Yuletide Blog: 2012 in Review and Can We Expect More of the Same in 2013?

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Making the Internet and private data networks faster is still going to be a top priority in 2013
  • Security remains of paramount importance for any data service
  • Data centre and computing infrastructure become more tightly integrated and embedded with network infrastructure in 2013

Looking back at what happened in 2012, the highlights of the year within the enterprise network and IT service industry include consolidation such as the acquisition of Cable&Wireless Worldwide by Vodafone, the march towards fatter pipes with 100G launches, and progress on the part of carriers to become cloud-based IT providers and cloud service aggregators. Network security remains very high on the agenda, with two providers reporting daily attacks and hacking at major events, namely BT during the Olympics and Interoute supporting UEFA in the Euro 2012 event. However the most impactful initiatives are in the building of new generations of cloud-ready data centres as an intrinsic part of the network to fuel the desire of service providers to claim a stake in the cloud IT service market. Read more of this post

My New Year’s Resolution Suggestions for CISO/CSOs

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

With 2012 drawing to a close in a year punctuated by a continuous stream of security breach headlines in mainstream business media, it’s an appropriate time to contemplate what New Year’s resolutions might look like for the CISO/CSO and others charged with securing IT infrastructure and the valuable business assets they carry. I’d like to offer up a couple of suggestions for those individuals to consider.  Those follow, in no particular order. Read more of this post

Premise, Hosted or Both? What UC Model Will Prevail in the Future?

Cindy Whelan

Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • As the unified communications (UC) market develops, enterprises have access to a wide range of solutions from equipment vendors and service providers that offer hosted and on-premise UC solutions.
  • Enterprises that want to deploy hosted and managed UC solutions must consider which entire service wrap has the best model for their needs.

Carriers have long supported premises-based managed IP PBX solutions, typically based on platforms from Avaya, Cisco and Siemens.  In 2011, as interest in unified communications services began to grow, major service providers added hosted UC offers based on the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform.  In 2012, service providers continued to build out their UC solutions, adding support for Microsoft Lync.  BT launched a pilot program for a dedicated hosted Microsoft Lync solution in February 2012, followed by its October 2012 commercial launch of hosted Lync in the U.S.  In November 2012, Verizon opted for a different approach with the launch of a managed customer premise-based Microsoft Lync solution that can be offered alongside a professional services practice specifically designed for Lync implementations. Orange Business Services has had a dedicated hosted Microsoft Lync offer for some time, and plans a Microsoft Lync ‘as a service’ shared hosted platform in 2013.  Many more carriers have certified their SIP trunking solutions with Microsoft Lync, even if they don’t yet provide a fully managed UC solution for the platform. Read more of this post

End of Year Thoughts on BYOD: Fad or Here to Stay?

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • BYOD remains ‘the big issue’ according to suppliers of enterprise mobility technology and services, with consulting and professional services, MDM/MAM platforms, containerization, and dual persona solutions promoted as ways to ‘solve’ the problem or deal more effectively with an issue that has both pluses and minuses for enterprises.
  • Now that 2012 is nearly over, can we say conclusively that BYOD is here to stay?  Might it still go away and be seen as a fad that came and went, ultimately more trouble than it was worth for both the employee and their employer?

There is literally not a single presentation from a service or technology provider for enterprise mobility that does not begin with the premise that BYOD has changed ‘everything.’  Not only are devices coming into the workplace, but the concept of an ‘enterprise’ smartphone does not even make sense anymore in many companies, because the employee needs to love the look and feel of their mobile device and will select it based on what used to be considered consumer criteria: the numbers and variety of apps it can access or provide, the quality of the browser, the camera, the color, and screen size.  Tablets are also mainstream in the workplace, but vendor surveys show they are somewhat less likely to be purchased by the employee than a smartphone.  Moreover, the various payment schemes for BYOD devices have matured (i.e., employee-funded, partial reimbursement based on either a set stipend or a predefined percent of the cost, or full reimbursement), with partial reimbursement the most common choice. Read more of this post

Advances in Campus LAN Products Continue Rapid Growth

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Campus LAN networking has been evolving for years without receiving as much of the limelight as other technologies.  That is going to change.
  • Technologies such as SDN and multi-path Ethernet are making their way into the campus LAN and offer similar benefits.

While data center networking has been getting the lion’s share of press and analyst love in the last few years, campus networking has been undergoing a rather quiet and steady revolution that is just as compelling as data center networking, and it’s getting more so.  The campus LAN already has a great deal of automation happening at the network edge, with capabilities such as network access control not only detecting hosts and users and granting access, but also configuring VLANs and applying QoS policies based on the user, the device, or the network.  Many of the networking platforms, with help from a policy server, can enforce policies based on a variety of characteristics. Read more of this post

Edging Toward the Cloud Future

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • While the majority of public and private sector organizations are employing cloud services to support at least a percentage of their IT needs, more conventional approaches to technology still dominate.
  • Although questions about service stability, security, and compliance remain, maturing delivery models and some promising partnerships could signify the start of a more productive phase in cloud computing.

