Friday, October 22, 2010

Partners: Avaya Shift from Quantity to Quality in Partner Base a Good Thing

by Charlene O'Hanlon

Avaya is adjusting elements of its Avaya Connect partner program to work better for its partners and address the needs of its customer base – changes its partners said are mostly for the better.

One of the changes discussed at Avaya's 2011 Americas Partner Conference, held this week in Las Vegas, was the migration away from volume-based metrics to measure the effectiveness of channel partners.

"We are driving more toward competency rather than volume," said Jeremy Butt, vice president of Global Channels at Avaya. "Today we have a classically tiered program, and when it comes right down to it, there are only two types of programs – those that are competency-based and those that are volume-based. We are at a halfway-house stage at the moment. We are going to continue pushing toward the competency side over the next few years."

John Babcock, president of Relational Technology Solutions, Columbus, Ohio, believes the current volume-based metric leaves a number of small but competent partners out in the cold when it comes to compensation. The shift to competency-based metrics, he said, will level the playing field.

"When the channel isn't educated or qualified to design and implement a solution, it's a disaster," he said. "I'm not as concerned about whether a partner is regional or national as I am about whether he is qualified to make the sale.

It's a prohibitive process when partners are compensated solely on volume because the smaller guys never get a shot. Avaya needs a channel with better-quality partners," he added. "The technology is only going to get more complex."

Roger Junkermeir, president of Cerium Networks, Spokane, Wash., said often the cost associated with achieving competency will dictate the amount of product a partner must sell – creating a Catch-22 situation.

"If a company sets competency levels to the point where it should, that probably is going to dictate how much volume a partner has to do to support the headcount and everything associated with being able to competent," such as training and professional development, he said. "If Avaya approaches this new model correctly, the compensation model will ferret out who are the most competent."

However, partners noted, tying partner compensation to customer satisfaction levels – an idea being considered by Avaya – is absolutely the wrong way to go.

"If your company has a customer-satisfaction issue, the vendor will see that through number of escalation issues by customers," Junkermeir said. "Any partner in business has to have customer satisfaction at the root and core of their interest. I don't believe it should be an edict."

Besides, said Val Robison, sales vice president at Sunturn IT Consulting Group, Phoenix, customer satisfaction ratings can be influenced by any number of things.

"The customer could love us but be upset at vendor, so they take it out on us when they get that customer satisfaction survey," he said. "Or the customer is having a bad day. Or they have bad code in their system that the partner can't impact.

Satisfaction surveys don't always tell the story, he said. "Tying our ability to compete with customer sat scores makes it difficult."

Avaya Reaffirms Its Commitment to Data

by Charlene O'Hanlon

Avaya has high hopes for its data portfolio in the channel.

"Avaya is in the data business; we are absolutely committed," said Steve Bandrowczak, vice president and general manager of Data Solutions at Avaya. "We have a rich history as well as a deep installed base (of existing Nortel data customers). Avaya partners now have a tremendous opportunity to go and attack that installed base as well the Avaya base that never bought data from us before."

Bandrowczak, who made his comments during the 2011 Avaya Americas Partner Conference this week in Las Vegas, noted data services are an absolutely crucial part of the communications equation.

"We have to deliver to the 'consumer of one' – the employees of an organization – products and services that speak to the way they want to do business and how they want to be interfaced. The exciting part is it all has to run on a network," he said. "Those who are selling unified communications and contact center – think about what it's running on top of. It's like trying to sell a car without a transmission. The underlying data network is key to data transport."

Bandrowczak also noted the company has released a number of new data products since April – further proof of its commitment to the technology. Among the new releases are Avaya's 8800 Ethernet routing switch, 8100 wireless LAN, advanced Gateway 1330 and Configuration and Orchestration Manager. In November, the company plans to launch its virtualization strategy, he said.

"Virtualization to servers been happening for a few years," Bandrowczak said. "The challenge is most companies have multiple data centers or are looking at cloud computing," scenarios that typically nullify the benefits of server virtualization. "We will be announcing hardware and tools for virtualization of the data center."

The idea, he said, is to lay the foundation for the next-generation data center and campus environment, which includes simplification of private and public cloud computing environments. "This sets the foundation for the next five to seven years," Bandrowczak said.

Third Quarter 2010 Shows Record Earnings for Polycom

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Polycom, Inc., a provider of unified communications solutions, had record earnings for the third quarter (3Q), which ended Sept. 30. The company said that third quarter 2010 consolidated net revenues were a record $308 million, compared to $243 million for 3Q 2009.

"In the third quarter, revenues grew 27 percent year-over-year, underpinned by record bookings that generated record backlog exiting 3Q," said Michael Kourey, Polycom’s (News - Alert) executive vice president of finance and administration, and CFO, in a statement.

GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2010 was $17 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, compared to $14 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, for the same period last year.

Non-GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2010 was $34 million, or 38 cents per diluted share. This compares to Non-GAAP net income of $27 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, for 3Q 2009.

For the nine months ending Sept. 30, net revenues were $879 million, compared to $699 million for the first nine months of 2009. GAAP net income for the nine months was $35 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, compared to GAAP net income of $37 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, for the same period last year. Non-GAAP net income for the period was $89 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, compared to $74 million, or 86 cents per diluted share, for the first nine months of 2009.

