Preserving the Best of The Past

This year marks my 38th year in telecommunications and networking. I often reflect on those years and the changes I’ve witnessed in our industry, the good, the bad and the ugly.

When I started with MCI in 1985, we lived in an IBM world. Businesses mostly ran mainframe computers with 5250 terminals attached via coaxial cable. Distributed intelligence on the desktop was yet to come. The voice world was dominated by three PBX vendors, AT&T, Northern Telecom and ROLM and the phone and data networks were entirely separate networks typically managed by different people.

There weren’t any viruses, because the mainframes and terminals weren’t connected to the Internet. That of course would all come later.

Slowly but surely, we gravitated to the world of distributed networks thanks to IBM’s Token Ring, Microsoft, Apple and Novell, and the world changed forever. New industries were born and new players like Cisco that would come to dominate the new industry.

But some changes weren’t so great, and this is the point where I start to sound like a grumpy old man screaming, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

We wore suits in those days. I worked for a ROLM distributor in the late 1980’s, and the IBM look was de rigueur. Blue suit, white shirt and a red tie. Nicely tailored suits and good shoes with a fresh shine mattered. We had Hartmann briefcases. Now everyone has a backpack slung over their shoulders.

To show our commitment to the company, we came in early. It was always good to beat the boss in. And none of us showed up acting like we were owed something. The attitude in those days was prove yourself and work your way upward via performance.

We were clean cut and had big, nice offices where we’d do elaborate presentations and entertain clients. It wasn’t unlike the presentations you’d see in the television show Mad Men.

These days, customers rarely visit you. They prefer to get PDF documents via email. And while that may be easier, I regret it, because I believe it’s made our vendor-client relationships less meaningful and more tenuous. We just don’t seem to know one another as well.

Since Covid, many companies have closed offices, are 100% virtual and do most communications via tools like Webex. Webex is a phenomenal collaboration tool, but when you no longer gather, you lose team spirit and comradery. There’s no water cooler talk. Walking to lunch together. Gathering for birthdays. Things I believe are important if you want to build a tight, cohesive team. And the character of your team will always be reflected in the type of service a company gives its clients.

People actually answered the phone in the old days. You spoke to live human beings, and while there were automated attendants and voicemail, you only got an automated greeting after hours. You spoke to people in your community, not someone 3000 miles away that had no idea who you were or what made your business tick. Service was much more personalized.

I’m proud of the fact we’ve resisted many of these trends at iConvergence. People answer the phone and talk to you. They listen and respond. And while we do allow some virtual work, we have offices and gather frequently. We know one another. The suits, however, may be gone forever. I recall wearing a suit one day to the office, but with an open shirt, no tie. Everyone else was in polo shirts and khakis (the official pant of the SEC) and someone said, “Are you going to a funeral?”

We approach service the old-fashioned way at iConvergence. Our clients get to know their engineers well. We work hard to really understand our customers businesses so we can appropriately tailor our approach to fit each client’s unique needs. But we do this while also learning and mastering the latest ways to protect and service our clients. I think that’s the secret sauce at iConvergence. Blending the best of the past with the best of the present. Having access to the best tools in the industry and combining those tools with the best people. People that care and that are your neighbors and even your friends.

That approach will never go away at iConvergence.

Digital Immunity for Hybrid Work

Cisco has labeled this period as the hybrid work era because the ongoing pandemic has led companies to create flexible workplaces that combine in-office work with remote work and working on the go.  

While hybrid work can boost employee productivity and satisfaction, it can also create risk on the network. Cisco reported that during the pandemic, cyberattacks have increased a shocking 600% since employees have been working from home. 

Just as people must build up immunity to COVID by getting their vaccinations and booster shots, companies with hybrid work environments must build up digital immunity by protecting themselves from cyberattacks. Digital immunity for hybrid work can be achieved using the right security tools and strategies. 

