working from home without worrying about the need to reach the office at the appropriate time.

What You Need To Know About Telecommuting

telecommuting, train, notebook, thumbdrive, coffee, business

Working on the train (Photo by rxb)

It was found in a recent study that around 20% of employees around the world spend a part of their work week doing their jobs from home.

Seven percent of these are those who work from home every day. Telecommuting, remote work or telework is an arrangement wherein the employees do not come in their office (or commute, hence the term) or to a central place of work.

Some work from at home while others work from coffee shops or other locations. This type of arrangement is becoming widely used among different companies all over the world although their views and standards of these countries are far from the same.

 Potential benefits of Telecommuting

For starters, it can actually save the company millions of dollars. It has a significant impact on a company’s overhead expenses, at the same time helps employees save money but cutting on a commute or gas costs.  Similarly, less commuters and less car users also reduce traffic congestion, road accidents and pollutants.

The flexibility of time has also helped many employees balance their life better between work and the home. Studies have shown that an employee’s productivity increases in a telecommuting arrangement. It was even found that around 75% of business or organization owners notice happier employees. This may be credited to the fact that some employees get more stressed as they are in their workplaces.

Telecommuting has also been found to possibly help keep 83% more talented women in the workplace instead of leaving in order to stay at home.

e-commerce, telecommuting, handshake, business, remote, teleworking, icon, suit, notebook, hands, facing, matrix, green background

Virtual Presence Handshake (Photo by ganderssen1)

Technology has made it easy for companies and their employees to stay in touch even when they do not physically see each other in the office.  For example, with a stable Internet connection, employees can still be part of conferences via some web conferencing software or phone systems. Many companies have also developed their products, like the RingCentral virtual PBX, to accommodate the growing number of companies that have telecommuters. Employees are also able to access the company’s network, and send e-mails and reports via the Internet.

But as many benefits as it has, telecommuting has also raised some drawbacks and concerns as well.

 What’s stopping them?

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of employers is “losing control” over their employees who choose to work from at home. Experts say that telecommuting only works when employers hold their people responsible for the work they are doing from at home or outside the office.

At first, productivity rate was seen to drop, most probably because those concerned are still adjusting to the “new work regimen.” In the long term, however, surveys have found that the productivity of teleworkers will climb eventually.

Another concern is that in telework arrangements, employees need to work harder to maintain good relationships with their co-workers. Not seeing them every day may cause certain conflicts to arise and some telecommuters even feel a sense of disconnection from their office.

Security is also another issue that has been raised with regards telecommuting. It was found that many telecommuters do not use their company’s data backup system that may put a lot of sensitive information at risk. Information technology issues have also been raised as one of the main problems of working from a location outside the office.

Telecommuting, in some cases, may also negatively affect a person’s career. In a recent survey it was found that people who telework are less likely to get promoted because executives cannot promote people into leadership roles if they haven’t been consistently seen and monitored.

There indeed is a lot of improvement needed for those who allow telecommuting in their offices. But one thing is certain. By giving a lot of support to their employees, businesses will definitely benefit from their being more productive, happier and healthier, regardless of where they choose to work.


What do you think about those potential risks? Have you remediated them or banned telecommuting like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo? I am looking forward to hear you opinion around this.

Common Technologies Complicate The Telecommuting Debate

telecommuting, unified communications, working from home, wfh, home office, desktop, computer, postit, man, young, black, shirt, blue, jeans, box, order, kitchen, screen

Photo by Victor1558

Twitter and the blogosphere have been completely immersed in a fierce debate over the merits of telecommuting vs. coming into the office to work thanks to actions taken by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer a couple of weeks ago. With the adoption of new technologies, including widespread use of smartphones, video conference software, and VoIP PBX phone systems, how important is it to come into the office every day? The answer is: we’re not really sure. There are too many entries in the debate to read through, but here are a couple of the main arguments from each side:

I can be just as productive at home

The core of this argument lies in the technology that most professionals have at their disposal these days out of necessity. Most people have access to a broadband internet connection at any given moment, whether it’s in their home or the café down the street.  If a business invests in the proper IT, they can offer their employees a myriad of ways to connect to workers who are based at the office and fellow telecommuters. Thanks to unified communications tools in addition to even more advanced conferencing applications, employees can be “at the office” while in the comfort of their own home. This saves workers from being distracted by the day to day social goings on at the office, as well as the time suck that is the morning and evening commutes. With the addition of VoIP PBX phone systems that allow for “virtual” offices in any location, proponents of telecommuting see no real need to spend every day at the office.

