After several years of extensive searching, numerous building tours, and countless meetings with public officials, real estate brokers and architects, it’s official: MCPc is moving to downtown Cleveland. As of Dec. 22, 2010, we signed our lease with the Plain Dealer Publishing Company. This summer, we will relocate our corporate headquarters to the 1801 Superior Building, a state-of-the-art facility almost tailor-made for our organization.
A Long & Tedious Process
To begin our search, we enlisted David Hildebrandt, MCPc’s Corporate Counsel and contract and negotiations expert, to secure a real estate broker and begin looking at properties.
We also hired an architect who helped us detail the specific needs for the new space by analyzing our current state and projecting out our square footage needs over the next five years. With this information, the real estate broker was able to present only properties that met our criteria.
In addition, building developers who became aware of our search contacted us with recommendations, which led to additional physical tours.
Ironically, the 1801 Superior building didn’t initially make the list of acceptable properties as it only listed its office space square footage. It wasn’t until a broker referral indicated there was potential for our technology center to be built out in a portion of the parking garage that we contacted the Plain Dealer. Now, months later, our selection has been made and I couldn’t be happier with our decision.
I’d like to applaud the City of Cleveland officials — including our mayor Frank Jackson, his office, Cleveland City Council and the Economic Development team — who were committed to our project and worked hard to help bring our dreams to fruition.
Our New Neighborhood
The 1801 Superior Building is located in The Superior Corridor, one of Cleveland’s newest revitalized neighborhoods. Renovated buildings, loft condominiums, casual restaurants and numerous artist studios occupy this downtown area.
We’ll be in close proximity to Cuyahoga Community College and in walking distance to Cleveland State University, offering convenience and flexibility to staff members wishing to continue their educational aspirations. Plus, our new location is just a few blocks from Playhouse Square, one of the country’s largest theatre districts — second only to Broadway itself.
Our new office is also a stone’s throw from the new Medical Mart, whose ground breaking is in a few short weeks. And, we're only a bus ride away — along the newly finished Euclid corridor — to the world-class medical facilities in the University Circle area, as well as Case Western Reserve University. This positioning will be ideal, as we will soon start moving on some big plans for healthcare technology in 2011.
We look forward to the enhanced opportunities to recruit new interns and employees through the above-mentioned schools, as well as John Carroll University and STEM High School.
Benefits of the Move
With convenient access to the inner-belt highway, the 1801 Superior Building is easily accessible, improving overall collaboration with our employees and clients. Our employees will benefit from free parking and an on-site cafeteria complete with chef that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, the facility features 24x7x365 security, helping to ensure that our expanded office, lab and warehouse remain safe and secure at all times.
Our future office and meeting-room space will double to approximately 45,000 square feet, with an additional 50,000 square feet for our technology and distribution center. With consistent growth that has required the addition of new engineering, project management, sales and support positions, we have long outgrown our current Strongsville, Ohio headquarters. This new facility helps ensure scalability for the future.
Building Design and Layout
MCPc will occupy the entire third floor of the 1801 Superior Building, which is currently the headquarters of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper. The Plain Dealer will continue to occupy the first, second and fourth floors, and have been very welcoming to our organization.
Since MCPc first signed the letter of intent on June 2, 2010, several focus groups have been working on design elements, specifically the office layout, Customer Experience Center, Technology Center and lobby design. The building was constructed approximately 10 years ago, and MCPc is working with the original architect to ensure that design and delivery goals are met, but also that the integrity of the building design is preserved.
We are repurposing what was once the dispatch center for the Cleveland Plain Dealer into our Technology Center. Our own internal staff is leading the technology and space requirements while leaning on the architectural firm’s expertise to meet these needs.
The second floor of the 1801 Superior Building includes a state-of-the-art conference center and multiple meeting rooms, enabling us to hold small- and large-scale customer events. In addition, the construction of 10 additional meeting rooms, complete with telepresence and video conferencing, will be built on the third floor. Quiet work spaces, as well as casual gathering areas, will complement our facility, giving our employees and customers various work environments for creative thinking and collaboration.
