Archive for June 2013

Who can arm their sales force and channel with the tools to be able to talk the vertical talk, and then walk it when confronted with the tough questions?

The Microsoft versus Cisco contest is one of the most hotly debated battles in our industry. One of the reasons why is that both companies have loyal–in fact you could almost say overly loyal–customer bases that have made careers off implementing and managing products from the respective companies, and this now includes unified communication products.

Cisco’s road to dominance was an interesting one. They have a market-leading position in UC by dominating the voice market. The company accomplished this not by winning the voice business from the voice buyer but instead by making the network manager a key decision maker in voice purchasing. Over time, the network manger actually wound up having more influence over voice decisions than the traditional telecom manager. Now that Cisco has established itself as the number-one VoIP vendor, it has turned its attention to the next frontier, which is chat and presence with its Jabber client.

To learn more about this topic, please join me on June 13th at 11am at an event in Marlborough, MA. Here is the registration link:

The vision of being able to deliver any content or application to any device no matter where a worker is located has eluded IT for over a decade now. The desire to get there is great as it promises to change the way people work and raise the productivity level of employees no matter where they may be. Any inability to fulfill this “any” vision certainly shouldn’t be looked at as reflection of IT. It’s more that the technology didn’t really exist to enable a truly fluid, mobile work environment.

Most companies had to be content with having limited portability versus true mobility. What’s the difference? Let me explain. The legacy “mobile toolkit” consisted of a worker having a corporate-issued laptop with preinstalled company-issued applications. All of a worker’s files and content are also loaded onto the laptop. The worker then carries the laptop around, attaches to a hotspot or other network when not in the office, and connects over a VPN client. Is this really a mobile office? I say it’s not – it’s portable.

Overall, I thought this year’s Partner Summit showed a more aggressive Cisco, with a clearer focus than I’ve seen in years past.

This week, Cisco held its annual reseller conference–called Partner Summit–in my hometown, Boston. There’s a lot of excitement in Boston nowadays as the Bruins have slapped around the high-flying Penguins, the Red Sox have had their way with the Yankees and (going back to last year) the Patriots caused the Jets own “Sanchize” to execute the “butt fumble“, one of the most embarrassing, infamous plays in all of sports history.

It seems that recently, Cisco has been doing its own slapping around of the competition. This past quarter saw almost every networking vendor miss their financial results and take anywhere from minor to huge hits on stock price, while Cisco bucked the trend and performed quite well, including in the challenging US market. Cisco continues to dominate the data center space with UCS and has had tremendous growth in wireless.

This week Cisco held its annual reseller event, known as “Partner Summit.” I attended the first day of the event and much of the focus from the management team at the conference was on the midmarket opportunity for Cisco. While Cisco dominates the enterprise networking landscape, the midmarket is much more fragmented and presents a high-growth opportunity for Cisco.

To support the midmarket focus, Cisco announced an upgrade to its Catalyst 2000 switch line. While the Catalyst 4000 and 6000 series often steal much of the spotlight, the 2000 series has been Cisco’s best-selling Ethernet switch line based on number of units shipped and by port count, so any addition to this product line will be well received by channel partners and customers.

Avaya is taking the steps towards a true platform as a service (PaaS) solution. The new Aura Collaboration Environment should have much broader developer appeal.

This week is the annual “International Avaya Users Group” (IAUG) conference, which is the education and networking event for Avaya’s global customer base. At this year’s conference, the company announced the new Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment–a single, integrated application to deliver UC and communications enabled applications to any device, over any network. A Developer Preview is available now, with general availability planned at the end of this year.

I’ve long had the belief that the UC vendors would need to migrate their solutions away from being products that provide discrete applications, to a platform that enables UC capabilities. It’s a vision that Avaya has had for years and has approached the market with a strong UC product, the latest of which is Aura, with a middleware layer above it to interface with applications.

I’m not sure there’s a city that’s more synonymous with fun than New Orleans. The home of Mardi Gras, several Super Bowls, Bourbon Street and Jazz Festivals is always a great place to visit if you’re looking to have some great entertainment. Well, there’s an event that tops all of them for fun, and that’s Microsoft’s North American Tech Ed event.

Tech Ed is the event to go to if you’re a Microsoft professional or developer. It’s the most fun and happening place if you’re looking to learn about the latest and greatest in the world of Microsoft. Two of the hotter areas of interest for the Microsoft professional today are the cloud and virtualization. At this year’s Tech Ed, Application Deliver Controller vendor F5 is demonstrating new features that can bridge the gap between the physical, virtual and cloud environments.

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