Monday, December 20, 2010

Google has extended free Gmail calling through the end of 2011

Google has extended free Gmail calling through the end of 2011

Rejoice and harken ye, if you live in the United States or Canada that is, Google has decided to extend free Gmail calling through the upcoming year of 2011.

When voice came to Gmail, we loved it. It was a clean and simple way to execute calls without dealing with AT&T and your blinking iPhone’s love of dropping any call that you wanted to make.

Don’t forget, you might be able to set your Gmail settings to US English and access the feature, even if you are not in one of the approved countries. The ability to make free, clear phone calls has a large draw around the world, something that is unsurprising.

Google sure has the holiday spirit, let’s hope they have another prize up their sleeve before Christmas

Posted on Dec 20th, 2010 by Alex Wilhelm,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Avaya IP Office 7.0 will be out soon

The expected release date of Avaya IP Office version 7.0 is March 2011, but they are already beta testing it and it could be out even sooner.

Some of the main enhancements will be:

-The Nortel 1100e and 1200 series telephones will have added features

-The Nortel/Avaya T7000 Series and M7000 Mobile Handsets will work. Also, the Nortel Audio Conferencing units will now work.

- Some Digital Deskphones will now need a IP Office card or expansion chassis. After they are added Avaya and Nortel phones will be able to work at the same time.

- There will be a new BCM Migration wizard for moving all your Business Communication Manager Settings and voicemail recordings to IP Office effortlessly.

Some of the older, more basic Nortel Deskphones will now not be supported and may need to be replaced

- Lower end Nortel sets will not be supported on IP Office and they will need to be replaced.

- The best thing about this new version is that there will be the ability of BCM, IP Office, CS1000 and Avaya Aura to work together

Check this blog and to stay updated on the release date

Update: For the latest info on Avaya 7.0 Click here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

11 for 2011: Trends We See in Communications

What's in store for the communications world in the year ahead? Here's one safe prediction: Users, both in the workplace and in their daily lives, are going to want more. More multimedia. Constant connectivity. Easier and richer collaboration. With those expectations as a backdrop, here are some marketplace and technology trends we believe will drive the industry in 2011:

1. Compliance catalyzes collaboration. Financial services reform in the United States has created stringent customer notification and regulatory compliance requirements. The robo-foreclosure scandal highlighted what can happen when organizational communications breaks down, resulting in poor customer treatment, rampant inefficiency, and public and government outcry. These are just two examples of how increased accountability demands will drive deployment of communications-enabled business processes that blend automation and human-to-human collaboration to clarify information and roles and reduce latency in both responses and decisions. New healthcare regulations could create another compliance hot spot in the near future.

2. Consumerizing the enterprise accelerates. The return of economic growth and hiring will bring more young people into the workforce who have been using social media and mobile technology from the time they climbed out of their cribs. They will arrive in the workplace equipped with their own devices, apps and expectations for how to communicate and collaborate. Organizations will find themselves competing to show that they are savvy and can provide the technology resources to attract and keep top talent from Gen X and Gen Y.

3. Social media morphs from add-on to integrated. In 2010 many organizations recognized the no-longer-deniable importance of social media and responded by creating dedicated teams and procedures to monitor and engage in social media communications. The next phase of social media evolution will be for organizations to integrate social channels into the broader business processes of their support and sales centers. Organizations will also try to cut through the noise permeating the social media landscape by creating and carrying out clear, comprehensive social media strategies.

4. SIP powers up small and medium enterprises. In the past several years, large businesses have begun to substantially reduce communications costs and complexity by unifying voice, data and video with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) technology. But for small and mid-size enterprises, SIP's costs have outweighed its benefits. Today that's no longer the case. New Internet Protocol (IP) office systems are reaching the marketplace that extend the simplicity, flexibility and cost efficiency of SIP to smaller businesses, some of which will find new, creative ways to use this transformative technology.

5. Communications takes to the cloud. Cloud computing-based services for the enterprise are rapidly expanding beyond back-office processing and document management services to critical customer-facing business functions. Contact center operators will begin to capitalize on the efficiency and flexibility offered by software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) technologies.

6. Virtualization reshapes the desktopserver relationship. Virtual-server infrastructures are becoming commonplace in organizations today, making the allocating and provisioning of server resources transparent to end users. A newer trend--virtualization of the desktop--is now gaining traction as organizations recognize the cost benefits of centralizing software management, replacing hard-drive-equipped computers with thin-client terminals and shifting data storage to the cloud. We may not be far from the day when the only user-owned gear is a USB card and a Bluetooth headset.

7. Endpoints become consolidated. Many workers today have two cell phones, softphone clients on their desktop PC and laptop, and a handset and speakerphone on their desk. To combat device proliferation and the associated cost, organizations will push to have workers consolidate activity onto one or two pieces of gear, say a smartphone and laptop, or an all-in-one desktop device that combines video, voice, collaboration and PC functions.