"3Q represented a hallmark quarter for Polycom across the business, validating the speed and precision with which we have executed our go-to-market strategy and underscoring our unique role as the UC ecosystem partner of choice," said Andrew Miller, Polycom president and CEO, in a statement.

"Importantly, we generated sharp growth in network systems revenues, driven by the launch of the Polycom UC Intelligent Core, leveraging our best-in-class infrastructure technology and our highly-effective sales engine,” Miller continued. “These customer wins at the core not only contributed to Polycom's record revenues but, more importantly, bodes well for the proliferation of our collaboration solution into our growing customer base. We also achieved significant gains with the Polycom Open Collaboration Network, which was punctuated by our new strategic relationship with Microsoft (News - Alert) where we are jointly developing and marketing a unified communications solution that leverages the demand for the next-generation Microsoft Lync UC server."

Miller is confident about the company’s future.

"Looking to 4Q and 2011, we believe Polycom is in a unique position to capture the emerging network effect of UC adoption by enterprise, public sector, service providers, SMB, and, ultimately, the connected home,” Miller said. “In order to most effectively deliver on this mounting demand, we recruited a slate of world-class executives from industry leading companies to execute on the strategy that we set forth one year ago….”

“Through our unparalleled innovations, strategic partnerships, and customer-centric go-to-market capabilities, we have been taking share and, more importantly, leading this industry to unprecedented levels of customer adoption. The strategic investment plan is working, our margins are expanding, and we are now staged to take this business to the next level," Miller added.

Polycom, Inc. is a global leader in unified communications solutions with telepresence, video, voice and infrastructure solutions built on open standards.

Avaya Partner Conference in Las Vegas Recap

The sweetest sound I've heard this week at the Avaya 2011 Global Sales and Americas Partner Conference here in Las Vegas hasn't been the "ding, ding, ding" of the slot machines, or the call of "Pay the winner" at the table games. It's been a simple little phrase I've heard dozens of times from Avaya sales, Avaya Connect channel partners and Avaya DevConnect technology partners alike.

"I'll call you..."

For a company in the communications space, there is nothing better than the continued realization that spoken communication, real conversations between individuals, remains one of the most powerful and effective experiences we can have in a journey towards success.

With over 5000 attendees at the conference, it's been a great oppotrunity for me to catch up with partners and sales teams from around the globe. And in each case, the discussions always end in a similar manner.

"I'll call you."
"I'll speak to you next week."
"I'll have so-and-so call such-and-such to move this forward."

Voice is immensely powerful. Email, IM, micro-blogging, and even this blog you are reading are great tools for collaboration. But the power of having a conversation, making a phone call, drives a deeper, personal connection, and really offers results. It's too easy to hide behind the written word, to delay responding, to avoid a direct answer, to ignore the question you don't want to address. Spoken conversations don't give you those options. They require engagement. They ask for your attention and committment by their very nature.

I've watched the traffic at the demo stations for Avaya Flare™ and our new Avaya Desktop Video Device, and have seen the excitement as many of our channels and sales teams get their first hands-on experience with this new user experience, and its high-def, low-bandwidth video collaboration capabilities. And it's a game changer for most of them. "When can I get one?" "How can I get one?" "I want one now!" is often heard around the demo area. DevConnect partners have asked me how they can integrate elements of their portfolio into the video-enable Avaya portfolio.

And it's easy to understand why. We often cannot afford to have the face-to-face interactions with our peers, partners and customers, especially in a global marketplace. And email falls short in developing a meaningful personal relationship. So while voice remains the tool of choice, the addition of video bridges the gap with that highly personal face-to-face interaction, creating even deeper relationship, attention and trust.

And that drives even better payoff and results than you'll ever find on the casino floor.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is the Office Really Necessary? Global Study by Cisco Reveals 60 Percent Of Workers Believe Being in the Office Is No Longer Needed to Be Productive

Demand to Work Anywhere, Anytime Stronger Than Desire for Higher Salary; Two of Three Workers Expect IT to Allow Access to Corporate Information With Any Device – Personal or Company-issued

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Oct. 19, 2010 – Cisco announced today results of an international workplace study that reveals three of five workers around the world believe that they do not need to be in the office anymore to be productive. In fact, their desire to be mobile and flexible in accessing corporate information is so strong that the same percentage of workers would choose jobs that were lower-paying but had leniency in accessing information outside of the office over higher salaried jobs that lacked flexibility. These and numerous other findings provide real-life insight into the expectations, demands, and behavior of the global workforce that is influencing the way information is accessed and how business communications are changing.

