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Cincinnati Bell Business Blog

Healthcare Technology is Booming, and the Networks Need to Keep Up

Posted by Gary Hilson on Jun 29, 2017 11:59:02 AM

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Healthcare is no longer confined to hospitals and medical office complexes. Mobile technologies and increasingly faster wireless networks mean efficient patient care is potentially delivered anywhere. Consequently, this expanded ability to deliver medical services requires new network architectures capable of guaranteeing the security and privacy standards required by government privacy regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The emerging Network as a Service (NaaS) architecture for connectivity is well suited to support healthcare delivery models that utilize mobile devices, temporary locations, and the early adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices for monitoring patients and collecting data. NaaS provides the flexibility and security required for the fluctuating network traffic and branch-location management that are common in modern medical scenarios.

NaaS Is Flexible

NaaS shifts network management responsibilities to a third party, reflecting the reality that deploying a network in a hospital of any size adds complexity to healthcare IT, both for installation and ongoing management. The NaaS paradigm supports temporary locations for delivering medical services, such as clinics and research labs within larger facilities. It also aligns well with health cloud computing strategies for easily deploying applications and sharing information.

NaaS provides scalability and flexibility in highly budget-conscious healthcare environments. A hospital, for example, can transfer network deployment and management responsibilities to the service provider. This frees dedicated hospital IT staff to focus on strategic projects and improve the delivery of medical services while still supporting fluctuating numbers of users — whether healthcare workers or patients — and mobile devices and endpoints.

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NaaS Maintains Control

Although NaaS involves shifting responsibilities to a service provider, that doesn't mean healthcare organizations must forego the control they require over their networking infrastructures. This is critical, given the sensitivity of patient information. Rather, NaaS provides extensive visibility and central control over an environment that's becoming increasingly fragmented due to mobile technologies and remote locations, such as temporary clinics and satellite facilities, that use telemedicine to treat patients.

NaaS provides healthcare organizations with a "single pane of glass" that supports visibility across networks and locations. This dashboard enables IT staff to make better informed decisions about allocating network resources and bandwidth at multiple locations. They spend less time managing networks and can focus on IT initiatives that support patient care, research efforts, and delivery of services.

NaaS Is Cost Effective

From a budget perspective, NaaS provides healthcare organizations with a more predictable cost structure. They can migrate from an expensive MPLS network to embrace software-defined technologies and faster, more robust wireless capabilities without the upfront capital costs that come with deploying new network gear. This is also accomplished without compromising security and privacy. Technologies such as Cisco's Meraki Auto VPN technology and its auto-provisioning site-to-site virtual private network capabilities mean distributed healthcare facilities can easily, quickly, and securely connect without tedious manual configurations.

NaaS prepares healthcare organizations for futuristic care models that leverage IoT devices and Big Data generation to improve patient outcomes, providing a high-performance network without hefty price tags or management burdens. Shift network responsibilities to Cincinnati Bell Business to enjoy flexible, on-demand connectivity that adapts to changing requirements and improves patient care.

Topics: NaaS

5 Ways NaaS Benefits the Financial Sector

Posted by Jennifer Goforth Gregory on Jun 19, 2017 4:04:55 PM

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The financial world is moving quickly, especially when it comes to technology. Everything in your company depends on technology these days, but you need to focus on servicing your customers. You need your network to be reliable and fast so that your key systems are always available to customers and employees. When your network is down, your financial services firm loses significant money with every minute.

Many financial services firms are now using Network as a Service (NaaS) to power their network. It is similar to SaaS, but instead of a single program being accessible from the cloud, the business can access the entire network from any location or device.  

By using NaaS, your financial services firm can see the following five benefits:

1. Frees IT Department to Focus on Customer Facing Technology Projects

Your IT department no longer has to spend their time maintaining and administering the network. With NaaS, this is handled by the integrated communications solutions company, and your firm has minimal upkeep for the network. This frees up your IT department to work on technology projects that will create a more personal customer experience.

2. Scale Your Network Seamlessly as You Grow

It’s hard to predict growth. If you buy infrastructure that cannot handle your organization as it grows, you will be spending extra money improving that infrastructure. And on the flip side, if your company becomes smaller, you’ll have too big of a network. By using NaaS, you can add and delete employees without buying any additional technology. You can also add bandwidth and even new offices as your business grows. This allows your business to evolve without worrying about having the right technology to make it happen.