Here’s an overview of 3 ways you can increase your hybrid work digital immunity: 

Take a Zero Trust Approach to Security 

The Zero Trust approach to security follows the principles of never trust; always verify. Zero Trust uses identity authentication and access controls to protect employees, data, and infrastructure. This approach is effective in a hybrid work environment because it checks the authenticity of every access attempt on the network, whether it comes from inside or outside your business.  

Tools, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), use identity-based methods to strengthen security to protect against internal and external threats. Security information and event management (SIEM) is also useful for taking a Zero Trust approach to security because it logs and analyzes access attempts across a distributed infrastructure, alerting your company to any suspicious activity. 

Monitor Your Digital Assets 

Just as the pandemic makes contact tracing and maintaining physical distance essential, hybrid work makes tracking all your digital assets crucial. Tracking digital assets can be challenging when some are being used on-premises and others are being used on the go or in a home office.  

 When remote employees use their own devices and applications, they create a shadow IT that is difficult to monitor for risk. Using a wireless infrastructure, your company can keep track of users and connected devices in your office, as well as endpoints at the edge of your network. 

Secure In-Office and Remote Workspaces 

Whether employees are working from home or in-office, they deserve to have a productive, satisfying, and safe experience. Employees that work from home want to have the same experience as in-office workers by conversing, meeting face-to-face, and collaborating on projects. 

 Companies that have hybrid environments face challenges in giving everyone the same work experience. Your network must deliver the same secure, reliable connections for people working from meeting rooms, home offices, and coffee shops. Wired and wireless networks can make it easier for employees to connect securely and stay productive no matter where they’re working. 

Keeping Your Hybrid Work Environment Healthy 

There’s no telling how long organizations like yours will be using hybrid work environments. For long-term success, you must find ways to protect your workers as they move between in-office and remote workplaces. Partnering with the right technology provider will help you develop a security strategy for hybrid work that keeps your environment and your employees healthy. 

 iConvergence is an ideal partner because we are a Cisco Advanced Security Partner, offering leading network security solutions. We can help you identify and eliminate security risks in your hybrid workplace. Our team can provide you with all the tools you need to protect your employees in the office and wherever else they work, including Cisco Umbrella, Cisco Firewall, Cisco MFA, and Cisco Secure Endpoint. 

Learn what iConvergence can do to boost the digital immunity of your hybrid workspace. Talk to one of our Cisco experts. 

Hybrid Work Maturity

How Mature Is Your Company’s Hybrid Work Environment? 

As we continue to experience new COVID variants, companies are delaying their move back to the office. Cisco found that more than a quarter of companies surveyed believed they would never get 90% of their workforce to return to the office. 

Instead of asking employees to return fully, companies are transitioning from remote work to hybrid work. Hybrid work creates a blend of in-office and remote workplaces. 

 Even though hybrid work is a relatively new phenomenon, technology thought leaders are working to develop a hybrid work maturity model to gauge how completely companies have made a transition to a hybrid work environment. Your company can assess its level of hybrid work maturity by looking for certain indicators. Mature hybrid work environments provide seamless and frictionless work experiences for employees working in the office, at home, and in other remote locations. 

 To determine your level of hybrid work maturity, ask yourself the following questions. 


Do you have a resilient distributed infrastructure? 

Cisco reported that companies are creating distributed infrastructures to support hybrid work. For example: 

  • During the pandemic, cloud services have grown 30% to 50% 
  • Adoption of videoconferencing platforms has increased 30x 

As companies embrace distributed infrastructures that include the cloud, endpoints, and collaboration tools, they must ensure the resiliency of these architectures to promote business continuity and user satisfaction. 

Organizations with higher levels of hybrid work maturity have created secure cloud-first infrastructures. These infrastructures take advantage of distributed applications and cloud services, such as public cloud, hybrid cloud, software as a service (SaaS), and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).  

With the cloud and connectivity, employees should be able to work safely from anywhere and collaborate from any device. 


Do you follow best practices for business policies and a resilient IT operating model? 