The study, called The Cisco Connected World Report, will be presented today by Cisco executives during a live Internet TV broadcast from 8:00-9:00 a.m. PDT. To view the broadcast, click here:

Key Findings

Employee Desire for Mobility, Work Flexibility Very Strong

  • The study, which involved surveys of 2,600 workers and IT professionals in 13 countries, revealed that three of every five employees (60 percent) believed it was unnecessary to be in the office to be productive. This was especially the case in Asia and Latin America. More than nine of 10 employees in India (93 percent) said they did not need to be in the office to be productive. This sentiment was extremely prevalent in China (81 percent) and Brazil (76 percent) as well.
  • Two of every three employees surveyed (66 percent) expect IT to allow them to use any device – personal or company-issued – to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere at any time, and they expect the types of devices to continue diversifying. In the future, employees expect their choice of network-connected endpoints to broaden to non-traditional work devices like televisions and navigation screens in cars.
  • For employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, about half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more. However, extra hours do not translate to always-on, on-demand employees. They simply want the flexibility to manage their work-life balance throughout their waking hours.
  • Employees also feel strongly about having the flexibility to work anywhere that it would dictate their company loyalty (13 percent), choice of jobs (12 percent), and morale (9 percent). For example, two of three employees worldwide (66 percent) said they would take a job with less pay and more flexibility in device usage, access to social media, and mobility than a higher-paying job without such flexibility. This percentage was higher in some countries, such as Spain (78 percent), despite economic woes the past couple years.

Can Businesses Meet Employee Needs?

  • Almost half of the IT respondents (45 percent) said they are not prepared policy- and technology-wise to support a more borderless, mobile workforce. Not surprisingly, security is the top concern.
  • Although many of the IT respondents felt security (57 percent), budget (34 percent), and staff expertise (17 percent) were the biggest barriers to enabling a more distributed workforce, employees often felt IT and corporate policies were the obstacles. This perception among employees was extremely prevalent in India, where more than half (58 percent) felt IT was the obstacle to a more flexible work style.

Employee Behavior Indicates Education, Corporate Policies as Important as Technology

  • About one in five (19 percent) employees globally said they have noticed strangers looking at their computer screens in public, while an additional 19 percent admitted that they never think to check their surroundings.
  • Nearly one in five (17 percent) employees admitted leaving devices unattended in public.
  • Almost three of every five employees globally (58 percent) admitted that they have allowed non-employees to use their corporate devices unsupervised.
  • As workforces become more distributed, the potential for data loss increases. One of four IT respondents (26 percent) said one-fourth of the devices issued to employees in the past 12 months had already been lost or stolen.
  • As workforces become increasingly mobile, security and risk management concerns inevitably grow. The findings indicate the real need for better corporate policies, end-user education, and stronger, trusted relationships between employees and IT departments. How well IT brokers these relationships impacts a company's growth, productivity, competitive advantage, as well as its risk management.

About the Study

  • The study was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, a third-party market research firm based in the United States.
  • Cisco commissioned the study to maintain its understanding of present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to address employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies that can deliver applications and information more ubiquitously – from virtualized data centers and cloud computing to traditional wired and wireless networks.
  • The global study focuses on two surveys – one centering on employees, the other on IT professionals. Each survey included 100 respondents from each of the 13 countries, resulting in a survey pool of 2,600 people.
  • The 13 countries include the United States, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan, and Australia.

Supporting Quotes:

  • Marie Hattar, Vice President, Borderless Networks, Cisco:
  • "The Cisco Connected World Report gives further insight into the future of the workplace and it is clear from the research findings that the desire among employees to be more mobile and flexible in their work lifestyles is extremely strong throughout the world – as strong as salary. It is also evident that organizations need to embrace a borderless IT infrastructure to capture competitive advantage and increase employee satisfaction. The employee desire to be productive anytime, anywhere, using any device provides an opportunity to embrace the agility and flexibility provided through a Borderless Network Architecture."

  • Dave Evans, Futurist and Chief Technologist, Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco:
  • "Employee mobility is a fact of life, and the business advantages are clear across many industries. While The Cisco Connected World Report does identify real challenges for businesses, it also spotlights an opportunity for IT to enhance its relationship with employees and its role as an adviser and educator. Simply put, this report serves as a call-to-action for IT organizations. Work is not a place anymore. It's a lifestyle, and the IT profession's role is only going to get more strategic as it tries to help businesses stay agile and increase productivity."

Avaya Added as AGMA Member


Unified Communications and Contact Center Leader Joins Alliance as Part of Initiative to Stem Software Piracy, Increase Customer Protection

Press Release Source: AGMA On Thursday October 14, 2010, 10:00 am EDT

LOS GATOS, CA–(Marketwire – 10/14/10) – The Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA) today announced that it has officially added Avaya Inc., a global leader in enterprise communications systems, software and services, to its member roster. AGMA is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing gray market, counterfeiting and warranty and service abuse of branded goods around the globe. Avaya’s membership in the alliance is part of the company’s broader effort to stem software piracy and protect customers who inadvertently enter into relationships with unauthorized maintenance providers.

“Avaya provides its maintenance services both directly and through a network of authorized Avaya partners who are certified to support Avaya solutions,” said Joe Heel, president of Avaya Global Services. “Becoming a member of AGMA enables Avaya to share intellectual property protection best practices, while also focusing on the reduction of gray market and product counterfeiting with others in the communications industry. We will continue to pursue those engaged in software piracy, and maintain our focus on serving customers and protecting the Avaya brand,” added Heel.

