Limited Resources across Multiple Locations? Maybe It’s Time to Consider a Unified Networking Platform.

Schools, retail stores, hospitals, churches – many such organizations operate multiple locations. Each location may have different networking needs, but effective management teams require consistency and streamlined processes to make the operation logistically viable and affordable. The cloud made it possible to standardize specific wireless IT operations, such as software deployment, and management among multiple locations. However, for a long time there was no way to bring together management of both wired and wireless networks into one management platform.

Many decentralized organizations with locations spread apart geographically are feeling the effects of soon-to-be-outdated networking equipment and tedious manual processes,” said Anthony Nabower, Senior Network Engineer, of Prime Communications, Inc. (PCI). “These organizations may be facing the challenge of limited IT resources to begin with and may have limited budgets.”

New technology labeled unified network operations or cloud management, solves these problems and takes us into a new era of network management. In the following, we will introduce the benefits of this innovative technology. But first, let’s examine the common challenges cloud management addresses.

Common Challenges Faced by Network Managers in Decentralized Organizations

As technology increasingly moves to the cloud, it can be a challenge for IT personnel to manage both old systems and new cloud capabilities efficiently and cost-effectively. Multi-location organizations must send IT personnel to each location to address unique technology needs of that particular site. Then they have to do it all over again for every site in the network. Even individual sites, such as schools, often have multiple access points in one location. This presents a number of interconnected issues and potentially creates a perfect storm for network failures:

  • Limited resources. Each location in a dispersed network requires individualized hardware, software, service and other considerations in order to operate effectively. It can be a challenge to fit all needs into limited schedules and budgets.
  • Demanding travel. Technicians must physically travel to each location in a decentralized organization. This costs time and money and can result in burnout.
  • Rising costs. In addition to costs of traveling to multiple locations, network personnel must somehow stretch budgets to accommodate troubleshooting and updating of aging systems, including replacement of hardware and integration with new platforms.
  • Time challenges. As technology changes, network requirements expand and systems age, it becomes more and more difficult to schedule in all the work that’s needed.
  • Multiple logins. The need to log in to multiple wiring closets, switches, access points and applications creates a demanding, time-consuming, complex environment for IT service.
  • Potential for error. Multiple configurations, ports, APs and switches in different locations — not to mention personnel burnout — present many opportunities for human error, which amounts to more time and cost.

Thankfully, technology continues to change and overcome these challenges. Some organizations are making the switch a little at a time. Others see the benefit and eventual cost savings of making a wholesale change as an investment in their future.

Networking’s Inevitable Move to the Cloud

New unified systems for cloud management are making it possible to manage systems faster, more effectively, and with more cost savings than ever before. Nabower said this change in technology amounts to a revolution for organizations with multiple locations, and he encourages decision-makers to seriously consider moving completely to the cloud. “It’s going to happen eventually anyway. The key now is to make sure your investment today takes advantage of cloud compatibility.”

As soon as cloud management technology became available, PCI carefully vetted providers and made a commitment to work with a pioneer in this realm of networking management: Aruba, a company Gartner has placed as an industry leader in its Magic Quadrant for 14 years in a row.

Aruba’s cloud management platform is called “Aruba Central.” According to the company’s website, the platform offers “easy to use deployment tools in a single pane of glass … a three-step onboarding wizard, zero-touch provisioning, a mobile app, [and] intuitive dashboard and reporting capabilities [to] help manage distributed environments of all sizes.”

How Unified Networking Platforms Solve Decentralized Networking Challenges

When it comes to day-to-day operation, a unified networking platform directly answers the problems listed above with both inherent qualities of the system and targeted features to provide substantial value for an organization.

  • Combined access to equipment and applications. A unified networking platform simplifies network management by providing access to all hardware and software in wireless, wired and SD-WAN environments. Everything can be controlled and managed from a single location.
  • Improved visibility. With cloud management on a unified platform, you can see everything at the same time in a single pane of glass. This allows IT personnel much more flexibility and makes it easier to understand what’s happening across the network.
  • Deeper analytics. Data such as bandwidth and traffic in different locations can be combined and compared to help company leaders see trends over time.
  • Remote access. A cloud-based networking management platform provides the ability to administer IT systems from anywhere, as long as you have Internet access and a browser. Travel is no longer required to manage every little issue or installation. In situations where employees may need to work from home, this significantly reduces the challenge of managing and deploying network access.
  • Enhanced security. Cloud-based applications allow two-factor authentication, which provides a higher level of security for access than consoles that are limited to what you can do with a desktop or laptop. The platform allows flexibility in the way you secure your network. The system itself does not retain any files or personally identifiable material.
  • Management from a central cloud-based platform allows consistent application of processes and programs to all remote sites. For example, IT personnel can be assured that all updates are completed correctly and all ports are in the right VLAN, which reduces troubleshooting and downtime for the network.
  • As programs and processes are moved to the cloud, it becomes possible to increase automation. “Automated software updates are a no-brainer,” said Nabower. “But the system also can handle more complex automations, such as pushing out API commands.”
  • Reduced staffing. Less travel, remote access, combined processes and other features of cloud management can lead to a potentially substantial reduction in personnel. “I’ve seen organizations go from two network administrators to one,” said Nabower.
  • Cost savings. All of the above results in a reduction of day-to-day IT costs.
  • The value of a unified networking platform can be easily expanded with add-ons, such as a guest Wi-Fi splash page, presence analytics, and another Aruba product that provides automated mobile and IoT device visibility (Aruba ClearPass Device Insight).

