Samsung has entered the hosted IP telephony market with the launch of a new offering that combines the functionality of an on-premise Samsung Communication Manager IP phone system with the benefits of a hosted model, such as no upfront capital expenditure, no requirement for on-premises equipment, easy scalability and automatic maintenance and upgrades.
On this basis alone, Samsung Hosted is an attractive proposition. But there is much more to it than this and, in developing the system, Samsung has taken the opportunity to create a solution that addresses the concerns and requirements of businesses today, particularly in relation to mobility, data security and regulatory compliance.
This, claims Wilfred Wood, senior product manager at Samsung Electronics UK, sets Samsung Hosted apart from other hosted offerings.
“Demand for a Samsung hosted solution has been growing for some time, but we resisted the pressure to launch just another ‘me-too’ product. Instead, we took our time creating a solution that stands out from everything else on the market and delivers true Samsung quality,” he said.
Samsung Hosted is based on Samsung Communication Manager (SCM) and provides all the telephony features you would expect from an on-premise IP PBX. This extends to features like busy lamp fields, which show when others on the system are on a call.
Having exactly the same feature set on the on-premise and hosted variations of SCM gives customers the flexibility to move to (or from) a hosted solution at any time, with no loss of functionality. The phone system, the functionality, the handsets, all are the same; only the system’s location changes.
One of the strengths of Samsung SCM for organisations today is its no compromise mobile integration. Customers can use smartphones or desk phones as their handset of choice, or a combination of both. They can start with desk phones and add smartphones later or start with smartphones and then add deskphones or softphones. Samsung Hosted supports all deployment models.
When deskphones and Samsung smartphones are used together, they can be fully integrated. Incoming calls can ring on both handsets and calls can be transferred from one device to another in mid-conversation, with no break in the speech path.
Mobile integration on Samsung Hosted extends to a powerful Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) that enables customers to track, monitor and control corporate mobile devices and, should they wish to do so, record calls made to and from them.
Wilfred Wood sees the ability to record conversations between mobile devices, between mobiles and landlines and between landlines as a major attraction.
“Call recording is essential for organisations involved in financial services, as it enables compliance with new MiFID II regulations that require an audit trail for all financial transactions, including those made on mobile devices. But it is also very useful for organisations in other industries where it can be used for training purposes or to back-up an employee in case of a dispute with a customer,” he said.
Samsung Hosted doesn’t record just conversations; it can also capture SMS messages and photos and 10-second video clips taken on a smartphone/ tablet, complete with GPS location details and time and date stamps.
While voice recordings provide evidence of commitments made, images and video clips offer visual evidence of work done, for example, with before and after shots, or deliveries made (the system can also capture signatures made on a Samsung Note device), or attendance at an event or meeting.
Recordings are encrypted and stored in Samsung Hosted datacentres free of charge for six months from the date of capture, after which they can be kept in the cloud for a fee or downloaded for archiving and storage by the customer.
“When I talk to people about call recording, a common reaction is to say that it all sounds a bit intrusive. In fact, recordings are done in the background and are there to assist employees rather than keep tabs on them. Businesses don’t have time to listen to hours of recordings, but if a problem arises, those recordings provide an audit trail that will hopefully exonerate their employees of any blame,” explained Wood.
Visibility and control
In this respect, call recording can help organisations fulfil their duty of care to employees. This is true of other aspects of the MDMS. For example, the ability to track the location of mobiles or receive alerts if a phone has not been used for a certain period can help protect employees and, in an emergency, lone workers can press three buttons on the side of their device to transmit an SOS and their GPS location.
By giving businesses complete visibility and control over corporate mobile devices, the Samsung Hosted MDMS also enables employers to identify and eradicate inefficient, wasteful or unauthorised practices and, crucially, maintain data security.
It lets administrators and managers track where the company’s phones are, see what they are being used for and monitor and control them remotely. They can turn devices on and off; turn mobile data on and off; wipe a device remotely; block SMS messages; delete unauthorised apps; view call logs, including the Top 10 numbers dialled; access telemetry information; track the location of mobiles; and do much else besides.
Such advanced functionality is normally only enjoyed by enterprises with hundreds or thousands of mobile devices to keep track of, but there are many smaller companies that would benefit from this level of control, such as service companies with field technicians or delivery companies that might want to track the whereabouts of a driver – GPS tracking (down to 5 second intervals) can even be used to track a device for mileage purposes.
All companies will benefit from an enhanced ability to secure company data, for example by deleting unauthorised and unsecure apps from corporate devices, or by remotely wiping lost or stolen devices.
By providing access to the MDMS and call recordings through a single portal, Samsung Hosted makes it easier for businesses to comply with existing and new data privacy regulations, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which, when it comes into force in 2018, will increase the penalties for data breaches and require users to comply with ‘right to be forgotten’ requests.
From the outset, Samsung Hosted has been designed as a complete solution offering end-to-end security from the handset to the datacentre.
“By providing everything the customer needs, including a dedicated broadband connection, handsets and mobile devices, we can ensure the customer enjoys excellent call quality and a very high level of security at every point, with no weak links,” explained Wood.
Broadband connections between the customer’s premises and datacentre are secured and encrypted using TLS and SRTP protocols; communications with handsets are secured, without the need for VPNs or other complex deployments; and Samsung smartphones and tablets are protected by the built-in KNOX security system, which has achieved Common Criteria and CESG accreditation, indicating its compliance with Government security standards.
Voice recordings and MDMS data are stored in UK datacentres in Cirencester, Cheltenham, Bristol and Birmingham. These are built and managed in line with recommendations laid down by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), which stipulates 99.999% uptime.
They are ISO 9001 and ISO 27001/2 certified and offer N+1 redundancy plus mirroring in a second datacentre, with load balancing between the two. If one system goes down, the other site automatically takes over without a break in communication. Samsung Hosted datacentres are currently undergoing ISO 22301 certification, a new standard for business continuity. They are governed under UK law and cannot be accessed by third parties.
Wood points out that with such high security levels, Samsung Hosted is a viable option for a wide range of businesses and Government bodies.
“Organisations that might have discounted hosted telephony in the past due to security fears, such as hospitals, Government organisations or education providers, can now enjoy its many benefits confident that their communications are protected and secure,” he said.
“In addition, tight mobile integration enables small and medium-sized business to continue to give their employees the flexibility they require without losing control over customer communications or increasing the risk of a data breach.”
Moreover, because all elements of the system are optimised to work together, customers have peace of mind that should a problem occur they have just one number to call for a speedy resolution.
In the past, hosted IP telephony has been a popular option for small and growing businesses that prioritise flexibility and affordability. With Samsung Hosted, it is also a compelling proposition for organisations that put data security above all else.
• Easy scalability from 1 to 3,000 extensions per site
• No capital expenditure on equipment, just a monthly usage fee
• No requirement for on-premises equipment – all you need is a
handset and/or Samsung smartphone
• Easy integration of remote workers and other offices
• Automatic maintenance and upgrades, with no need for site visits –
it all takes place in the cloud
• Future-proof – users automatically enjoy the latest system features
• Big system security included in the monthly fee
• Resilience – instead of having to install two systems on your
premises with two separate network connections to different BT
exchanges in BT, everything is dealt with in the hosted environment
• Certified security – giving you piece of mind that your
communications are secure and any data held is secure and
controlled under UK law.
• Expandable platform – in the future, Samsung will be launching
Samsung Contact Centre as a hosted option, giving customers
the opportunity to streamline call handling, with automatic call
distribution, skills-based call routing, self-service options, call
monitoring/recording and automatic diallers.