Safeguarding intellectual property — including software patches and updates — is critical for the health of business systems. In order to reinforce its commitment to protecting customers, Avaya is implementing intellectual property audits of customers on a global scale, and making investments in product architecture to implement a “lock and key” licensing technology that further protects intellectual property.

Companies without Avaya support coverage provided directly through Avaya or one of its authorized partners can be at risk of victimization by unauthorized maintenance providers that apply pirated maintenance software patches and upgrades. Avaya helps ensure that customers have access to legitimate product licenses and software downloads, and offers an external website dedicated to educating customers and its authorized partners on the policies and actions to protect intellectual property.

AGMA and its member companies strive to make engaging in gray market, counterfeit and warranty and service abuse more difficult, undesirable and unprofitable for perpetrators. AGMA membership provides access to collaborative strategies, programs and processes to address the issues surrounding gray marketing in the IT sector.

“Avaya has taken important steps to help ensure that its customers are protected from unauthorized maintenance companies billing themselves as Avaya authorized partners,” said AGMA President Ram Manchi. “The success of AGMA’s mission is dependent upon our member companies. Education, awareness and the sharing of best practices are the keys to fighting a winning battle against these issues.”

AGMA provides a platform for sharing collaborative strategies in the technology sector. AGMA facilitates a forum for information sharing on a variety of topics, including brand protection programs and processes to address the threat of counterfeiting, gray market fraud and service and warranty abuse. Its members seek to limit the gray marketing of their products to protect their brands and legitimate partner ecosystems — as well as end users.

To learn more about AGMA’s initiatives or to become a member, please visit

Timeline of Social Media at Cisco

John Earnhardt | October 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm PST

Cisco was created in 1984 out of Stanford University. In retrospect, the company was actually founded on the concept of social networking…on the concept of people wanting to be together. A husband and wife who were in different departments, utilizing different computer systems wanted to talk to each other. The multi-protocol router was created in a living room in Menlo Park, CA and Cisco was born.

In 2000, under the leadership of Dan Scheinman, the communications team at Cisco created News@Cisco, Cisco’s news site where press releases were housed and original content was produced.

In February of 2005, we launched our first external blog at Cisco. The topic was high tech public policy. Today, we have too many to count internal blogs and twenty-one external blogs, including our corporate blog, The Platform. (The new blog site launched just this month.)

Cisco, of course, LOVES video. In September of 2007, our Public Relations team started using video for press releases and blogs in earnest. We created the CSCOPR YouTube Channel. We now have over 800 videos and over 1.6 million views of those videos. While the CSCOPR channel remains active, recently, the social media marketing team created an umbrella YouTube channel to encompass the multiple other Cisco channels. You can view that site here.

In February 2008, Jeanette Gibson, then the head of the New Media team in Corporate Communications and now the director of Social Media Marketing at Cisco, asked me to run the CiscoSystems twitter account, as it seemed more appropriate for a PR person to run the “corporate” twitter account. I accepted and we’re now at about 40,000 followers and growing. We now, of course, have multiple “official” Twitter accounts and many, many employees tweeting (see here for our Cisco Social Media Policy and Guidelines for employees.)

In August 2009, we started the “official” Cisco Facebook page. We now have over 100,000 “likes” and growing. We utilize the page to share Cisco news and events and engage with Cisco fans. If you “like” us now on Facebook, you can even get a discount on Cisco Valet or a free Flip Video accessory! (Offer ends soon!)

In November 2009, we started using Ustream for our Talk2Cisco live broadcast series so that viewers could interact real time with Cisco thought leaders.

This month, the Social Media Marketing team created a social media aggregator so that you can get a snapshot of the activity going on in Cisco’s social footprint as well as in our discussion communities. (Follow us, like us…engage with us.)

And, for what’s next, I recently talked to Forbes Managing Editor Bruce Upbin about how Cisco looks at social media and this will give you a flavor of where we might be heading.

Whether creating technologies and solutions, partnering with others, or taking good ideas and making them better, Cisco knows that innovation is the key to survival. Social Media is about innovation and that is what Cisco does better than anyone. Please join us as we continue this journey.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Survey: Costs of Office Communications Server too great for some organizations

Lack of in-house expertise is another hindrance to adoption of OCS

By Tim Greene, Network World
October 13, 2010 03:30 PM ET

Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) is perceived as too expensive to deploy and too complicated to manage, and many businesses lack the in-house expertise to handle it, according to a survey.

Tighter IT budgets spawned by the recession were cited by 58% of respondents as an inhibitor or serious inhibitor to using OCS as well as other UC platforms, with upfront and ongoing costs both contributing, according to a survey conducted by Osterman Research.

Lack of a compelling business case for using OCS or its successor, Lync, was a factor for 42%, according to "Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and the Unified Communications Market".

The online survey queried 121 organizations in North America and was sponsored by Azaleos, which offers OCS and Lync services.

The survey says that 21% of respondents use OCS – up from 16% last year - and 17% of the rest have conducted pilots over the past 18 months or are doing so now. That is the greatest penetration of the sample group by any UC vendor, but the report notes that the penetration of other UC vendors into businesses is growing, too.