Customer Experience Center
In an effort to truly provide our customers all over the country with access to the technologies that will impact their businesses and their bottom lines, we’re creating a 4,000-square foot Customer Experience Center. Here, customers can touch, test, research and evaluate new technologies prior to purchasing them – a significant offering for our customers and a unique facility in northeast Ohio.
More Than a New Address
Our move is so much more than just a physical relocation of our headquarters. As CEO, my long-term vision for MCPc has been to support the growth and revitalization of Northeast Ohio. Our recent collaboration with the City of Cleveland, The Greater Cleveland Partnership and the State of Ohio is just the beginning of our commitment to this vision.
MCPc is bringing more than 175 technology, management and administrative jobs to downtown Cleveland. Discussions have already begun with various science and technology programs within the city in order to enhance the educational experience of our high school and college students. And, the centralized location will enable our management team to be more involved in technology organizations throughout the area.
It is clear that great opportunities lie ahead for MCPc, and I am tremendously proud of the talent we’ve assembled to help us achieve them.
What do you want to see from us with our new location? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Mike Trebilcock, MCPc Chairman and CEO, and leader in the IT industry, has more than 25 years of sales and management experience in many entrepreneurial roles. MCPc is driven by Trebilcock's values, vision and leadership in setting the standard of excellence for our customers.
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2010 was such an exciting year for MCPc! As part of the IT industry, we are accustomed to embracing the latest and greatest in new technologies and working hard to remain a leader in them. But this year was an especially interesting one for us. Here’s a look back at our top ten moments in 2010:
As we approach the new year, we’re looking forward more than ever to meet the needs of our customers and partners. We have a lot to be proud of at MCPc, but the added value that our achievements bring to our customers and partners is what makes them truly stand out. We’re continuously seeking ways to enhance our services by advancing our knowledge and capabilities. We look forward to an even brighter 2011.
But it’s not really just about our collective accomplishments. Personal achievements and memorable moments are as important as professional ones.
My own personal top ten includes some of the items on MCPc’s list, but also things like traveling back to my college alma matter for a reunion weekend, singing a duet that made it onto my church choir’s CD, and celebrating with my Dad who turned 75 this year.
You know that the holidays will be over before we know it, and we’ll look back and wonder how they flew by so fast. I hope you will take some time to think about what you have achieved both personally and professionally this year, as well as what you are looking forward to in 2011. What would you put on your top ten lists? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
Beth Stec is VP of Corporate Communications and Human Resources at MCPc, and is responsible for the development and management of personnel programs and policies. Connect with Beth on LinkedIn.
photo cedit: *Sally M*
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You may have heard about “SIP trunking” or using SIP to reduce your telecommunications costs, but you may not be exactly sure what it is or if it’s a strategy your company should consider. Here I offer a basic explanation of what SIP is and how it may help your company save money and gain greater telecom flexibility.
Telecom costs are continuing to decrease. Costs for IP (Internet Protocol) phones systems, local and long distance rates and data circuits have gradually reduced over time. I am reminded of the story of the farmer who drove to the local co-op to buy bales of hay. He asked how much a bale costs and the store owner said, “well, the more you buy the cheaper it gets.” At that the farmer replied, “great, keep loading ‘em up on my truck until it’s free!” So goes the telephony market except for the fact that it actually never really gets to “free.”
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is simply another way to deliver connectivity to your phone system for local and long-distance calling. Rather than using traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) circuits such as T-1s, PRIs or analog lines, many service providers offer SIP. SIP trunks are delivered through your data (Internet) connection rather than via traditional PSTN trunks.
