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Archive for August 2012

Tablet computing, smartphones and the current BYOD craze have put a significant emphasis on the corporate wireless LAN network. Even in this current macro where IT spending seems to be in a bit of a lull, one of the few areas of enterprise networking spend that’s growing is Wi-Fi. A recent ZK Research survey shows Wi-Fi being the No. 1 area of spend for network infrastructure over the next 12 months. This should come as no surprise, considering the majority of devices coming into the enterprise are wireless-only.

All of this activity has given credibility to the notion that the wireless network, in many organizations, will become the primary access network, instead of an augmentation to the wired network. The question I pose is whether the Wi-Fi network is really ready to assume this role. As Peter Parker’s uncle said before he died, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I’m not convinced, at this point in time, that wireless LAN is really up to the task of operating as the primary network.

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There’s a Johnny Cash song called “Cocaine Blues” with lyrics that read:

“In about five minutes in walked a man, holding the verdict in his right hand / 
The verdict read ‘in the first degree,’ I hollered Lordy Lordy have mercy on me”

I’m wondering if Lee Chen and the rest of the A10 management team are thinking something similar this morning. Last night a jury awarded data center networking specialist Brocade $112 million in damages as a result of a lawsuit filed in 2010 against A10 Networks. Brocade had made the claim that Chen and others created A10 and was able to accelerate the time to market for its products using proprietary knowledge from Foundry Networks (Foundry was acquired by Brocade post the creation of A10 Networks).

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A strong offering features clientless conferencing, Flare for Windows, a rich iPhone application, and overall, a powerful example of session management.

This morning Avaya announced a significant upgrade to its collaboration portfolio with the release of Avaya Conferencing 7.0 and the long awaited release of Flare Experience for the iPad and Windows. This is a strong set of announcements for Avaya, as it demonstrates the value of session management, which is a topic Avaya has been very aggressive trying to market around.

Specifics of what they announced are as follows:

* Clientless collaboration. To me, this was the highlight of the numerous announcements that Avaya made. The company released a collaboration platform that requires only a Web browser to invoke. Unlike many of the clientless solutions that have very basic functionality, the Avaya Web based collaboration application is as feature-rich as most solutions that require clients. It includes desktop sharing, application sharing, whiteboarding, moderator controls, chat and a host of other features. Considering the strength of some of the Web conferencing platforms such as GoToMeeting and Webex, Avaya needs a solution that’s simple and easy to use if they were going to gain some traction, and this product is certainly both of those. One of the interesting features in this was the ability to capture “meeting minutes” so a call administrator could take notes and save them right in the session. This means that anyone who watches the session at a later date will have access to those meeting minutes. Avaya’s solution is focused on real time meetings but also the post-meeting experience as well.

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Session Border Controllers (SBCs) have seen unprecedented growth over the past five years from the rise of SIP trunking, IP peering, VoIP security issues and other factors related to the growth of IP-based communication services. Although the market is in a bit of a lull right now, increased penetration rate of SIP and Voice-over LTE will create another wave of growth for SBCs over the next five years. Because of this, the market for SBC vendors, or at least vendors claiming to be SBCs, has exploded accordingly.

Are all solutions equal, though? My answer to that is a resounding “no.” I think there are many vendors that claim to be an SBC to try and leverage a hot market or to gain an entry into the space, but they’re not SBCs. From the research I’ve done in this space, here’s my criteria of what makes an SBC.

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