Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Companies in a wide range of industries need to be able to control communications on a variety of channels – but how do they accomplish this cost effectively? To get an idea, TMC’s (News - Alert) Rich Tehrani talked with Kailash Ambiwani, president and CEO of FaceTime. Their conversation was captured in this video.
FaceTime (News - Alert) is a company that provides solutions that allow organizations to enable new forms of communication. 10 years ago communication was about e-mail and telephone.
Today, it is IM, social networking, blogs, email, voice, etc., which makes for a very complex environment. Solutions from FaceTime allow the company to get their arms around the communications platform and will ensure the communications policy is enforced across every channel.In essence, it is very difficult to manage communications use across all of these channels. This is the secret sauce for FaceTime. Its solutions allow the company to do compliance, network monitoring, etc. to protect against security threats. FaceTime has partnerships with platform providers to provide solutions; some are encrypted and we have technology to manage that.
For companies serving these enterprises, they recognize that compliance and management security are important. Especially in specific industries were SOX, HIPPA, etc. apply. It is very important to have control.“Beyond regulations to corporate relevance, you want to make sure that you don’t have confidential information going in or coming out,” said Ambiwani. “You want to make sure that you can track what people are doing on these networks and that is what we enable.”
As for what is next for FaceTime? The company just announced social networking capabilities, which will allow clients to monitor and manage what employees are doing on Facebook (News - Alert), LinkedIn and Twitter, given their importance now to the enterprise. With FaceTime, clients can ensure the right time of usage is going on.
How important is video conferencing in today’s market? A quick look around and the commercial sector is quickly moving that direction, but the SMB may be struggling to find HD video conferencing options – unless they look to Vidtel.
In a recent interview with Scott Wharton, CEO of Vidtel Inc., TMC’s Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) explored the market with Wharton and learned what the company does now and what they are planning to do next. Their conversation was captured in this video.
Vidtel (News - Alert) has been around almost two and a half years and is a video conferencing cloud provider. They have an SMB focus for HD from a hosting perspective. Their service is device agnostic, so it can work with any SIP device. They all connect to Vidtel without having to run SBCs and users can call each other or other people to drive HD video conferencing without significant investment.
As for the competition? “From a consumer point of view, it is hard to compete against Skype (News - Alert) when it’s free,” said Wharton. “You need to not only be a little bit better, we need to be 10 x better. So, we’re offering HD quality, big screen video conferencing. “And for businesses, they really want to have a certain level of quality in order to replicate a meeting.
At the same time, while large enterprises may have a lot of IT people to help figure this out, the SMB market – they don’t have that.”Wharton went on to note that they need to have an outsourced service that delivers high quality that enables collaboration. Vidtel aims to fulfill that need.Currently, Vidtel acts as a partner and reseller of LifeSize (News - Alert) and other key players within this space.
Such companies have channel issues and cannot target the SMB. So, Vidtel helps them bridge that gap.As for channels of selling, Vidtel markets through the video conferencing vendors themselves and some VoIP providers. The company is also looking for VARs, as it is a channel-focused company. Vidtel is now in what they consider to be late beta. The company is working to get all platforms to get them interoperable and getting ready for a full launch. Any interop with iPhone (News - Alert) on the horizon? As Whorton notes, the plan is to be able to interop with any device.
Avaya is battling Cisco over the future of business communications. Its Nortel acquisition might give it an edge.
Forbes Magazine dated September 13, 2010
Making meetings fun: Avaya Chief Executive Kevin Kennedy plugs into his virtual world for businesses.
"Usually you're frantically digging up things on your computer," explains Shockley, vice president of emerging products and technology at telecommunications company Avaya ( AV - news - people ) is battling.
The new software is part of Avaya's plan to leap past Cisco ( CSCO - news - people ) in phone software and phone equipment and fend off interlopers. Those are Google ( GOOG - news - people ), which has a call-forwarding service that could be a threat in a few years' time, and Microsoft ( MSFT - news - people ), which wants to jump from the computer to business phones.
Avaya is also working on call center technology that lets agents chat with customers on video. And it supports a virtual world for business users (a sort of Second Life that hosts meetings in digital conference rooms, complete with avatars).
The company's boldest move may be a tablet device that hosts phone calls and messaging services, enabling a busy executive to take a conversation from the office to the road. The Basking Ridge, N.J. company, which was spun out from Lucent Technologies in 2000, will only say it will soon introduce a gadget that supports "multiple modes of communication."
A tablet could strike at Cisco, which in June introduced a 7-inch, 1.15-pound tablet that will sell for under $1,000. The networking giant has poached Avaya customers by operating as a one-stop shop for communications technology.
Avaya's phones have been ubiquitous in offices for a decade, but for the past five years Cisco's have been gaining on it. In the first quarter Avaya accounted for 25% of the money spent on business phone equipment and Cisco for 22%, researcher Dell'Oro Group estimates.
Avaya, whose revenue has been stuck in a range from $4 billion to $5 billion a year, needed a growth plan. In 2007 Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital invested $8.2 billion in the firm, took it private and began paring down business units from 27 to 3 and boosting research and development funding. To date it has spent $1.2 billion on R&D, and 90% of senior management has been replaced. Last year Kevin Kennedy, then head of fiber-optic equipment maker JDS Uniphase and a Cisco executive in the late 1990s, was brought on board as chief executive. His first big move was to acquire a large chunk of competitor Nortel for $900 million.
The acquisition gave Avaya a huge network of resellers and routers and data switches--two longtime Cisco strengths. Avaya says 95% of Nortel resellers will offer its products and 75% of its global business now flows through outside distributors (up from 58% pre-Nortel), similar to Cisco's sales model. Verizon ( VZ - news - people ), Deutsche Bank ( DB - news - people ) and JPMorgan Chase have signed new contracts with Avaya in recent months.
Avaya also got Nortel's best technologies. Nortel wasn't able to capitalize on them and filed for bankruptcy in 2009, but Avaya says it has sharper focus and longer-term goals, in part because it is smaller and privately held.
