Archive for February 2014

The networking industry has certainly gone ga-ga over the topic of software defined networks (SDN). Before SDNs were all the rage, network transformation had already begun with the use of fabrics. The rise of SDNs certainly took the media focus away from fabrics and that caused many vendors to shift their marketing messages as well.

However, one of the vendors that has been fairly consistent with the value of a fabric is data center specialist Brocade, and its strategy seems to be working.

When Lloyd Carney took over as CEO of the company last year, Brocade stopped trying to be all things to all people and focused on the areas where Brocade’s value proposition would resonate most. In fact, in the fall of 2013, I had the chance to meet up with Mr. Carney at the company’s channel event in New Orleans. He told me with no uncertainty that if the company didn’t have a shot of being one of the top three vendors in a market, then it shouldn’t be in that space. During his keynote, he talked at length about fabrics and the value the technology could provide to large data centers and service providers.

This week, Facebook opened its wallet and shelled out a whopping $19 billion for WhatsApp. Most people think of WhatsApp as an over-the-top messaging application, but I think the company is much more than that.

The old BlackBerry messenger app or even the Facebook messaging service are really examples of messaging services. While it’s true that WhatsApp provides that functionality, it also enables group chat and picture and video sharing. Through the app, users can share almost anything – short messages, pictures, YouTube videos, location information – and should be thought of as a rapid mobile social media platform. Share your life, even when mobile, through WhatsApp.

Facebook today is enormously popular and boasts a user population of more than a billion users, which raises the question – why did they need to shell out this kind of money for WhatsApp? I believe there’s a growing trend for the younger generation (teens and below) to bypass Facebook in favor of some of the other applications, like Vine, WeChat, SnapChat, Line and, of course, WhatsApp. I’ve heard of this group of users being referred to as “Facebook Nevers.” These types of applications have taken off like a rocket as mobile social networking continues to take off, and Facebook has been on the outside looking in. Facebook was once considered cool and edgy, and now many consider it the “establishment.” There’s a growing group of the younger population that consider it cool to NOT use Facebook.

I’m here to warn the entire corporate collaboration industry to watch your backs because the era of consumer collaboration is coming.

This week of February has been filled with some big events. First the Kerravala family went on vacation to Aruba (the country, not Aruba Networks, as some of you have asked). For those of you not lucky enough to be part of this family, you may have enjoyed February school vacation (in MA) or settled for the Lync Conference in Las Vegas. While I’m not at the Lync Conference, I have been following some of the news from the event, and all of us that cover the collaboration market have been more than impressed by the growth that Lync has shown over the past few years–as I wrote in my 2013 wrap-up blog, last year was “The Year of Lync“.

Why is there this much excitement and hype over Lync? We’ve all been fascinated with the momentum of Lync–somewhere between 10 Million or 30 Million seats based on whose numbers you believe; we’ve all had channel partners tell us about the interest they’ve seen as well; and we’ve all seen Microsoft Lync as a huge threat to the traditional UC vendors such as Cisco and Avaya.

Over the past couple of years, Polycom has moved with the trends of software, cloud and mobility, and now it’s time to push the channel in the right direction.

Last week Polycom held its annual channel event, TEAM Polycom, in one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver boasts the mildest climate of all the major cities in Canada and is able to attract some of the best professionals, so the city itself is constantly changing to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community. This is one of the reasons why I thought Vancouver provided a nice setting for the event, as Polycom’s channel is currently undergoing a major shift.

Historically, most people thought of Polycom as being a manufacturer of large hardware based video conferencing technology with a few voice products, like conference phones, sprinkled in. Given the perception that video is a flat or even a declining market, it was easy to assume that the company and its channel partners were in for a long, slow decline towards irrelevance.

Last month, VMware made a big splash in the Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) market by plunking down over $1.5 billion for AirWatch. EMM, formerly known as mobile device management (MDM), has been one of the hottest market segments in tech, primarily due to the seemingly unstoppable force know as BYOD. This acquisition comes a little over a year after Citrix purchased Zenprise to complement its mobile offering. IBM also acquired FiberLink in late 2013, signaling the market for EMM is finally going through some long-awaited and badly needed consolidation given the vendors’ mad rush into it.

The AirWatch acquisition makes a tremendous amount of sense for VMware, as the company has been trying to strengthen its position in both the end-user computing market and the mobility space. AirWatch will roll up to Sanjay Poonen, an executive whom VMware hired to run the end-user computing space. VMware had hired Poonen away from SAP, where he led that company’s mobility strategy. VMware is the de facto standard today in server virtualization and is looking to parlay that position into success in mobile computing.

The Winter Olympics kicked off late last week in Sochi, Russia. Personally, I’m looking forward to my home country, Canada, bringing home the gold in ice hockey.

The expanded portfolio of voice and video solutions of Lync-optimized and -compatible products is a great proof point of the strong partnership.

In my year-end UC blog, I had called 2013 “The Year of Lync” since Microsoft had finally legitimized itself as a voice vendor. In a fall 2013 UC deployment strategies survey, I posed the question, “Which vendor do you consider to be your primary or secondary UC solution provider?” Microsoft came in as the second most common response for primary vendor and the top spot for secondary vendor. This was certainly no surprise based on the strength that Lync has shown in the customer and channel interviews I have done.

Many of the customers that had initially deployed Lync for chat and presence have also started to deploy Lync voice, creating a second wave of interest in the product. This next wave will also pull along some partners of Lync, including Polycom, which who has been a significant benefactor of the momentum behind Lync voice.

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