Based on what they have heard about Lync features, more than half say they expect Lync's ability to run on virtual machines will make it more acceptable to those who decide whether to use it, as will its requirement for fewer physical servers overall. They also felt a unified instant messaging/presence/voice/voicemail client will make Lync more attractive.

The main reasons businesses are interested in UC are its support of enterprise voice, instant messaging and Web conferencing, with these factors being cited by between 48% and 58% of respondents as drivers or significant drivers.

Osterman's research says that organizations are using different UC features at different rates. Asked which features are available to at least some of their users, 75% of respondents say Web conferencing, 74% say audio conferencing, 72% say instant messaging/presence, 59% say desktop sharing, 58% say video conferencing, 52% say enterprise voice and 36 % say group chat.

The reasons businesses adopt UC vary, but 71% say collaboration is either a driver or important driver, 68% say cost savings from enterprise VoIP

In its analysis, Osterman says that decisions about deploying UC will be affected by which group within an organization leads the effort – the e-mail team, telecom group or some hybrid. An organization's investment in PBX and e-mail systems could have a big influence, it says.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

Cisco Brings Its Technology Into the Living Room

CMO Sue Bostrom on New Video Phone for Consumers

NEW YORK ( -- Cisco has long been known as a maker of back-end equipment, the routers and hubs that connect offices to the internet. But lately the firm has jumped into the consumer market, perhaps as a result of its relatively flat sales over the past few years, which have hovered around $40 billion annually since 2008. But a key growth area has been its consumer products, having bought Linksys in 2003 and Flip Video in 2009.

Umi is Cisco's most ambitious consumer product yet.
Umi is Cisco's most ambitious consumer product yet.
But last week the 26-year-old firm unveiled its most ambitious consumer product yet: Umi, a high-definition, high-bandwidth video-teleconferencing device retailing for $599 with a $24.99 monthly service fee. The product includes a camera that clamps to the top of anyone's HD TV and a set-top box that connects to the TV's cable receiver and to the internet via a broadband box. Though the product requires a companion to get the full HD effect, it's compatible with Google video chat and may soon be compatible with Skype. Basically, it's a webcam on steroids.

Ad Age talked with Cisco's Exec VP-Chief Marketing Officer Sue Bostrom, who has been with the company since 1997 when she joined as VP-services marketing, about the company's consumer-facing ambitions. Ms. Bostrom, who has deep experience in business-to-business electronics and software marketing, previously had been senior VP-global marketing for FTP Software and prior to that was with National Semiconductor.

Ad Age: Cisco isn't really known as a consumer company. What are the challenges you face getting the word out about this product?

Ms. Bostrom: At Cisco, as a brand we've been working for four to five years in terms of really expanding how people think about Cisco. This is all an outgrowth of our human-networking campaign. We believe the brand has a lot of expandability. Cisco has a huge mission to expand in the minds of the consumers.

Sue Bostrom
Sue Bostrom
Ad Age: And Umi is part of that expansion, clearly.

Ms. Bostrom: It started, really, with our acquisition of Linksys and Flip Video, so we have already been testing ourselves in the consumer space. With regard to Umi, the exciting thing about it is that it really is the manifestation of Cisco's vision, what the company is all about.

Ad Age: You're referring to your business teleconferencing product?

Ms. Bostrom: Yes, TelePresence, and being able to take our experience from that technology and building a product specifically for what consumers need has been an interesting opportunity.

Ad Age: Businesses are well aware of your TelePresence product, but what's your consumer-marketing strategy then for Umi?

Ms. Bostrom: We have three important strategies for that. First is awareness, then what we call experiential and, finally, viral marketing. But the most important thing is awareness. It's harder for people to understand that this category of product exists. They're familiar with video communications and computer but this is an entirely different experience. So we're doing additional Ellen Page ads to get people to be aware of the product.

Ad Age: I've seen those Ellen Page commercials. They're funny. But I always wondered, as a consumer, why I'm seeing commercials for a product I can't buy. Was it part of the early strategy to pre-game Umi?

Ms. Bostrom: Actually, no. We didn't extend her into the consumer campaign until after we saw how the TelePresence campaign was working, and it worked great. The larger campaign for us was to just expose people to the human touch of TelePresence. So you saw in those commercials things you can relate to, such as doctor's visits, or a classroom setting. We wanted people to understand that video is pervasive, and it's going to be even more pervasive in our lives.

Ad Age: So what will these new Ellen Page spots look like and who is the agency behind them?

Ms. Bostrom: Well, we work with Ogilvy very closely, we have for a long time. With the new spots with Ellen, we set up in an environment where she actually called friends of hers -- mostly unscripted, and you see her interacting with all different friends of hers. What's great about Ellen is she comes across as so natural and authentic, which was important to this product.

Ad Age: Any other TV or ad spots?

Ms. Bostrom: We have product integration on TV, like we did for TelePresence on "24" or "Transformers" or "30 Rock." That's one of our key strategies, to allow people to see a live demo of the product in a form of entertainment that they love. So we're going to move forward really aggressively as you can imagine with the Umi product, and one of those, of course, is our association with "The Oprah Winfrey Show." It'll allow Oprah and her guests to connect.