 

PCI specializes in deployment of the Aruba Central cloud management platform. Our integration engineers are highly trained and certified through Aruba.

“We can help you not only deploy this exciting solution but create policies and tools for you to manage it masterfully,” said Steve Kanne, Founder and VP of Business Development. PCI also offers monthly managed services packages and flexible financing options for customers who are ready to make the switch.

Cloud Management is Technology of the Future Available Today

In the end, the greatest benefit of a unified cloud management networking platform is ease of use. With this simplifying technology available, there’s no reason to continue dealing with painful gaps in service, burdensome trips to multiple locations, inconsistency, errors and security breaches.

If your network suffers from limited resources, bandwidth issues, personnel crunches and rising costs just to keep your old distributed system going, it might be time to invest in your future. Ask us how your organization can start down a path to improved efficiency, fewer mistakes, greater flexibility and deeper insight using a unified cloud management platform.

For more information about Aruba Central or any of your networking or integration needs, call PCI at 402-289-4126 and ask for Sales or email us at sales@primecominc.com


COVID-19 Update: Message from Prime Communications CEO

Dear Partners,

I would like to share an update on what Prime Communications is doing today to keep our community safe and operations moving, as well as specific steps we‘re taking to continue to deliver the solutions your business relies on.

We are closely watching the developments around COVID-19. While the situation is uncertain and quickly changing, we are working to assure the well being of our employees, company, community and you, our customer

Prime’s Business Continuity Update

Employees Working Remotely

Our teams are well equipped to perform their job functions remotely through our proactive measures by providing remote workstations, softphone capabilities, VPN access, internet bandwidth, and access to required applications for colleagues.

Limited Travel

We have eliminated all unnecessary travel and have either rescheduled face to face meetings or have conducted virtual meetings instead. As we continue to operate the business, we’ve taken action in our dispatching to avoid sending employees to areas that are designated quarantine or containment zones as designated by the CDC or local health authorities. We will continue to work in all other areas as usual.

The health and safety of our colleagues, their families, and our communities are the highest priority. We are encouraging everyone to follow the preventive measures recommended by the CDC to stay healthy and slow the spread of the virus, including:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • No handshakes
  • Minimize large group meeting
  • If you are feeling sick or one of your family members has become sick stay home or work remotely if possible
  • Essential travel only
  • Follow CDC guidelines

Prime Communications is well-positioned and prepared to work through this pandemic. As we execute this plan and work through these unprecedented times, we ask for your patience. We will continue to communicate often of any updates and other measures we’re taking as the situation progresses.

If you have specific questions on how this situation may affect your service please reach out to your account manager, email us at sales@primecominc.com or call us at 402-289-4126.

Thank you,

Brian Kenkel
CEO
Prime Communications, INC.


How Cloud-Based SD-Branch Technology Will Help Multi-Site Enterprises Streamline Networking & Reduce Costs

The popularity of legacy WAN (wide area network) systems are waning. Businesses are increasing traffic over connections, causing bandwidth issues. The amount of data transferred over WAN requires a large, expensive pipeline. WAN can be costly because of the robust equipment requirements at each remote location. Furthermore, networking personnel must be onsite for complex, time-consuming, installation and maintenance. As technology advances, WAN legacy systems are becoming outdated, and add-ons aren’t always as successful as we wish they were.

These factors are particularly challenging in an era when companies have a growing need for rapid deployments. Enter software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), a cloud-based technology that has been a boon for businesses with multiple sites or locations.


The Key Differences Between Unified Security and Integrated Security

The inception of electronic security systems began in a world of card access and analog CCTV deployments, where the system operations, although straightforward, were fragmented and siloed. There were one set of monitors for video surveillance, another for card access and so on down the line depending on the complexity of the security solution. IT departments were smaller, and typically the equipment provider was heavily relied upon for service and support.


