GDPR: What’s an Enterprise to Do?

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• Encryption is at the heart pf GDPR and can protect enterprises from potential breaches and mitigate the problems if they occur.

• Enterprises cannot expect ICT providers now to simply accept the risks associated with data handling and should look to work collaboratively.

At its analyst day on June 29, Interoute set out its view on GDPR and how it is seeking to help customers prepare their own operations for when GDPR goes live. Most IT providers are now beginning to talk about GDPR, and some such as AWS have already launched services that pre-empt GDPR’s requirements.

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SDN Offers Hidden Benefits That Enterprises Shouldn’t Overlook

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Core network enhancements can benefit enterprises from a network performance and service cost point of view.

• Flexible bandwidth services and pricing models are maturing and are worth a second look.

In 2015 and early 2016, SDN was the buzzword du jour of the telecoms industry, but the attention has now shifted to SD-WAN. Perhaps this is inevitable since SD-WAN is the newer technology and is at the forefront of several recent or upcoming service launches from providers such as Telstra, Orange Business Services, and BT, amongst others. SD-WAN also seems to offer more tangible benefits to the average enterprise customer, particularly those with a large number of smaller sites, or those seeking to adopt virtualised network functions such as firewalls and session boarder controllers. Read more of this post

Safe Enough for Government Work? Bringing in the Internet as Part of UK Hybrid Networks

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• The UK Government Digital Services (GDS) statements about moving to the Internet may be over ambitious, but they are not wholly wrong.

• SD-WAN is making the Internet a more viable and better-performing WAN alternative.

Internet connectivity has been an accepted part of hybrid WAN infrastructure for a while, but traditionally this has focussed on remote/home workers and small branch offices or retail stores. However, the public Internet is becoming a more mainstream connectivity medium. A big indicator of this shift is the UK GDS announcing that it intends to kill off the Public Services Network (PSN) ‘network of networks’ programme in favour of public Internet services. GDS has been lukewarm on PSN for a while now so the announcement is not a wholly unexpected shock. However, the seemingly open-armed embrace of Internet connectivity is more surprising, particularly for a public sector body where the data held is both sensitive and politically charged. Is this announcement a watershed moment or an overly ambitious/foolhardy move? Read more of this post

Collaboration Trends for 2017: What Enterprises Should be Looking for

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• In 2017, enterprises should expect more integration between UC platforms and applications and services such as CRM, Salesforce, and workflow tools.

• Enterprises should begin to talk to ICT providers about their plans to deliver RCS-enabled collaboration services.

In many ways, 2016 has been a quiet year for unified communications and collaboration services. Although Broadsoft has made good progress in becoming the most popular vendor in the SME sector, Microsoft and Cisco remain the dominant market forces. Mitel deserves an honourable mention and remains a keen competitor, whilst Avaya’s struggle to make progress in the hosted UCC space, despite its contact centre strengths, has contributed significantly to its present challenging situation. Google enjoyed a positive 2016. Its market penetration remains modest, but publicised case studies of Google-based collaboration solutions are becoming more common, particularly in the public sector in geographies such as the UK. The newly branded G-Suite offers a genuine alternative to Microsoft Office 365. Although Google’s proposition must still sit alongside a hosted voice and UC solution from another vendor, its collaboration features make it an option that should be considered by all enterprises. Read more of this post

Accessing the Digital Economy: It’s About Bandwidth and Applications

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • The economy is moving online and failure to respond is likely to lose enterprises business.
  • SMEs are likely to be the least well prepared to take advantage of the digital economy, but the transition can be relatively straightforward.

Much attention has been given in the UK over the last six months to the provisioning (or lack thereof) of broadband services.  Much of the criticism that has been levelled at Openreach, and by association BT, has related to concerns about the perceived lack of progress in rolling out superfast and ultrafast broadband services.  The UK government has now also dropped its commitment to the provision of universal broadband access.  This in itself is something that businesses, especially those in rural areas, should seek to have their say on. Read more of this post

Microsoft’s UC Commander Acquisition Boosts Skype for Business and Increases the Squeeze on Service Providers

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• Microsoft’s acquisition of Event Zero’s ‘UC Commander’ analytics platform strengthens its UC solutions.

