Microsoft Build: Xamarin’s Cross-Platform Importance Highlighted

C. Dunlap

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Xamarin was highlighted at Microsoft Build for its cross-platform capabilities for .NET developers.
  • Xamarin provides additional value-add through testing, monitoring, and managing of mobile apps.

Despite all the hullabaloo around HoloLens and other sexy topics such as Xbox developer kits, Microsoft managed to spotlight its recently acquired Xamarin, a development tools leader which makes it easier for Microsoft developers to leverage a single code base across mobile platforms, supporting native experiences for each. During the keynote at the Microsoft Build developer conference, officials demonstrated how developers can create apps using Xamarin tools which use shared code that runs on Windows, iOS, and Android platforms. 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

Preparing for Life Beyond Patch Tuesday with Windows Update for Business

Summary bullets:

• Microsoft’s Windows Update for Business will provide software updates for Windows 10 enterprise, end-user devices in a more fluid, flexible manner.

• Patch Tuesday isn’t ending tomorrow, but vulnerability management vendors should begin preparing now for Windows Update for Business, particularly in regard to system classification, distribution and auditing.

Microsoft last week introduced Windows Update for Business, a new software-update mechanism for its upcoming Windows 10 operating system.

With Windows Update for Business, Microsoft hopes to provide software updates for Windows 10 enterprise, end-user devices in a more fluid, flexible manner. Key features include distribution rings that will offer more flexibility regarding when and how quickly software updates are deployed. This includes maintenance windows to better align update distribution with mission-critical uptime requirements as well as other planned maintenance and configuration periods; peer-to-peer delivery to reduce bandwidth utilization at branch offices and remote sites; and integration with existing tools like System Center and Windows Server Update Services.

Despite the media hype that Windows Update for Business will end Patch Tuesday as we know it, this is far from the case. 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

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

UC Take-up Is on the Verge of Critical Mass, but Pricing Models Remain Negotiable

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Uptake of unified communications solutions is growing, and enterprises that are not alert to this trend may be at a disadvantage.
  • Utility pricing looks great on the surface, but enterprises should work with providers to achieve pricing models that deliver genuine value for money.

Research released jointly by Cisco, SFR and Telindus to coincide with SFR’s recent launch of its hosted Cisco HCS proposition has suggested that 39% of French large enterprises are currently involved in ITC projects that involve the deployment of hosted unified communications (UC) services for their employees, whilst 15% of French large enterprises already have deployed a hosted UC solution of some sort.  Research also shows that the numbers are similar or slightly lower in other Northern European countries. Read more of this post

Mobile Video Conferencing Can Fully Connect Remote Workers

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • End users should see mobile video as an integral part of their UC solution.
  • Microsoft Lync 2013 will steal many headlines, but other solutions are available.

Microsoft Lync 2013 is now beginning to deliver on the huge potential hinted at in Lync 2010.  Lync 2013 has been around for a while, and comparisons between the 2010 and 2013 iterations have also been made before.  What is different now is that telecoms providers are beginning to engage with key added features such as PSTN gateway functionality and, perhaps more innovatively, mobile video conferencing.  As ever, enterprise solutions necessarily lag behind the consumer market while quality, reliability and security issues are robustly addressed.  However, the fact that using a tablet to talk to people on the other side of the world via Skype video calls has become commonplace without much regard to such issues demonstrates that mobile video conferencing is ready to be seen as a ‘normal’ business tool.  Such is the strength of Lync 2013’s mobile video component (available over 3G, 4G and WiFi), that Interoute’s recent launch of hosted Lync was hailed first and foremost as part of its ‘Video as a Service Cloud’ (hosted in Interoute’s Virtual Data Centre platform).  Interoute states that by integrating the two services, customers are able to join video conferences from any device, from room-based solutions to smartphones and tablets. Read more of this post

What Comes After Enterprise Social Networking? Business Networking

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise social networking is nothing more than a passing fancy, at least in terms of describing the idea of collaboration.
  • For a view into what will follow, we need look no further than our own corporate priorities and the manner in which vendors seek to meet those priorities.

Language is a slippery customer. We mold and evolve words and phrases to meet our expectations of how the world works at any given time. For that reason, words and phrases come and go, depending upon whether or not they fulfill this need. And as I’ve been informed, many of the beloved words from my youth are no longer meaningful, words like preppie, hoser, rad, tubular and of course groupware. Read more of this post