Only an office can provide the collaborative atmosphere a business needs

Those on Mayer’s side think that even though there are these technologies available, nothing can replace the benefits of face-to-face interaction and socializing. Water cooler talk isn’t just about talking about last night’s football game. It’s also about brainstorming and hashing out strategies pertaining to the day’s projects. Working in the office is also about being able to have proper oversight when it comes to worker productivity. Bosses like Mayer want to foster a sense of community at the workplace so employees will feel like they’re a part of a team working towards a goal that everyone will benefit from.

Who’s right? 

It’s impossible to say who’s right. It comes down to management style and people’s individual personalities. Some people do their best work at home while others get hopelessly distracted. But with unified communications technology available, there’s no reason why people can’t alternate between the two. Working from home half the week and the office the other half might provide employees with the best of both worlds.

Telepresence Technology Connect Remote Employees

The benefits of working in a home office and using telepresence from the perspective of the employee.

Seven years ago, I was pregnant with my son when my husband decided that it was imperative for me to find a job. At the time, I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby to go to work, and so I decided that even if it made my job search an arduous one, I would hold out for the opportunity to work from home.

I was lucky, and within a month or so, I was offered a web content writing position with a tiny, semi-local internet marketing firm. The manager wanted me to come in for weekly meetings, but preferred for me to do the rest of my work from a home office. The company was only occupying a small space at the time, and finding a place for me to work there would have been a difficult feat, so I was able to sign on for the remote work I wanted without inconveniencing my new employer. I was thrilled.

Skype, Web Conference, Video Conference, Multipoint, Multi Point, VC, Telepresence, Legacy, Laptop, Notebook, Computer, based, Mac, Apple, Tablet, Webcam, Meeting, Virtual, Unified Communications, Headset, Headsets,

When this …

The Early Stages

In the beginning, I had a lot of questions, and finding useful ways to stay in touch with my supervisor led me to investigate affordable video conferencing options. Often, I felt as though it would be easier for me to do my job if I could still see and interact with my co-workers as if they were right there in my home. We tried Skype and other free services, but eventually I began doing more work with clients, the company grew, and our sales team expanded. At that point, it became worthwhile to research and employ more advanced telepresence solutions both at home and in the office.

When my employer presented me with what seemed like a giant monitor and camera set up, I was initially uncomfortable. It wasn’t life-sized, but it was much more intimidating than popping up on his 13” laptop screen when we needed to work on a project. Still, the possibilities for collaboration were endless.

Afterwards

I used multipoint video conferencing from my home on the East Coast to present information to clients in California. When a new customer was having trouble understanding our service, I set up my HD video conferencing equipment, and used a white board and my computer screen to walk them through the process. Technology connected me to meetings, sales events, and significant opportunities, all from the comfort of my own home. It was an ideal way to work, especially with young children in the house.

As more and more companies begin seeking out talented employees while paying less mind to their location, the video conferencing industry has taken massive steps forward in connectivity, user-friendly operations, mobility, definition, and more. Remote workers are signing in from tablets, mobile phones, and advanced equipment alike, all in an attempt to stay close and connected while doing their jobs from afar. Some, like myself, are parents who need to be at home for their children. Others are simply located at a great distance from the businesses that can most benefit from their services. Many are freelancers, but many more are doing full-time work for large and small corporations.

Teliris, Telepresence, Boardroom, Meetingroom, room, board, meeting, video conference, vc, videoconference, adaption, adaptive, solution, modern communication, enterprise, future, cameras, camera, multiple, live, communication, microphone, screens, multiple screens, quadruple screen, setup, wooden, chairs, gentlemen, women, working, business, sitting, remote,

… turns to this.

The Future has Arrived

Telepresence solutions are increasing in affordability and quality as well, and as they do, I predict that more offices will shut down. Start-ups and small businesses will cut costs by eliminating monthly rent and allowing their employees to connect from home. This is the sort of technology that, when used correctly, can attract a wider base of clients and pull staff from the widest possible pool of talented individuals. Video conferencing isn’t just a high tech toy these days – it’s a real solution that can help businesses grow their bottom lines while also contributing to employee satisfaction, and it’s just another indication that the future we dreamed about years ago is finally here!

Low Budget Telepresence for Your Tablet

Revolve Robotics to turn your tablet into a Telepresence device soon?

Not yet another app but a high-tech tablet stand, that is what the people from Revolve Robotics are introducing to the market and they call it “Kubi”.