Companies with a high level of hybrid work maturity have developed and follow business policies. These business policies should include rules and best practices for: 

  • Work from home  
  • Data and application security 
  • Workplace resources 

Best practices for a resilient IT operating model should consider: 

  • Network operations 
  • Data Center/Cloud operations 
  • Security operations 
  • Device management 


Are you empowering distributed work in a cloud-accelerated world? 

Hybrid work maturity using a cloud environment requires Zero Trust security and end-to-end visibility that empowers distributed work. To reach a high level of maturity, your company’s strategy must support secure remote work, return to the workplace, and flexible multi-cloud strategies. 

For secure remote work, you need: 

  • Secure communication and collaboration 
  • Secure remote access 
  • Automation and zero-touch provisioning 

For the return to the workplace, you must have: 

  • Optimized connectivity 
  • Scalable capacity 
  • Common policy and segmentation 

For flexible multi-cloud, you should have: 

  • Hybrid and multi-cloud delivery 
  • Applications and cloud services experience 
  • Visibility and assurance 


Increasing Your Level of Hybrid Work Maturity 

Developing a hybrid work maturity model is an emerging and ongoing process. The global market intelligence firm IDC and Cisco have teamed up to conduct research to better understand how companies are transitioning to hybrid work and progressing on their journey to maturity. 

 As a Premier Cisco Partner, iConvergence can help your company assess its hybrid work maturity level and develop a strategy for using Cisco tools to support hybrid work. We focus on solution areas that are critical for hybrid work success, including Networking, Network Security, and Collaboration. Our team of Cisco-certified experts can help you design your hybrid work strategy and implement the Cisco solutions you need to realize it through a hybrid work environment. 

Find out how to increase your hybrid work maturity. Reach out to the Cisco experts at iConvergence. 


Steps to Increase Security for Hybrid Workers

Hybrid work environments are promoting flexibility for the workforce as companies adjust to this extended period of remote working. While some organizations are testing the waters of returning to the office, most employees are continuing to split time between the office and working from home. 

While hybrid work can increase productivity and employee satisfaction, it can also create security risks as employees use email as a primary source of communication and rely on endpoints, such as mobile devices and laptops, to perform their work.  

 Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure you create a safe and secure hybrid work environment for your employees: 

 1) Educate your hybrid workforce. 

Employees can be your greatest security liability or your greatest security asset. Workers may become frustrated with security as they jump through many hoops to access information. They may also unwittingly expose your company to risk by falling for phishing attempts.  

 Educating employees about security awareness will help empower them to recognize suspicious emails and prevent them from clicking on links and attachments that are infected with malware. 

 2) Promote a Zero Trust approach to security. 

In a hybrid work environment, the Zero Trust approach to security makes the most sense. Zero Trust security, with its principles of never trust; always verify, protects your hybrid workplace from internal and external threats. Every attempt to access information, whether from your on-site systems or from remote endpoints, is evaluated to prevent unauthorized access.  

 Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an essential part of a Zero Trust approach because it restricts access using several forms of verification. Security information and event management (SIEM) also promotes Zero Trust by analyzing access attempts and alerting you to threats as a preventative measure. 

3) Build security into the way employees access information. 

Access control can be made flexible enough to protect both remote and in-office employees. A virtual private network (VPN) brings on-premises security to the user, while the cloud moves security out to the remote user. Secure access service edge (SASE) can protect users no matter where they are working, using cloud-native capabilities. 

 4) Protect your email platform. 

Email is a key point of vulnerability for both remote and in-office workers. Hackers often target employees with phishing attacks by using social engineering to impersonate co-workers and authority figures to gain trust. These phishing emails trick employees into clicking on attachments infected with malware. Moving email to the cloud can help protect your hybrid workforce from ransomware and other advanced threats. 

 5) Defend your endpoints. 

