WAN Optimization: Limited to International Networks or Also Suited to Local In-Country Networks?

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Provider-managed WAN optimization is less likely to be used in the U.S. market due to the widespread availability of cost-effective bandwidth across major towns and cities.
  • A number of pan-European and UK carriers report take-up of managed WAN optimization in domestic-only networks.

WAN optimization can be a costly component and there is always going to be a tradeoff between throwing bandwidth at a problem versus implementing some sort of WAN optimization.  The other question IT managers face is whether to buy and drop in WAN optimization on their own in a DIY setup or to contract a service provider, but this is a topic for a future discussion.  Current Analysis has noticed a difference between the way UK and U.S. service providers respond to the question.  In the U.S., national operators are ambivalent about deploying their own managed WAN optimization services, because there is not much customer demand.  WAN optimization CPE and provider-managed services are expensive, and it is more logical for customers to purchase more capacity, rather than to try to manage capacity more granularly.  There are some provider WAN optimization services run out of Internet data centers, and some enterprises will buy and drop in their own CPE to triage their worst application behavior.  In contrast, BT and Colt report customers that subscribe to their domestic UK WAN optimization implementations. Read more of this post

Video in the Contact Center: A Solution Looking for a Market and Finding Modest Niches

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Video applications are flooding the marketplace, making large gains in mindshare if not market share.  The technology has become better, simpler to implement and manage, and less costly to maintain.
  • Despite the popularity and growth of video in general, video conferencing penetration of the contact center has been minimal at best.  Implementation of the technology remains limited to niche segments of the customer care/helpdesk marketplace.

It seems video conferencing technology is infiltrating just about everything we do today.  Immersive telepresence, desktop video, room-based video, and mobile video on smartphones and tablets are becoming commonplace as the technology gets better and the cost and complexities of video solutions diminish.  Given this increasing acceptance of video in our lives, I wonder if and when video-enabled contact centers will become a reality.  As I discuss the topic with customer care executives and vendors of contact center applications, most tend to agree that there is a value proposition for video in the customer care environment.  The future benefits they see include video’s potential to enhance personalization, promote customer loyalty, and improve sales effectiveness as agents and customers see each other eye to eye.  Others mention video’s potential to enhance self-service functionality with pushed video clips as well as improvements in the wait in queue with the use of targeted advertising clips (i.e., video brochures).  In addition, customer care executives generally agree that the proper use of video in the contact center could be a significant competitive differentiator for those that get there first and develop the optimal blueprint for success. Read more of this post

Current Analysis Enterprise Users Starting to Leverage Managed Mobility Services

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • With all of the confusion in the market regarding BYOD and its effect on application development and delivery, mobile device management, and mobile security, a logical option for enterprises would be to ‘outsource’ these functions to an IT service provider or mobile operator.
  • A recent Current Analysis survey of enterprise readers shows mixed results.  A ‘do-it-yourself’ mentality still leads enterprise mobility initiatives, but the use of managed mobility services is growing.

According to a recent study among the Current Analysis IT Connection base, 24% of respondents (including IT managers and CIOs) are using the managed mobility services of IT service providers or mobile operators for telecom expense management (TEM) today, with mobile application stores and mobile application management (MAM) also seeing relatively high usage at approximately 21% of respondents.  Another 18% were using mobile device management (MDM), mobile security, and mobile strategy services from these providers.  (Multiple answers were encouraged, so the percentages do not add up to 100%).  However, 27% of the survey respondents were not using external services providers today for these functions (although 20% of these companies would consider doing so in the near future). Read more of this post

UCaaS Sales Grow as Enterprises Embrace Communications in the Cloud

Sandra O'Boyle

Sandra O’Boyle

Summary Bullets:

  • According to our recent analysis of global IP telephony and unified communications service providers, UCaaS is a key component of their cloud investment and rollout plans.  This is typically based on the Cisco HCS platform and/or Microsoft Lync and sold on a per-seat basis with a choice of feature packages.
  • All major carriers are investing in UCaaS, as the cloud and network are important for providing end-to-end service and SLAs.  According to our research, IT service providers and system integrators are slower off the mark with UCaaS platforms such as HCS and tend to focus on private cloud solutions.

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provides customers with instant messaging, presence, audio, video and Web conferencing, and enterprise voice on a monthly ‘pay-per-user’ basis.  Typically, customers have a choice of feature packages that can be tailored to different users.  Read more of this post

Overlay Networks Are the Answer to Slow-Moving Service Provider WANs

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Network operators are competing with enterprise technology for value-added services.
  • Enterprises, being more nimble, can bring up new services faster regardless of their service provider.