Facial Recognition Software is Not as Scary as You Think

It’s amazing how many imagined technologies from old science fiction books and movies are becoming realities these days. Recently, one of these “future-world” technologies exploded into tangible present-day prominence: facial recognition. As intriguing as the technology is, there is definitely controversy centered around facial recognition preventing many from taking advantage of its benefits for crime mitigation. In some cases, hesitation to utilize facial recognition could potentially cost lives. The purpose of this writing is to provide reassurance and guidance to those considering a facial recognition solution, and by doing so provide you with information to help you to move forward with confidence.

In this article, we would like to dispel a few myths surrounding security-based facial recognition software and increase your knowledge in this reliable and safe technology.


How to Conquer Vaping in Schools and Get Students Back to Learning

Kids will be kids. It’s their job to find ways to fit in and push back against authority. In the previous decades, this natural tendency has resulted in challenging trends ranging from ducktail hairdos, sagging jeans and disruptive toys, such as the “clicker-clackers” of the 1970s, to serious, illegal habits such as street racing, drinking, smoking and sniffing solvents. It’s a never-ending challenge for parents and educators.

One of the latest worrisome youth trends is e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” an activity that is putting kids in danger and taking too much focus off learning. Teachers and administrators are taking drastic, time-consuming action to fight the trend with little to no positive impact. However new technology, according to first-time users, has all but stopped vaping in some schools.


PRIME COMMUNICATIONS INCREASES COMMITMENT TO LPF

Prime Communications Increases Their Commitment to Retail Education by Becoming the Newest Bachelor Level Partner with The Loss Prevention Foundation

Prime Communications supports LPF by increasing commitment

Matthews, NC (October 16, 2018) – The Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF) announced that Prime Communications has advanced its partnership to become the newest Bachelor level scholarship partner. The Bachelor level partnership secures certification course scholarships and complimentary LPF memberships for Prime to distribute to those in the loss prevention industry.


Prime’s Amit Malla Announced Vice President of Security and Network Solutions.

It is with great pride we announce the promotion of Prime Communication’s Amit Malla to Vice President of Security and Network Solutions. Amit has been a dedicated Prime employee for almost 10 years, and we look forward to the future of Prime with his continued leadership.

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Amit for almost 10 years now. Amit has been committed to this organization since the day he started as an engineer with Prime in 2010. Throughout the years Amit has held many roles from engineering to management. He has always performed his responsibilities in a professional manner while working diligently to expand his education and learn not only the industry but all of the silly idioms we use around the office. It’s truly humbling to work with someone who is constantly striving to learn and improve but still takes the time to lead those around him to grow as well.” stated Jamie Bumgardner, COO for Prime Communications.

Thank you, Amit for your contribution to this organization, for raising the bar and making us a better company. There is no question we would not be where we are today without you on the team!


Prime Achieves Aruba Platinum Status

(OMAHA, Nebr.)—After over 10 years of partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Aruba Networks, Prime Communications Inc. (PCI) has been awarded Aruba Platinum status, the first Omaha-headquartered partner to achieve this level of recognition by one of the leading companies in network access solutions.

Prime Communications obtained elite status based on their performance in volume and value as a member of the award-winning Aruba PartnerEdge Program. The program seeks to recognize high-performing partners by providing benchmarks in sales and technical certifications correlating to four status levels: standard, silver, gold and platinum.


3 Things to Consider When Developing Your Emergency Plan: Starting with Your Technology

In our schools, workplaces and government buildings, we fear the unimaginable: an armed intruder.

Because these unfathomable scenarios are becoming more common, this increases the need for a fully-integrated emergency response plan. If disaster strikes without one, nothing goes to plan—the proper personnel are not alerted, radio frequencies are overcrowded blocking the transfer of messages, and delayed video footage prevents law enforcement from efficiently tracking and evacuating the scene. Each of these examples were a reality on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The sales and engineering team from Prime Communications Inc. (PCI) recently completed a training session with Jerry Wilkins, PSP® NREMT®-EMR, and professional active-shooter emergency plan operations expert from Active Risk Survival, Inc. During the training he shared security footage from the scenario described above and the Virginia Beach shooting. No, it was not easy to watch.

“The most difficult aspect of the video,” said Shannon Neubauer, PCI’s Director of Security Engineering, “was the fact that the footage being monitored by first responders was 20 minutes old.” By the time it was used for situational assessment, the shooter already had left the area and some of the people in the video had lost their lives.

It’s not unusual for an organization to find it is not as prepared as it thought when a real incident happens. “I see so many companies who go through the time and effort to put together an emergency response plan but when I ask them how they are leveraging their technology with the plan, the response is I didn’t take that into consideration,” Wilkins explained.

As a society, we can do better. And we want you to know your technology integrator can help.

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