Ad Age: So in which other shows will we see the Umi product? You mentioned "30 Rock" before.

Ms. Bostrom: My team is not allowing me to share that. They're working with scripts, and they don't want to give away too much. I can say it'll be one of the top shows out there today and one show we feel will be emerging. But also shows we think where it'll make sense. Shows where families are involved, for instance.

Ad Age: Where will Umi be available?

Ms. Bostrom: So I talked about the awareness aspect, and the next aspect is experiential. First, you can go online right now to and place a pre-order. Second option will be in Best Buy Magnolia stores, about 400 of those around the nation. We'll be setting it up in a couple rooms so you can have that kind of experience. And third, we're actually making it available in high-end malls.

Ad Age: Is the move into consumer territory just an experiment? How committed is Cisco to this space?

Ms. Bostrom: We're very committed to being successful in the consumer market. Umi brings a lot of the great technology from Cisco into the living room. We're very committed to this not only because it's potentially a great market but also because the lines between the business world and the consumer world are blurring -- so much of the innovation today is being driven by the consumer. So what I see for Umi for the longer term is families using it to tutor their kids, for instance. Where's the best French tutor? In Paris. Also, for things like doctor's visits. Insurance agents. Anything you can imagine where you're would want to have some kind of trust-based relationship.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Video: Cisco Advanced Video Monitoring System (AVMS) Software

See how the Cisco Advanced Video Monitoring System (AVMS) software helps monitor and control network surveillance cameras to protect small businesses.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cisco to Unveil At-Home Video Conferencing Solution

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Web Editor

Over the past year, Cisco Systems has made a concerted effort to establish itself in the consumer space by acquiring set-top box manufacturer Scientific-Atlanta (News - Alert) and Pure Digital Technologies, a flip video recording company. Later today, the corporate technology giant is expected to make an even bigger splash in the consumer market by introducing a high-definition video conferencing solution designed specifically for the home.

Several media outlets are reporting that Cisco (News - Alert) will make an announcement in this regard later this afternoon, although company officials have yet to confirm the rumor. If the reports are accurate, consumers will soon be able to video chat with people across the world using their television and a set of high-end cameras and processors.

By entering the at-home telepresence space, Cisco will put itself in direct competition with Skype (News - Alert), a Web communications giant with a user base of more than 560 million people, Market Watch reported. The solution is expected to cost around $600 plus a monthly subscription fee of $30, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While Cisco has yet to comment on the reports, Skype General Manager Jonathan Christensen was happy to offer his two cents.

“My first reaction is, ‘Wow, that’s a really a big commitment for a consumer in these days when consumers are used to paying very, very little,” he told the news source.

"The question you have to ask yourself when you go out to buy a $600 device and hook it up to your living room system is, ‘Who are you going to call?’” Christensen added.

Currently, Cisco designs and manufactures video conferencing solutions for businesses that can cost as much as $100,000. Although its consumer system will be much more moderately priced, many analysts question whether the product will takeoff, especially considering Skype offers a similar service for no-cost.

In related news, Logitech International is expected to announced later this week that will incorporate a video conferencing feature into its Google (News - Alert) TV-enabled set-top box, which will be launched later this month. Microsoft will also be adding similar functionality to its video game console, Xbox 360, later this year.

Logitech Forms Partnership to Bring HD Video Communications to Virtual Desktops

Logitech, a dealer in products that connect people to the digital experiences, formed a strategic partnership with Avistar, Citrix and HP to bring high-definition video communications to virtual desktops.

The collaboration was announced at Citrix Synergy (News - Alert) Berlin, where Logitech is also showcasing its Logitech B990 HD webcam. The cam, which runs on h264 technology for onboard encoding, is compatible with Avistar C3 (News - Alert) Integrator desktop videoconferencing application. It removes the hardship of video processing from thin clients and enables HD 720p video conferencing in session-based and VDI desktops.

Both Avistar and Logitech (News - Alert) are working to help companies deploy HD videoconferencing on low-capacity terminals with the task of video encoding to be done by Logitech B990 HD webcam and decoding is done by Avistar (News - Alert) C3 Integrator app so that the resources of the thin client are not wasted on just the video. The combined solution helps support thin client terminals such as the HP t5740 Thin Client and other platforms and desktop virtualization solutions such as Citrix XenDesktop. In addition, the Logitech B990 HD Webcam delivers plug-and-play, enterprise-class reliability, 720p HD video calling, and dual-microphone stereo audio.

Citrix said desktop virtualization is being widely adopted by all sizes of organizations as a way to enable virtual workstyles for users and increase business agility for IT. Citrix HDX technology ensures users receive the best-possible experience of their virtual desktops, and through relationships with key partners Avistar and Logitech, their combined technologies help ensure a high-definition experience of video communications for Citrix XenDesktop users.

Officials with Avistar commented that they are continuing to see thin clients shrink in both size and capacity, but by teaming up with Logitech, are able to give enterprises the highest-quality desktop video-conferencing experience regardless of their virtualization infrastructure.

