A Look Back on a Week of M2M Events

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

·       On September 12th, Telefonica held an analyst conference in New York that focused on its ambitions and traction in M2M and featured a new high-profile customer OnStar

·       On September 13th, Orange held an analyst conference in Brussels that focused on its ambitions and traction in M2M and featured a new high-profile customer – Qualcomm Life

M2M is still in its infancy when it comes to numbers of connections and revenues, despite the fact that it is a decade-plus old industry, with wireless POS and fleet management solutions running over networks since the dark ages of cellular connectivity. These days, M2M generates excitement because it captures the imagination as people think of all of the “things” in their lives that can possibly be connected. Global operators Orange and Telefonica are upbeat about the opportunity and chose the same week to hold analyst events focused on M2M. Read more of this post

The Sky is the Limit for OpenStack, and the Cloud

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • More than 180 corporate members, including some surprising names like VMware, lined up to join the OpenStack Foundation.
  • The foundation’s dynamic entrance onto the cloud scene marks the beginning of an important new phase in the on-demand computing era as more organizations see the model as a long term strategic IT solution.

OpenStack is having something of a coming out party with the arrival of the newly minted OpenStack Foundation.  This month’s successful launch of the OpenStack Foundation, designated as the independent organization overseeing the development efforts around the cloud development platform originally developed by NASA and Rackspace, is proof of growing demand for open source solutions to help cloud adopters avoid the dreaded vendor lock in, as well as the real drive by more enterprises into the on-demand IT realm.  Read more of this post

Despite OpenFlow’s Promises, Switch Architecture Still Matters

Mike Spanbauer

Mike Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • In the race to get OpenFlow and SDN onto new networking RFPs, enterprises must remember that controlling flow-based traffic patterns will serve to address a couple of weaknesses of networks past; however, edge-to-edge switching latency, performance, and more remain crucial.
  • For the first two to three years, as enterprises prove OpenFlow and early SDN technologies within their environments (and to themselves), the prevalent model will be a hybrid one, in which a vendor’s high-speed fabric and flow control run concurrently on a device (Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, Arista, etc.).

I find it amusing that the OpenFlow discussion has polarized pockets of the IT industry so completely.  It is a great innovation, absolutely, and it will address certain limitations and free up otherwise locked networking resources.  However, you get the sense that any given author of one of these articles is slightly biased to applications, servers, or networks.  The application purist who consumes all resources for the purpose of application architecture wishes to remove inhibitive deployment times from the infrastructure and therefore does not focus on the minutia of each domain’s critical factors.  The server teams have long sought to enable their own domain constituency to deploy high-speed interconnect between adjacent servers; in fact, several technologies exist from the biggest server vendors to provide for just such an answer.  The network team members, who have found themselves thrust into the infrastructure limelight due to the efficiencies to be gained, struggle with this newfound stardom and the education that they must gain in order to elevate all of the network attribute qualities for which they are responsible.  Many enterprise IT buyers who are writing RFPs are in the process of adding (or have already added) some flavor of SDN language to the mix, which is good, but there is merit in having the discipline expertise contribute to the RFP itself.  Server administrators are the best at defining the understanding memory riser architectures and how best to deal with firmware ‘fun’ on their platforms, while network administrators are best suited to defining the wired architecture and intricacies and application guys can best address acceleration needs and OSI 4-7.  OpenFlow and SDN are amazing, but fundamental architecture needs remain. Read more of this post

Big Data, Big Risk

Michal Halama

Michal Halama

Summary Bullets:

  • Big data solutions are improving management information
  • Big data market growth means buyers need help to recognize where management information is decisive

Organizations in all industries have come to use measurement of more and more aspects of markets and the workplace to provide management with data to make informed decisions. In many cases, the more information, the less room for error, and management decisions improve. For instance, trivial matters or decisions that need to be made innumerable times so that only machines can make them efficiently. Read more of this post

Virtualization Security Has Finally Arrived, but a Skills Gap Threatens its Success

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise IT now has a healthy array of choices for protecting virtual machine-based applications and data
  • What’s missing are the IT skills necessary to adequately support security for virtual environments

In the last month it’s become abundantly clear that virtualization security is alive and well, and quickly moving toward mainstream status – at least from the vendor side.  Real competition has arrived when it comes to specifically protecting virtualized applications and data, thanks to this year’s serious entry into the growing market by three of the four largest anti-malware providers – Symantec, McAfee, and Kaspersky – along with innovative new startups such as Bromium. (Trend Micro, the third-largest anti-malware provider, has been in the market for a few years now with a very capable contender.)  There is now finally a healthy array of host-based anti-malware, encryption, network security and threat management products geared specifically toward securing virtual servers and cloud-based data. That means there are plenty of options to choose from, different approaches to streamlining the resource utilization of scanning, and varying levels of maturity in virtualization security products. Now what’s really needed is education.  Read more of this post

PaaS Offerings Needs MEAP Piece or Risk MBaaS Threat

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Backend integration is a key component of mobile enterprise application development (MEAP) technology
  • Vendors should include MEAP as part of their PaaS discussions, or mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS)will become the interim solution