For the nine months ended June 30 Avaya reported a loss of $657 million (largely attributable to Nortel integration costs). Still, it seems to be on the right path. "Avaya's products were good, but their reach was limited," says Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala. "Adding Nortel should create a much stronger competitor to Cisco."
Though its investors are eager to earn back the money they spent, Silver Lake managing director Charles Giancarlo, a former Cisco executive, says Avaya won't go public until it has digested most of the Nortel purchase and delivered three to four quarters of solid growth. By then, he predicts, Avaya will be associated with far more than desk phones. "We're taking a new approach to how people communicate," says Giancarlo. Let's hope he succeeds: Maybe someday we'll get software that eliminates such annoyances as phone tag, wrong numbers and long-winded call menus.
Avaya has taken office phones from analog to digital. The launch of a tablet device will make them mobile.
Monday, August 30, 2010
SIP trunk security measuresBy Avner Izhar on Mon, 08/30/10 - 1:09am.
A recent product security announcement from Cisco and a blog post by Chris Jackson made me feel it may appear that SIP trunking is not secure enough as a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) access method.
Indeed if you plug your Communication Manager (or Communication Manager Express) directly to the internet or to your service provider's 'private' SIP cloud directly, you are at risk. But if you take the minimum security measures that I'll specify below, you should be fine.
The risks are divided to three categories:
1. Toll fraud and excessive phone bills.
2. System crashes and phone productivity problems.
3. Corporate network hacking through the SIP trunk facing device.
How do you protect yourself against them, here is my recommendations:
Never connect the call processing (call manager) device directly to a public network (internet or SIP provider cloud. Static NAT of port 5060 in your firewall is also very risky.
Use a dedicated device for the outbound facing functions, a CUBE (Cisco Unified Border Element) in Cisco's world, or SBC (Session Border Controller) with other vendors.
Place a SIP aware firewall between the CUBE and the internet to protect the CUBE from DOS/DDOS attacks and malformed SIP packets. The only port that should be allowed to this device is tcp/udp 5060.
Treat your SIP provider's network as a public network, you don't control who is on it and attacks can be sourced from there.
Have toll fraud prevention measures configured in your dial plan, in Communication Manager it will be:
1. Block trunk to trunk transfers.
2. Use FAC (Feature Authorization Code for high cost calls.
3. Don's allow high cost route patterns in the Gateway's inbound CSS.
4. Configure Call logging and reporting to allow forensics.
With those in place, SIP should be safe enough and the advantages it provide will worth it.
I thought I'd delve into a slightly less controversial subject this week (well, maybe). My technical background lacks significant hosting experience (servers, storage, operating systems, etc). I understand hosting systems and how to design them into networks, but I'm not going to argue the peculiarities of different Intel CPU designs.
When Cisco announced the Unified Computing System (UCS) last year, I looked at it as Cisco's entrance to the hosting (server) market. While it was interesting, it wasn't at the top of my list to learn. That changed a few weeks ago when I took Firefly's Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Implementation (DCUCI) v3 course.
Let me state early on I am not nor do I intend to be a UCS expert. There are plenty of other people with expertise on UCS, like my Firefly instructor, Dave Alexander, Colin McNamara, Scott Lowe, or Cisco themselves.
What shocked me was how much networking is involved in UCS. This should seem as a "duh" for a Cisco product, but it hadn't occurred to me before the Firefly course. I'm writing this blog because I have a feeling a lot of my readers are traditional network engineers (LANs, WANs, Data Centers, routing, etc) and had the same initial reaction to UCS. So, if your IT server team is evaluating UCS and you're not part of it, you have a problem.
Think of UCS as server blades (CPU cores and RAM) surrounded by a networking cloud. Even the NICs in the server can be virtualized with the Palo adapter card in the blades. Setting these NIC cards correctly involves proper network design, particularly if you are integrating with VMware ESX.
Here are just some of networking topics based on the Firefly UCS class:
- I/O Consolidation with FCoE
- UCS Chassis and Fabric Extender Cards
- UCS Fabric Interconnect (the switches that look a lot like Nexus 5000s)
- VMware Integration - including with Nexus 1000V
- Cisco UCS Management Architecture - all done via the Fabric Interconnects, the switches
- Chassis Power Supplies - sounds like Layer-0 Design
- Fabric Interconnect Network Configuration
- Cisco UCS Software Upgrade Overview - it is Cisco code (NX-OS)
- Server and Uplink Ports
- Ethernet Host Virtualizer Mode
- Virtual NICs
- Port Channels
- Pin Groups
- SAN Connectivity - SAN is a huge part of UCS
- MAC Addresses - yes, you can create your own MAC address pools for servers in UCS
- and there's more....
See this blog as a call to action. If UCS is being evaluated by your hosting group, get involved. UCS is way too powerful to be turned into just another blade center. Hosting teams will most likely not have the technical skills to harness UCS's power which is networking based, so they will simplify or ignore key networking technologies that separate UCS from regular blade center systems. If that happens, you will never realize the cost savings, power, and productivity enhancements that come from UCS. It will just be another blade center in the data center, which would be extremely dissapointing.
Friday, August 27, 2010
And, really, ”both” should be the answer for all businesses. Technology should enable people to provide excellent customer service, regardless of company size or industry. But all too often technology replaces people or is implemented in a way that creates more work for customers.
This marriage of technology and people is especially important for small businesses, which often face customer service challenges that larger companies don’t. Following are three ways tech can help your customer service efforts.
1. The right info at the right time. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help people deliver superior customer service by providing relevant customer information in real time. They give customer service representatives the information they need to diagnose and solve problems.
“Anytime you can make your customer feel that you know about their issues and are in tune with what’s going on, it makes them know that their business is valued,” says Nancy Sattler, Principal Owner, Sattler Insurance Agency.
Sattler provides a variety of commercial and personal insurance products. Located in Lewiston, Idaho, the agency specializes in property and liability coverage for recreational outfitters and provides coverage in 38 states.