Eric Kintz, vice president and general manager of Logitech’s video business, added that as part of their promise to bring seamless HD video communications to anyone – consumers and businesses – on any screen, they recognized that in the enterprise market, the final untapped frontier is the thin client. Logitech welcomes the opportunity to work closely with Avistar, Citrix and HP to enable HD video calling on a virtual desktop.

HP Networking & Avaya Join Forces For A Secure SIP Branch

I've been exchanging twitter traffic with @AndyAtHP for probably a year now as part of my social media role for Avaya (as @devconnect). Mostly we exchange tips on how social media changes how we interact with customers, and muse on the state of Unified Communications and the changes brought about by its evolution.

As a result, I'm especially pleased to note that HP Networking has announced its first integrated solution with Avaya. The HP Services zl Module for Avaya Aura™ Session Border Controller is an exciting first for both companies.

The HP Services zl Module for Avaya Aura Session Border Controller combines HP Networking's strength at the edge with Avaya's leadership in Unified Communications to provide a converged edge-based solution that helps customers fully realize the benefits of SIP.

SIP adoption is increasing rapidly and more than 62% of customers are using, planning or deploying SIP to address their need for improved functionality at a reduced cost. Nemertes research indicated customers can experience 20-60% savings with SIP trunking as it enables a single, secure IP link for voice and data.

When deploying SIP, a customer must address new security and deployment concerns. Protecting the network from intrusions, while maintaining a trusted border with the service provider network can be a significant challenge. Traditional firewall protection may not provide adequate security and management across a converged communications infrastructure of business-grade real time voice, video, and interactive multimedia sessions. The Avaya Aura Session Border Controller (SBC), powered by Acme Packet, delivers a SIP firewall solution for enterprises, aligned to the overall Avaya Aura architecture and experience.

The HP Services zl Module for Avaya Aura Session Border Controller is a solution that specifically addresses all these issues at the branch level. The solution is designed to reduce complexity and enhance security in SIP trunk deployments -- without putting undue stress on an organization's budget, by integrating Avaya Aura elements as an application on the switch. Fewer boxes mean reduced IT costs with fewer points of failure and reduced space and power requirements - important criteria for midsize companies and branch offices where resources are limited.

The solution leverages the HP Networking E5400 zl or E8200 zl chassis switches and the HP zl Module preloaded with Avaya Aura System Platform 6.0. These serve as the platform to host the Avaya Aura Session Border Controller software. As a result, the HP Services zl Module for Avaya Aura Session Border Controller can support up to 350 simultaneous Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) sessions, which is ideal for campuses, mid-sized businesses, branch offices, and small contact centers.

I'm sure that @AndyAtHP and I will continue to exchange tweets about the future of UC. But now we'll also feel more comfortable that our business conversations are both secure and cost effective for our organizations, thanks to HP Networking and our Avaya Aura integrated solution.

Posted 5 Oct 2010 at 02:58 PM

Monday, October 4, 2010

SIPfoundry and the University Community Announce UC Initiative

September 29, 2010 //

NEWBURYPORT, MA–(Marketwire – September 29, 2010) – Today SIPfoundry launches its EDU initiative, a comprehensive program designed to bring lower cost and modern communications to universities, colleges and school districts. As a proven replacement for legacy IP-PBX systems and as an open alternative to an all Microsoft infrastructure, the SIPfoundry sipXecs solution brings a robust all software solution with a sophisticated user experience to the higher education community.

Colorado State University (CSU) and Cedarville University are the first full members in this joint effort to transition from costly, limiting, legacy IP-PBXs and build 21st century communications that provide a rich, connected experience for faculty, staff, students and alumni. As investing members, CSU and Cedarville represent the higher education community to drive the future direction and define the requirements for an open, interoperable communication solution.

  • The SIPfoundry EDU program is designed to inspire innovation for the open source UC solution of the future based upon the sipXecs open source code, the largest and most comprehensive open source effort to build unified communications using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
  • SIPfoundry embraces a ‘For EDU – By EDU’ approach that ensures higher education institutions save significant money and it gives them direct influence over the future direction and roadmap of the open source development.
  • The SIPfoundry website has been updated to make it easy for members to collaborate, share best practices and leverage open source applications.
  • In addition to investing in SIPfoundry, Patrick Burns, VP for Information Technology and Dean of Libraries at CSU has joined the SIPfoundry governing board of directors. You Tube: Video Testimonial from Patrick Burns at Colorado State University

Plantronics Study Reveals How We Work Now


Texting, Social Media, Email, Phone Calls, Twitter, Video Conferences, Face-to-Face Meetings: How Do You Work?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire – September 30, 2010) – According to a new global study conducted by Plantronics (NYSE: PLT) and released at the GigaOm Mobilize conference, today’s busy professional is increasingly adept at harnessing new and traditional communication methods to be successful in the modern workplace. The “How We Work: Communication Trends of Business Professionals” study surveyed more than 1,800 employees in six countries about their communication habits and preferences. The findings reveal that professionals are communicating more today than ever before and are very smart about which tools to use for given situations. The full study can be downloaded today at

Mixing New and Traditional Communications
The How We Work study includes questions related to both traditional communication methods such as email, in-person meetings and one-to-one phone calls, and more recent options like SMS, social media and video conferencing. The study found that personal communication methods, like SMS and social networking, are emerging in the enterprise for work-related topics, and that professionals are heavily reliant on email and phone communications for collaboration. In fact, usage of nearly every form of communication has increased over the past five years.

