It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your metadata is?

As our industry pushes toward “the cloud”, I question whether or not people know where their metadata is.

The example that I give is wireless local area network (WLAN) metadata.  Back in the day, when we were selling Bluesocket to the likes of VCU, all WLAN metadata was housed at the customer site.

As “cloud” wireless solutions have become fast, easy, and cheap, we see them being deployed more and more frequently.  But, when people deploy “cloud” wireless, I often wonder if they consider that all of the WLAN metadata is housed in the cloud.

To illustrate my point, I requested permission to use a screenshot of a colleague’s “cloud” wireless dashboard; it is below.  At a glance, the trained eye can tell that a macOS device is being used for BitTorrent.  (I am not accusing said colleague of anything, I am just pointing out that only 0.3% of files on BitTorrent are confirmed to be legal.)  I am sure that the DMCA folks would love to have a list of the MAC Addresses being used for BitTorrent.

So that this doesn’t sound too much like conspiracy theory, I am not accusing “cloud” wireless vendors of cooperating with ex-wives and divorce lawyers.  But, I would not put it beyond the realm of possibility for this data to be easily accessible by some of Edward Snowden‘s former coworkers.

My call to action to you is to consider privacy when purchasing services in the cloud.  Know where your data is.  And, know where your metadata is.

Whether you have no idea what this article is about or have a highly technical question, we are always here to help:  (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or

Until next time…

CBSi Named First Yealink Certified Video Conferencing Partner in Virginia

Ashland, Virginia – Computer Business Solutions, Inc (CBSi) is now a certified Video Conferencing Partner of Yealink, the global leading unified communication (UC) terminal solution provider. CBSi is also the first Yealink Certified Partner in Virginia, an accomplishment designating CBSi as an expert in Yealink Video Conferencing products. This is an addition to CBSi’s existing Yealink product offerings:
desktop IP phones, wireless IP phones, and audio conferencing.

“We are excited to be named the first Yealink Certified Video Conferencing Partner in Virginia,” said Jamie Stapleton, CEO of CBSi. “This accomplishment gives us access to a wide variety of products specifically designed to address the needs of small and medium businesses at price points they can afford, without sacrificing quality, reliability, or service.”

Yealink Certified Video Conferencing Partner program is an exclusive community of partners who are recognized for their uncommon know-how and service. As a Yealink Certified Video Conferencing Partner, CBSi not only enjoys the traditional benefits of a Yealink partnership, but is also given additional rewards such as exclusive special promotional offers, customized business planning sessions, vertical and solution training opportunities, recognition and priority on Partner Locator, among many more.

About CBSi
Located in Ashland, Virginia, Computer Business Solutions is an organization of computer professionals with over 30 years of on-the-job-experience and capabilities that are unparalleled. Delivering strategic solutions helping achieve real business success, CBSi consultants work to develop solutions to fit their clients’ business, people, and vision.

For more information, contact the company at (804) 798-4444 or via email at On the Web, visit

About Yealink
Yealink, the global leading unified communication (UC) terminal solution provider, helps businesses of all sizes make the most of their UC experience and embrace the power of “Easy Collaboration”. Yealink One-stop UC Terminal Solutions unify voice, video and data, and satisfy diverse customer needs and usage scenarios. The company’s comprehensive product portfolio includes video conferencing systems, conference phones, desk IP phones, wireless DECT phones and accessories. Customers from more than 100 countries enjoy Yealink’s reliable UC terminal solutions through its well-established global sales and service network. For more information, please visit:

Thoughts on Email & First Things First

First Things First is a self-help book written by Stephen Covey.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

In the book, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important.  He uses a time management formulation attributed to Eisenhower (see: The Eisenhower Method), categorizing tasks into whether they are urgent and whether they are important, recognizing that important tasks may not be urgent, and urgent tasks are not necessarily important.  This is his 2×2 matrix: classifying tasks as urgent and non-urgent on one axis, and important or non-important on the other axis.


This got me to thinking about how our anti-spam solution is able to map my email messages to this matrix.  Sendio only delivers Urgent & Important messages to my mobile device; this means that I am able to enjoy life (without interruption) while still being alerted when appropriate (like a question from a customer, a notification about a down server, security-related messsages, etc.).  When I have time, I am able to review my Sendio Hold queue to see if there are any new partnership opportunities (or the like) that I would like to take advantage of; these messages are Important to me, but Not Urgent.  Finally, I am able to have all Not Important messages Dropped by the Sendio.  (Of course, Bulk messages can be dropped automatically.)

I bring this up, because early last year Gartner published its, likely, last Magic Quadrant report on email security vendors. The maturity of the market, lack of competition, and commoditization of the products available, all pointed to a market where innovation was dead and so too the need for analyst reports.