Back-end integration is the most critical component of MEAP technologies, enabled through platforms or IDEs that are designed to make it easy to connect workflow applications to backend systems. Vendors need to continue to focus energies in simplifying this piece of their mobile strategy, to ensure enterprise customer adoption of emerging mobile app development platforms. Until that happens, however, enterprise developers continue to meet their mobile app development needs primarily through home-grown platforms, and struggle with the cumbersome task of integration so that their mobile applications can properly access the data necessary to support the applications. Read more of this post

Cable Operators Get the Go-Ahead to Buy Local Exchange Competitors

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • FCC forbearance paves the way for cable providers to acquire CLECs operating in the same footprint. For business services, cable providers could blanket entire markets instead of dealing with patchworks of franchise territories.
  • The survival tactics honed by CLECs in the last 15 years of competition could be a big marketing, sales and customer service/support shot in the arm for cable operators’ business services practices.

As of September 2012, the FCC will no longer prevent cable companies and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) from owning each other. That prohibition goes back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996: cable operators and local exchange carriers serving the same footprint could not own more than 10% interest in each other, or have any management control over the other. Fifteen years ago, the idea made sense. Cable and Bell companies had started to square off in competition that benefited consumers; the prohibition kept competitors in the same footprint from merging to become utterly dominant. In this case, the law of unintended consequences prevented cable providers from getting into the telco business by buying CLECs, or telcos from getting into the video business by buying a cable overbuilder. Comcast managed acquisitions of providers Cimco and New Global Telecom, but had to go through detailed regulatory reviews. Read more of this post

High Definition Voice, a Boon to the Contact Center – Really?

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As VoIP and SIP become commonplace in the contact center environment, high definition voice is a potentially appealing enhancement to improve agent/customer communications, which some believe would result in shortened call times and therefore reduced phone bills.
  • However, with complaints about customer service escalating, there seem to be more pressing customer service issues to tackle that cannot be solved by simply broadening the bandwidth of the voice connection in order to improve audio quality.

Recently I have been reading and hearing a great deal about how high definition (HD) voice is, or soon will be, changing the world of voice services. The major cellular carriers are planning to introduce HD voice on their mobile phone connections in the coming year, the new Apple iPhone 5 has HD voice capabilities, audio and videoconferencing providers are already offering HD voice as an enhancement to their teleconferencing portfolios, and several landline carriers (at least those outside the U.S.) are providing HD capabilities on their public phone networks. However, for HD voice to really make a difference the connection must be HD quality (between 50 Hz on the low end and 7 kHz or higher on the high end) from end-to-end, as opposed to standard voice lines that transmit between 300 Hz and 3.4 kHz. Therefore, it is not likely that customers calling into a contact center today can be connected via an end-to-end HD voice connection and that HD voice will improve the quality of the conversation between customers and agents. Read more of this post

Contact Center Investments Make Good Cents

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:                

  • Customer service in general and contact centers in particular play a crucial role in the health and image of virtually any business
  • The contact center market is stepping up with innovations to meet growing demands, and IT departments and business leaders should carefully examine their level of investment given the importance

The annual global spend on advertising, or customer acquisition, is roughly $500 billion. The customer relationship management (CRM), or cross-selling, market stands at approximately $50 billion. The contact center slice of the pie is $9 billion. These figures were trotted out at last week’s Genesys G-Force conference in Barcelona by the company’s top sales executive in an effort to make the case that perhaps enterprises need to adjust their priorities a bit. That Genesys—one of the contact center market leaders—would make that argument is hardly surprising, but given the irrefutable influence that customer service in general and contact center activities in particular have on brands, the fundamental point sits on a solid foundation despite the self-serving platform upon which is was delivered. Read more of this post

IT Service Providers Continue Mobility Focus: Are They a Threat to Mobile Operators?

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • It has taken awhile, but not only have large SIs such as Accenture, CSC, IBM, and HP finally realized that enterprise mobility is a substantial growth area, but mobile access (and mobile-powered business transformation) is also becoming increasingly integrated into their technology-oriented and vertical consulting and integration initiatives.  Even M2M is now a major focus.
  • Mobile operators are also focused on professional services and managed mobility for large enterprises and MNCs, where they would theoretically go up against the large SIs.  How do they differ?

Talking to the large SIs (e.g., Accenture, HP, IBM, CSC, T-Systems) makes it clear how important mobility has become as an enabler of business transformation, in addition to its traditional role as a way to ensure equal access to remote and traveling employees.  Mobile operators have recognized this for a long time, but SIs are starting to ramp up their initiatives in a major way.  It just took them longer to appreciate how important and transformative mobility is becoming.  With BYOD on everyone’s lips, and MDM and other ‘point’ solutions giving way to a view of providing secure, equal ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to corporate information to all endpoints regardless of technology, the perception of mobility is changing for many service providers, whether IT-focused or communications-centric. Read more of this post