Sattler has seen great improvement in the efficiency of its customer service, and the CRM system also provides a means to capture new customer information for future sales. “For example, during a phone conversation we might discuss discounts for packaging some of a client’s policies together,” says Sattler.
2. 24/7 availability. In this slow economy many small businesses have cut back on staff, which can result in missed phone calls from prospects, increased time to return calls, and frustrated customers.
Andy Murphy, of Dunster House, a leading DIY log cabin retailer in the U.K., knows this all too well. “With our old phone system, our receptionists couldn’t tell if someone was engaged and customers would get bounced back time and time again which was frustrating for both parties.”
Unified communications, however, can help fix these problems. Features like call grouping and hot desking ensure that customers reach a company representative no matter where they are—in the office, at home, or on the road.
3. Face-to-face communications. Video Conferencing may not be first on a small business’ wish list, but this technology can not only improve internal communications, it can greatly enhance customer service as well.
By using video conferencing, you can provide support to customers more quickly and improve your success rate in resolving customer issues. Some video conferencing solutions, such as Cisco WebEx, let you remotely control customers’ desktop, reducing the frustrating back and forth of walking through a solution verbally over the phone. This not only takes up less of your customers’ time but also makes your employees more productive and allows them to help even more customers.
The combination of people plus the right technology can help your small business deliver excellent customer service. Do you think your business is too small for these suggestions? Take a look at how Larry’s Foreign and Domestic Auto Repair in San Jose CA (5 employees) is using a CRM application integrated with their phones to improve service.
Have any stories of how technology has helped improve your customer service? Send them over!
Andy Miller knows his archenemies Cisco and Tandberg. He worked for both.
The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Until that friend is acquired by the enemy. When Cisco cannon-balled into the videoconferencing market with its $3.4 billion acquisition of Tandberg last April, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Polycom instantly became the biggest pure-play video firm remaining. It also combined the resources of two competitors that Andy Miller, Polycom's chief executive, knows well. Before taking his position as CEO last May, he worked for both of the now-merged video giants.
Miller admits that Cisco's ( CSCO - news - people ) marketing combined with Tandberg's technology will make a powerful foe. And another videoconferencing competitor, Lifesize, also got a boost when it was acquired by Logitech last November. But Miller tells Forbes that Polycom ( PLCM - news - people ) still has two big advantages: open standards, and a friendlier relationship than Cisco's with major players like Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ - news - people ), IBM ( IBM - news - people ) and Microsoft ( MSFT - news - people ).
Forbes: There's been a lot of consolidation in this video conferencing market. Logitech acquired LifeSize and then Cisco acquired Tandberg. Where does that leave Polycom as the last remaining independent video conferencing company?
Andy Miller: Well, we think we're in a great place. It's a large market. In 2010 we see it growing at 15%, 2011 to 23%, and then in a very consistent compounded annual growth rate going forward. But what we think is our clear differentiator in that market is what we call the Polycom Open Collaboration Network, which is a consortium of seven key partners that we will not only interoperate with, go to market with and develop open standards with. Partners like IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Juniper Networks, Avaya, Siemens and BroadSoft.
Tandberg was your biggest competitor, and now they've joined with Cisco to become this monolith in the industry. That must be intimidating, or at least change in your strategy.
Well, clearly it requires a different strategy. Having spent my career at Cisco and Tandberg, I have a unique opportunity to understand the positioning. Cisco is an excellent company. They have a great marketing machine. But there are very successful companies that have competed and been very successful against Cisco in terms of getting market share.
Our strategy is to be agnostic to the platform or the customer--creating open standards. We think we have a great opportunity.
In the long process of acquiring Tandberg, Cisco had to give up their proprietary standard known as TIP. They were forced to adopt the kind of open standards that you're talking about. So does that really leave Polycom with an advantage in "openness?" Or is it now more of a level playing field?
Two things. Time will tell. We've always had a very focused approach to open standards. As a matter of fact, the Polycom product can work with any technology in the marketplace in unified communications. From a Cisco perspective, with TIP now being in a regulated body, our perspective is that there are better mechanisms in terms of providing open standards.
Second, we've aligned with the likes of Microsoft to form the UCIF, which is the Unified Communications Forum, which provided very open standard protocol approach. And we see that playing out in the marketplace and gaining tremendous traction from our customers.
Does the fact that you can partner with these big players in other parts of the enterprise IT world that compete with Cisco, like in other parts of the enterprise IT world, represent an advantage in finding sales that Cisco can't?
When I talk to CIOs or CEOs of Global 1,000 companies, it's very clear they want three things. Most importantly, they want to be agnostic to their existing environments. So if they have a Microsoft Exchange, Live Meeting, OCS environment, IBM Lotus, they want to be able to make sure that the technology they're buying can be embedded and interoperable with their existing technology, and that the vendor, Polycom, be agnostic and interoperable with all those aspects.
If they can do those two things, create an open standard and work with their existing platforms. And third and most important is to offer them technology that has a lower cost of ownership. We can actually reduce the bandwidth requirements vs. Cisco by almost 50% in some cases.
As a former executive of Cisco and as the former CEO of Tandberg, you're in this interesting position where you're now competing against companies that you worked for and led. So what did your experiences at those companies teach you about how to compete with this new big player in the industry?
I've learned a lot of things from my background at Cisco and Tandberg. One is the power of marketing, and Cisco is a great marketing engine. At Tandberg, I learned the power of great technology. Now they have both combined, very good technology and a great marketing engine.
But I've also learned in working for and against Cisco that agility and strategy will win out at the end of the day. So in my role as CEO and president of Polycom, I'm focused on product perfectionism. With the highest quality product and this strategy of Open Collaboration Networks to clearly differentiate us against Cisco, we think we can be very affordable and still win.
So where are Cisco's weak points, as somebody who used to work at Cisco and then has been looking for those weak points for years now?