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3. Reduced Hardware Costs

Technology has a short life span these days because everything is growing quickly. It sometimes seems that as soon as you have the latest product deployed on your network, it’s outdated, which increases your costs. With NaaS, you always have the latest features and capabilities without purchasing additional equipment.

4. Security

Today’s security threats are costly—both in terms of dollars and reputation. It can be a full-time job to protect your financial network against security threats. NaaS uses the latest security applications and hardware to keep your network safe. Your network is protected, and you can focus on your customers.

5. Ability to Use Cutting Edge Technology

Your customers are expecting to soon see video ATM kiosks in bank branches. By using allocation and throttling, critical systems continue to maintain optimal performance. At the same time, customers and employees still have the network access they need to do their jobs or complete their transactions.

By using NaaS, your financial institution or firm no longer has to worry about your network or having the bandwidth and connectivity necessary to run your firm. You can now focus on your strength—sharing your financial expertise with your customers and ensuring they have a great experience.

Topics: NaaS

Meet Uptime and Dependability Targets with NaaS

Posted by Jacqueline Emigh on Jun 13, 2017 10:12:48 AM

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Whether your manufacturing business is large or small, 24/7/365 uptime availability and secure, dependable operations are critical to success. Regardless of the cause, network equipment or software failures in the factory environment threaten productivity and competitiveness and could result in unnecessary and potentially devastating manufacturing delays. Fortunately, Network as a Service (NaaS) offers a solution. By moving from an MPLS network to the NaaS approach, your company could utilize reliable, managed connectivity between locations provided by a trusted network services advisor to eliminate downtime while reducing capex costs.

NaaS Scalability and Security

NaaS is a highly scalable approach that meets the IT requirements of both single- and multi-location businesses. Companies pay a monthly fee that covers the equipment, network management services, and support along with an extended warranty program that ends technology obsolescence by building automatic and managed hardware upgrades into the solution lifecycle.

NaaS solutions empower SMB through Enterprise organization with the ability to focus on their core businesses, to grow their companies and achieve enterprise-grade network capabilities without the headaches of learning the ins and outs of network management. These solutions also integrate state-of-the-art SD-WAN technology that enables larger midmarket and enterprise businesses with multiple sites to achieve centralized, highly customizable network management solutions with multilevel perimeter security from an on-premises location.

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Easy & Efficient Integration

CBB's NaaS solutions with SD-WAN are delivered as easy to install all-in-one network appliances that seamlessly connect multiple locations together while supplying advanced network analytics. Based on Cisco's Meraki technology, the solutions also provide cloud integration, dashboard-based network monitoring and management, a next-generation firewall for network security, Wi-Fi for agile manufacturing on the shop floor, and flexible routing and switching for taking bandwidth to new heights.

Multi-location businesses now have access to customized solutions to address their specific IT needs, making it easier to use available resources more efficiently without sacrificing security. Branch locations can take advantage of bandwidth-intensive applications that were once limited to larger hub offices. Using Meraki's built-in Auto VPN technology, NaaS solutions quickly plug in to facilitate distributed networking over the Internet, cellular wireless networks, and existing MPLS infrastructures.

Security doesn't stop at the firewall layer. NaaS solutions with SD-WAN also integrate security tools that include unified threat management, intrusion detection and prevention systems, gateway antivirus software, content filtering, application control, and advanced encryption standards for data privacy, which is particularly useful for companies that partner and share data with manufacturing entities across the globe.

Reduce manufacturing vulnerabilities while increasing productivity and maintaining uptime with Cincinnati Bell Business's comprehensive NaaS solutions. This secure, cost-saving solution with SD-WAN connectivity makes it easy to migrate to a higher-performance network while reducing IT management burdens for operations of all sizes.

Topics: NaaS

NaaS Is the Future of Food Service Networking

Posted by Patricia Kutza on Jun 2, 2017 11:42:43 AM

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Food service customers have long memories, and they love to tell family and friends about their experiences—good and bad. Even when the memory of a delicious meal starts to fade, they remember the quality of the customer service. That's why savvy food service owners evaluate their point of sale (POS) systems just as carefully as they evaluate their menus to ensure each part of the system, such as payment transactions, inventory management, and sales applications, serves their mission and their bottom line.

From Legacy to NaaS

Even the most knowledgeable food service owners face increasing costs and thin margins, showing the importance of having the best networks in place to maximize the benefits and justify the costs of POS systems. Food services are transitioning from legacy network systems to the Network as a Service (NaaS) model in increasing numbers, primarily because NaaS addresses the need for dependable Wi-Fi and network security at a price that doesn't fluctuate each month.

