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Eating your own dog food!

Goodness, it’s been ever such a long time since I last posted. We’ve been busy. I wish I could say we’ve been busy acquiring new customers and altering many a paradigm. The reality is much more mundane but equally as important. We moved into our own office on the 1st December 2015, and as it will only house six of us it’s still rather too bijou to hold an office warming party. Unless we stack desks and dangle chairs out of the windows. Who knew that office furniture was both so complicated and so expensive, especially considering we’ve now moved beyond a sheet of ply atop a couple of oil drums being suitable!

As always the real challenge came when we had to fulfil the dream for ourselves of what we provide to others, something I’ve often heard referred to as “eating your own dog food”. A phrase that caused Patrick to blanche before I explained. Which I’ll try to do now before putting you off your next meal. We pride ourselves on being able to provide a solution to practically any technology problem, especially in the areas of networks and telecoms. We should really be able to do so for ourselves as the excuse that a builders own house is never complete is not really acceptable.

As we’re in serviced offices, with restrictions regarding access to risers and comms cupboards, my preferred option of having a fibre, with a Smart Network, is not possible. We duly ordered a connection provided by the building operators. This connection is primarily for our IP Telephony system which is a Cloud PBX and Aastra (now Mitel) handsets. Due to the requirements of security and restricting access, because we don’t want our PBX to be accessed by anyone else other than us in order to prevent fraudsters making Christmas 2015 a real bumper one, we have to lock down access in a variety of ways. Which I won’t go into here because fraudsters and cyber criminals can read too. Probably.

Essentially, we require a dedicated connection for IP Telephony, which can also be used for other purposes. At the very least we need to give the impression of a dedicated connection. Which means, whilst we wait for our port to be delivered we are currently using a 4G dongle via EE coupled with a rather clever little router device. It’s more than suitable for ten concurrent calls, which could service an office of up to forty to fifty people. Assuming they’re not contact centre agents of course. The buildings management team here at Birmingham Research Park have been ever so helpful in trying to expedite the installation of our dedicated line but are hamstrung a little by the owners of the equipment in the Comms room.

No matter the restrictions or the challenges I almost always expect that they are not insurmountable. Quite the opposite, we thoroughly enjoy tackling the ‘can’t be done’ or the ‘it’s too difficult’. Rubbish. Try it, the number is 0121 374 0113. I only know that because it’s written on a post it note which is attached to the phone. If it doesn’t work, it’s probably because the fraudsters are Phreaking the number!

If the simplicity of making a call is not at all challenging enough for you, perhaps something similar to the gauntlet set by an existing customer on Thursday 7th January 2016.

Can you install a high capacity link, greater than 100Mbps, between two sites more than 25km apart? Before the end of January 2016?

After wiping the spilt tea from my new desk, I said “yes, leave it with me”. The quote was provided on Monday 11th January 2016, complete with timescales and deliverables.