Video in the Collaborative Workplace: The Bigger Picture

Tim Banting

Tim Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • The cost, complexity and social barriers to video conferencing are dropping.
  • Video conference utilization is improving dramatically and rapidly in support of real-time, software-based productivity applications.

Nearly a century after the launch of the early commercial telephone service, AT&T launched its ‘Picturephone’ video service in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The service was unfortunately shelved, its failure put down to the fact it was big, expensive and uncomfortably intrusive.  Some companies may believe not much has changed and that those issues linger.  Video has remained a marginal way to communicate in the business world: big, $200,000-plus video conferencing systems installed in dedicated rooms, used by internal staff conducting scheduled internal meetings, avoiding the costs of business travel.  However, attitudes are changing. Read more of this post

IBM BlueMix Plays Key Role in Company’s PaaS Strategy

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • The IBM BlueMix project is IBM’s cloud app development platform.
  • BlueMix ‘patterns’ will integrate with PureApplication, SCAS and SoftLayer in 2013.

The pieces of the puzzle to IBM’s cloud strategy are coming together, especially between PaaS and IaaS, as well as new open source infrastructure options to help guard against the dreaded trap of vendor lock-in.  Furthering its efforts to demonstrate to enterprises how they can leverage the cloud for faster, more efficient app development/deployment, IBM made a number of strategic moves in 2013.  Starting with throwing its weight behind OpenStack early in the year, IBM later purchased SoftLayer to serve as the foundation of its hosting services capabilities and then partnered with, ironically, PaaS competitor Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s open source team to leverage Pivotal’s growing ecosystem.  Each of these moves play strategically into IBM’s newest cloud project – codenamed BlueMix. Read more of this post

Yes, Virginia, Privacy Really Does Matter

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • Is social media rewiring our psyches to expect that we have zero opportunity for private reflection and growth?
  • It’s time to educate creators and consumers of social media about the dark side of living our entire lives online.

Edward Snowden’s Christmas message got me thinking about our evolving view of privacy.  The message, aired in a short video on Channel 4 in the UK as the ‘alternative Christmas message’ for 2013, warns of the dangers of mass surveillance occurring across the globe and makes the case that privacy matters.  You wouldn’t know that by the online behavior of millions of social media users.  I honestly don’t get why people feel compelled to share their worst moments and lesser traits with the whole world.  Such details are increasingly being exploited by a range of organizations – not only Facebook, Google and the NSA, but also TV broadcasters for entertainment purposes.  I recently watched in shock and horror as Ellen DeGeneres broadcast highly unflattering photos taken from the public Facebook pages of some of her audience members and then called those audience members out to discuss the photos.  I wondered how many other audience members and viewers felt as uncomfortable as I did in viewing those photos, or question why anyone would post such unflattering photos in the first place.  As Nicholas Carr so well described in The Shallows:  What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, the Internet is rewiring how we think.  Are Facebook, Google and the ‘Internet of Things’ rewiring our psyches to accept a world in which we have no private moments of reflection?  Or, will we collectively come to a moment when we realize that privacy really does matter?  And, will that realization cause us to change our habits (not to mention our laws)? Read more of this post

UC’s Advent is Welcome, But Should Not Distract Enterprises from Their Core Fixed Services

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises should be excited about the potential benefits of UC – including BYOD and mobile device management (MDM).
  • Enterprises should also remember that traditional IP telephony and networking services remain business critical.

I wrote in my last blog that unified communications (UC) services are now finally achieving critical mass, and that widespread adoption is expected in 2014. In response to this positive surge, the marketing teams at every major ICT provider will be in over drive to proclaim the most unified, most mobility-driven, and cloud-based proposition. And, as I write on Christmas Eve, there are reasons for enterprises to celebrate this advent. BYOD, as I have previously written, is both a security concern and a potential efficiency driver if handled correctly. MDM packaged with single number dialling and unified email and messaging and (probably) presence functionality is something that enterprises should now be looking to roll out to all mobile workers. MDM on its own should be applied to every worker within an organisation, and cloud/network-hosted delivery is the only way for most enterprises to achieve this.       Read more of this post

Has the Day for Affordable Multi-country/Multi-carrier M2M Deployments Finally Arrived?

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • We have been talking about Smart Roaming and Multi-IMSI solutions from Gieseke, Devrient and Gemalto for more than a year. At MWC last February, Telefonica demoed a solution that would allow cross-country connectivity at in-country rates for its partners in what is now called the M2M World Alliance, which includes Etisalat, KPN, NTT Docomo, Rogers, SingTel, Telefonica, Telstra and Vimpelcom, all of whom use Jasper Wireless’ Service Delivery Platform.
  • Telefonica and KPN both announced commercial availability of this long-awaited service on Dec. 17.  How important is this to their alliance, and is it a real threat to its competitors?

