How “Green” Is Your Network?

M. Spanbauer

M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • You do not leave your lights on when you are not at home.  Why leave your network on when it is not in use?
  • Standards and products make possible 30-80% reductions in power used by network switches when idle.

Every port, every device, every wire plugged in consumes some amount of trace power.  While this awareness has been present for decades, only in the last five to ten years have vendors taken a close look at what can be done about it.  Initially, there were proposals and early standards that did make rough attempts at efficiency curves and requirements, sort of like ‘Energy Star’ for home appliances.  However, in the last year, a standard called Energy-Efficient Ethernet (EEE) has been finalized, and vendors have begun releasing products based on it.  In essence, the standard enables a switch port to go dormant and consume very little power by listening for a trigger signal that indicates data is coming or on the wire.  Few offices are occupied 24×7, and it does not make sense to have the port turned on fully on the switch side, just waiting for the transmission.  With some quick napkin math, it is apparent to many that this can result in significant energy savings over the course of a year.  Cisco, Juniper, HP, Brocade, Broadcom, and others support EEE in some platforms.

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Microsoft and Skype Threaten Service Providers, but Regulators Will Be Watching

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:         

  • Microsoft has yet to show that it knows how to make the most out of the opportunities from its acquisition of Skype.
  • Microsoft has the potential to take voice revenue and customers from service providers, but regulators will be watching.

Microsoft’s $8.5 billion dollar acquisition of Skype has added a threatening new dimension to the software giant’s role in the communications market.  On the surface, the decision seems natural for a vendor that has strongly promoted software-based IP telephony as a better alternative to PBXs.  Services such as FMC and UC are proving effective as hosted solutions and showing a natural affinity for cloud-based delivery, which suggests that Microsoft is on to a winner.  The obvious model is for Microsoft to embed Skype into Lync/Office 365, and even potentially into future iterations of its desktop/laptop and mobile Windows operating systems.  Other vendors (e.g., BT’s Onevoice Anywhere solution) have demonstrated the cost-saving potential of driving voice calls over the corporate VPN via WiFi either through a softphone or a SIP client on a smartphone.  Microsoft could use Skype In/Skype Out to handle PSTN interconnection and keep all calls between Skype clients off the PSTN.  Skype can assign phone numbers and simultaneous call volume; Microsoft software can distribute basic calling or complex IP PBX functions (via Office365) throughout the organisation.  Office 365’s popularity among businesses as a solution attracts numerous carriers globally, including the majority of European incumbents and mobile operators such as Vodafone.  Skype will also strengthen Microsoft’s capability to offer voice- and video-enabled messaging and collaboration applications to business customers.

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Examining the Cloudy Economics of the Hosted Contact Center

K. Landoline

K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • A total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis of a hosted contact center solution versus an on-premise offering can show cost reductions of 40% or more over the first three years of its lifecycle.
  • A closer look at additional critical factors may show the trade-off between the two solutions as a toss-up for your company’s customer care environment.  Read more of this post

Extending Corporate Video Conferencing to Mobile Devices

Brian Riggs - Research Director, Enterprise Software and Communications

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobility to be the next big product trend for enterprise video conferencing technology
  • There are a number of ways to extend corporate video conferencing solutions to mobile devices

The increasing adoption of video conferencing systems in the enterprise combined with the increasing adoption of video-capable mobile devices is set to both challenge and annoy IT departments. One of the problems is that the software and systems that deliver business-class video conferencing (from Cisco, IBM LifeSize, Magor, Microsoft, Polycom, Vidyo etc.) are completely different from the software that runs on the mobile devices wheedling their way into the enterprise as part of the BYOD phenomenon (from Apple, Google, Fuze, Skype, Tango, etc.). It’s unlikely that the two will learn to coexist peacefully anytime soon. Enterprise IT departments will continue to deploy on-premise or cloud-based video conferencing solutions that meet security and compliance requirements. And end users will separately use separate consumer-friendly video conferencing technology on their mobile devices with or without IT’s formal blessing. Read more of this post

A to Z of Ethernet Services: Which Type of Service Do I Need?

