On Tap for 2014: SDN in the Campus LAN

  • Mike Fratto

    Mike Fratto

    While SDN in the data center gets most of the attention, there’s going to be significant SDN activity in the campus LAN as well.

  • Campus LAN administrators are already using automation extensively, so making the transition into SDN should be easy.

When SDN is brought up, it’s almost always in the context of the data center, but few are talking about taking SDN to the campus LAN. The data center focus makes sense because there is a considerable enterprise spend on data center acquisitions and networking, which has been holding back many enterprises from seeking additional benefits from further virtualization. And there are technologies in the market now and more coming in 2014 that will address SDN in the data center. Read more of this post

Improving High Contact Center Attrition Rates – Not Easy, but Worth the Effort

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • A recent Dimension Data survey report based on an annual contact center global benchmarking survey concluded that front-line customer service staff (contact center agents) are leaving their positions at a growing rate.
  • The cost of replacing a contact center agent can amount to a year’s salary when the direct and indirect costs of recruiting, interviewing, training, start-up times and the disruption of customer service and satisfaction are considered.

I recently reviewed the summary findings of Dimension Data’s “2013/14 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report,” which is based on an extensive survey of 817 contact center decision makers across 79 countries and 11 vertical markets and has been implemented each year for the last 16 years.  Given the rapidly changing technology in the contact center industry, it was somewhat surprising to me that the study reports customer satisfaction levels are down for the fourth consecutive year and first-contact resolution rates were still showing no improvement.  However, most disturbing to me is that the agent attrition rate is up 26% since last year’s survey.  As anyone who works in customer care knows, the human resource portion of a contact center budget typically represents anywhere from 65% to 75% of total contact center expenses.  Given that the direct and indirect costs of replacing an agent could in many cases amount to an agent’s annual salary, and the average annual agent ‘churn rate’ across contact centers is approximately 35%, this trend can cut into company profitability very quickly, if not reversed. Read more of this post

The ‘Hardening’ of M2M

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • M2M security has emerged as a serious issue and a broad swath of the ecosystem is readying solutions to ensure that unguarded M2M endpoints do not cause security breaches, malware intrusion, and confidentiality leaks.  Verizon launched the first operator security solution specifically for M2M this week, a cloud-based managed certificate service.
  • However, security is only part of what is needed to make M2M enterprise-grade.  We need to apply the same kinds of capabilities to machine data that we would need for any business data that flows across networks to ensure connectivity is always available.  SLAs and network redundancy for cellular, wireline, and WiFi connectivity needs to be available across these different access technologies, which need to back each other up in case of failure.

We are starting to see M2M come more into the traditional domain of IT and enterprise networks.  According to Verizon, while some providers can offer a public network for the transmission of data, M2M customers should strongly consider a private network (wired or wireless) that can offer end-to-end connectivity.  This provides additional layers of security and business continuity.  They note that M2M solutions will thrive in an environment that allows endpoints to collect information, transmit it over a private wireless network, and transfer data into a secure, robust, and scalable cloud environment.  In the cloud, customers will be able to visualize data and make insightful business decisions.  In the future, they can take this a bit farther; Verizon intends to provide customers with an integrated support framework from endpoint to network to cloud and back.  This will be the mechanism that supports end-to-end SLAs crossing multicarrier networks, for wired, wireless, and cloud environments (either Verizon or others).  Other carriers are starting to talk this way about M2M as well; AT&T notes that its Commercial Connectivity Service, often used to connect mobile endpoints such as M2M devices to MPLS for added security, includes link redundancy to two data centers, with automatic failover in the event of an outage. Read more of this post

SDN Will Lock Enterprises in Tighter Than Ever

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • SDN will increase lock-in rather than decrease it because of integration and interdependencies.
  • Standards and reference architectures will not help, as support for extensions creates dependencies to begin with.

One of the wishes, hopes, and dreams of SDN is that the technologies will free enterprises from vendor lock-in.  That’s not the case.  SDN will increase vendor lock-in for most enterprises, because the dependencies that will accrue will be difficult, if not impossible, to shake. Read more of this post

Business Video Moves Towards the Mainstream

Cindy Whelan

Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • Business video usage is increasing, but growth is still comparatively slow.
  • Increasing adoption of business video involves a culture shift that needs to be driven from the top down; executives and managers must champion video usage internally, making it the norm rather than the exception.

Business video communications continues to be a hot topic, evolving from a special event hosted in expensive telepresence rooms to a mainstream UC feature available on any device.  While some carriers have indicated that business video growth is not yet widespread, Current Analysis research did find that enterprise employees’ usage of ad hoc reservationless services such as Skype was much higher than usage of business video platforms from providers such as WebEx.  As with mobile communications, business video is being driven from the consumer base: people that have used Skype for years as consumers are bringing this practice into the workplace. Read more of this post

For Indian Telcos, Adapt or Perish!