I think there's an immediate challenge with the acquisition of Tandberg. They have to figure out not only what products will be going forward, what people are going forward. One of the things I learned at Cisco is, and I sat through almost 42 acquisitions, is that when you have an acquisition it causes disruptions. So that's going to be a short-term issue for them, and for Logitech with Lifesize.
But what I really garnered from a Cisco perspective is that they provide multiple product categories. Cisco's video business, is 1/50th of their total business. What we do at Polycom is what we do best. We do high-definition voice, high-definition video, the whole collaborative communications. So we think that we can take the weakness of more of a generalized company from a product technology perspective, and one that frankly, people want an alternative to.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
WLAN remains the fastest growing segment in the data networking market and with the Avaya WLAN 8100 solution, we can now boldly capitalize on this opportunity. In some locations, availability is not until 2Q.
The WLAN 8100 Series combine the latest industry 802.11n standard with a new truly-unified wireless/wired architecture, enabling enterprises to achieve new levels of workforce productivity and operational efficiency. The WLAN 8100 Series offer greater wireless capacity, performance, and coverage through 802.11n and lower Total Cost of Ownership through a simplified network infrastructure. These products are optimized to support real time applications such as voice, UC and video.
SAN JOSE, CA, Aug 26, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Cisco /quotes/comstock/15*!csco/quotes/nls/csco (CSCO 21.34, +0.13, +0.61%) today announced its intent to acquire privately-held ExtendMedia, a leading provider of software-based Content Management Systems (CMS) that manage the entire lifecycle of video content through monetization for pay media and ad-supported business models. Based in Newton, Mass., with the majority of its employee base in Toronto, Canada, ExtendMedia will enable Cisco to help service providers deliver multi-screen offerings as the market transitions to IP video.
"As the video market transitions and consumers expect multi-screen engagement, service providers are enhancing their infrastructure to manage and deliver video to any device while providing a rich user experience," said Enrique Rodriguez, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group. "ExtendMedia will strengthen Cisco's position in the delivery of IP video services by enabling service providers to provide a more interactive and personal experience and to optimize quality for consumer viewing devices."
ExtendMedia brings to Cisco a strong software team that understands the complexities of delivering multi-screen video over IP networks. ExtendMedia's CMS software, which will integrate with Cisco's current IP video offerings, will be a core component of Cisco's next-generation video architecture. Together, Cisco and ExtendMedia will enable service providers to deploy a next-generation, end-to-end video architecture that delivers the best consumer experience with access to any content, over any network, on any device.
Financial terms of the transaction are undisclosed. The acquisition is subject to various standard closing conditions and is expected to be complete in the first half of Cisco's fiscal year 2011. Upon the close of the acquisition, the majority of the ExtendMedia team will be integrated into Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group. The ExtendMedia Sales and Professional Services teams will integrate into the Cisco Sales and Advanced Services organizations.
About Cisco Systems
Cisco /quotes/comstock/15*!csco/quotes/nls/csco (CSCO 21.34, +0.13, +0.61%) , the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, this year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com.
Cisco, the Cisco logo, and Cisco Systems are registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. in the U.S. and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. This document is Cisco Public Information.
This press release may be deemed to contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including the expected completion of the acquisition and the time frame in which this will occur, the expected benefits to Cisco from completing the acquisition, the impact of the combined company on relevant markets and plans regarding ExtendMedia personnel. Readers are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are only predictions and may differ materially from actual future events or results due to a variety of factors, including, among other things, the potential impact on the business of ExtendMedia due to the uncertainty about the acquisition, the retention of employees of ExtendMedia and the ability of Cisco to successfully integrate ExtendMedia and to achieve expected benefits, business and economic conditions and growth trends in the networking industry, customer markets and various geographic regions, global economic conditions and uncertainties in the geopolitical environment and other risk factors set forth in Cisco's most recent reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. Any forward-looking statements in this release are based on limited information currently available to Cisco, which is subject to change, and Cisco will not necessarily update the information.
For direct RSS Feeds of all Cisco news, please visit "News@Cisco" at the following link:
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Gartner placed Avaya in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, 2010. This ranking is a significant achievement as Avaya is one of only three vendors positioned in the Leaders quadrant. Plus Gartner also positioned Avaya in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony, 2010, where Avaya is one of only four vendors positioned in the Leaders quadrant.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Real VoIP Calling
Yes, it's true. Calls can now be directly made over WiFi. TringMe is the first Blackberry application to make it possible. Unlike other VoIP application, it doesn't require your cellular minutes to make VoIP calls. If you do not have WiFi, we also have local access numbers and callback options available to place your calls. And the best part is, TringMe users will be able to call for free to each other over WiFi. Cool? we have more, read on...
Single click conferencing!
No tedious procedure to make conference calls like booking, remembering PIN, dialing etc. We made it simple, just select the contacts and press Call button. We will call you and all of selected contacts/groups and conference them in second. It couldn't be simpler than that..isn't? You can conference between Blackberry Contacts or Blackberry Groups worldwide without any dial-in number or PIN to remember.
Worldwide Call & SMS
Apart from direct WiFi calls, you will be able to call worldwide using using local access number or callback. For e.g. if WiFi is not available, then international calls can be routed via local access numbers to ensure minimum call costs. If that isn't feasible, then callback option is available as well. The application gives complete flexibility to the user to choose the type of call that suits the best.
No Internet or BIS service needed
This is another great news! TringMe application works even if you do not have internet plan on your Blackberry. All operators offers both Email only or Email+Internet (BIS) plan for Blackberry. Many users does not opt for BIS and only uses Email only plan which is definitely cheaper. The downside of that is that most application will not run on Email only plan. If TringMe's application does not find any data connectivity, it uses Email channel to communicate and enables users to initiate calls even if they do not have internet plan.
Enterprise Ready, Complete Branding and Customization Support
TringMe application offers end-to-end encryption for direct WiFi calls. Enterprises can leverage direct WiFi calls for their corporate phone network which enables their employees to be directly linked with their local exchange. For example, when a local exchange number is dialled, it will ring employees Blackberry rather than the desktop phone. The application is completely customizable and brandable.