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets

  • Discuss the list of MEF-defined Ethernet services with your network supplier

The list of MEF-defined Ethernet services is a long one and knowing which type of service is a best fit can be talked through with a handful of service providers to assess who has a clear message and a decent range. Read more of this post

First Contact Resolution – The Second Best Key Performance Indicator of Customer Care

K. Landoline

K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Because of its potential to cut costs quickly and boost customer satisfaction, first contact resolution (FCR) is gaining recognition as the major key performance indicator (KPI) of success in customer care settings.
  • More enlightened customer care executives realize that their happiest customers are those that never have to contact a customer care center at all.

Because of its potential for immediate, effective and powerful results, FCR is gaining recognition and acceptance as a major KPI across customer service operations. The ability of a high FCR level to affect revenues positively and boost customer satisfaction, while decreasing the cost of customer care by reducing redundant operations, makes its achievement a win-win situation for both the corporation and its customers alike. Read more of this post

Mobile Device Complexity Driving New Thinking

J. Caron

J. Caron

Summary Bullets:                

  • The chasm between IT and network management is clear when looking at the issue of mobility solutions
  • Network service providers are investing heavily in mobility solutions, however, which may change perceptions going forward

Two weeks ago in this blog I wrote about the chasm that still exists between IT and networking considerations in business environments, and a recent study just published by Current Analysis on mobile device management and consumerization provides yet further evidence of this fact. Mobility is now a way of life for IT managers, not an overlay solution. Due to clear business drivers, mobility is being horizontally deployed and supported in organizations – no longer simply on a department-by-department basis. And we all know that the sheer number and types of devices used to support mobility in business have risen exponentially in the past two or three years, thanks to consumerization. But when we asked approximately 600 technology managers in the U.S and Europe what suppliers they will look to for help with the inherent management challenges presented by this mobility phenomenon, very few indicated faith in their network suppliers. They ranked technology suppliers, integrators and even the device manufacturers themselves over their network and connectivity partners. Read more of this post

APTs Require Greater Awareness of Network Activity

P. Musich

P. Musich

Summary Bullets:         

  • Investigate network forensics and anomaly detection to gain better insight into network activity and ferret out APTs.
  • Work more closely with network operations to better understand network behavior and share insights for faster resolution of low-and-slow breaches.

 As security groups come to the realization that advanced (or adaptive) persistent threats (APTs) are becoming an unfortunate fact of life, they may turn to additional tools that provide better visibility into what is actually happening on the network.  Survey after survey into security practices within organizations concludes that, more often than not, security pros have little visibility and/or understanding into what is actually taking place on the corporate network.  Even those security groups that employ SIEM tools have a limited view into events taking place on the network.  Log files and security events only provide a small glimpse into what is taking place, because they lack context.  Still, that has not dampened the security industry’s enthusiasm for SIEM technology.  In the same week in early October, McAfee announced its acquisition of SIEM provider NitroSecurity, while IBM acquired Q1 Labs.  Those acquisitions followed HP’s acquisition of SIEM market leader ArcSight by about a year.

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Operators and TEM: Is the Argument About the Fox Guarding the Henhouse Going Away?

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Nearly all Tier 1 US and global mobile operators offer multi-carrier telecom expense management (TEM), providing voice and data usage information, billing reconciliation, and cost allocation, as well as advice on service/spend optimization.
  • But independent TEM software vendors and IT service providers claim operators can’t be objective about mobile spend and shouldn’t be trusted to advise customers on how to optimize mobile expenses.

TEM is important because it is often the first step taken by enterprises to take control over their mobility environments. Before plunging into more extensive deployments of mobile applications or investing in more devices and service plans, they need to take a granular snapshot of what devices and services they already have, and see if they are spending wisely across all their carriers. At first glance it would seem unlikely that they would go to one of their primary carriers to get advice on where to spend (or not to spend) their telecom budgets. However, nearly all global carriers are now offering this as a managed service, often using platforms from leading TEM software vendors. Vodafone Global Enterprise has taken this a step further by acquiring two TEM vendors (Quickcomm and TnT Expense Management) and setting up a separate TEM practice with add-on professional services. Read more of this post

40GbE Price Erosion to Dictate Data Center Architectures

M. Spanbauer

M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • Since the advent of networking, customers have always weighed the cost of throughput vs. the effort of traffic optimization, creating a pendulum effect.
  • The market has reached a point where both sophisticated traffic management and performance are required.

In the modern enterprise, the average IT manager has many goals, but a few in particular have been coming up frequently: alignment of the function with business needs (IT acting as a business partner); agile application and solutions deployment; and an infrastructure that will scale and grow with the customer over time.

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