At least, in theory, global M2M agreements have had to deal with a number of obstacles when it comes to operationalizing roaming in a non-disruptive way. Not only are data roaming rates often prohibitively expensive, but guaranteeing seamless roaming with no interruptions in service, offering “identical” network performance across operators, and the ability to ensure that problems are solved rapidly are not trivial tasks. In addition, most operators that are providing connectivity, design and other professional services for large global deals have often told us that the “preferential” roaming rates they can offer with their partners are rolled into a total bundled offer price that is not prohibitively expensive. As long as they offer a global SIM that can be pre-installed in the factory and then used regardless of where the device is connecting, the total costs of global deployments are minimized. Conversely, large operators such as Vodafone and Orange, which do not necessarily have to roam across competitive carriers’ networks for pan-European deals, still have to deal with some performance and escalation issues when M2M assets are traversing across their own local operating companies’ footprints as well as when on partners’ networks. Read more of this post

Licensing Will Drag SDN to a Grinding Halt

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Software licenses are inflexible and inhibit the dynamic nature of SDN and private cloud deployments.
  • Networking vendors should be developing new software licensing schemes to support the dynamism of a virtual data center.

One aspect of SDN and private clouds that does not get much discussion, but will be as much of a hurdle as any technical issue, is licensing.  The problem has many dimensions, but they all boil down to a single point: software licenses are inflexible.  A software license entitles you to use a product in a specific manner, but many of the licensing schemes in use are not flexible enough to really support the dynamism of an SDN or a private cloud.  I believe this, more than anything, will inhibit the growth of SDN, because a rigid license conflicts with dynamic demands. Read more of this post

PaaS to Heat Up in 2014 and Red Hat Is Not Yielding to Pivotal

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • 2014 will be the year PaaS providers need to demonstrate their cloud success through customer wins.
  • Red Hat is relentless in its challenge to Pivotal Cloud Foundry through continued PaaS enhancements.

Following a flurry of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) events this year, 2014 is the year for application platform providers to button down customer wins and prove they’ve got cloud offerings that deliver on the goods.  The PaaS area of cloud computing, in which customers have been slow to adopt, holds the promise of significantly easing and speeding application development and deployment through self-service capabilities, elasticity, and multi-tenancy. Read more of this post

The Damage is Spreading: It’s Time to Rein in the NSA and Reform Surveillance Practices

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • The fallout continues to spread as a result of the disclosure of NSA surveillance activities involving cloud computing and other technology companies
  • It’s time IT professionals get involved and call for reform and better oversight

New and startling revelations on NSA data gathering activities continue to peel away like an onion skin from the Edward Snowden leak, and as they do, it becomes ever so much clearer that the NSA has gone way, way too far.   And indeed it is time to reform regulation and oversight of NSA and other intelligence agency surveillance activities.  Read more of this post

Using Virtual Presence and Robots to Enhance Mobility is Nearing Reality

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobility is driving many enterprise strategies and purchase decisions today.
  • Videoconferencing has long been sold on the claim that enterprise travel budgets would be slashed dramatically, however the reality is that travel reduction has been less than anticipated.

Last week I was invited to the “Annual Trends and Innovation Event” sponsored by Polycom, a mainstay of the audio and videoconferencing industry. Held at a local San Francisco restaurant, the annual gathering offers the opportunity for Polycom executives and select business partners to discuss technology trends and strategies with members of the press and a group of industry analysts. While the evening was full of great discussions with an abundant exchange of industry trend information and new ideas, something surprising caught my attention. Among the group of 50 or so attendees was a robot who was mingling with the crowd. In actuality the robot, provided by a relatively new Polycom business partner – Anybots of Santa Clara, California – was there to demonstrate “virtual presence” and its potential to change business environments by allowing remotely-located individuals to participate in events actively, even when circumstances prevent them from being physically present. In essence, the travelling robot was a videoconferencing endpoint that stood just under six-feet tall and had an eye-level video screen and cameras which allowed “him” to converse with other attendees. Read more of this post

Pertino: Meshing Remote Access Flexibility with Corporate IP VPN Manageability

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Pertino uses software clients to build overlay IP VPNs that support mesh networking and add easy-to-use management, targeting mainly SMBs.
  • NTT Communications looks to have some similar concepts, to strengthen its upcoming IP VPN service, designed to support enterprises.

Back in February 2013, Pertino, a startup out of Cupertino, CA, released its flagship Cloud Network Engine, which the company described as a ‘SDN-powered cloud networking’ service.  At first glance, the technology looks almost like old-fashioned SSL or IPsec VPN remote access: it’s an overlay VPN that connects to an array of common computer and mobile device platforms.  The difference is in Pertino’s use of its own downloadable app, which adds features that you don’t usually get with remote access.  The software client is currently available for Microsoft Windows client and server operating systems as well as for Apple OS X and Ubuntu Linux clients; an Android client has been released, and an iOS client is in the works. Read more of this post