8. User adoption trumps deployment. Every IT dollar is precious and needs to provide business value. Even the most promising technologies can fall short if people won't or can't use them. User adoption, not deployment, will become the dominant metric for IT implementations. Adoption should become a consideration at the outset of a project rather than a post-deployment afterthought, and user preparation should go beyond "train the trainers." Organizations can improve adoption by understanding users and segmenting them by the most important usage concepts and criteria.

9. User support and communications get a makeover. Companies are going to great lengths to improve customer support, adding social media channels, offering live chat, revving up response times and more. With so much focus on customers, though, users within the enterprise often get the short end of the stick when it comes to support. Companies will increasingly take the innovations they've brought to their customers back in house to support their users. Innovators will go beyond that--for example, using the IT help desk as a test bed for next-generation contact center concepts that will eventually be taken to customers.

10. Communications technology helps fill skills gaps. Some industries suffer from a lack of qualified personnel to fill key roles--for example, too few nurses to fulfill healthcare needs. Businesses will increasingly turn to communication and collaboration tools to improve staff productivity and overcome these shortages. Infrastructure, applications and devices that support worker mobility, collaboration and further automation of manual, time-consuming and non-value-added activities will take stronger hold in 2011.

11. Fit for purpose. For the past few years, enterprise deployment of collaboration technologies has been somewhat constrained by the size of the investment, some limitations in the interoperability of networks and devices, and user reluctance to learn or adopt the new capabilities. Those days are over. In the age of "fit for purpose," vendors have designed collaboration capabilities that really do bridge the gap by being easy for both users and the IT staff that supports them. Going forward, fit-for-purpose collaboration tools will be characterized by lower upfront investment, improved integration with existing networks and devices, and far greater simplicity of use. This evolution will change the trajectory of technology adoption as both expenses and user concerns drop dramatically.

Avaya Invests $165M & Receives $5M Grant from Government of Ontario

December 13, 2010 // By The Telecom Reseller

Avaya Invests $165M, Receives $5M Grant From Government of Ontario for Canadian Research and Development

Ottawa, Belleville ‘Centres of Excellence’ Focused on Delivering New Business Collaboration and Communications Technologies

BASKING RIDGE, NJ–(Marketwire – December 13, 2010) – Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications systems, software and services, today announced significant investments for research and development (R&D) activities at locations in Ontario, Canada.

Over the next three years, Avaya will invest $165 million in its global R&D facilities in Ottawa and Belleville, Ontario to develop key components of Avaya’s solutions for the enterprise and small to medium business markets. The Ontario government will contribute $5 million towards the initiative, which supports 350 skilled R&D positions working on next generation Unified Communications (UC) and collaboration technologies.

“Innovation is key to Avaya’s business and growth strategy, and Ontario is home to some of the company’s most critical R&D activities, facilities and personnel,” said Kevin Kennedy, CEO of Avaya. “This investment from the Government of Ontario reinforces our commitment to innovation in Canada and builds on the expertise of our Ottawa and Belleville R&D teams. Together, we are adding capabilities to deliver new technologies that are not only changing the way enterprises and people communicate, but are uniquely positioning Avaya as a leader in business collaboration.”

“The great minds and innovative companies in Ontario’s technology sector are essential to the province staying competitive on the world stage,” said Sandra Pupatello, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade. “Through a combination of our skilled workforce, cost-effective business environment and proactive partnerships with industry, we can help companies like Avaya flourish in Ontario.”

Since acquiring Nortel Enterprise Solutions in December 2009, Avaya has increased R&D spending in Canada by 25 percent. Technologies developed in Ontario include Avaya IP Telephony and Unified Communications solutions, which the Ottawa and Belleville R&D teams have been instrumental in delivering. More specifically, Ontario R&D has delivered new marquee solutions and capabilities for Avaya including:

  • Avaya Agile Communication Environment™ (ACE), Avaya’s software solution for embedding real-time communications into business applications.
  • Avaya web.alive™ an online, 3D immersive virtual conferencing and collaboration environment that enables people to communicate like they are face-to-face.
  • Avaya Aura® enhancements, including collaboration, messaging, and advanced business user capabilities for the recently announced Avaya Flare™ Experience line of communication devices.
  • Avaya Communication Server 1000 evolution and migration capabilities that further evolve to the Avaya Aura® unified communications solution for medium and large enterprises.
  • Avaya IP Office, Avaya’s flagship product in small and medium enterprises, is now capable of supporting new families of digital and IP sets.
  • Avaya Software Communications System (SCS), a total unified communication solution for small businesses, was delivered to key international markets.

Cloud-based Telephone Services

Changing the way you do business

By Jeff Beckham | December 15, 2010 at 8:09 am PST

I have walked into a number of small businesses that have old-school phone systems. They pick up an analog, corded phone, choose which line to use, and dial out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of phone system, because for some it just gets the job done. But what if something goes wrong with one of the phone lines, or a new employee comes onboard and needs a phone? Or what if the company moves offices? Who takes care of all these issues?

