Archive for March 2012

Yesterday I took some time out of my Enterprise Connect schedule and headed to New York to participate in a cloud event held by Navisite, a leading provider of cloud services. The theme of the event was “Cloud: Beyond ROI,” which I thought was a good topic of conversation for anyone considering the cloud.

Much of what I often hear around the value of cloud is cost-related – pay by glass, it’s cheaper than traditional computing, moving CapEx dollar to OpEx dollars, meaning the value of the cloud is that it’s a cheaper version of what it is replacing. Nothing fundamentally changes, but costs go down.

Lync, BYOD, and video were among the major highlights from the show.

Well, another Enterprise Connect is in the books and its time time to reflect on what we learned, what surprised us and what we would like to see next year. Before I get into that though I want to give some overall thoughts on the event. The energy level this year was fantastic, attendance appeared to be up and every session I attended or was a part of had a great audience that interacted well and wasn’t afraid to ask any questions. But without further ado, here are my thoughts:

Lync was front and center Although Microsoft didn’t announce anything, Lync was well represented. Considering the position of being THE show in enterprise communications, I thought Microsoft would announce something major here, but they didn’t. However, that didn’t stop Lync from grabbing some headlines. The good news for Microsoft is that in almost every session there were a number of users that were moving forward with Lync, with a few of them using it for voice. The bad news is that many of them were having some sort of challenge with it. Microsoft does appear to be well on their way with Lync though. I did think that we might see some sort of hinting or alluding to Wave 15 of Lync. Wave 15 is rumored to have better call handling, mobile support and video integration, but the company has been tight lipped about it.

SIP trunking will have its day. The network operators that can shed legacy thinking fastest are the ones most likely to win.

During the morning of day 3 at Enterprise Connect, I co-moderated a SIP trunking panel with Eric Krapf. The panelists were Marc Lindsey, a partner with Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, Jan Linden from Google, Rupesh Chokshi from AT&T, Joe Martin from Sprint and Lisa Pierce from Gartner. I liked the mix of the panel because it was a nice mix of telcos and other individuals.

The panel reminded me that, despite the hype and promise, the industry has a long way to go before SIP trunking reaches any kind of significant adoption. Depending on whose research you look at, the penetration rate of SIP trunking in the US is somewhere between 5% and 30% of all trunk lines. My personal feeling is that it’s on the lower end of this, right around 5% in the US, Europe being about half of that and then it’s almost non existent in Asia right now.

To say cloud computing is a big trend today is an understatement. There’s not a company I talk to, small or large, that doesn’t have cloud on the mind. While much of the focus on cloud has been on lowering the cost of computing, some organizations I have interviewed recently have been focusing on understanding what cloud enables that traditional computing does not.

This is similar to the transition that enterprises went through when computing shifted from mainframes to client server applications. One of the first mainstream PC applications was a 3270 emulator, which made it much cheaper to deliver “green screens” to more users. However, over time client server allowed IT to deliver new applications to branch offices and other locations where mainframe connections couldn’t reach. All of a sudden, if you hadn’t moved to client server, your company was falling behind competitively.

I’m sure we’ll see even more collaboration tools built around the visual medium to make it much easier to work with our colleagues all over the globe.

During last year’s Enterprise Connect, I had written a blog about the emerging TeleCollaboration market. Although no video vendor used that term today, it seems we’re well on our way of having this eventually become a real market and something I hope we see at future Enterprise Connects.

Enterprise Connect 2012 kicked off in Orlando on Monday the 26th. One of the first press releases I saw cross the wire was Acme Packet’s announcement of its session management solution for Microsoft Lync. The solution from Acme enables full interoperability between Lync and legacy IP PBXs through session management. The solution allows organizations that deploy Lync to simplify the management tasks associated with running a multi-vendor solution.

Considering the relative immaturity of cloud UC, it might be too early to have definitive answers, but several good ideas came up.

My first day here at Enterprise Connect was highlighted by moderating a panel called “Choreographing the Cloud,” which was intended to help the audience find the right mix of on premises and cloud based communications. The session had strong panelists with representatives from Alcatel-Lucent, IBM, Verizon Business, plus consultant Gary Audin of Delphi Inc., and it was one of the livelier panels I’ve moderated in a while.

Despite the liveliness, I don’t think the panel fully answered the question of where companies should use public cloud, private cloud and premise-based solutions. Considering the relative immaturity of cloud UC, it might be too early to have definitive answers to that question. I do think though that it highlighted a number of issues as to why cloud hasn’t been more fully adopted.

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