Hugh Ujhazy

Hugh Ujhazy

Summary Bullets:

  • Foreign ownership limits on telcos in India have been removed, paving the way for global and regional players to invest heavily in the Indian market.
  • The road ahead is not without risk, as Indian growth slows and substantial regulatory barriers remain for all market players.

In July 2013, the Indian government lifted the limit of 74% foreign ownership for telcos.  Foreign carriers such as Maxis, Sistema, Uninor and Vodafone currently operate with local partners and constantly walk a tightrope to manage their investments at the government-mandated level. Read more of this post

Not Disclosing Data Breaches Remains a Destructive, Dirty Little Secret in Most Organizations

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • An alarming number of data breaches go unreported, despite regulations that require breach notification.
  • Senior leadership misuse of corporate computing assets often leads to malware infection.

Is the stigma of having a data breach going away with the constant stream of headlines we see about the latest sensational data theft?  You wouldn’t know it judging by the latest report from ThreatTrack Security on a study looking into cybersecurity challenges for IT security professionals.  In the survey of 200 security professionals, whose identities were kept anonymous, ThreatTrack found that about two-thirds of U.S. enterprises that employ at least 500 people do not report data breaches.  The study found that the worst offenders when it comes to hiding data breaches are in the utilities and manufacturing sectors, with nearly 80% of those organizations keeping data breaches secret.  At the same time, in IT and telecom verticals, breaches go unreported 57% of the time.  Read more of this post

Oh, You Tease, You: Vodafone Provides a Glimpse into Its Asia-Pacific Enterprise Goals

itcblog-dillonSummary Bullets:

  • Vodafone has demonstrated a clear intent for its enterprise and carrier services groups and is seeking to combine a strong wireless position (solutions, M2M, security and analytics) with on-net fixed line services, data centers and cloud solutions.  The logic is sound; however, the execution and deployment tactics for Asia-Pacific are less clear (outside of executive management).
  • The complexity of integrations (C&WW) into its network operations as well as the broader spread of wireless partners for solutions delivery across Asia-Pacific creates a potentially unwieldy mass in the short term.  Brand recognition too in many Asia Pacific markets is not as robust as compared to Europe, India and, dare I say it, Australia.  All three sides of the triangle – infrastructure, services and go-to-market activities – will require intense execution focus to ensure Spring does not turn to a Winter of (Customer) Discontent.

Over two days in London in November 2013, Vodafone laid out its plans for future growth in its enterprise and carrier services groups.  A common mantra over multiple presentations invoked the importance of both Asia-Pacific and the Middle East & Africa to the group’s future success.  Both regions were highlighted as key priorities and investment points of focus as the company aims to present VGE as an integrator of communications networks by 2017.  The operator is building capabilities around its Vodafone Red mobile tariffs, the HCS-based Vodafone One Net for Global Enterprise, Microsoft Lync, network services, M2M and hosting solutions (both data centers and cloud-based contact centers). Read more of this post

Thoughts on an AT&T Vodafone Bid: A Powerful Vision with Many Hurdles

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • The AT&T blueprint for acquiring Vodafone lines up neatly, but undercurrent factors are going to be a challenge.
  • AT&T’s bold vision for a Vodafone acquisition is commendable, but it’s not clear why Vodafone would cooperate.

In our day jobs, we analysts tend to rein in speculation based on rumor, and instead address more immediate, concrete issues. But when media sources break a story like AT&T’s reportedly building a case to bid for global wireless giant Vodafone, it’s too tempting to pass up. The pieces for the business case fall neatly into place. For a while now, AT&T reportedly has been on the lookout for wireless partners abroad. Vodafone is finally unraveling its Verizon Wireless stake, clearing a potential conflict-of-interest issue. Vodafone is not tied to national interests that could quickly scuttle a deal (see America Movil’s recent rejected bid of KPN). AT&T might ease financing an acquisition by tapping the pile of cash Vodafone inherits after unraveling of the Verizon Wireless stake. AT&T could sell Vodafone operations in Africa/Middle East, Russia/CIS, Asia and Latin America to partners, to defray the costs further and make the acquisition more affordable. Read more of this post

Unleashing the Data Scientist Within, Cautiously

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • We’re all becoming data scientists, steeped in the meaning and value of data along with data visualization and discovery.
  • Applying self-service expectations to big data could readily lead to erroneous conclusions and a resulting lessening of trust in big data and in IT itself.

I don’t play tennis, but if I did so with any passion for the game, it’s likely that I’d also be a data scientist.  Well, at least I’d be thinking more like one thanks to the current market rush toward device instrumentation and personal analytics. Read more of this post