Every now and then I get a chance to talk to “IT Guys” at small businesses. Sometimes they are happily dedicated to supporting the company’s technology infrastructure, but more often than not, they are merely a sales or engineering employee trying to wear multiple hats. IT isn’t their specialty, but somebody has to do it.

Actually, somebody DOES NOT have to do it. Not only can small businesses outsource their technology; they can get more functionality out of their phone system at the same time.

Others on my team have posted articles covering hosted voice over IP systems. But rather than further explain what it is in technical terms, I believe you can more easily digest its impact on your business if I highlight some of the key features and benefits to the user. I talk to customers every now and then and hear some interesting things about what they like about their phone system. Here is a list of some of these items:

Zero to minimal up-front investment- Instead of spending thousands of dollars up front to buy a phone system, you can lease it from a technology provider for a monthly fee. Often times the lifetime costs are lower in this model, but even if they are the same, you have the flexibility to spread out your costs over time.

Hassle-free installation and management- Your service provider can pre-configure your phone’s settings. All you need to do is plug in the phone and log in and you are ready to go. For standard “moves, adds, and changes” a hosted system offers unparalleled simplicity.

Direct Inward Dialing- Each employee can be reached directly so callers don’t need to call a standard company number and type in an extension.

Follow-Me Phone Features- If you want to work at a different desk or a different company building, all you have to do is type your username and password into any phone on the network; all of your settings, contacts, and voicemail messages follow you. When you place a call, your name comes up on the recipient’s caller ID.

Voicemail- On hosted phone systems, you do not need a dedicated answering machine, and you can get plenty of capacity that is typically upgradeable on demand. On top of that, voicemail is easy to identify and access. Many phones have a red LED light that you can see from across the room to recognize that you have a message. Once you go to check your message, you can simply press a voicemail button on your phone for easy access.

Overall, hosted voice over IP is an extremely user-friendly system for small businesses that want advanced features without the hassle of an in-house system. However, some businesses prefer to own and control their own equipment, and if that is the case then hosted is not right for you. But if the features I listed seem appealing, you should take the time to learn more about how hosted voice over IP can meet your needs.

Parkway Volkswagen in Derby England is using hosted services for their phone solution. Watch this video to see how hosted solutions are helping Parkway meet their business goals.

NetApp and Cisco Talk About Partnerships, FlexPods, and Differentiation

Alexandra Krasne | December 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm PST

Over on NetApp’s blog, NetApp’s VP of Worldwide Sales Julie Parrish interviewed Wendy Bahr, Cisco’s Senior Vice President Global and Transformational Partnerships.

In the interview, the women discussed the two organizations’ partnerships and FlexPod for VMware. They also talked about NetApp and Cisco partners and how all of the aforementioned will affect them.

Check out the video interview below to see what else the two execs discussed.

Cisco and T-Mobile Team to Deliver a Wi-Fi Calling Solution with an Enterprise-Class Voice-Ready Wireless LAN

Ben Stricker | December 15, 2010 at 5:00 am PST

When it comes to business mobility and collaborating with customers, partners and colleagues, a “good” mobile experience isn’t “good enough.” As mobile workers increasingly adopt dual mode smartphones to remain connected in any environment, the requirement to deliver reliable, business-quality voice and data access across cellular and Wi-Fi networks has become business critical.

Wi-Fi calling is becoming a must-have technology for the enterprise, as corporations seek new ways to reduce costs and improve productivity for employees in the office and traveling overseas. With the joint solution Cisco and T-Mobile announced today, more organizations can meet the mobility and connectivity demands of their employees with the added benefits of improved voice quality, fast roaming and extended battery life. more step towards a true, borderless network experience that connects users securely, reliability and seamlessly anywhere, anytime, on any device.

To address these customer challenges, Cisco and T-Mobile are collaborating to deliver mobile calls over Wi-Fi, enabling reliable, seamless roaming of voice and data traffic between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, allowing businesses to reduce cellular voice calling costs.

This joint solution from Cisco and T-Mobile is a great example of how enterprises can save significantly – up to 30-40% on both domestic and international cellular usage – by not using their wireless minutes when employees leverage a campus Wi-Fi network or other open Wi-Fi access point. Customers such as Cytec Industries are using the joint Cisco and T-Mobile solution to establish a secure and reliable wireless infrastructure that takes advantage of Wi-Fi calling’s cost effective benefits across the globe.

Wi-Fi calling on your smartphone can help you save minutes, improve voice quality and productivity. Cisco and T-Mobile are partnering to deliver mobile calls over the wireless network you already have, enhancing the value of your existing wireless network.