Network as a Service with SD-WAN

Cincinnati Bell Business recently added Network as a Service with SD-WAN, a solution that offers food service owners the kind of reliability and business-computing power they currently need with the flexibility to grow in the future as their businesses expand.

SD-WAN Is a Cost-Saving Powerhouse

Based on Cisco’s Meraki technology, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology provided by Cincinnati Bell Business maximizes the automatic provisioning of important network security components—such as firewalls—faster and at a fraction of the expense of conventional bandwidth services. Additionally, SD-WAN’s ability to connect remotely to multi-location businesses gives owners powerful flexibility in addressing the specific needs of different locations, such as providing secure guest wi-fi.  Owners can also leverage their marketing power by tapping into the strategies offered by NaaS location analytics.

Furthermore, Cincinnati Bell Business' tech engineering team provides expertise that food service owners can rely on to ensure their NaaS systems work seamlessly. This eliminates the costly expenses of hiring IT consultants or maintaining in-house staff to handle network systems.

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Utility Pricing for Cost Reductions with No Surprises

The NaaS utility-pricing model effectively manages present and future costs. Benefits include:

  • Monthly fixed costs for equipment and management
  • No capital investments for expensive network equipment
  • No technology obsolescence worries (hardware refreshing is built into the solution lifecycle)
  • Better performance than legacy systems at a lower cost

24/7 Expert IT Technical Support

Cincinnati Bell Business' IT team specializes in enterprise-level technology. They handle the ins and outs of the network infrastructure, and this allows food service owners to put their network worries in the hands of a team fully equipped to monitor networks and troubleshoot around the clock.

With Cincinnati Bell Business' world-class business operations managing their networks, owners can concentrate on leveraging the power of NaaS to scale operations at their desired pace without increasing costs by adding new users or new locations to individual networks. It's a win-win proposition that food services can't afford to ignore and customers are sure to notice. Migrate from expensive MPLS to robust Network as a Service with SD-WAN.

Topics: NaaS

NaaS Raises Grades for Wireless Education

Posted by Paul Williams on May 9, 2017 10:07:00 AM

The advent of cloud-based services has brought a number of advantages to enterprise, most notably cost savings, flexible networking with high scalability, and the ability to operate core business functions while off-premise IT experts manage technical infrastructure. Today, these same benefits are available to smaller businesses — and educational institutions.

Because online learning, including video and other rich-media content, is commonplace in the educational world, students expect to be able to connect easily to classes, regardless of their location or the time of day. This places the onus on schools to provide this level of service without costly capital expenditures and the need to hire a large IT staff. Enter NaaS.

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Network as a Service Meets the Growing Demands of Students

Because of the emerging wireless educational standards in many school districts, students want speedy access to their course materials from desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Their parents also expect a secure, reliable connection at home or from practically any other location when needed.

Cincinnati Bell Business Network as a Service (NaaS) easily meets the needs of the modern educational institution providing online learning to students. Based on SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) technology, NaaS offers superior performance when transmitting a wide variety of content, including HD video, software applications, voice, and data. NaaS's scalability, reliability, and security all rank at the top of the IT industry.

Simplified Management of Network Infrastructure

Using a state-of-the-art software dashboard from a central location, SD-WAN facilitates full infrastructure management for every school in a district. Additionally, this network administration role can be offloaded easily to trusted partners at CINCINNATI BELL BUSINESS. This enables any educational organization to concentrate on online learning instead of managing a data center and the associated wireless network infrastructure.

Easy Scalability to Support Growing School Districts

As a school district grows and adds new students and buildings, NaaS seamlessly scales to match without impacting current usage. The same rule applies as educational content evolves to include more bandwidth-intensive video and media-rich interactivity. More importantly, any NaaS system offers easy expandability while keeping capital expenditures to an absolute minimum.

An educational institution that's responsible for meeting the demands of a highly connected student body needs to explore NaaS from CINCINNATI BELL BUSINESS. Having an experienced team seamlessly manage network infrastructure lets schools refocus their efforts on the educational process. Cincinnati Bell Businesses industry-leading security, reliability, and scalability offer organizations maximized benefits at minimal costs.

4 Reasons Retailers Love NaaS

Posted by Gary Hilson on Mar 29, 2017 9:43:13 AM

Not only does NaaS support scalability and flexibility for businesses prone to seasonal fluctuations, but it also provides a platform to capture customer insights that drive revenue growth.