However, Gartner researchers made a parting dig at the vendors who had failed to improve:
“Dissatisfaction with current bulk email capabilities is a significant pain point of existing solutions. End users don’t care about the clinical definition of spam and are frustrated with the level of “unwanted” email in their inboxes…None of the vendors offer personal controls to enable end users to better manage their inboxes.”

Sendio Opt-Inbox™, introduced in May of 2014, provides these exact features that offer end users complete control of their email inbox.  If you are interested in removing the “noise” from your email inbox, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email

disconnecting from the “noise” of email

Toward the end of last year, our organization moved to using Sendio’s email security solution.  This is one of the best moves that we have made in a long time.

As many of you know, I have had the same email address for 15+ years. And, I have made mistakes with it over those years, such as giving out business cards at trade shows, etc.  Having an email address for this long and having made mistakes with it over time, my inbox was inundated with countless messages from spam, BACN, or bulk sources.  This makes it hard to separate the junk from the mail you really need.  This can become particularly troublesome for small business people who can’t afford to overlook an important email.

Sendio’s marketing team talks about the fact that “the average employee receives 200 emails per day.  And that of those 200 emails, typically only 10% are important.”  I became very aware of this after we installed the Sendio solution.  Below is a screen shot of stuff that would normally come to my inbox.  I would consider all of this to be “noise”.


Impact on Unified Communications

As many of you know, we use our IP PBX to deliver our Voicemail to Email.  Prior to Sendio, an important voicemail could easily be lost in a sea of 200 emails.  Now, since Sendio only delivers the important (think 10%!) emails, things tend to get lost a lot less often.

Impact on Mobility

Like most small business people, my email is delivered to my iPhone. I don’t care about ITEXPO booth updates at 9 PM on Friday night or Spectralink marketing at 10 AM on a Sunday.  These are times that I want to avoid “noise”.  I want to spend time with my family.  The only time that I want to be interrupted is if a customer requires service.  This is exactly what Sendio does for me.

As Sendio says, “Your time is important, and it’s time you got an email solution that makes sure time is spent on the projects that matter, not on junk mail.”

Here is a quick video of what makes Sendio work so well:

If you are interested in removing the “noise” from your email inbox, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email

Is “over-subscription” still relevant?

(This post was inspired by these posts:  Does Integrity Still Matter? and Why This CEO Will Never Hire Another Salesperson)

I spent part of the end of 2014 evaluating Hosted VoIP Providers.  My peers motivated me to do this by saying that CBSi can more make money on Hosted VoIP vs. a premises-based system.  While I have no doubt that this is true, I always try to remember that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

Going back to our rich 26 year history, I started to ask myself some questions:  Why do we have a phone system?  Why do we sell and service phone systems for other businesses?  The answer was simple:  “over-subscription.”  Historically, phone systems have been an “over-subscribed” model, meaning that the number of phone extensions generally far exceeded the number of phone lines utilized.  This is simple cost-efficiency.  If you have 10 employees, it is unlikely that all 10 will be on the phone at the same time.  So, if you invest in a premises-based phone system, all 10 employees can share fewer phone lines.

In the old days, this involved complex Erlang math to figure out how many phone lines you needed.  With the advent of SIP Trunking, businesses can get unlimited lines (a.k.a. “call paths”) without paying more.  This gives a business the flexibility to scale on demand.

Let’s take my church as an example customer.  They have 10 users.  When they were looking to replace their OLD phone system, I had them invest in a premise-based system.  Their total telecommunications spend (system plus SIP Trunking) is indicated by the blue line in the graph below.  The orange line represents what they would have spent on a 10-user “full-featured Unified Communications (UC) solution.”  The grey line indicates what they would have spent on a more basic 10-user Hosted VoIP solution.  (I even threw in a hypothetical yellow line for a $10/user Hosted VoIP solution.)  A premise-based system always comes out cheaper for them.  10 users are served by a single $40/month SIP Trunking account.  Even a hypothetical $10/user/month Hosted VoIP solution would cost them more.


This graph had me wondering if my example customer, my church, was an anomaly.  So, I ran the numbers again for 100 users below.  Again, even a hypothetical $10/user/month Hosted VoIP solution would cost them more.


I conclude that carriers and sales people can make more money selling a Hosted VoIP solution.  I also conclude that CBSi’s rich 26 year history has treated us well.  And, we would like to continue treating our customers well in the hopes of another 26 years!

Here is to a successful 2015!

If you are interested in learning more about how we are providing people with thousands in monthly cost savings by moving them to SIP over the Internet, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email

SIP over the Internet is “risky”?!?

Recently, we were in the process of moving a customer from T1 to SIP Trunking (over the Internet) when a certain “FORTUNE 500” provider of voice and data network communications stepped in and tried to convince the customer that “SIP over the Internet is “risky”.”