The two companies are combining their market-leading technologies to deliver an enterprise-class Wi-Fi access solution based on the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) standard, optimized with Cisco’s Unified Wireless Network and Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) for both large and mid-sized enterprises. This joint solution complements Cisco’s broad portfolio of mobile voice and collaboration solutions, providing another method for enterprises utilizing a Cisco Unified Wireless Network to access voice and data services with T-Mobile Wi-Fi enabled smartphones.

Tested and validated for interoperability with the Cisco Unified Wireless Network and CCX features, T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling solution can save enterprises significant costs, improve their users’ experience, and ensure pervasive, high-performance wireless coverage.

What does Cisco add to the experience? CCX enhances the performance of T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi enabled smartphones with features like improved quality of service, secure fast roaming and intelligent power savings. T-Mobile business subscribers using dual-mode UMA smartphones can also roam and hand over voice calls between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Cisco’s 802.11n wireless network provides a ‘voice-ready” wireless platform that delivers the security, scalability and reliable performance needed to optimize Wi-Fi calling in the enterprise. As part of Cisco’s Borderless Networks architecture, innovations like CleanAir technology and ClientLink as well as Radio Resource Management and Voice Troubleshooting tools make all the difference when your business communications depend on an enterprise-class mobility experience.

Polycom Extends Unified Communications Capabilities for Outsourcery

By Anuradha Shukla, TMCnet Contributor

Outsourcery has chosen the Polycom UC Intelligent Core infrastructure to deliver a new generation of cloud-based voice and video collaboration services for Microsoft (News - Alert) unified communications (UC) environments.

Polycom will allow Outsourcery to offer its enhanced services to clients via a cloud-based model that aids enterprises to use the most advanced UC capabilities on a per-user, fixed-cost basis.

Best of all, enterprises will not have to invest in new hardware and infrastructure.

"Deriving maximum value from Microsoft UC environments requires the ability to collaborate with anyone, anywhere, and in the way that allows smarter decisions to be made sooner," said Mark Seemann, chief technology officer at Outsourcery. "Only Polycom (News - Alert) offers a reliable, scalable, redundant platform featuring native integration with Microsoft, which is necessary to achieve our vision for truly integrated cloud-based voice and video collaboration within Microsoft UC environments. With Polycom, we're creating a new category in the cloud, and we look forward to driving its evolution together."

After evaluating other vendors in the market, Outsourcery chose Polycom over Cisco (News - Alert) and other providers as it appreciated Polycom's broad, high-quality portfolio of voice and video solutions as well as its proven and unparalleled integration with Microsoft Lync 2010.

Outsourcery also picked Polycom over LifeSize (News - Alert) as its preferred provider of high-definition (HD) room telepresence environments. The company chose Polycom for its

implementation of standards-based H.264 High Profile technology, which reduces the bandwidth requirements for HD video communication by as much as 50 percent while also working with Microsoft Office Communications Server and Lync.

Polycom points out that this claim is proved by independent tests, which proved Polycom telepresence solutions deliver no-compromise HD calls at half the bandwidth of H.264 Baseline calls.

"Outsourcery has long been an innovator in hosted services, and today's announcement shows that this market leader's vision is sharper than ever," said Gary Rider, president of Polycom EMEA. "As more customers engage with this new service, Outsourcery can build out its Polycom UC Intelligent Core to expand its capacity and feature set. And with Outsourcery at the forefront of cloud-based computing, we expect this remarkable company to even influence the capabilities of future Polycom solutions."

Read a related article at TMCnet: “Telepresence (News - Alert) - NEC in Pact with Polycom for Desktop Video Conferencing.”

Monday, December 6, 2010

Telepresence to Take On Whole New Meaning in the Future

An Interview with Futurist Barry Shuler

By Stefania Viscusi, Assignment Desk Editor

The market for telepresence solutions continues to grow today as both consumers and business users look for smarter, more efficient ways to meet face to face.

But the future of this technology, according to one technologist and futurist, will take face to face communications to a whole new level.

I reached out Barry Shuler to find out more about the topic and the subject of his new book, “Virtual Travel: Embrace or Expire.”

When asked to describe his ideas on the future of virtual travel and how it relates to or is different than current Telepresence offerings, Shuler noted that while Cisco’s Telepresence, HP’s HALO, and other truly high-end virtual collaborative meeting systems are “stellar” and go beyond even “video conferencing on steroids,” this technology is still only “scratching the surface of what will be possible in 20-30 years.”

The virtual travel of the future, Shuler said, will be a, “true five-sense experience that will be indistinguishable from actually ‘being there’ physically.” Telepresence today only uses sight and sound to during conferencing sessions.

“Travel is an easy application of virtual reality for everyone to understand. We all travel. We all understand the hassles involved in the journey and the pleasures of the destination. And the vast majority of us would like to dispense with the former and get on with the latter without delay, ” Shuler said. “In Telepresence, the meeting attendees are being projected to High Definition (HD) life-sized screens with high fidelity sound for their voices.”

