Month: December 2017

Snow Joke – Why bad weather is bad news for business

Why bad weather is bad news for business (and how you can mitigate the risk)

We had a picturesque display of snow last week, and in some places, the country fell into chaos again: snow and ice caused massive disruption to planes,trains and automobiles in England and Wales. That left a lot of people unable to get to work on time, their email unattended, their phones unanswered.

That’s also a lot of unhappy customers trying to get in touch with you.

This is certainly not a one-off. A few weeks ago we were battling tube strikes and track failures at Waterloo. A few weeks before that a chemical alert closed the M3 and there was what The Telegraph called “world-wide airport chaos” as check-in systems crashed.

None of these things are the kind of disasters you’d make Bruce Willis movies about, but they can do serious damage to your business. A tube strike, some snowflakes or somebody accidentally severing essential communications cabling can be devastating. It can mean the difference between you being there for your customers or losing them to better-prepared rivals.

There’s a better way

Imagine being stuck at home because the snow’s closed your child’s school. No problem. To your customers, you’re in the office: your business number works on your landline, your mobile or your softphone app.

Or maybe you’re stuck at Tebay Services waiting for the snow ploughs to clear the slip roads. Again, no problem. You can work remotely and run conference calls while you sip your coffee.

The trick is to bring the cloud to your communications in the form of hosted voice services.

The benefits from a disaster recovery perspective are obvious, but hosted voice services are useful when things aren’t hitting the fan too. For example, they enable you to add new employees in small or huge numbers quickly — handy during seasonal peaks or other times of high demand — or to quickly reconfigure your call handling to meet a specific business objective, such as a new service launch or a period of peak demand. Removing the need to purchase fixed capacity on-premise voice switches, giving you a solution that can grow or shrink with your business needs.

Hosted voice services can also be helpful for data security and regulatory compliance. If you’re in an environment where call recording is mandatory, the platform can provide that as well, no matter what kind of phone or app is being used. A single administration system that’s easy for your IT team to manage reduces site visits and enables you to provide best-in-class communication services across your organisation.

Ultimately, hosted voice services offer something very valuable: peace of mind. They are there whenever you need them and won’t cost you when you don’t, it keeps your data safe and your people safer, and it brings extra flexibility to your business.

Not only that, hosted voice can also help you to deliver improved customer service, even if your staff are working from home, stuck in snowdrifts, or dealing with the unexpected arrival of Godzilla in Godalming.

  • Disasters needn’t mean meteors or Godzilla. Bad weather or cut cables can leave your business stranded.
  • In this fiercely competitive climate, rivals will happily take the calls you can’t answer.
  • Hosted voice services bring cloud flexibility to your communications.
  • Hosted voice facilitates professional contact no matter where you are.
  • Don’t let disasters risk your data security or employees’ privacy.

See how hosted voice could reduce risk, add flexibility, and make life easier for your business.

Click HERE


re:Invent 2017 : Four Highlights

By Sam Bashton – Head of Public Cloud, Claranet

Last week was the annual Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, where over 40,000 geeks from all over the world gathered to hear the latest news and major product releases (and a few jokes targeted at Oracle’s Larry Ellison). With so many feature enhancements and product releases in an average week at AWS, there’s always plenty to talk about. This year’s conference didn’t disappoint either, with an avalanche of great new technology announced.

I’ll pick just four announcements that I think really show where AWS are heading. In my opinion, although Google and Azure are fighting hard to catch up, it’s hard to see how they can get anywhere close when AWS are playing the strategic game so well. From a technical point of view, many of the new features AWS released match those Google announced at their Next conference last March, but the breadth of what Amazon offers are unrivalled. AWS has an answer for basically every workload, including some (IoT for example) where they have stolen a significant march on their competitors.


EKS – or ‘Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes’, to give it its full name – was a highly anticipated release which I believe really shows how differently AWS behaves to the rest of the IT industry.

Kubernetes is an open source container orchestrator initially created by Google, and offered as a managed service by them since 2014. Initially, Amazon tried to compete with their own open source project, Blox, but they have clearly been listening to what customers are asking for (“Make Kubernetes on AWS easy!”)

The ability and willingness to adapt, instead of stubbornly doubling down on their own competing product, provides real insight into why AWS will continue to dominate the Cloud landscape for the foreseeable future.


Graph databases aren’t at the forefront of IT media consciousness in the way machine learning is, but they can offer many of the same capabilities.

The “People that bought this also bought…” alert is often trotted out as an example of machine learning, but a graph database can provide this data without needing to be trained on large quantities of data. Up until now, running a clustered graph database in production such as Neo4j was possible but had a sizeable management overhead. Neptune brings the ease of RDS to graph databases, with the same underlying functionality of Amazon Aurora storage. In addition, data is replicated across multiple data centres and read replicas are provided, but in a fully managed service.

I expect Neptune to bring a new interest to this under-appreciated class of databases. When combined with machine learning enabled from Sagemaker (below), Neptune provides a way for businesses to easily build tools that were previously out of reach for anyone but the tech giants.


Machine learning is complex, and Amazon SageMaker doesn’t change this fact; it won’t be putting any data scientists out of work, but it will make them more productive. What it does is take away much of the ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’, making it easy to spin up clusters and import, explore and visualise training data.

In a similar vein to the EKS announcement, it’s interesting to note that Tensorflow, another Google open source project, has equal billing with MXNet, the open source project behind which Amazon has previously put most of their energy.


I’m constantly surprised by just how much of a lead Amazon’s competitors have let them steal in the IoT space, particularly given the fact that the people Amazon are up against are market leaders in mobile and desktop.

With AWS IoT and Greengrass, announcements from re:Invent in previous years, AWS have created a great environment to build IoT devices. Deeplens is effectively a hobbyist device, which demonstrates just how effective these can be when combined with Sagemaker. Essentially a small Linux device with a built-in camera and a powerful graphics processor, Deeplens has been built to let people play with computer vision machine learning. At re:Invent, Amazon got Deeplens to detect people and hot-dogs in just a couple of hours, and I think this is an amazing tool to let people easily and cheaply prototype new features.

Find out more.