Remote Connectivity: The Trick to Getting the Most Out of Avaya Support

If there’s one “trick” to getting the absolute most value out of your Avaya support coverage, it would be enabling remote connectivity. Allowing a trained Avaya Support Engineer access to your Avaya system in times of need delivers 21 to 50 percent faster resolution times than without.

In the past, Avaya used the prevalent technology, modems, to provide remote connectivity. In 2009, we introduced our Secure Access Link (SAL) technology which delivers high-speed connectivity over a HTTPS tunnel. The SAL Gateway is a component of a downloadable package called the Avaya Diagnostic Server. This application is deployed on the customer’s network, providing remote connectivity and alarming back to Avaya. It’s a free entitlement to all Avaya customers with active support coverage.

Another component of the SAL solution is the Policy Server, which enables the customer to manage and control policies of how their applications are remotely accessed. Like the SAL Gateway, this application is deployed in the customer’s network. The customer then uses it to build policies that control who, when and how Avaya can access their systems. One of the most popular policies available is inserting a step where the customer’s IT department must manually approve a connection request from a support engineer before connectivity is established. This is certainly more manageable than only plugging in that old modem phone line when you know an engineer wants access.

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details here about the security features of SAL, but it’s important to understand that all connections are established from the SAL Gateway on the customer’s network, outbound, to Avaya − never inbound from Avaya to the customer. All traffic is encapsulated within a HTTPS tunnel, thus only port 443 outbound must be open on the customer’s firewall.

Our Authorized Business Partner community is an important part of our support offerings, and as such, many of our partners utilize an Avaya SAL Concentrator, which also allows them to use the SAL solution for remote connectivity as requested by the customer.

While implementing SAL is relatively straight-forward, it’s important to understand that for the solution to work, each Avaya product must be properly registered with Avaya in the Global Registration Tool (GRT), which gives the product its own unique ID (“SEID”). Then that SEID must be properly onboarded in GRT so that connectivity can be established.

In August, we made a new tool available to Avaya and partner account teams to not only report out on how healthy the connectivity is to every customer-deployed Avaya product, but to also provide actionable information on how to resolve any issues. Please be sure to work with them to make sure your entire Avaya solution is getting the value of remote connectivity.

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In summary, remote connectivity is the linchpin in getting the most value out of your Avaya support coverage. With it, you get faster resolution times and the ability to have proactive alarm monitoring and remote diagnostics.

If you missed my first blog in the series about the value proactive support brings compared to reactive support, please read it here. Stay tuned for the rest of this series, where I’ll speak to the value out of alarm monitoring via EXPERT SystemsSM and the SLA Mon™ Server.

The video below covers the material above and more about SAL, including a flow diagram of how connectivity is established with SAL:

Contact or follow me on Twitter: @CarlKnerr

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How to Deliver the Digital Healthcare Patient Experience

Technology and the Internet of Things hold great promise to improve our health and well-being. Internet-connected infusion pumps, imaging machines, blood-glucose sensors, and myriad more devices, can automatically share valuable data to a person’s electronic health record. We can expect to see network-connected healthcare aides playing an ever-greater role in delivering healthcare. Smart beds that automatically detect if they’re occupied—or if a patient has gone walkabout—and can track the quality of the patient’s sleep. Wearables and implants that measure a patient’s vital statistics, continuously log data and report, in real-time, any abnormalities to the appropriate clinical staff.

We’re not talking some far distant future here—a report last year from IDC indicated that enterprise mobility will have penetrated over 80% of MEA healthcare organizations by 2017, with over a third of organizations having already deployed corporate smart devices. Hospitals in the region are already increasingly looking to technology solutions to proactively advance patient care and improve outcomes.

Countries in the region, especially in the GCC, are making transformation of healthcare services a key priority as they look to improve the well-being of their citizens. We are seeing major initiatives to leverage technology to improve healthcare delivery in the region, such as in the United Arab Emirates, which has included providing a world-class healthcare system in its UAE Vision 2021 strategy. Likewise, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made improving healthcare delivery a key plank of its Vision 2030.