This is, “so lifelike, that in less than 5 minutes, the attendees actually do feel like they are in the same room.”

But, even if people so engaged during the videoconference that they literally try to shake hands with those “across the table” – that simply cannot be done in Telepresence, Schuler said. With virtual travel, this will not only be possible, but according to Shuler, anything that is possible if people were together physically - will be possible in virtual travel.

So what will be behind this technological innovation?

“Powerful computing and communications technology and content that is loaded into the platform and continuously updated.”

Together, these elements will make it possible for a person’s Avatar to, “be injected into the electronically-created virtual world where a “traveler’s” five senses will be stimulated very much like “The Matrix,” Shuler said.

“Your avatar would look, sound, and act exactly as you do in real life, and can experience anything that you could experience in the destination if you were physically there.”

Now this is something I’ve got to see!

Be sure to check back next week when I speak with Schuler about the benefits virtual travel will bring to personal and business users.

Cisco WebEx Brings Mobile Video Conferencing to the Apple iPad

By David Knight | December 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm PST

Way Cool. There is no other way I can describe our new WebEx for the iPad app version 2.0 that is available as of today from the Apple App Store. It brings the compelling high-quality, multi-stream video conferencing features to the iPad app we announced last month– and the experience rocks. With a swipe of a finger or a quick tap you can instantly see the video of all meeting participants, zoom into full screen video of just the active speaker and toggle seamlessly between video and the content being shared. We’ve also added highly requested host capabilities in this release. It is quite simply the best experience we have delivered in my eight years here at Cisco WebEx.

When we first ventured into the world of mobile apps almost two years ago with the Cisco WebEx app for the iPhone in January of 2009, I knew it would be “Cool”, but what I didn’t realize at the time was just how truly valuable these new mobile apps were going to be. Based on our usage data, regular conversations with customers and my own personal experience I can now confidently say that WebEx mobile really does improve business productivity by enabling all participants, wherever they are, to easily join a WebEx meeting and collaborate fully. This trend is only accelerating thanks to mobile tablets which are ideal form factors for consuming rich media such as meetings. Our usage of the WebEx app on the iPad is much higher and growing faster than usage on smartphones. Others are seeing this too; just this month, Cisco WebEx was named one of the Top 15 Essential iPad Apps for Work by PC World.

So I’m afraid I may have underestimated in my opening… “Way Cool” isn’t the only way I can describe our new iPad app…”Way Useful” is equally as apropos if not attention grabbing. See WebEx iPad video here.

We are not stopping here. Next year, you can expect to see the WebEx mobile video conferencing extended to Cisco Cius with new innovations that will raise the bar for “Way Cool” and “Way Useful”.

Download the new WebEx for iPad app, and enjoy the freedom to collaborate more effectively with video — anywhere. Let us know what you think.

Unified Communications Influences Communication Etiquette

I recently read a post on Unified Communications Etiquette Dos and Don'ts by Unified Communications analyst Blair Pleasant. I recommend giving it a read before continuing on. She captured some trends and observations around use of Instant Messaging, presence, and audio conferencing and offered tips on the evolving norms of respectful communication behavior. There is no doubt that our communication preferences and behaviors have changed significantly over the last decade.

When reading through her post it struck me that these etiquette issues, needs and expectations present opportunities for Unified Communications solutions to address. It's one of the technologies that contributed to creating the change in the first place.

In Blair's post she mentioned the expectation to IM someone first, prior to calling, to show courtesy in checking that they are there and available. There a few reasons this may have come about.

Presence and IM:
Widespread use of IM and it's presence information. The major challenges I see with presence include:
1) Accuracy - presence state is often inaccurate. This can be due to the users not wanting to publish their presence, or just as likely, users not being able to manually manage their presence. Could this presence inaccuracy be behind the expected use of IM to check if some one is really there and available for a call?

For presence to be effective it needs to be more automatically detected. A smart linkage to calendar entries, use of location services when mobile, activity on a call, activity on the desktop, networks or services you are currently logged into, use of the camera on your video phone or PC to detect physical presence (and where) and even if you're alone or not can all be very powerful in easing detection of our true state. Whether public or private, more accurate and rich presence information can be utilized by Unified Communications applications, particularly a personal agent, to help manage and route your communications.

2) Presence Federation - Presence should represent your total presence and where. Federate the presence from the internal enterprise system, Skype, Social Networks etc. Indicators on which mode of communication is prefered or most likely to succeed at that point in time can be very time saving in getting the communication through and responded to. Again, how much of this is public has to be up to the user. What's important is that it's known to the system.

Personal Agent
The combination of rich presence information and a personal communications agent can be very powerful. The rich presence information is known to the system independently of how much of it is being advertised. The personal agent reflects the users rule base of when, why, by whom and under what circumstances they can be reached and by what mode of communication. The contacting party need not concern themselves quite as much about the person really being available or not, or disturbing them since the agent can handle much of the control more accurately.