So, the customer decided to test things out for themselves.

They ordered SIP Trunks from our preferred provider, nexVortex. They routed these over their Cox fiber Internet connection.

They also ordered SIP Trunking and 10 Mbps of connectivity from said “FORTUNE 500” provider of voice and data network communications. (Remember, this is supposed to be 10 Mbps of connectivity that is better than anything else, because it is manged by a “FORTUNE 500” carrier.)

So, they let the testing begin. I think the pictures below speak for themselves.


nexVortex SIP Trunking on customer’s Internet router (10 Mb fiber) = 13ms
“FORTUNE 500” carrier with their own router (10Mb fiber) = 46ms

Would you like to guess which is providing the customer with better quality? You guessed it: SIP over the Internet.
Would you like to guess which the customer is paying a lot less for? You guessed it: SIP over the Internet.

If you are interested in learning more about how we are providing people with thousands in monthly cost savings by moving them to SIP over the Internet, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email

Adding IP Reputation to increase efficiency and effectiveness of your IPS

If you have read our previous blog post, you know that we are big fans of using IP reputation.  But, you might still be asking yourself, “Why?”  The answer is simple, increased efficiency and effectiveness.  Today, many (probably most) organizations use a Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliance to protect their organizations; however, the same increases apply even if you are using standalone components (i.e. firewall, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), etc.).

All of these security components (UTM, firewall, IPS, etc.) are sold based on throughput; costs increase as device throughput increases.  Complaints about the cost per throughput are quite common; see these comments on Fortinet and Palo Alto.  Adding IP Reputation can help keep costs down as packets to/from known hostile IP addresses are dropped before they tie up precious CPU resources on UTM, firewall, IPS, etc.

In addition, since packets to/from known hostile IP addresses are dropped before they tie up precious CPU resources of the UTM, firewall, IPS, etc., your security administrators can be more effective, because they are not wasting time sorting through UTM, firewall, IPS, etc. logs cluttered with packets to/from known hostile IP addresses.

If you are interested in adding IP reputation to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your security initiative, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email

Business, not just technology, is important

This past weekend, I met the owner of an Investment Advisory firm.  While talking to him, he mentioned the brand of VoIP phone system that he had purchased for his company.  I found it very ironic that the owner of an Investment Advisory firm had purchased a phone system from a manufacturer that has yet to show a profit in 14 years of existence.  To top it off, this phone system is based on proprietary technology.  You can imagine the look on his face when I told him about this.

In CBSi’s almost 25 year history, we have resold many technology products.  When we evaluate prospective vendors, we always make sure that they have good technology – reliability, scalability, standards-based, and appear financially solvent.

However, as my story above points out, financial stability (not just technology) is important to our customers.  CBSi goes the extra mile and does research on the financial viability of our prospective vendors.  We invest this time and effort so that our customers buy a product that will be there to service their business for a period of time.

If a slick sales guy lands in your office and tries to sell you something like the phone system mentioned above, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email  We would love to guide your business to purchase a system that has both great technology and is financially stable.

disconnecting networks from the “bad parts” of the Internet

For years, CBSi has been connecting enterprise networks to the Internet.  As you likely realize, Internet connectivity is a requirement for almost every business to function today.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of “bad guys” on the Internet trying to do a lot of bad things to enterprise networks.  Just read up on botnetshackers, keyloggers, spyware, Trojansviruses, zombies, etc.

A long time ago, we decided that it was best to start disconnecting enterprise networks from the “bad parts” of the Internet.  Our original approach was to block the most problematic countries.  Our internal list was known as the “dirty dozen” country list.  Maintaining this list became a full-time job.  Often times, we had to call in a geopolitical specialist to determine if a country should be considered hostile.  This approach was not scalable so we started looking for new solutions.

After much research, CBSi decided that partnering with ThreatSTOP was the best approach.  This partnership provides a number of benefits to our joint customers:

  1. We can block “bad” countries with a single mouse click.  For example, if your business doesn’t need to do business with China, we can simply drop all packets from and to China.
  2. We can keep track of the geopolitical posture of all countries.  For example, we can drop all packets from and to all ITAR countries with a single mouse click.  Of course, we can also do this for all OFAC countries, etc.
  3. We maintain a reputation database down to the IP level.  So, our customers can block all traffic from and to hostile sources, such as botnet command-and-control (C&C) servers, as well.
  4. We maintain application-specific reputation databases.  Our customers can block all IP addresses that are seen initiating SIP attacks, etc.
  5. Because our customers are dropping these packets, they can get more performance from their other security devices (firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, etc.) as the devices are not busy processing known hostile traffic.

If you are interested in disconnecting your enterprise networks from the “bad parts” of the Internet, please call (804) 798-4444 Option 2 or email