Kubi, Telepresence, Revolve Robotics, Video, Conference, Video Conference, Tablet, Stand, Mount, Tripod, Apple, iOS, Android, Google, iPad3, iPad, iPad4, High-tech, High, Tech, nice, Design, Lights, No, Cable, Meeting Room, Meetingroom, Small, Medium, Business, SMB, Home, BYOD, Communication, Enterprise, Unified Communications,

The sleek design and the wide range of possible applications for Kubi allows you to use it as personal Telepresence device for the home office as well as it could provide a low-budget Telepresence solution to small to medium-sized meeting rooms.

Who is Revolve Robotics?

Based in San Francisco (USA), Revolve Robotics was founded earlier this year by Artificial Muscle, Inc. (AMI) founder Marcus Rosenthal and Key System Designer and Product Visionary Ilya Polyakov.

How to get it?

Kubi is currently available for pre-order at indiegogo.com for the price of $199 instead of the targeted retail price of $249. As this is a new product you may also support the Revolve Robotics start-up and the Kubi tablet stand on the very same web page.

What can it be used with?

Kubi is designed and tested to work with the Apple tablet line-up (e.g. iPad3, iPad4 and iPad mini) but it is said to be basically compatible with every device that supports Bluetooth 4.0 as well. An iOS app is currently on the way as per developers and an Android solution is planned to be completed in the future as well.

Technically this would include newer smartphones as well, however the current Kubi model does not have arms small enough to hold the device properly. Perhaps Revolve Robotics will surprise us in the future with a solution that concentrates entirely on smartphones and similar devices.

How does it look like?

Kubi, Apple, iPad, iPads, iPad1, iPad2, iPad3, iPad4, iPad mini, Sleek, Design, White, Stand,

Summary

Product designs like the Kubi and start-ups like Revolve Robotics indicate that both Telepresence technology as well as BYOD is not just a trend in the market. The applications and the hardware might change but at least two things are clear:

  1. Telepresence (a.k.a. Video Conferencing) is here to stay
  2. Enterprise and consumer technology will continue to merge

That much being said I am looking forward to hear more from Kubi as well as from the start-up company Revolve Robotics and wish them all the best for the release of their high-tech tablet stand.


The Introduction of Kubi

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ0KdH0jrOA]

How your Company can save Money by setting up Home Offices

Home-Office – Flexibility and Cost-Savings

In the last years flexible working time and virtual collaboration became more and more popular and relevant in many companies. An important aspect here is the “home office”. Especially for modern people the home office has been a tempting feature and often settles a decision on what company they should work for. Beside the high amount of free working procedures, there is also a financial aspect to working from home for employees. This could be for instance saving the costs for commuting to the office and back every day.

But what is the organisation’s opinion on home offices?

There are often concerns that the flexible environment might lead to the loss of control for the organisation. Also a potential problem would be that the productivity and the team work would not be optimal being apart from each other. On the other side the organisation could save a lot of costs for office space, office equipment and furniture as well as the charges that are spent on incidental expenses would not be required. That means using home offices your organisation could quickly save several hundred dollars per employee every month. But the most important subject next to leading and managing a virtual team is to provide the right technical infrastructure and collaboration solutions to the employees.

home, office, home-office, homeoffice, at home, work, new, kind, of, enterprise 2.0, work, working at home, home, computer, benq, keyboard, mouse, mac, pc, desk, desktop,

The key for achieving this is Unified Communications. With the aid of tailor-made tools the employees are provided with a complete range of tools to communicate and collaborate. With the “Presence” function everyone in the team is enabled to understand the current status of a team member. This will point out whether a colleague is “Available” and can be contacted or if they are “In a meeting”, “Busy” or even “On leave”. In a glimpse you will be able to understand the overall status of your team and possibly even other teams. So you know if it makes sense to call your team member or if you should better drop an instant message or email to get a fast response.

New ways of Communication

In order to work efficiently together in a virtual team that is physically separated modern ways of communication can enable an almost immersive experience of team working. For instance you could start an instant message session with one team member or a group of users, or quickly turn the chat session into a video conference with the possibility to share content on your screen among the video conference participants. You can quickly send an email with either formal content or just a quick update of the latest file that has been worked on. It goes without mentioning that of course you can just make a classic phone call as well.

Did we make you curious?

If you are considering the implementation of home offices for your employees you should capture the expectations of team during the project to make sure you are aware of all the requirements. After that is done you can take this information into the technical planning and design of a home office solution in your organisation. Every organisation and even each department within the organisation might have different requirements to be able to work from home. Missing these requirements out did often lead to such an initiative not working out in the end in some cases. The big advantage of Unified Communication solutions is however to have lower total cost of ownership and to receive a well structured support model for service providers and manufacturing companies.

Summary

With good planning and analysis of requirements, home offices can be a great benefit for employees as well as for the organisation itself  and might put you one step ahead of your competition.