Presence/Agent Examples
Here are just a couple examples of where solutions need to go and how stronger presence and personal agents can factor in.
1) The impromptu meeting - I'm in my office doing some personal work on my desktop. I'm basically available. A person happens to walk into my office and we begin chatting for a while. I'm now in a meeting that wasn't reflected in my calendar. The video camera in my desktop communication device or PC detects the additional presence. My presence is automatically set to "do not disturb" or similar as if I was in a scheduled meeting. Unless a contact attempt passes my rules, my phone(s) will not ring, the agent can intercept or route the call. The agent can also choose certain auto-reply methods/modes to acknowledge the contactor. There will be no alerts or pop-ups on my desktop PC or communication device unless the communication attempt passes the rules set in my personal agent. I will see the event in my communication notifications summary bar later. For example, the Avaya Flare(TM) experience provides this notification and dashboard summary information.

I mentioned suppressing pop-ups. In addition to avoiding the distraction, it's also about privacy. Today's large screen desktop communication devices have the ability to pop-up a lot of information on who's trying to reach me and sometimes why (subject). This information could be very visible to someone in my office.

2) Personal events - If I'm out to a personal event, this can be detected or deduced a number of ways; location services, calendar entries, and time of day. For example, a business dinner is likely to be on my calendar, a family dinner may not be. Therefore, the likelihood that my presence at XYZ restaurant (via location services or check-in services), at 7 pm, is a personal event is pretty high and my agent would handle contact attempts accordingly. Calls or alerts will be silently handled and routed. However, post processing on the content and source of a voice or email or IM may still pass my rules to alert me.

Conference Calls
Another etiquette issue Blair Pleasant pointed out was multi-tasking on conference calls. Most of us are guilty. I know I am. Some will multi-task while physically attending a meeting. If someone doesn't feel rude multi-tasking there isn't much an application can do to prevent it.

That said, providing cognitive presence has been shown to help in remote situations. Video conferencing and virtual meeting (not web conferencing) settings strengthen cognitive presence and the emotional tie to the meeting and participants. The virtual meeting setting may actually be more powerful in cognitive presence than video conferences for reasons discussed in my virtual meetings post.

What's Next?
There is no substitute for respectful social behavior and the general tips and guidelines Blair provided. Unified Communication solutions have the opportunity to give us better tools and management capability. The solutions will continue to enhance capabilities that assist both senders and receivers in communicating with increased confidence that availability, contact preferences and privacy are respected. Let's not lose sight of the user impacts the technology has. Cell phones alone have had significant behavior impacts as described in this recent infographic. Add social networks with their smart phone clients and the bahavior change is and continues to be dramatic.

Cisco and BMC Alliance Announcement – Service Orchestration and Network Containers

Simon Aspinall | December 6, 2010 at 8:55 am PST

Today Cisco announced a new strategic alliance with BMC and introduced the Integrated Cloud Delivery Platform (ICDP) solution to give customers an option to easily deploy end-to-end Cloud services on a large-scale multi-tenant Cloud computing infrastructure that spans networks, computing systems, storage, and applications. ICDP increases the scalability of Cloud computing environments for our Service Provider and other large-scale multi-tenant clouds by automating and simplifying the service orchestration and management of their service portfolios.

This alliance extends Cisco’s ecosystem of partners in the Cloud space. This move builds on the relationship between our two companies: Cisco and BMC have worked together on 140+ customer engagements, combining BMC’s BladeLogic and our Unified Computing System (UCS). ICDP integrates BMC’s Cloud Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution with Cisco’s Unified Service Delivery (USD) solution to simplify the management of delivering high-scale, secure, and multi-tenant Cloud services. Combining CLM with Unified Service Delivery infrastructure allows the support for end-to-end lifecycle management of Cloud computing-related initiatives with seamless integration of the planning, provisioning, assurance, compliance, and governance while increasing the quality of ongoing Cloud service delivery.

Our work together on the ICDP includes the introduction of an industry-first: Secure Network Containers. This Cisco capability combines with CLM to automate the physical and virtual partitioning of a common infrastructure shared by multiple customers while supporting the ability to deliver differentiated levels of network and application services.

ICDP provides a powerful end-user portal giving SPs and end-users the ability to dynamically transform their large-scale environments quickly and easily utilizing the benefits of efficient Secure Network Containers. Through this alliance and new solutions, we aim to reduce the complexity of delivering Cloud services. This will mean more time doing business and less time being lost in the clouds.

faceVsion Technology USA to Sell CoroWare's Telepresence Solutions

By Deepika Mala, TMCnet Contributor

CoroWare, Inc., a solutions integrator with expertise in HD videoconferencing, entered into a dealer agreement with faceVsion Technology USA to cooperatively market and sell its full range of HD videoconferencing telepresence solutions in North America.