For developers - Mobile SDK & VoicePHP
Also offered as SDK to create your own applications using TringMe's technology. It is also integrated with VoicePHP to create your own interactive mobile voice application. Write to us to get started.
Monday, August 23, 2010
By Kym McNicholas http://blogs.forbes.com/
Video conferencing at work is inevitable.
Most people won’t be on video conference calls as much as Polycom’s CMO Heidi Melin.
Polycom makes communications and video conferencing equipment for the enterprise.
She has to use the system to talk to clients daily.
It’s part of her marketing strategy.
But their technology is integrated into Microsoft Office Communication Server.
It’s their Unified Communications platform tying together email, voice, instant message, telephony and video.
And Microsoft’s Outlook is the most widely used in the enterprise. The video button’s already there on the IM client. It’s usable today.
Ultimately your computer’s going to be the main source of communication even by phone, so you might as well get used to it. Especially video.
Wainhouse researchers recently predicted a growth rate of 28% in telepresence and video use for communication via computer in 2011.
And Gartner recently said that telepresence will replace 2.1 million airlines seats by 2012.
Gartner also forecasts that by 2015, 200 million workers globally will run corporate video conferencing from their desktops.
Guess what that means?
You’d better clean up your office.
Just because someone’s not knocking at your door, doesn’t mean they won’t see you. You will be on camera at some point, like it or not, from your office or cubicle.
So, it’s time to think about the backdrop.
Should you have a company logo behind you and not that picture of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.
Polycom’s CMO suggests, “‘Figure out what’s going to best promote your company’s brand.”
Remember it’s a small space.
Literally a headshot with a little bit of space around you to fill with something strategic.
Polycom recently hosted a contest within its organization for the top three dressed up workspaces.
Those are the two examples (above).
There are lots of alternatives to air travel for face-to-face meetings.
By MotherNaureNetwork (mnn.com)
Even if you don’t call it green teleconferencing, that’s what you’re doing when you skip the airfare and connect via the Internet.
Business travel has exploded in the past ten years as companies seek new markets around the country and across the globe.
In its report, Cisco Broadband Barometer, Cisco claims that a growth of 30.8 percent in fixed broadband connections in Uruguay have been witnesses during 2009. This report was published by the company in partnership with the Uruguayan government.
The Cisco Broadband Barometer is a Cisco initiative to promote and encourage broadband connectivity in Latin America.
The country reached a penetration of 9.97 percent during the past year and 49,000 fixed broadband connections were added in the same period. Argentina has a penetration of 10 percent, and Chile 10.39 percent, states the report. Apart from the impact of the CEIBAL plan of the Uruguayan government, the growth of broadband in the country was propelled by the availability of high-speed connections in the residential market segment.
Juan Pablo Estevez, regional director, Cisco South Cone, said in a press release, “Uruguay is one of the first countries in Latin America to create its own national broadband agenda with clear goals related to availability, penetration and quality. This is an excellent example to show that broadband networks offer a unique and profitable opportunity to increase productivity and competitiveness in the Southern Cone countries.”
To reduce the digital gap and generate inclusion and equity in access to education, the plan aims to deliver a free laptop and broadband connection to each student and teacher in public schools throughout the country. With more than 145,000 new connections by the end of 2009, concentrated mostly in the residential segment, mobile broadband grew 635 percent in a year the report stated.
Recently, Telefonos de Mexico, S.A.B. de C.V. (TELMEX) launched Telepresencia Administrada TELMEX a regional plan in Latin America to market and deliver Cisco TelePresence TM for multipoint intracompany services as well as for intercompany connectivity, to enable services between a given company and its customers, suppliers and partners in the region. The arrangement also includes TELMEX's launch of public TelePresence Suites, the first of their kind in Latin America.By Raju Shanbhag
Friday, August 20, 2010
My wife is a securities lawyer, one who puts in some crazy hours at her law firm. As a result, I like to keep track of developments in her field, thinking it might help us make life and career decisions down the road. Recently, I stumbled across this very interesting article from a firm called Law360, Gen Y Poised To Transform BigLaw's Workplace Norms, which got me thinking about one of my favorite topics, the digitalization of workforce and increased capacity for flexibility and mobility. I should note that, Avaya offers a number of products that enable this digitization, and if you have questions around those please reach out to me or leave a comment in the blog and we can get you information about those offerings.
The article outlines some projected and anticipated technological changes in an industry (law) that has not changed all that much, with a model based around partnerships and people working in their offices, surrounded by their colleagues. The catalyst for some of these changes are believed to be the next generation of lawyers coming into firms and running up against the legacy models of work and collaboration. "The traditional BigLaw work model is largely based on the concept of putting the firm first. But as Generation Y's presence in the legal profession grows, firms will need to rethink that approach to meet the younger generation's needs, legal experts say."
I was particularly interested in this article after a wide ranging discussion I had with a number of lawyers at an event a few weeks ago. It was a nice cross section of junior associates, senior associates and partners, talking about the use of technology in their own law practice. The variety of opinions around mobility and digital collaboration was stark, from some lawyers who are very attached to the reams and reams of paper they use on a daily basis to others that are getting pretty close to a digital-only work style. That diversity is great and excepted, and a good technology solution has to be flexible to these various work approaches.
Personally, I believe that regardless of your personal mix between digital and paper media consumption, the move towards digital is not going to fade. Do you think you will be reading more or less digital media in 10 years?
Transformation in action
So, how does this matter to organizations beyond the legal field? Well, the Law360 article outlines an example of the opportunities available to law firms, which is probably also an option for many other companies/organizations. The opportunity is created by right sizing the real estate footprint to the preferences and working approaches of employees.
But in order for work-life arrangements to be truly viable, firms and Gen Yers need to work together to design creative solutions that meet the needs of both the employer and the employee, Henry (Deborah Epstein Henry, founder and president of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC) said.
