mindSHIFT: VoIP and a broad palate of IT services.

Part 46 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services — Serving nonprofits and professional services firms, mindSHIFT offers both hosted and dedicated PBX solutions.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Jan 26, 2010
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mindSHIFT Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, provides technology infrastructure and software services to small and medium-size businesses, enabling them to improve productivity and protect their businesses from data loss and business interruptions.

The company is different from most of the hosted PBX providers we have profiled in this series, in that that it offers a wide range of IT services—not only VoIP, but also e-mail, storage, Web hosting, security, disaster recovery, CRM, and SharePoint.

Founded in 1999, mindSHIFT today has operations centers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., fully managing more than 60,000 desktops for professional workers in small and midsized organizations. A team of 375 employees provides managed services to more than 6,000 organizations, including a large customer base of associations, nonprofits, and professional services firms such as law offices.

mindSHIFT is an accredited member of the MSPAlliance, a professional association and accrediting body for the managed services industry, is ranked number one as a managed services provider by MSPmentor, and has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the world.

mindSHIFT typically serves customers with between 20 and 500 seats. As it owns and operates its own VoIP infrastructure, it is able to provide its customers with quick activation and response to any service change requests.

The company also has a refreshing way of defining business class VoIP— from three different perspectives: private connectivity instead of relying upon the public Internet; end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize voice traffic, plus assigned account managers and a 24x7x365 operations center that is staffed with real people, not "FAQ" web pages and e-mail support.

The company offers both dedicated and hosted VoIP solutions, with service available in the continental 48 states. Both systems features SIP phones from either Cisco Systems or Polycom, plus the ability to re-use existing compatible SIP phones that customers may already have available.

Customers that require an on-site solution due to unique integration requirements will likely opt for mindSHIFT's dedicated VoIP offering. This service is based on Cisco IP PBX solutions—including the Communication Manager and Communications Manager Express—and provides integrated unified messaging, plus integration with other applications. The dedicated VoIP service delivers voicemails to users’ e-mail inboxes as .wav files that can be managed via e-mail and also integrated with Microsoft Outlook to leverage the Outlook contact lists. The dedicated solution also supports telecommuting, diverse work locations, and home offices.

In contrast, the hosted VoIP service is targeted at businesses looking for low initial startup costs, the disaster recovery protection offered by an offsite architecture, and a simplified user interface, compared to standard business phone systems. This solution may be also be preferred by those customers who have multiple office locations, are upgrading antiquated PBX systems, are expanding offices or relocating, or require highly flexible mobile solutions for telecommuters, mobile workers or road warriors.

In addition to call forwarding, hold, transfer and 3-way calling, the hosted system will send voice mail attachments with the message converted into a .wav file; It also provides user management of calling features and functionality via the telephone, either locally or remotely through a voice portal; plus access to a web portal over the public Internet, which offers self-service management of a particular user’s calling features. The system’s PC access to call control features allows users to control their phone with click-to-dial, hold, transfer, and other standard features from a PC. As with the dedicated solution, the hosted service provides access to various directories, including personal, corporate, and Outlook contacts databases.

The mindSHIFT system includes a number of features useful to mobile workers, including simultaneous ring, which allows multiple phones to ring at the same time, connecting the first phone to be answered to the call; sequential ring, which enables users to define a "find me" list of phone numbers that are alerted sequentially for incoming calls that match specified criteria; selective call forwarding that enables users to define criteria, such as caller identity, time of date, or day of week, and redirect those incoming calls to another destination; remote office support, which enables users to access and use their phone and all of its features from anywhere, including a PC in a home office or a mobile phone; and PC integration, which lets users with headsets make and receive calls, plus utilize other voice features, all from the PC. The system integrates a special toolbar into Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer toolbars, which enable them to use the telephone features from within e-mail and web browsers.

In summary, mindSHIFT offers a deep experience and resources, including a highly integrated environment that encompasses both the telecom and IT sides of the network equation. Further information on the mindSHIFT solutions can be found at www.mindshift.com . Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved


Author's Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

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