The findings show that professionals rely on more traditional forms of communication to drive results. 83 percent of professionals say email is “critical” to their overall success and productivity, and 81 percent said the same for phone calls. Email and phone ranked the highest above all other forms of communication with audio conferences third at 61%. Sending or receiving IM rated as critical for only 38 percent of respondents while social media ranked last at 19 percent.

Adapting Communication for Critical Situations
Today’s enterprise workers are instinctively choosing tools that make the most sense for a given situation, whether it is a status update or collaborative event such as a brainstorming session. The more critical collaboration is to success and productivity, the more people prefer in-person and video-driven meetings over text-based communication. For example, although email usage has increased significantly over the past five years and is regarded as the most important tool for business success, it’s not preferred at all for mission critical decisions and only 3 percent of respondents prefer it for complex or technical discussions.

How We Work shows that, given the demands of work today, professionals are essentially creating communication tool belts that allow them to pick the right tool at the right time,” said Clay Hausmann, vice president of Corporate Marketing at Plantronics. “Video, voice and text-based communications all have a role, as does social media, and one isn’t growing at the expense of another. The pace of innovation around new communication technologies is astounding, and yet it is the end user who ultimately decides which technology will play a key role in their business communication and for what purpose.”

The Impact of Globally Distributed Teams
The How We Work study reinforces the changing dynamics of today’s workforce, where 24×7 communications reign and distributed teams, flexible working and telecommuting are on the rise. According to the study, 90 percent of enterprise employees spend some time working off-site and, consequently, 62 percent frequently attend remote meetings. The goal: collaboration and collective knowledge sharing. Enterprise goals have evolved from automation to innovation, where team-driven ideas, insights and empathy are the underpinnings for future growth. In fact, 91 percent of today’s professionals are heavily involved in brainstorming and ideation meetings at work.

How Do You Work?
Plantronics wants to know how you work. Please visit our Facebook page and take the How You Work poll, or visit the Plantronics Unified Communications Blog and join the conversation.

How We Work Methodology
Plantronics surveyed 1,800 enterprise employees in the US, UK, Germany, China, India and Australia. All work in medium or large size companies (100+ employees) and identified themselves as knowledge workers (people whose work centers on developing/working primarily with ideas and information) who use a variety of communications technologies to stay in touch with colleagues, partners and clients. The research was conducted in May and June of 2010.

The presentation, graphs, info art, and audio clips from enterprise professionals discussing their communication preferences and usage can be accessed at

About Plantronics
Plantronics is a world leader in personal audio communications for professionals and consumers. From unified communication solutions to Bluetooth® headsets, Plantronics delivers unparalleled audio experiences and quality that reflect our nearly 50 years of innovation and customer commitment. Plantronics is used by every company in the Fortune 100 and is the headset of choice for air traffic control, 911 dispatch and the New York Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit or call (800) 544-4660.

Nortel Settlement Agreement with Former and Disabled Canadian Employees


Settlement Agreement with Former and Disabled Canadian Employee Representatives-Transfer of Canadian Registered Pension Plans

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 29, 2010) – Nortel(1) Networks Corporation (OTCBB:NRTLQ) today reconfirmed that as of October 1st, 2010, the administration of the Nortel Networks Negotiated Pension Plan and the Nortel Networks Limited Managerial and Non-Negotiated Pension Plan (the “Pension Plans”) will be transitioned to Morneau Sobeco Limited Partnership, the replacement administrator appointed by the Ontario Superintendent of Financial Services (the “Superintendent”). This transition is pursuant to the court approved Settlement Agreement with former and disabled Canadian employee representatives initially announced on February 8, 2010, and is in accordance with the Ontario Pension Benefits Act.

Nortel and its court appointed Monitor, Ernst & Young Inc., have been actively working toward a smooth transition of the Pension Plans and have been in ongoing discussions with the Superintendent. Effective October 1, 2010, all inquiries regarding the Pension Plans should be directed to the replacement plan administrator, Morneau Sobeco Limited Partnership at 1-877-392-2074 with regards to the Managerial Plan and 1-877-392-2073 with regards to the Negotiated Plan or at the dedicated email address at The replacement administrator has advised Nortel that current monthly pension payments will continue unchanged until it notifies pensioners that a change will be made and that this is not expected to occur before the end of 2010.

Ongoing information can be found on and after October 1, 2010 at

As a reminder contact information for counsel in these proceedings is:

LTD Beneficiaries – Koskie Minsky LLP (1-866-777-6344) or

Continuing Employees, which group includes employees whose employment has transferred to purchasers of Nortel business units after January 14, 2009 – Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP and Shibley Righton LLP at (1-888-565-9912) or

Members or former members of the CAW represented by counsel to the CAW – Barry Wadsworth at 1-800-268-5763 ext. 3776 or by e-mail to

Former Employees (including pensioners and those receiving survivor benefits) – Koskie Minsky LLP at 1-866-777-6344 or