The cost for SIP trunks is much less than traditional circuits, and the measured per minute rates (local/long distance) are equally cost-effective. Companies can save quite a bit by using SIP trunks, but you will need to have the proper equipment to take advantage of SIP. There are four components needed to use SIP:
- An IP-based phone system capable of accepting SIP trunks
- An Internet connection robust enough to handle the SIP traffic
- A gateway device to allow the SIP trunks access to your network
- A service provider to deliver the SIP Trunks
How to Set up Your Environment for SIP
Virtually every phone system manufacturer today offers IP-based phone systems or hybrid systems that use digital and IP handsets. You need to ensure that your phone system will accept SIP trucks as the connection to the outside world. Today, SIP compatibility can be done inherently with most systems, or via an appliance that will translate the SIP trunks to your phone system.
If you do not have an IP-based phone system, you may still be able to take advantage of SIP. Some providers will offer SIP service through an IAD (Integrated Access Device), which splits your connection between voice and data. The IAD will “hand off” the trunks to your phone system as analog, PRI or T-1 trunks, whichever your system is set to handle. From your phone system the lines appear to be normal PSTN trunks, however at the carrier side, the traffic is handled as SIP.
Make sure that your Internet connection is stable and large enough to allow IP voice (SIP) traffic. Some SIP providers require you have their circuits as your data connection, while others simply use your existing circuit.
Either way, if you have a small DSL connection and want to run 50 voice calls over it, you may find that your connection does not have enough bandwidth to support your needs. In that case, consider upgrading your data connection or use a combination of SIP and traditional PSTN circuits to balance your connections between the two.
The SIP provider should be able to give you some guidelines that specify how much bandwidth you need for the call volume you anticipate.
Lastly, since SIP trunks come over your Internet connection, you need to be sure your network will allow the traffic to pass to and from the SIP provider. This typically means that your firewall needs to be set to allow the traffic, while maintaining the appropriate security. You may also be able to prioritize the voice traffic on your network to help QOS (Quality of Service) for your calls.
Remember, simply using SIP will not make all your telecom expenses go away, but you can expect a significant reduction in monthly or annual costs. SIP-to-SIP calls are by far the least expensive calls to terminate, however many companies you call may still have traditional circuits, which means the SIP provider must translate the call at some point onto a PSTN circuit and thereby incur some measured costs (cost per minute).
Other advantages of SIP include the ability to have local phone numbers in different cities which terminate to one location via a data circuit. This can be advantageous for companies wishing to have a local presence phone number without a physical site.
Getting Started With SIP
We are seeing more companies adopt SIP strategies within their overall portfolio of telecom solutions although few have converted completely to SIP. Most have used SIP as an additional resource and balance their connections between traditional PSTN and SIP. Adopting this strategy will provide the best of both worlds and give you some redundancy in the event of issues or problems with one specific route.
Has your organization made the switch to SIP? What benefits are you seeing? Or, if you’re considering SIP, what questions do you have about it? Please share your experiences or concerns in the comments below.
Frank Marro served as Regional Vice President responsible for sales management in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. He also directed MCPc’s national carrier service program, which provides solutions for clients looking for voice, video and data circuits for WAN connectivity.
Last month, Gartner published a press release encouraging CEOs to understand and “seize the iPad opportunity now.” The release lauded the virtues of iPad in the enterprise and directed CEOs to seriously evaluate its potential benefits for their own organizations, and put corporate IT support in place for the device.
For many organizations, the CEO user segment falls outside the typical corporate refresh cycle and are likely the first to bring an iPad or other device into the enterprise. Innovation and these alternate form factors are driving adoption by individuals. Internal departments outside of IT are also finding that these form factors are purpose-built to solve and deliver creative, high-tech and low-cost business solutions.
This month, a flood of new mobile devices — such as iPads, tablets and smartphones — will land in the hands of employees everywhere. The Windows 7-based HP slate was introduced in November as was the 7” Android-based Samsung Galaxy. Early adopters will invariably introduce their organizations to the concept of bring your own device (BYOD) to work.