Healthcare organizations here in my region also understand that technology is a tool for driving efficiency and streamlining operations as well as improving patient outcomes. Dr. Sulaiman Habib Medical Group (HMG), one of the largest providers of comprehensive healthcare services in the MENA region, recently unveiled its Al Suwaidi Hospital in Saudi Arabia, a digital medical facility that is the first of its kind in the Middle East.

A cloud-based technology infrastructure enables the hospital to be a fully-paperless operation, and multimedia connectivity between diverse departments ensures that the time taken for reporting and maintaining records is greatly reduced. This enables physicians to focus on more patients and seamlessly transfer cases to other departments, laboratories, or the billing section. It also allows the hospital to maintain digital records, which are useful in generating patient medical histories, as well as meet regulatory requirements. Together with Avaya, HMG is delivering a fully digital patient experience, with real-time collaboration for physicians, laboratories, and other components of the healthcare delivery process.

While HMG can rightly claim to be a global leader in healthcare technology, we are seeing other healthcare providers increasingly adopting technology solutions here. Networked devices are prevalent in hospitals already, with a growing number of nurses and doctors having transitioned away from clipboards and paper to Wi-Fi-enabled communications devices and tablet computers.

Technology in healthcare does bring unique challenges. The highest standards must be met for patient security and safety at all times, with patients needing to have absolute confidence that their data is safe. Therefore, creating applications that can enhance the patient experience and improve the healthcare operator’s efficiency can be more challenging than in other industries.

Adding to those challenges: healthcare operators’ patients are also other companies’ customers and employees—and have correspondingly high expectations of the experience they are looking to receive. People today are well aware of what good technology experiences look like and feel like—so why wouldn’t they expect to receive those good experiences from their healthcare provider.

Many of us will be all too familiar with this scenario: you have to attend a hospital’s emergency room for a medical crisis. In a high-stress time you will likely have to answer questions about medical history, insurance details, and so on before you can be seen by an attending care practitioner. That practitioner will then refer you to a physician or other medical staff member—at which point you will likely have to give your details again!

While forward-thinking organizations like HMG are addressing these challenges, other healthcare organizations need to enter the digital era. Companies today don’t want to risk losing customers as a result of a bad experience—and healthcare providers can’t afford to think differently.

The reality is that traditional business communications have failed to keep pace with consumer-focused technological devices. The simplicity, built-in intelligence, and sophistication of today’s devices have taught consumers that it’s not difficult to have satisfying, tailored experiences—every time. If healthcare providers want to improve our well-being, they need to give us the experiences we want.

For more information, please visit Avaya.com or e-mail me at esusic@avaya.com.

Transforming Venues Through Digital Enterprise Practices

The novelty of free, public Wi-Fi networks is gone—connectivity has become an expectation. Steep competition among leading smartphone manufacturers and improvements in cellular networks have driven the always-on era, fuelled by data-hungry Gen Y and Millennials, which are padding adoption figures and expanding the possibilities of brand engagement through devices.

A case in point is the sports industry, where fans have transformed from viewers to broadcasters. It should come as no surprise that a recent study by Spider Marketing conducted in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States indicated that sports fans who own mobile devices are conducting more online activities than ever before. Today, 89% of fans are taking photos and 71% are posting on social media. Similarly, fans are demanding instant access to replays, athlete information, special offers, and food orders and so mobile social media is now engrained in sports attendance and plays a prominent role in shaping fans’ experiences.

Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi is a promise on which many business and technology leads at sports venues, governing bodies, and clubs have under-delivered. The reality is most haven’t yet digitally transformed their wider operations, so while they implement Wi-Fi (and other) technology, most of it is based or running on outdated infrastructures. This is naturally leaving customers quite frustrated.

Think about the number of times you’ve connected to the free Wi-Fi at a stadium only to find it unreliable and slow and, worse yet, that paid services are often lackluster. So, while there is technology in place, it’s quite often outdated. As a result, the thriving appetite for digital information and social sharing is an opportunity which remains largely untapped in Australia. That’s costing the sports industry on a number of levels.