Henry pointed to the example of one BigLaw firm that was recently faced with redesigning its Miami office. While the initial plans included a "corner office" scheme largely aimed at impressing clients, the firm interviewed its Gen Y attorneys to ask for their preferences and learned that the younger group was much more interested in working in a more communal environment.
Because the Gen Yers were also very amenable to telecommuting, the firm went with a smaller square footage than originally planned, and was able to pass that savings on to their clients while maximizing their young attorneys' productivity, she said
"It was a brilliant business move," Henry said. "They saved hard dollars while still meeting the demands of both their employees and their clients."
This might sound familiar, as I have written on the opportunity right here on the Connected Blog, Telecommuting as a smart green strategy.
One of the major benefits is the ability of enterprises to adjust their real estate footprint to accommodate fewer employees coming into the office on a regular basis, or switching to drop in areas as opposed to dedicated offices for everyone. This reconfirmation of the office setting can really increase the density of the office environment, while increasing the comfort and productivity in the office. Here at Avaya, we have seen significant real estate savings as a result of conscious decisions to hire and employ dedicated teleworkers.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Prior to Cisco, I worked for mostly small businesses. This has given me pretty good insight into how small business decisions are made. As there are so few layers of management, often times the same person that weighs the pros and cons of free soda for employees is also deciding whether to make a major technology purchase. More than anything right now, I’d say that one of the most important decisions a small businessperson can make is whether to “go wireless or go home.”
The benefits of a good business wireless network and solid voice set-up extend beyond the office and can positively influence customer experiences. If you’ve ever been placed on extended hold because the person you were calling had to walk to another location or find someone, you know what I’m talking about. After a short time, that recorded voice over smooth jazz telling me, “my call is important” begins to lose its sincerity. Its hard to say what’s worse for me, listening to a cheesy recording or working through my fear of abandonment issues when the on-hold experience is just silence.
I recently read an article in a marketing publication that said most callers on-hold stay on for just shy of a couple minutes before becoming annoyed and hanging up. About a third of these callers never call back. Ouch! Remember all that money you spent on advertising just to get those calls?
As for me, I’ve been there, done that and wrote the Yelp review. In this era of everything immediate, and dare I say it, short-attention spans, I think we’ve all become programmed to judge a company by its responsiveness. That bar is getting higher and higher just as our threshold for Kenny G. gets lower.
The company that gets my repeat business and a shout-out to 500 of my closest Facebook friends is the one that can answer my question without putting me on hold. It’s the salesperson that picks up his business line from his mobile phone while he’s in the break room with the art director. It’s the dry cleaner that tells me his closing time even though he’s away from the front counter. It’s the jewelry shop owner confirming on his laptop from the showroom floor that the secret admirer who sent me diamond earrings was Clive Owen (OK so this last example is purely hypothetical, but you get what I mean, right?).
In any case, Creative Video Services is a company I am very familiar with. It’s a small business that understands the importance of wireless technologies. From producers, editors to salespeople they have lots of folks on the move. After seeing what they do firsthand, its tough to imagine how they were doing business without wireless. Then again, It’s easy to see that through the help of a Cisco partner and Cisco wireless phones and access points, how they are setting themselves apart and focused on getting things done.
Take a look.
In their recent publication, Gartner's (News - Alert) Magic Quadrant has positioned Avaya as the leader based on its ‘'ability to execute’ and ‘completeness of vision’ for both Unified Communications and Corporate Telephony.
According to a Gartner report, Unified Communications products facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communication methods that include Internet Protocol (IP)-PBX, voice over IP (VoIP), presence, e-mail, audio conferencing and Web conferencing, videoconferencing, voice mail, unified messaging (UM), instant messaging (IM), and other forms of mobility. Also UC products integrate communication channels (media), networks and systems, IT business applications and even consumer applications and devices. The report describes Corporate Telephony as "the provision of holistic voice communications for all wired and wireless users in large enterprises."
Gartner reports that UC’s best of breed approach ensures adequate functionality and planners require vendor products to be interoperable. Although most current solutions support Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard, UC’s products additionally integrate seamlessly with third party products. The report adds that some products are applicable for specific environment and hence show limited interoperability while other products are designed to interoperate in multiple environments making them more flexible.
Avaya Aura is a SIP-based, core communications platform supporting unified communications and contact center solutions that easily integrates communications across multi-vendor, multi-location and multi-modal businesses. It simplifies complex communications networks, reduces infrastructure costs and quickly delivers voice, video, messaging, presence, Web applications and more to business users anywhere.
Alan Baratz, the senior vice president and president, Global Communications Solutions, Avaya said, “The open, standards-based flexibility of Avaya Aura coupled with the Avaya DevConnect program and its tens of thousands of developers and partners, provide an unparalleled network of leading technology companies to enable a fully-integrated, 'best in class,' multi-vendor approach to addressing the particular needs and purposes of a company.” He added that apart from real-time communications-collaboration feature, Avaya Aura solution can also provide up to 23 percent saving in capital expenditures and 33 percent saving in operating expenditures for large enterprises.
As a result of the Nortel acquisition and integrated with Avaya Aura, a new version of Avaya Agile Communications Environment allows companies to easily build communications-enabled applications (CEA) and business processes (CEBP) to speed workflow through a suite of packaged applications and an IT developer toolkit.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Plantronics M100 Bluetooth headset has arrived and here is my unboxing + review. The first feature you should be aware of is the dual mics on the M100. When the dual mics are combined with the built-in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and Plantronics wind and background noise reduction technology, in theory you have the best damn sounding headset on the planet.