"faceVsion Technology's product line and expertise in HD videoconferencing is a strategic and logical complement to CoroCall and CoroWare's HD video conferencing solutions," said Joshua Sherman, telepresence business unit manager at CoroWare, Inc, in a press release. "Through this relationship, CoroWare can offer its customers a cost effective and high quality desktop video conferencing solution that can integrate well with existing video conferencing room systems."

Under the terms of the agreement, CoroWare will become an authorized reseller for faceVsion Technology's product line, including the popular FV TouchCam N1 video camera, offering crisp 720p HD video over the Internet with a class-leading super wide 78 degree field of view lens that can capture an entire room and dual built-in microphones for crystal clear audio.

"With the workforce becoming increasingly remote and mobile, users are demanding desktop HD videoconferencing solutions that can be used to communicate effectively, from anywhere," said Ping Liu, president of faceVsion Technology USA, in a press release. "Cost-effective HD video conferencing solutions utilizing faceVsion cameras and CoroWare's multi-point video conferencing software can save the average business 35 percent or more in travel expenses and maximize employee productivity."

faceVsion Technology USA was founded in 2009. It is headquartered in Fremont, CA and delivers true HD video communications to the mass market. The core products include the Skype HD certified FV TouchCam N1, awarded Editor's Choice from LAPTOP Magazine, the FVexpress Combo entry-level professional video conferencing platform and the 1080p capable FV Touchcam E1 and L2 cameras.

Nortel Selling Chinese Joint Venture


NEW YORK (AP) — Telecommunications equipment maker Nortel Networks Corp. said Wednesday that its Chinese joint venture has agreed to be sold to Ericsson (China) Communications Company Ltd. for $50 million in cash.

The joint venture, Guangdong Nortel Telecommunication Equipment, is between Nortel Networks Ltd., Nortel China Ltd. and certain third parties. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011.

Nortel is in the midst of selling off divisions as it works through Canadian bankruptcy. The company said the joint venture sale is the last of its significant business divestitures.

6 Ways to Protect Your Voice Data

By Michael Sanchez | November 30, 2010 at 2:43 am PST

Minimize data loss due to security threats by making sure you have the right measures in place

A couple weeks ago, Dawn Brister discussed the four most common threats to your IP phone system. Now that you know what the risks are, it’s time talk about how to protect your voice-over-IP (VoIP) network.

VoIP offers plenty of benefits to small businesses; unfortunately, it also presents many opportunities for hackers to cause harm to your voice network. IP-based voice networks are vulnerable to the same risks as data networks. But you can use many of the same security techniques and technologies for your VoIP network that you may already be using on your data network.

The Information Systems Control Journal of ISACA, an independent association that provides education on information systems assurance and security, has a useful article about security within VoIP networks.

Following are six tips for securing your VoIP network and voice data:

  • Lock up your servers: As with your servers and other central IT equipment, make sure your VoIP servers are under lock and key.
  • Encrypt voice traffic: To avoid unauthorized access to calls and unauthorized changes to voice messages and other VoIP content, encrypt your voice traffic. All good VoIP systems should have built-in encryption capabilities to protect against such threats as man-in-the-middle attacks and unauthorized snooping of voice data.
  • Install firewalls: Since VoIP traffic and data traffic all travel on the same physical network, protecting your data network helps protect your VoIP network. For example, the Cisco SA500 Series Security Appliances and Unified Communications 500 Series have security features to protect the entire network, both voice and data traffic, and use VLANs to virtually separate the two traffic flows from each other on the same physical network.
  • Separate voice and data traffic: The ISACA Journal article recommends using separate servers for your voice and data traffic. This way, you can minimize the risk of voice and data loss in the event that your business is the target of a distributed-denial-of-service attack.
  • Filter unauthorized traffic: Configure your switches, routers and firewalls to monitor and filter your network for unusual voice and data activities. For example, voice traffic should not be allowed on your data network and vice versa.
  • Setup dial plans and user profiles: You can use VoIP system features to identify users, the type of calls being made and restrict unwanted traffic, such as outbound international calls. Traffic limits can also be set to ensure call quality and maximum voice and data network performance. These features can also be set to log caller activities and events.

In addition to these measures, you should also put strong passwords in place for your VoIP servers. You should also make sure you to sign up for updates to your VoIP server operating system from the manufacturer. These updates often fix security vulnerabilities that may have been found in the software and should be installed as soon as you receive the alerts.

Following these steps should protect your voice data and ensure that your VoIP network runs smoothly. What measures have you employed to secure your VoIP network?

"Checking out" the latest in hotel communications

With the economy hit hard in recent years, one industry that has particularly felt the sting has been hospitality. Cutbacks in both business and leisure travel has resulted in lower occupancy rates and declining revenue for many properties. Can smart spending on new technology help? As an industry, hospitality has been a bit wary of high tech - not spending scarce capital unless there is a clear return on investment or competitive advantage. Well, that situation is changing, dramatically - particularly when it comes to using communications.