By failing to accommodate modern customer experiences, venues and clubs are denying themselves free marketing from masses of sports fans, and consequently limiting the potential audience to which a particular event or game can be presented. All of this hits the bottom line over the short and long term.

The core issue is that the traditional protocols on which many rely can’t maintain the high volumes of traffic being generated by today’s users, particularly when that traffic persists for long periods of time or rapidly peaks and troughs.

The good news is that the technology to drive digital transformation exists and has the ability to deliver virtualized networks and simplify networking generally. The challenge is to help leaders understand that these new models are industry-standardized and easily-supported, and to show them the value of these long-term services investment versus the temporary benefit of immediate capital expenditure savings.

Generally speaking, enterprises are more advanced than the wider sports industry. So, whilst it is critical for sport to be run by sports people, it is also important for venues, governing bodies and clubs to adopt practices from enterprises. This is true at both micro and macro levels, whether it’s a national sports competition or a large-scale event—a game of footy or the Olympic Games.

Let’s look at the Olympic Games as an example of a large scale event. The influx of tens of thousands of tourists congregating on one city to join millions of locals for two weeks of sport is a major challenge for traditional network technologies. Outdated infrastructure is simply incapable of providing the bandwidth for a consistent peak load. It doesn’t give organizers the capacity to push out high-value services around the clock at high speed, especially when delivering an app that so many people are accessing simultaneously. However, through a virtualized approach based around software-defined architecture, event organizers can very easily spin up and supply bandwidth right across the event, including fringe venues and attractions that aren’t in the main stadiums and arenas, all without compromising performance—that means no dropouts nor lag. Better still, a software-based virtualized network removes maintenance headaches so that any hiccups can be quickly remedied by those organizers.

By transforming the network underpinning the Wi-Fi being provided to all those people—just as venues are uplifted in anticipation for the Games—events operators are in a position to enable the new generation of sports fans, particularly in the 18-34 age group. As a result, a venue’s biggest online influencers—connected fans—can continue to engage with brands.

Don’t Underestimate Smart and Secure Remote Access

Like many people, I’ve spent a lot of time watching great NCAA March Madness games in the last two weeks. During the commercials, I’ve been thinking about the challenges faced by athletes aspiring to get to the Final Four—and realizing that many careers bring similar tremendous pressure. In my communications industry, I think of IT professionals trying to solve technology issues, bridging legacy and new solutions, always on tight deadlines and tight budgets. These teams need things to go right—and when there’s an error—they need smooth, secure, fast fixes from their vendors.

Underestimating the skills of the remaining NCAA players might be a mistake—don’t blame their current success on luck or a fluke. That’s basketball, but I’ve seen IT departments underestimate the problem-solving power of remote connectivity in a similar way. Remote Access is often dismissed as being too risky for network security.

In his blog “Achieving Secure, Mission-Critical Technical Support is a Two-Way Street” Mike Runda, President of Avaya Client Services, refutes the misconceptions IT can have about remote access. Mike discusses the three key attributes that IT managers should demand of a remote access solution. Before you choose your communications solution, make sure that the provider’s connectivity into your enterprise is smart, secure, and gives you full control.

Secure remote access connectivity is the foundational component for resolving complex network issues. Mike tells the real-life story of an Avaya customer having a network issue, and blocking remote access for Avaya support technicians. The techs needed access to diagnose and resolve the problem. The customer was steadfast in its cybersecurity. The situation became a full-court press (i.e., escalations) by both teams. Once both teams got together and discussed the power and security of Avaya’s remote connectivity, the issue was quickly fixed. Read the whole story in Mike’s blog.

For now, we know the teams heading to the Final Four are doing all they can to bring their A Games to Phoenix. Likewise, when the pressure’s on in IT, Avaya customers can work with us via remote connectivity—with confidence that the pros at Avaya will protect security and bring proven results.