One day in 1994, I called my local telephone company about getting a foreign exchange line to a nearby city so that I could stop paying local long distance.  I was told the install would cost $1,500 and the monthly charge was $500.  I asked why it was so expensive, and the representative said that the prices covered the cost to run the line 30 miles and a monthly right-of-way rental.  My next question – “Can I see the crew run the line and do I get to keep it when I am done?” – was met with silence and then a “no.”  That was my first run-in with the rigid IT and archaic processes at a large telco, and it illustrates a problem IT faces today. Read more of this post

Small Business IT Turning to Social for Renovation over Innovation

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:
• Like their big business brethren, small businesses are flocking to enterprise social networking solutions as a means of cutting travel costs and improving productivity.
• As our research has revealed, when the rubber hits the road, however, IT buyers prioritize the improvement of existing collaboration tools such as e-mail over pie-in-the-sky ideals such as business transformation.
As an industry analyst, I find it very tempting to look for that next big thing, the innovation just over the horizon, which promises to sweep away our obviously outmoded notions of what it means to build a productive, innovative business. We analysts are not mistaken in looking to the future and imagining “what if.” But as our recent survey of 600 SMB IT buyers has revealed, the future can actually improve the past. What if ideas like social analytics, event streams and rich profiles had been around when e-mail first found its footing in the mid-1980s? What if early messaging products like cc:Mail had the ability to recommend people and documents contextually, based upon the message being viewed?
Read more of this post

SLAs: Reflecting End-to-End Reality or a Compartmentalized View of the Cloud?

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud providers tend to gravitate toward offering SLAs focused on particular elements of delivery – server availability, network uptime, support response times, etc, but focusing on these components as discrete elements overlooks the end-to-end view.
  • Lackluster SLAs may limit adoption, while performance guarantees that focus on how the on-demand service benefits operations can be appealing differentiators for a solution.

Service level agreements (SLAs) play a crucial role in the adoption of any technology or service model, providing the baseline reassurance an organization needs to trust its provider’s delivery capabilities. The best SLAs demonstrate a provider’s certainty that the service it is supplying to clients can effectively support the client’s operational needs and business objectives. Unfortunately during the early phase in the delivery of a new service, providers concerned about over-promising and under-delivering on service commitments are likely to aim low with their SLA guarantees. Read more of this post

Why Are Enterprises Still Paying Premium Pricing for Less Effective Endpoint AV?

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • Antimalware innovators are increasingly successful in pitching their endpoint alternatives as supplemental to incumbent AV products.
  • This raises the question:  why continue to pay premium prices for less effective, traditional protection?

Yet another study claimed recently that anti-virus products fail to detect 60% of the malware in the wild, according to the Security Engineering Research Team (SERT) Solutionary, a managed security services provider.  Those kind of statistics hardly raise eyebrows anymore, but large enterprises continue to pay premium prices for their endpoint protection. This is not to say that the large anti-malware providers aren’t trying to adapt to the changing threat landscape, but they are slow to innovate and are taking baby steps to move beyond the broken signature-based approach to malware protection, in which each new malware and its variant must be identified and a signature created for endpoint-based scanners to identify. Read more of this post

Current Analysis Users Cite Confusion over EAP Providers’ MEAP Offerings

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises confused about MEAP offerings continue to use homegrown platforms.
  • Key drivers spurring adoption include improved ease of use, security, and customer service.

Even though BYOD is here to stay, confusion continues to swirl among enterprise IT professionals over how to launch mobile strategies.  These users are equally baffled over what to expect from middleware providers in the way of mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) offerings.  User feedback via the Current Analysis’ enterprise and IT user community (i.e., IT Connection) reveals that most continue to use homegrown MEAPs to build mobile applications.  Moreover, while the majority of these users would prefer to have solutions provided to them by their traditional application platform providers, they remain confused over product strategies.  Specifically, users said they would be most motivated to adopt commercial MEAP offerings if they ensured better ease of use to the development process.  Improved security was another primary motivator for moving to commercial app platforms. Read more of this post

Softbank’s Sprint Acquisition: Making Wireline and Dot-Com Sense of the Deal

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Softbank is not just a telecom company; it is a major dot-com investor.  It may be able to use Sprint’s base as an audience to promote other holdings.
  • In-country holdings in Japan and the U.S. could attract new enterprise business.  However, the U.S. government may have wireline contract concerns over Sprint’s foreign ownership.

On October 15, 2012, Softbank announced its intent to acquire a majority stake in Sprint.  Softbank’s focus for the acquisition is of course mobility, just as Sprint itself has mobile at the forefront of its service portfolio.  Softbank operates both wireline and wireless networks in Japan, inherited through acquisitions of Japan Telecom, Vodafone, Willcom, and eAccess.  In the U.S., some people will better remember Softbank as a major investor in speculative Internet ventures, particularly cutting-edge digital properties that led the dot-com explosion of the late 1990s, and the following bust.  Today, Softbank remains a big speculative dot-com investor, and it has stakes in many dozens of companies.  Some names include Internet/TV company Boxee, social gaming developer Zynga, personalized gaming application GameGround, virtual desktop hosting company Desktone, and the AOL-acquired news site Huffington Post.  In its acquisition of Sprint, Softbank contributes a broad investment portfolio of dot-com properties that could use Sprint’s customer base as a target audience to promote its mobile games, apps, and content. Read more of this post