Largely because of this increased mobile usage, employees demand more flexibility in how they access company data, and employers seem open to providing it. And, it appears that each device will have a specific purpose — some for creating content (corporate devices), consuming content (iPads and tablets) or snacking on content (smartphones).
The introduction of these devices will drive adoption of other solutions and applications that facilitate moving data to the cloud – applications like DropBox and Sugarsync – whether unbeknownst to or sanctioned by corporate IT.
Stealth IT, a term used to describe services consumed by and delivered to business users without the knowledge or support of the IT organization, whether it is through a device or an application, will require changes to your corporate governance policies. For example, some companies are blocking access to ActiveSync, Microsoft software to synchronize Windows-based mobile devices, while others are requiring end users to register the device to maintain PCI and HIPPA compliance.
As mobile devices and cloud-based applications continue to infiltrate your IT environment, you must begin thinking now about how your organization will balance the flexibility demanded by your staff with corporate security and regulatory compliance.
It is likely that stealth IT isn’t going away anytime soon. How will you prepare and protect your organization?
Ira Grossman, VP, Personal Systems Group, has more than 15 years of technology project management experience and is an expert in lifecycle management and mobile device management for the enterprise, including the iPad. Connect with Ira on LinkedIn.
Are you a business leader in Northeast Ohio interested in learning more about mobile devices and other advanced technologies for your organization? Join us on Wednesday, August 10 at 3:00 p.m. for a roundtable discussion: Mobile Device Explosion. This will be the second session of a three-session series that also includes Path to the Cloud (7/19) and Intuitive Collaboration (9/29). All three events will take place at our future headquarters, 1801 Superior Ave. in downtown Cleveland. You can attend all three or any combination of sessions. Click here to learn more and register.
Each month, MCPc shares articles from last month that provide insight on prominent IT topics. In this article, we take a look at: How to make virtualization work best for your business, expert tips for troubleshooting, the (perhaps surprisingly) common future of telepresence, and how CIOs can position themselves to lead organizational transformations.
In Virtualization Meets Its Organizational Limit, John Dix faces a too-often-ignored truth about virtualization head-on: “If we are to get the most out of highly virtualized, cloud-ready environments,” he says, “we are probably going to have to rethink the way parts of IT are organized.”
Dix takes a look specifically at Cisco, which reorganized its traditional, siloed structure — organized in teams by platform, storage, network, etc. that each developed their own solutions — to instead have “an architecture team, a design team, an implementation team and, effectively, an operations team.” Now, all teams work together, taking a more holistic approach to the company’s complete IT environment.
Ratmir Timashev, president and CEO of Veeam Software, which recently completed a survey of 500 CIOs about virtualization, agrees:
“Without the correct strategy, organizations will never unlock virtualization’s full potential… What is needed is a change of perspective. Businesses must stop looking at a virtual environment as simply an extension of physical infrastructure. Instead, they must realize that virtualization can bring a host of extra benefits to data protection, but only if they change their approach to management. If they can do this, then organizations will be able to reap the benefits of virtualization. If not, then businesses must resign themselves to the fact that they will never be able to fully trust or exploit their virtual infrastructure.”
If your company is seriously considering virtualization, approach it from an organizational level first to determine how it can benefit the company overall. Then, make sure you have the structure and processes in place to ensure you get the most out of the investment and new infrastructure.
In Six Immutable Laws for Troubleshooting IT, Paul Venezia shares common practices he sees among top IT troubleshooters, including:
- They never work on the interface of a network device they’re currently using.
- They always make sure that they can get back to the original problem state, in case an attempted fix doesn’t work.
- They always document problems and their resolutions, so that if a similar issue occurs in the future it can be fixed rapidly.
For details on these, as well as the other three tips, see Venezia’s complete article.
Carl Weinschenk, in an article entitled A Pretty Picture for Teleconferencing, makes the case that “telepresence is moving from the periphery of telecommunications tools to a prime spot.”