• The decision of who to work with for UC solutions is not easy and there are many good options – but integration is key and end users should consider who is best placed to work with their telecoms and IT estate.

Microsoft recently announced the acquisition of the ‘technology assets’ underlying Event Zero’s ‘UC Commander’ product suite. The UC Commander suite provides a series of management and analytics tools specifically for Microsoft Skype for Business (Skype). Presently, Skype users can already use the Office 365 administration centre to assign phone numbers, view usage reporting for audio and video calls/conferences, and to monitor call quality. The new acquisition will add further diagnostic and troubleshooting tools within a single new portal. Microsoft also envisages that its SP partners will be able to more easily connect on-premise Skype deployments with Office 365 and hybrid environments in general. Read more of this post

As 2016 Beckons, What Should Telecoms Buyers Look for from UC Solutions?

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• Enterprises should look at vendor platforms beyond Microsoft and Cisco and demand interoperability between platforms and applications.

• Unified communications (UC) and mobility are now intrinsically linked.

2015 has been the year that UC solutions have really started to achieve market traction. Take-up is far from universal, but for most UC features CA’s own research suggests that usage amongst enterprises is above 50%. The uptick in usage is down to a number of factors–for example, falling prices and the maturity of the technology–however, it is the improvement of the business case for UC that seems to have had the biggest impact. Vodafone, for example, has reported a strong response from customers following the development of new proof of concept demonstrations and a new approach to training and educating its workforce. So the initial message for enterprise users is that a conversation with your provider concerning unified communications is likely to be more centred on achieving better business outcomes, and therefore a more worthwhile experience. Read more of this post

Unify’s Free UC Offer Is Good and True, but It May Be Better to Pay

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Unify’s free service offers a valuable taster of UC, but there are other ‘try before you buy’ options.
  • Buyers and providers should both be aware that limitations on a service (e.g., limited integration) may hide the real value of a UC solution.

Unify (newly acquired by Atos) has moved to gain market attention and traction with the offer of free UC services. The free service is limited to only 100 users and provides only 1 gigabyte of storage (for further details, see: Unify Stakes Claim to SME Market, but Might Find Only Fool’s Gold, November 20, 2015). Although it is not without risks, this is a smart move by Unify. It offers a very competitive UC solution via its Circuit platform. However, overshadowed by Cisco and Microsoft and facing the growing popularity of rivals such as BroadSoft and Google Apps, Unify has a significant challenge to gain market attention and traction. Read more of this post

Application Integration Is Key to Delivering Effective Collaboration

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Integration with a range of business applications and the ability for solutions to work outside the organisation are key features for valuable UCC solutions.
  • Enterprises should tell vendors what they want from systems integration offers.

This week, BroadSoft announced its plans for its new Project Tempo initiative to deliver integrated unified communications and collaboration (UCC) services based on the vendor’s UC-One platform. The initiative will begin in January 2016 with beta trials of ‘UC-One Hub,’ a cloud service designed to integrate real-time communication services (e.g., IP voice, IM and e-mail) with third-party hosted/cloud-based applications. BroadSoft states that UC-One Hub will also provide ‘contextual intelligence’ for users. Read more of this post

Why Should Enterprises Pay for UC?

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises should look beyond quality of service factors to the broader working practices guidance available with the new generations of unified communications and collaboration services.
  • New features such as WebRTC can only successfully be delivered as part of an advanced UC suite, but will deliver a genuine competitive advantage.

When enterprises can use Skype as an internal messaging and conference service for free, is it any surprise that they question why they should pay for Microsoft Lync or Cisco HCS-based services?Apps such as ‘What’s App’ essentially offer unified messaging, whilst almost every tablet now comes with some kind of video chat software. What’s more, consumer apps are developed and released much more quickly than business grade apps. When being cutting edge matters, why not go with the most agile source of new technology? The quality of service argument still holds strong and enterprises should bear in mind that most UC solutions are provided with a 99.9% availability guarantee as a standard. The advent of HD voice is another factor that enterprises should consider. HD voice offers a genuinely enhanced end user experience and is often not available on consumer grade solutions – especially if they are free.   Read more of this post