Just as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has made inroads into retail as a means of shifting IT responsibilities for applications to a third party, a similar model for networking is gaining popularity. The Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) paradigm reflects the reality that deploying a network in a store, regardless of size, adds complexity to IT — both in terms of installation and ongoing management.

Having internet connectivity and a wireless local area network (WLAN) at any location means a retailer must be responsible for security, administration, updates, modifications, scalability and troubleshooting. Factor in the various endpoints that require connectivity — including increasingly wireless point of sale (PoS) devices and kiosks, along with identity management — and running a network becomes a complicated proposition. NaaS transfers many of these responsibilities, including security monitoring, to a third-party provider that offers a centralized network (as opposed to a WLAN) while delivering improved access to cloud-based management services and mobile enterprise solutions like apps. That’s all in addition to the following benefits.

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Control Over Allocation and Bandwidth of the Network

NaaS enables retailers to cost-effectively shift network responsibilities to their NaaS service provider in alignment with this cloud-service approach to applications. This also increases the flexibility to support fluctuating numbers of users, mobile devices and endpoints.

Improved security is another major benefit of moving to a NaaS model. Recently, high-profile retailers such as Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and Target have been hacked and had customer data exposed. Cyberthreats such as malware, botnets and ransomware are increasing in frequency and ferocity, and NaaS places cybersecurity tasks in the provider’s hands instead of the retailer’s.

Less Time Managing the Network

Despite shifting responsibilities to a service provider, NaaS provides retailers with greater central control and visibility. This control means a retailer can have visibility across all networks from "a single pane of glass." The ability to see every location in one dashboard enables IT staff to make better-informed decisions about allocating network resources and bandwidth. They spend less time managing the network and focus on more strategic IT initiatives that support the customer experience and business growth.

Endless Scalability Options

Scalability is critical, and NaaS can provide the agility to scale up or down in a business environment prone to seasonal fluctuations. Not only is it simple to add or remove users from the network, but with the advent of the pop-up store, entire locations can easily be provisioned or decommissioned centrally in a replicable "cookie cutter" model.

Connecting Multiple Retail Locations

Connecting multiple locations provides a retailer with a bigger picture not just in terms of network traffic and bandwidth usage, but also in consumer behavior and customer feedback. NaaS provides a platform for capturing Big Data from various endpoints, including emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications, making it easier to intelligently invest in retail strategies that drive revenue growth.

About the Author

Gary Hilson is an expert tech journalist with over 20 years experience contributing to North American technology publications. 

His specialties include memory and data storage technology, enterprise software, networking hardware, sustainable vehicles, green technology, technology standards, Internet of Things, B2B content, education and research.  His work has appeared in many leading technology publications including EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Network Computing and InformationWeek, as well as, Toronto Business Times, and Strategy Magazine.

CBB NaaS: Empowering Digital Superheroes

Posted by David Jean on Mar 14, 2017 9:04:05 AM

Cloud technologies are taking the world by storm.  More and more small businesses are taking advantage of the immense power available from shared applications to build and market their brand.  An interesting byproduct of this rapid adoption is that size is no longer a dominating factor in the digital age.  A small business can now have a customer portal that rivals the Fortune 500 websites of just 5 years ago as well as collaboration and communications solutions, which was unheard of previously.  This small business has the opportunity to become a digital superhero.  However as with most hero stories, great power comes with great responsibility, and at the center of any business are the customers and users who rely on the services and products the business offers.  Users expect services to be available at all times.  Without providing a powerful, reliable, secure and scalable network for users to access your services, your hero status fades while a new hero takes your place…in shiny spandex and a cape…and really, no one wants to be in that guy’s shadow.    

Ask yourself a question: “Does my business really need to switch to a cloud hosted service for networking?”

Yes, yes it does.

Your own private Batcave: Come on, you like that idea

CBB Network as a Service (NaaS) is the solution designed to solve this problem, and save your ego.  We understand that while many businesses may have the skills to wow their customers in the context of their own business, it is not always a priority to employ a staff of highly trained engineers to maintain an inventory of routers, switches, access points, firewalls, etc.  It’s simple: we’ll handle the technology while you go out and be a hero to your customers.  NaaS is not simply a hosted networking service, but THE Cloud Managed Network Solution for your SMB market business. 