Hackers are increasingly attacking the endpoints remote workers depend upon. Your company’s last line of defense is at the endpoint, so you should have full visibility into them, no matter where they are located. Endpoints should be monitored in real time, and you should have the ability to send alerts so any breach can be remediated immediately. 

 Start Securing Your Hybrid Work Environment  

As your workplace environment changes, your company must revise its security strategy. Working with the right security technology partner will ensure you choose the ideal security solutions to protect your hybrid workers. 


iConvergence is a Premier Cisco Partner staffed with certified experts. We can work with your company to define steps for implementing a hybrid work security plan. iConvergence can help you with all the Cisco tools you need for hybrid work security, including Cisco Secure, Endpoint, Cisco Umbrella, Cloud Mailbox Defense, AnyConnect and more. 



Take a deep dive into hybrid work security. Get a copy of the Cisco eBook Take the next step to secure your new hybrid work environment. 

Tips For Hybrid Work

Despite predictions that companies would be returning to the office, the emergence of new COVID variants has extended the reliance on remote workplaces. Now many organizations are creating hybrid work environments that give employees the flexibility to work from home, the office, or other locations. 

Cisco’s The Rise of the Hybrid Workforce study found that post-COVID, 24% of employees report working from home 15 days or more a month. With employees splitting their time between the office and other work environments, companies must find ways of supporting hybrid work through technology. 

Here are 5 tips on how to create a winning hybrid work environment: 

1) Adopt Intelligent Workplace Technology 

Collaboration tools can be enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) for a remote work experience that rivals working in the office. AI can be used for reducing noise, eliminating administrative friction, prioritizing tasks, and accessing information when it is needed. An intelligent web conferencing platform can use automation to increase employee satisfaction, whether at home or in the office. 

 2) Create Secure Access Controls 

Business information must be protected whether an employee is working on-site or off-site. Identity authentication and access controls prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information using the company network. Access controls can be set according to the employee’s job level, so only the appropriate information is at a worker’s disposal. These access controls should be consistent no matter where employees are working from. 

 3) Support Collaboration 

To create a productive hybrid work environment, companies must provide a range of collaboration tools. Collaboration encourages employees to innovate by working on projects together. Collaboration tools, such as web conferencing, chat, and file sharing, allow employees to work together as if they are in the same room, even if they are working remotely. A unified communications (UC) solution will have all the collaboration tools your employees need to communicate in the ways they prefer. 

 4) Enhance Visibility 

Technology should provide real-time visibility into distributed applications, as well as security, network, user, and service performance, for the best user experience. Visibility tools include performance management and insights correlation from infrastructure to code. Real-time analytics and alert thresholds will allow you to monitor network performance and troubleshoot any problems. These tools should grant visibility into a distributed workforce. 

 5) Provide Support for a Variety of Workspaces 

Technology should support a blend of home, individual, collaborative, and common workspaces. Web conferencing platforms with video should provide every individual workspace with secure login, contactless join, and access to your calendar and virtual workspaces.  

 Common spaces need technology that enables safe, intelligent, and engaging use of space across buildings and shared spaces. Video and collaboration tools support meeting room and jump spaces for scheduled and ad hoc meetings through intelligent booking, contactless join and control, voice commands, in-room controls, and notifications and alerts. 

 Put Hybrid Work Tips Into Action 

Technology can enhance the experience of working from home and in the office. Working with the right technology partner will help you get on the path to designing the best hybrid work environment for your employees. 

 As a Cisco Premier Partner with Advanced Certifications in Security, Collaboration, and Data Center, iConvergence is equipped to help your company design a successful and custom hybrid work environment. We believe in delivering results-driven technology solutions. Our team can work with you to decide which leading solutions will empower you to make the most of your hybrid workplace.  

World map of email traffic overview

Cisco Talos: Today's Most Sophisticated and Comprehensive Security Group

World map of email traffic overview

Cisco Talos is one of today’s most comprehensive and sophisticated security groups. Its combination of AI and human intelligence provides constant network, application, and user visibility and collective threat response to network attacks.