It is the season to take stock of the year gone by and look forward to the one ahead, trying to anticipate what is on the horizon.  With respect to the cloud, we have seen both forward momentum and some unfortunate backsliding.  Arguments and challenges remain around all of the issues that have been the steepest obstacles to entry: stability, security, compliance, complexity, and to some extent, cost.  Outages, breaches, the lack of common standards for effective security, and hesitation over the difficulty and expense of migrating legacy application workloads into an on-demand environment are keeping some organizations on the sidelines – at least for now.  Read more of this post

Don’t Fall for Ransomware Scams, Even If They Do Speak to You without an Accent

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

• Ask your anti-malware vendor what protections they provide against latest ransomware Trojans and what they can do to restore encrypted data.

• Make automated, frequent backups of critical data to offsite servers part of your defense in depth strategy.

There’s been a rise in the use of a particularly virulent form of ransomware attacks on the part of cybercriminals throughout 2012, and it’s likely that we’ll only see more and more of this in 2013. Even though threat researchers at Trend Micro claim that this is the work of a single cybercrime gang in Russia, the mounting publicity and success of this particular attack as it spreads across the globe will likely draw copycats into the mix. And although many of these scams target consumers, enterprises are also in the crosshairs of these attacks as well. For example, in one of these attacks, which seem to be based on the Reveton Trojan, cybercriminals are using sophisticated encryption techniques to hold sensitive files hostage. Once they’ve encrypted your data, only they have the encryption key necessary to decrypt the hostage files, and they use that to extort thousands of dollars from victims. One recent report highlighted how an Australian medical center had its patient database held for ransom, with the owners mulling whether to pay. A more recent ransomware attack impersonates local law enforcement and accuses the victim of committing a crime. The attack actually locks the victim’s computer and uses localized voice messages demanding verbally that the victim pay a (fake) fine. Meanwhile Trend Micro rival Symantec believes that there are up to 16 different families of ransomware, and that each one is controlled by a different cybercrime ring. It estimates that at least $5 million a year is being extorted from victims, and calls that number conservative. Read more of this post

Google Finally Gets Serious with Private Channel for Play Store

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• Enterprise customers serious about supporting a BYOD policy no longer have to sideload corporate apps in order to support Android devices, now that Google has established a private channel in the Google Play store.

• This move is only one of many coming out of Google and other vendors that point toward a complex blending of personal and professional personas, the ramifications of which won’t be understood or more importantly “managed” for some time.

As is customary, one of the last things I do each day, aside from pour myself a nice cup of coffee is to do quick scan of Google’s collection of blogs, not in hopes of finding the odd nugget of interest interesting but more in fear of missing something major. You have to watch this company very closely. They have a penchant for both understatement and frequent product updates – daily updates. So when I saw the other day that the company had updated its Google Play store, though my first instinct was to ignore the news since Google Play was only a “consumer” service. That was the wrong notion.Google Play is no longer solely the purview of consumer developers. There is now a means by which companies can create a private app store area (Google Play Private Channel for Google Apps) where enterprise users can access and download private apps to their Android devices. This means, the Google Play Private Channel for Google Apps, is important because it allows enterprise developers to distribute, manage, and even earn revenue from their applications directly through the app store itself. Previously, administrators had to walk users through the complicated task of sideloading apps, which makes application updates, security and administration virtually impossible. All of the Google Play Store features (publishing, billing, support, feedback, etc.) are now there for enterprise apps, right alongside consumer apps. Read more of this post

100 Gbps Hits Rapid-Fire Rollout

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • 100 Gbps wavelength deployments were pushed back repeatedly.  However, providers are now in full swing, lighting 100 Gbps coherent wavelength services for commercial and wholesale clients.
  • The new 100 Gbps speeds benefit some situations, but they are not yet cheaper than buying a fistful of 10 Gbps waves.

The first major trials for 100 Gbps wavelength services started in 2009, and the hype began gathering steam in 2010.  While some providers took an interim step and supported 40 Gbps, industry consensus seemed to be that 100 Gbps would be out in time to make 40G waves obsolete.  It took two years longer than some expected, but 100 Gbps long-haul wavelengths services are now being lit.  Most adopters are lighting the higher speeds for their own internal use, but a few are also offering the option for wholesale and content customers. Read more of this post

Logitech Is Using R&D to Expand Its Strong Consumer Brand into Business Markets

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The BYOD phenomenon has resulted in a variety of consumer devices and services becoming standard components of business IT solutions in the SMB and enterprise marketplaces.
  • Consumer product developers now have an opportunity to broaden product market scope and expand revenues by evolving their offerings into business solutions through strong R&D and marketing efforts.

A few days ago, I was invited to attend a lab tour at Logitech, a market leader in the consumer web camera market, headquartered in Newark, California.  I refer to Logitech as a market leader because it holds an indisputable leading position in the consumer webcam market (reported to be around 70%).  You might wonder why an analyst following the enterprise unified communications business would be invited to Logitech.  Well, approximately two years ago, Logitech set up its Enterprise Division and began developing high-quality video cameras aimed at capturing the attention of IT decision makers interested in delivering video collaboration applications to their employees.  The initial result was a personal videoconferencing camera named the BCC 950 ConferenceCam.  The BCC 950 is a desktop or small group videoconference camera that plugs into a PC or laptop via a USB port.  This simple-to-use device, introduced to the marketplace earlier this year, includes features expected in a video conferencing terminal used in a small conference room or business office, including 1080p30 resolution, noise cancellation, and pan-zoom-tilt functionality, and it has the plug-and-play ease-of-use capabilities of a consumer product.  The product also has a very impressive list price at $250. There is no software installation required, and it offers out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber, Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and several other consumer videoconferencing services that are migrating into the enterprise office environment. Read more of this post