Weinschenk shares a couple of examples of “normal – not exotic” use of telepresence, showcasing that as the technology continues to improve and simultaneously becomes more affordable, its adoption will surely increase:
- The General Services Administration (GSA) plans to open 14 teleconferencing centers to empower its mobile employees, and later improve its communications with other government agencies.
- The Maryland Department of Public Safely and Correctional Services will use teleconferencing to keep criminals off the street — they will participate in court and doctor’s visits by video.
Key takeaway for IT professionals: The business use cases for telepresence are endless, if you think creatively about how it can work specifically for your organization.
IT & Business Strategy
In Gartner: CIO As Business Transformation Leader, Don Reisinger cites a recent Gartner CIO advisory that argues IT’s unique position to help lead change within organizations. This is because IT typically lands at the center of navigating business transformations, either as a key enabler or a hinderer.
Reisinger states: “CIOs are positioned to play an integral role in corporate strategies as enterprises develop plans to emerge from the Great Recession. The key is knowing how to accomplish transformational change that fulfills the strategy of your CEO and fellow C-suite executives while keeping the business running.”
Gartner offers 10 questions to ask to determine how IT can help businesses achieve transformational goals — and the corresponding CIO actions for each. They are organized in the categories of: contextual, implementation and organizational. For example:
- Contextual: “What is the deadline for the change?”
- Implementation: “How complex is your infrastructure?”
- Organizational: “What is the impact on key and mission-critical processes?”
If as an IT leader you find yourself wanting to do more from a business-strategy standpoint, read the complete article, and see what advice you can glean from Gartner.
What Do You Think?
What articles, blog posts, videos or podcasts did you find interesting last month? Post a comment, and we’ll be sure to keep an eye on those sources for future wrap-up articles like this one.
This post is an MCPc blogging team collaboration.
Typically, the driver behind a new technology project will come from one of two places:
- There is a specific type of technology that you want to implement, because you understand the solution and believe that it will work well for your business. In this situation, you might say to yourself, “I want to virtualize my data center.”
- You want to achieve specific business or operational goals, but aren’t quite sure what the best solution may be. In this case, you may think, “Our data center is growing out of control and consuming a lot of power. We need to find a way to make it more manageable and efficient.”
In either case, you know where you want to be and may have ideas on how to get there. However, any new technology implementation requires a significant investment of both time and money. For this reason, to ensure a smooth transition from your current environment to that which is desired, it might make sense to start your project with a strategic technology assessment.
Though the specifics of an assessment will vary based on the technology involved, common information gleaned from technology assessments —and their corresponding benefits — include:
- Data about your current environment, giving you a better understanding of end-user operations, hardware and software deployed, and management and maintenance costs.
- Details about how well-suited your current technology (hardware and/or software) is to support potential upgrades, and ways to ensure compatibility with any new system before procurement and installation.
- Current cost benchmarks, against which you can estimate the ROI of your project before implementation, then measure against to prove ROI afterward.
- Additional software, virtualization or management tools that can help you increase efficiency in ongoing IT maintenance and daily operations.
- Recommended technologies or infrastructures that will allow for scalability and growth, based on your business objectives. This allows you to plan for the future and avoid costly updates shortly after the project is complete.
Assessments can be done in-house or through a trusted technology partner — the best solution often depends upon the complexity of your organization and internal resources. Some common assessments include:
- Data Center
- Server, Desktop or Application Virtualization
- Wireless Network
- Imaging & Printing
By starting a large technology project with an assessment, you ensure that the upgrade will be well supported, meets your business needs and positions your organization for future growth.
Has your organization ever started a large IT project with an assessment? How did it aid in the process? Please share your experience in the comments section below.
Dale Philips is Managing Director - Converged Network Group and is responsible for directing MCPc's technology focus in its Network Solutions, Data Center and Visual Collaboration practices. As programmer, IT manager, Director, CIO and now Managing Director, Dale's business experiences make him uniquely qualified to provide business-savvy technology solutions to MCPc and our customers. Connect with Dale on LinkedIn.