IP-based communication solutions, like Avaya IP Office, can actually be integrated directly into hotel operations for efficiency and enhancing guest services. At Avaya, we have identified at least four key ways that hospitality organizations can directly benefit from the power of today's new IP-based solutions:

  1. Mobility/Unifying Communications
  2. Integration with the Property Management System (PMS)
  3. Reservations/Call Coverage
  4. Converged Infrastructure

We have explored each of these areas in a white paper specifically for the hospitality industry. You can also see a recent supplement Avaya sponsored in Hospitality Technology Magazine .

"Check out" an example of IP communications in action - we put together a short video about a hotel chain in France is using the Avaya IP Office platform to grow and streamline its operations. Let us know what you think!

Fuze Box Introduces Fuze Presence, Multi-Party HD Video Conference Telepresence Solution

By Carolyn J Dawson, TMCnet Contributor

As a leading platform provider of real time visual collaboration applications, Fuze Box released private beta version of its new solution, Fuze Presence, resulting from the unique combination of popular mobile platforms and desktop web meeting solution. Being the first of its kind, the innovative service offers multi-party desktop and mobile video conferencing in HD quality.

Users located anywhere in the world, equipped with any camera-enable device, will now be able to meet in HD video, with the participants logging in using Android tablets, laptops, desktops, iPhone 4 and iPad. By leveraging Fuze Presence technology, participants can use the convenience of their iPads to attend meeting and watch live video streams.

Using a web browser or a downloaded mobile app, the meeting host will access his/her account to initiate a meeting, quickly and easily in two small steps. After enabling video conferencing, the host will conduct the meeting while the attendees conveniently access the video conference. Previously, video conferencing was an unreliable desktop-only experience with added limitations such as low video quality as well as poor latency.

Leveraging the H.264 codec technology, Fuze Box’s innovation delivers multi-party collaboration at 720p while maintaining the highest fidelity and latency lower than 200 ms, and with the ability to accommodate 8 simultaneous video participants. Some of the other features included are VoIP support, screen sharing, content sharing as well as suite of collaboration tools.

In a press release, Jeff Cavins, CEO of Fuze Box said, “Our strategy is based on two facts. First, the meeting room of the future will be a virtual one and something you can hold in your hands. Second, people will want more device choice, not less. We are browser, platform, device and network agnostic and whatever mobile or desktop device someone is considering purchasing, we’ll already be there.”

Fuze Box’s technology makes it easy to conduct online meetings by bringing enterprise users face to face on any screen with a full suite of collaboration tools at their fingertips. In the areas of telephony and collaboration, Fuze Box has been awarded 22 patents with an additional 44 pending. Fuze Meeting, the company’s flagship product, helps transform tablet computers into business devices and includes features such as cutting edge HD video and advanced image capabilities.

Web Conferencing: UC and Trends in Videoconferencing Discussed by Avistar

By Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributor

The Chief Marketing Officer of Avistar Communications Corporation, Stephen Epstein recently interviewed the Chief Executive Officer of TMC, Rich Tehrani. The video interview discussed unified communications also known as UC and trends in videoconferencing. The interview also covered business videoconferencing, trends, challenges and more. TMC is the largest communications and technology community in the world.

UC solutions like Microsoft OCS and IBM Lotus Sametime have been introduced to desktop videoconferencing by Avistar in 2010. Desktop videoconferencing has also been introduced by Avistar to VDI-enabled environments. These environments are able to run on thin terminals and VDI solutions like Citrix. Among others, Xenapp and XenDesktop have also been introduced to desktop solutions by Avistar.

Across different sectors, there is a tremendous momentum for desktop videoconferencing. As per the key industry trends, companies want to be able to improve productivity. At the same time the companies feel it is important to be able to reduce travel expense.

Companies are making changes to their desktop, platform and infrastructure strategies. Some of the important reasons for these changes are attributed to virtualization and cloud computing. With UC strategies being embraced, deployed and adopted, one of the key industry trends is also the next-phase growth for Unified Communications.

Some of the critical requirements for commercial-grade desktop videoconferencing solutions continue to be delivering on cost, convenience, security, scalability, performance and quality. A glimpse into the future is represented by mobile devices that are VDI-enabled.

The full interview between Stephen Epstein and Rich Tehrani can be viewed at the YouTube Channel of Avistar.

The top innovation company in the unified visual communications industry is Avistar Communications Corporation. Business-class desktop videoconferencing technology is being provided by Avistar for more than 15 years. The company was founded in 1994.

A broad spectrum of industries is covered by solutions from Avistar. The solutions deployed by Avistar can support a range of 30-30,000 users. Solutions from IBM, LifeSize, Logitech and many other leading unified communications vendors are also powered by Avistar’s technology. Some of the largest corporations in the world spanning more than 40 countries are also delivered end user videoconferencing solutions by Avistar.