Here's a couple photos of the Plantronics M100:
Ear-bud and microphones side
Plantronics M100 Rear showing Micro-USB charging connection
I paired the M100 with my iPhone 3GS. It didn't ask for a PIN/passcode, but the default is 0000 if it does ask. The M100 supports multipoint so you can pair the headset with two Bluetooth devices, a very convenient feature. After pairing the M100 with my iPhone 3GS, the first thing I noticed was an extra battery meter on the iPhone screen. This is a pretty cool feature. It enables you to monitor the level of the headset battery on your iPhone screen. No more guessing how much battery life your BT headset has. I haven't seen this one any other Bluetooth headset I've tested on the iPhone, but obviously Apple must have "baked in" this functionality into the phone firmware to support it. I asked Plantronics about the battery meter and they said this is the first headset of theirs supporting this feature, but other headset manufacturers have the ability to do this as well. Plantronics said they are working on adding a battery meter to Blackberry and Android devices.
In any event, the battery meter is located in the top right corner as seen here (located in-between the Bluetooth logo and the 84% iPhone battery life):
Testing Call Quality
You can switch it from left ear to right ear pretty easily just by rotating the eartip. As for comfort level, it's on part with other Plantronics Bluetooth headsets I've tested. It's pretty comfortable and pretty snug, so most users will probably remove the optional ear loop that comes attached.
Plantronics decided to keep it simple and instead of volume up and volume down, there is only one volume button which toggles between the various volume settings - Min-Lo-Med-Hi-Max (and back to Min). Each time you press the volume button one headset it plays a single tone. I'm used to having a volume up and down, so I found myself initially "overshooting" the Max volume setting and going back to Min. However, I quickly realized that the M100 plays a special double-tone to indicate when you've reached maximum volume, so I haven't overshot it since. It's worth adding that the M100 headset automatically adjusts volume levels when moving in and out of noisy environments to ensure clear conversations. I found this automatic volume adjustment to work quite well and rarely had to adjust the volume manually.
Charging / Battery Life
When the headset LED flashes red 2 times and plays 2 tones, the battery is low. When it gets critically low it flashes red 3 times or the voice alert says "recharge headset" when there is less than 10 minutes of talk time remaining. Also, the headset features voice alerts that tell you mute status as well as low battery and remaining talk time. Thus, after full charging and then turning it on it will first say "Power On" and then "Talk time 6 hours".
Charging takes 30 minutes for 2 hours talk time and 90 minutes for a full charge with up to 6 hours of talk time. I didn't test to see if I could get a full 6 hours of talk time, however I did make an hour phone call and the battery meter on the iPhone barely budged.
Plantronics Interview / Thoughts
I spoke with Plantronics Jeff Ducote, category director for Bluetooth products about the M100 and a few other products they are launching this Fall. Jeff told me that NPD Group's retail data report showed that year-over-year Plantronics grew from 25% market share to 35-40% market share for Bluetooth headsets (mono and stereo) - an impressive jump.
Jeff Ducote said the packaging is entirely recyclable and is made from recyclable materials. I mentioned the "look" of the headset packaging (clean white look with blue and black colors) had an Apple-esque feel to it and it looked like it belonged in the Apple Store. Jeff confirmed the headset would be carried in the Apple Store.
One really cool design feature on the M100 packaging is the sound wave. Well, it's not really a sound wave, but its actually a pictogram consisting of a jogger with a dog (obviously wearing a BT headset), telephone poles symbolizing communications, cars symbolizing where Bluetooth headsets are often used, as well as a motorcycle, bicycle, convertible, house, skyscraper, and more. At a distance it looks like a sound wave form, which will attract consumers to it on a shelf, but on closer inspection you can see the discrete picture elements. You can click the packaging picture to the right for a slightly larger image to see for yourself.
Plantronics is doing a major branding change from the current Explorer, Voyager, and Discovery headset model names. Jeff said, "We're going to what is expected in the consumer environment, especially in consumer electronics where our naming convention will also tie in with that good, better, best and be consistent with that. As you move from an entry level that might be M10, you go to the M100 in the mid tier to M1000, as an example. That natural progression upward that shows a higher level of product."
Features / Specs of the M100:
- The M100 Headset automatically adjusts sound levels so you can hear every word clearly when moving in and out of noisy environments.
- Find the Best Fit - The lightweight design offers multiple wearing options for a staple, comfortable fit - with or without glasses. Choose from soft gel eartips, in 3 different sizes, and an Optional clip-on earloop to find the best fit.
- Voice alerts announce remaining talk time, low battery, phone connections and Mute status, providing important information when you need it.
- Know When to Recharge - When the headset LED flashes red 3 times or the voice alert advises to recharge headset, then there is less than 10 minutes of talk time remaining. iPhone users can also Monitor the level of the headset battery onscreen.
- Echo cancellation
- 9 Grams
- Dimensions: 55 x 18.5 x 8.1mm
- Talk/Standby time: Up to 6 Hours / 10 Days
- Operating distance: Up to 33 feet (10M), Class II
- Charge connector: Micro USB charging
- Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium ion polymer
- Charge time: 90 minutes for full charge
- Bluetooth version: 2.1 specifications with EDR
- Bluetooth profiles: Hands-Free (HFP) Profile 1.5 and Headset (HSP) Profile 1.1
Plantronics is positioning the M100 as their mid-tier Bluetooth headset. I asked what would make the headset a "premium" headset and Plantronics said there are some premium products with additional enterprise functionality coming out in the Fall. Plantronics would not disclose additional details except to say the premium product is "more solution-based - you're adding different levels of value whether it's from a productivity or utility standpoint - where you combine software and hardware applications."
I can almost guarantee the M1000 will come with a Bluetooth dongle for connecting to a PC so you can use the M1000 in the enterprise to be used in conjunction with a SIP softphone, Microsoft Communicator, or other enterprise voice application. Make no mistake, the M100 has premium sound with the performance of the dual mics, DSPs, wind reduction, and the automatic sound level adjustments. Right now, it's my favorite Bluetooth headset. So if you can skip the value-add "premium" enterprise application support + Bluetooth dongle, then this is the headset I recommend you buy.
