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How Berkshire Hathaway Uses Limelight PCaaS

Berkshire Hathaway’s Specialty Insurance has been seeing tremendous growth across the entire world. To keep up increasing demands, Berkshire Hathaway needed a reliable phone service provider that promised minimal system outages and predictable results.

The solution? TBL’s Limelight PCaaS — Private Cloud as a Service.

Limelight PCaaS has given Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance the ability to focus on their business, strategies and relationships. See how dedicated equipment and personalized solutions have delivered amazing results at Berkshire Hathaway in this case study.

Berkshire Hathaway

Quest for the Perfect Social Platform–Part 2

Let’s call this Quad day 1 and what a ride its been so far. Admittedly, my Linux skills are limited and that most certainly did not help in this process. There’s been quite a bit of learning about command and control of files systems and mount points that I had previously been able to get through life with which not having to become so familiar. This is all without brining up the oracle discussion…which I’ll skip, for now.


As it stands right now, I have created and deployed twelve, count them, twelve virtual machines to support this meager deployment. This sounds like an extraordinary number of servers, and it is, except for the fact that it’s all running on only two UCS B-Series blades and barely touching the CPU and RAM counts. Each blade has a single 6 core processor and 48GB or RAM.




For performance and failover testing reasons, I have all images running from one host and it’s topping out at less that 10% average CPU and 21GB of RAM consumed.




The number of virtual machines and the subsequent installation of each was initially disconcerting. Having said that, through the install process I have gathered a pretty good understanding of each machine and the role it provides. The manner in which Quad separates services would easily allow for rapid growth and roll out capacity to the tens or even hundreds of thousands of users. This isn’t all that surprising when you take into account Cisco’s history or delivering a product for the enterprise market and over time bringing it downstream.


Cisco’s approach to separating services isn’t all that different that say SharePoint; however, SharePoint allows for database, search, web, and cache services to be installed co-resident. Quad is in essence doing the same thing except that its abstracting the services out at the virtualization layer as opposed to a windows service layer. If anything, this gives Quad a bit of an advantage from flexibility and agility in allow services to be moved around or scaled without having to re-spin. 


Now that we’ve completed  the installation phase of this little project, we move into usability testing. Over the next few weeks I’ll be making a number of integrations with Communications Manager for phone services, Unity Connection for voicemail presentation, Exchange 2010 for calendar accessibility, and the WebEx Connect cloud for presence federation. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks. More info to come!

Hurricane Irene No Match for Collaboration Technologies

As you may have seen from previous posts, TBL eats its own dog food. Even in the wake of wide spread power disruptions and communication network outages, TBL is able to continue operations and support its clients. As I write this post sitting in a local area Starbucks, I cannot help but think about what it was like, even a few short years ago, and how things have changed. In a matter of moments, I’ll be posting this article to our website; I’m able to instant message with co-workers, client and partners on Cisco Jabber; And, I can receive phone calls via Single Number Reach from our Communications Manager.


This is all in the face of nearly the entire county where I reside being without power, our corporate office being inaccessible for the day, and more than 1.2 million others throughout the area without power or communication services. So as you go about your day, raking leaves, cutting up brush, refueling your generators, or even responding to the occasional email…just stop and think for a moment – how technology has changed your life or business, and just imagine what could be possible tomorrow.


Tropical Depression Eight

New Features in Attendant Console 8.5/8.6

I typically refrain from blogging product update news, but that’s really more of a guideline than a rule. Specifically, there have been some recent changes to the attendant console product line from Cisco (ARC OEM) that look to bridge the feature gap between it and the legacy attendant console as well as quell some concerns a number of other areas.


Most notable of these changes are:


1) Session based licensing – Better known as concurrent user licensing, this change brings the attendant console product line back in line with most other Cisco collaboration products. This has long been asked for and well most certainly ease budget concerns for customers who have a number of people who could be managing a call queue at any one time.


2) Forced Delivery – This feature will have the attendants phone actually ring in lieu of the previous behavior of the console ringing first and the call being delivered to the IP phone after accepting the call. When compared to the legacy attendant console package, this behavior generates most of the complaints regarding difference in functionality.


3) Personal Directory Groups – Yet another feature that has been sorely missed for users who grew up on the legacy attendant console.


To round out the list, some other enhancements included in this release are music in queue, wait time overflow, and some additional search functionality, UC on UCS certification.



What is your Social Media Strategy?

Did you know that:

  • 78% of 18-34 year olds
  • 71% of 35-44 year olds
  • 59% of 45-54 year olds

…have either a Facebook or MySpace account?


Did you know that:

  • Average number of tweets per hour is 1.3 million
  • 3.5 billion pieces of content shared each week on Facebook
  • 35 million Facebook users update their status each day


Your customers are talking…





…the question is…are you listening?


TBL is developing a professional services engagement process to assist our customers in assessing what their clients are saying right now, developing a plan to identify and address public feedback, and create strategies to utilize social mediums to drive new sales and better customer loyalty.

We’re looking for a few clients to start down this journey. Drop me an email if you think you might be interested.

Cisco Expands UC Virtualization Support

Stand back….this is a pretty big announcement!  As of June 7, 2011 Cisco began support for some Collaboration (formerly Unified Communications) applications running in a virtual environment on hardware other than their own Unified Computing System (UCS). The is the first in hopefully many steps to come in widening support for benefits we often realize with typical desktop and server applications running on a VMware hypervisor. The details are as follows.


Cisco is pleased to announce expanded virtualization of Cisco Unified Communications starting Jun 7, 2011.

On Jun 7 Cisco will add two additional virtualized UC offers. Customers will then have three deployment options:

1. UC on UCS – Tested Reference Configurations

2. UC on UCS – Specs-based VMware hardware support

3. HP and IBM – Specs-based VMware hardware support

Phase 1 support begins Jun 7, 2011 and should include the following (see for final products and versions supported):

– Cisco Unified Communications Manager 8.0.2+ and 8.5.1

– Cisco Unified Communications Manager – Session Management Edition 8.5.1

– Cisco Unified Communications Management Suite

– Cisco Unity Connection 8.0.2+ and 8.5.1

– Cisco Unity 7.0.2+ (with Fiber Channel SAN only)

– Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and IP IVR 8.5.1

Support for additional products and versions will phase in over rest of CY11.

Specs-based VMware hardware support adds the following

– UC Compute support for UCS, HP, IBM servers on VMware’s hardware compatibility list and running Intel Xeon 5600 / 7500 family CPUs

– UC Network support for 1Gb through 10Gb NIC, CNA, HBA and Cisco VIC adapters that are supported by above servers

– UC Storage support for DAS, SAN (Fiber Channel, iSCSI, FCoE) and NAS (NFS).

– More co-resident UC VMs per physical server if more powerful CPUs are used

– Note that UC / non-UC / 3rd-party co-residency is still not supported.

– Note that hardware oversubscription is still not supported by UC.

– No changes to VMware product, version or feature support by UC


This most certainly gives us far more agility for the manner in which we deploy these applications. More info to come as I get it…