Designed from the ground up as a fully featured, managed service offering and built atop industry leading Cisco-Meraki technology, NaaS offers features that are seldom seen at this market tier.  Our full stack NaaS offering incorporates security (IDS, malware protection, content filtering, and firewall), networking (SD-WAN, switching, VPN) and Wi-Fi. (Sorry, no Kryptonite.)  And all of this is managed from a world-class Enterprise Network Operations Center (ENOC) buried under a mountain in Ohio… Well O.K. maybe not a mountain, but it is dark and full of really smart people.  CBB NaaS is designed to keep your business running today and scale when growth arrives tomorrow.   

The unanswered question: Is hero work expensive?

Hero work comes with a cost, but in our world the cost does not include you looking like a Power Ranger.  NaaS is a solution that provides huge value-add for any business looking to provide reliable services to their customers.  In addition a high ROI allows your business to keep costs down and efficiency up.  Cost savings is achievable through a convenient operational expenditure (OpEx) model.  CBB offers the service at predictable monthly price points, which include all hardware, license and upgrade costs for the life of the contract as well as complete 24x7x365 management and support.  This allows your business to keep its most critical resources, people, focused on the areas that matter most to your business.  So go ahead and take that next step to be the digital superhero you always knew you could be.  CBB Network as a Service can help you get there.  Just please, no spandex.

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David Jean
Lead Architect, New Solutions Design

 

How We Live #CincyGive Everyday

Posted by Cincinnati Bell Business on Feb 7, 2017 1:44:37 PM

Cincinnati Bell Employees Giving BackCincinnati Bell employees donate their time on behalf of the United Way of Greater Cininnati

Cincinnati Bell believes it’s the people and places that make Greater Cincinnati such a special place to live. That’s why Cincinnati Bell employees donate their time to improve the places and spaces across the region. Here’s just one example: 

Last fall, an elderly woman with a walker was cleaning debris from the front of her house when a group of Cincinnati Bell employees, who were volunteering in Bond Hill on behalf of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, spotted her. They crossed the street and asked how they could help with chores
around the house. The employees cleared the woman’s sidewalk, trimmed bushes, and used a bucket truck to cut unruly branches away from the house.    

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How do you define a business’ commitment to the community? Is it the number of residents employed? The types of organizations it supports?  A demonstrated commitment to culture, arts, and education? Cincinnati Bell believes it’s all those things and more.

Youth Education is a Focus

On Wednesdays and Thursdays during the school year, about 50 Cincinnati Bell employees tutor and mentor students at Robert A. Taft Technology High School.   Students and employees spend an hour talking, studying, and learning from each other. These Cincinnati Bell employees all share a passion for helping the Taft students succeed.

Committed for More Than 140 Years

Cincinnati Bell has been in business for more than 140 years, during which time the company has consistently shown its commitment to being more than a communications provider. Leadership and empathy are core values at Cincinnati Bell, which is committed to the principles of corporate community responsibility and good corporate citizenship. 

Supporting Local Causes

In addition to the value Cincinnati Bell places on volunteer work, our investment in fiber, our relationships with organizations like the Cincinnati Reds, and our recent streetcar sponsorship are just a few additional examples of how we help make the region a better place for all residents. 

Here are some of the other ways Cincinnati Bell supports the region:

The Story Behind the Shirt

 Learn More About #CincyGive

 What causes are important to your business? 

3 Ways Local Support and Service Matters

Posted by Cincinnati Bell Business on Feb 2, 2017 2:33:01 PM

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Part of Cincinnati Bell’s commitment to providing outstanding customer service,  and to being a good corporate citizen, is supporting local jobs.   As the hometown communications provider, Cincinnati Bell employs   technicians, call center agents, sales employees, and support resources who   know the unique neighborhoods that make up Greater Cincinnati. There are about 3,000 people who work at Cincinnati Bell, which means there’s a good chance you know one of our employees.    

Local Dedicated Teams

Businesses that choose Cincinnati Bell work with local sales agents and dedicated account teams. Cincinnati based engineers help plan business’ technology solutions, and support agents are also located here. If you currently use a national telecommunications provider, and feel like you’re doing business with a faceless giant, know that switching to Cincinnati Bell means you’ll be working with a local company.

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 Problems are Solved Quickly

Many Cincinnati Bell employees work in Downtown Cincinnati.  Local technicians work from garages located throughout Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods to connect the network from one end of the Tri-state to the other. Problems are solved quickly, and solutions are provided with the perspective that only comes from being the local communications provider.

Commitment to Employing Locally

In January 2017, Cincinnati Bell announced that it is in the process of adding 300 local call center agents who will be based in Greater Cincinnati. This is one more example of how Cincinnati Bell is showing its commitment to employing locally and improving service for its customers.

How does your business stay connected to your local customers?