With rising demands and rapid changes in the information technology business, a new approach is needed to free individuals and organizations from the constraints of traditional IT. And experts believe the cloud is part of the answer and will play an important role in the new era of IT. According to Cisco Systems’s chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior (News - Alert), “Cloud will change the way the world lives, works, plays, and learns.” Imagine having access to nearly unlimited computing power on any device from anywhere.”
By definition, cloud communications are Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid. In fact, it is a new computing paradigm, wherein IT resources and services are abstracted from the underlying infrastructure and provided on-demand and at scale in a multi-tenant environment. Cisco (News - Alert) Systems’ white paper “Cloud: Powered by the Network” identifies some key characteristics of cloud computing, which include:
-- Information technology, from infrastructure to applications, is delivered and consumed as a service over the network
-- Services operate consistently, regardless of the underlying systems
-- Capacity and performance scale to meet demand and are invoiced by use
-- Services are shared across multiple organizations, allowing the same underlying systems and applications to meet the demands of a variety of interests, simultaneously and securely
-- Applications, services, and data can be accessed through a wide range of connected devices (e.g., smart phones, laptops, and other mobile internet devices)
In short, cloud communications encompass several variations of service models, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS (News - Alert)). And includes deployment models like private, public, hybrid, and community clouds.
As a result, there are many benefits of the new computing technology. Aside from transforming the economics of IT from capital-intensive to pay-as-you-go, cloud communications provide speed and scalability to enable users to grow without time and resource intensive IT build-outs. Plus, it brings powerful IT resources to the masses. Organizations of all sizes, across all geographies, can access information technology resources that previously were out of reach. World-class applications and computing infrastructure are available to all without considerable up-front investment.
Furthermore, cloud communications enable new business models and responds faster to changing customer needs, as well as improves information management with reduced operating risks. Lastly, it is structured to protect sensitive information through automated policy enforcement.
Challenges and Governance
Since transitioning to the cloud is not an instantaneous or simple transformation, it requires controlled and pragmatic approach. Because cloud communications involve new technologies, new service and deployment models, moving older systems and legacy applications to cloud can be a real challenge. That said, legacy platforms can co-exist with cloud deployments and should be slowly migrated as and when it is appropriate.
There are some limitations with cloud communications, such as its ability to customize functionality or guarantee quality of service. Some workloads may have stringent compliance or technical requirements issues, for example. In these cases, depending on workload-specific requirements around cost, risk, and performance, organizations must decide where the cloud is most appropriate solution.
Consequently, cloud communications challenge organizations to rethink governance processes for consuming, delivering, and managing IT resources. As cloud services are available to budget owners across the organization with the swipe of a credit card, legal and risk management departments will look for standards that must assure security, privacy, SLA conformance, and compliance.
Hence, the cloud is not one-size-fits-all proposition. Different types of workloads across businesses will require different service and deployment models. Toward that end, Cisco has profiled four types of organizations-- small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), large enterprises, public-sector organizations, and information technology and communications service providers.
To focus on business and innovation, SMBs are tapping the benefits of public cloud communication services. However, large enterprises need more control over data, applications, and systems. Therefore, they are better suited for private and hybrid cloud model. Likewise, government entities, including agencies, armed forces, and educational institutions, will employ a variety of cloud models. For instance, those equivalent to large enterprises will go for similar configurations, while organizations with mutual interest and goals may collaborate to build and share community clouds. In fact, some government groups may even prefer a public cloud. In any case, there is a major issue with public-sector institutions. Balancing concerns and regulations regarding privacy and security with aspirations for transparency and sharing information will a key challenge for the public-sector institutions.
Concurrently, service providers must be prepared to address customer concerns ranging from policy compliance to end-to-end security, including quality of service and technical customization. They must be able to deliver a range of functionality, service levels, and payment models.
CounterPath, a provider of VoIP software solutions for both desktop and mobile devices, has released the latest version of its Bria multitasking, multi-account VoIP software solution for Apple’s (News - Alert) iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 allows iOS 4 users, as well as those using older devices running iPhone 3.0 to enjoy multitasking on the iPhone (News - Alert) in order to help them increase productivity and perform other tasks while taking calls.
Compatible with Apple’s new iOS 4, this latest version of Bria will automatically allow iPad users to enjoy its multitasking capabilities once iOS 4 for iPad is released. In addition, Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 can also support as many as eight accounts, including separate numbers, to allow users to stay connected to all accounts throughout the day via a single login.
As such, this newest iteration of Bria allows the large and increasing number of organizations deploying compatible devices to maintain high productivity even when not at their offices or desks.
Other key features of Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 include: seamless integration with other solutions from CounterPath (News - Alert) and with equipment manufactured by other vendors such as Ericsson, Metaswitch and NEC; full SIP compliance; Bluetooth support to enable hands-free calling for iPhone and iPod Touch users; multi-call management options; DTMF support; enterprise-level security via SRTP and TLS; customized branding as an option for mobile-service providers and enterprises; and support for Asterisk (News - Alert)-based telephony systems.
Current users of Bria iPhone Edition will automatically receive an update to Version 1.1 when it becomes available.
Todd Carothers, VP Product Management, CounterPath, said that this new version of Bria iPhone Edition helps iPhone users enjoy the next generation of VoIP services by letting them take one or more of their VoIP accounts mobile. Carothers said that Bria 1.1 helps iOS 4 users become completely liberated, thanks to its full multi-account support and multitasking capabilities.
"The high impact and aggressive messaging in this campaign is centered on a quantitative, fact-supported total cost of ownership savings comparison versus the market leader. We're optimistic this will resonate with decision makers in the present economic business environment," said Jake Power, senior director, Marketing, Avaya Data Solutions.
To extend reach to a more technical audience, an online version of the ads is being placed in a number of IDG tech sites, such as CIO.com and networkworld.com. The campaign also includes a destination landing page on avaya.com where customers and prospects can get more information about the Avaya data portfolio, review a video customer case study, read the Info-Tech comparison report, find out about the special financing offer and register for updates (for lead capture).
Visit the campaign landing page