Talos’ mission is to provide verifiable and customizable defensive technologies that help protect your critical assets.

There are over 350 engineers in the Talos research center. Talos engineers often publish blogs to give you current data about trends, attacks, and defense strategies.

In a recent post, you’ll find detailed information about the threats observed between Feb. 19 and Feb. 26.

Talos is continuously learning and adapting to help you protect your assets. Here’s the best part: Talos comes free with any Cisco security product purchase!

Disaster recovery header

5 Ways Digital Technologies Have Transformed Disaster Recovery and Response

Disaster recovery header

Aerial view of hurricane aftermathIn the last few years, Americans have witnessed an escalating number of catastrophic events. Hurricanes, mass-shootings, wildfires, waves of flash floods, and tornados, have damaged or destroyed homes and caused hardship for scores of citizens.

In each disaster, technology has played an essential role in management and relief efforts—saving countless lives. Media often covers the role social media plays in connecting catastrophe victims with help and support services. Not as widely discussed, but just as significant, is the support provided by contemporary technologies.

The cloud has transformed disaster relief and management.
The cloud and cloud-native technologies have been instrumental in transforming the preparation and management of disaster response. Disasters often render local infrastructures ineffective, making data access and communication nearly impossible. Because data is stored and accessed far from the disaster area, cloud-based technologies help circumvent what was once a significant challenge. Additionally, the scalable properties of the cloud, and its ability to meet precise requirements surrounding network traffic and volume, help secure local agencies against issues related to network downtime.

Disaster recovery plan buttonCollaboration technologies have transformed communication in times of catastrophe.
Collaboration tools enable secure communication across physical and organizational boundaries, keeping emergency managers organized in times of disaster. With WebEx Teams from Cisco, for example, managers can enact team-specific rooms where documents can be shared, voice or video meetings can be held, and communication occurs in real-time. Collaboration keeps every member of the emergency operations team prepared and informed, radically improving the speed and efficiency of relief during disasters.  This free-flow of information across organizations and groups has had a significant impact in times of catastrophe, helping to connect loved ones, move people to safety and even get clean water, food, and supplies to where it is needed most.

With today’s technology, disaster prediction has taken an enormous leap forward.
Today’s technology has given us the tools to collect, analyze and study data in ways unheard of just a decade ago. With this information, researchers can address persistent problems, create enhanced solutions, predict future catastrophes, and save more lives. As more significant volumes of data are produced and collected during a disaster, researchers are given a more substantial opportunity to examine and learn from lessons and experiences. Findings gathered from big data analytics provide emergency response teams greater ability to move proactively before the next disaster.

Drones are essential for disaster recovery and emergency response.
Drones have become a significant component of the disaster response toolkit. Drones extend the reach of teams working to restore power and accelerate the fulfillment of insurance claims to areas impacted by catastrophe. Protection and speed of recovery are two of the most significant benefits to recovery teams—issues that would have taken days or weeks to address, with drones, can be solved in hours or minutes.

Person using handheld deviceSocial networks are playing an ever more critical role in times of disaster.
Social networking applications are playing an essential role during catastrophic events. During hurricane Harvey, Texans took to social networking applications to document issues and find help. Scores of people used platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to draw attention to areas desperate for assistance, letting loved ones know they were safe. The growth of cloud-based applications has allowed civilians and emergency teams to join together, getting people the resources and assistance they need faster than ever before, thereby saving thousands of lives.

Rapid technological innovations have transformed the velocity of emergency operations and recovery before, during and after the initial event. And, as we continue to study and improve disaster response through data, response times accelerate, communications are optimized, and emergency operations become more streamlined.

Find Out If You and Your Business Are Disaster-Ready:

Book An Appointment Now

Book an appointment now to schedule time with our Disaster Recovery Advisor so we can show you how iConvergence can help your business become ready with best-in-class cloud and collaboration solutions from Cisco.