Archive for February 2015

With a new approach that focuses on the entire network, Avaya aims to facilitate the painful transition to a software defined network.

In the movie, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Spock’s older brother, Sybok, had telepathic abilities and he could feel people’s pain by touching them. In the movie he would say, “share your pain with me and gain strength from sharing.” Sybok was a deeply religious Vulcan and, in the movie, sought out to find “Sha Ka Ree,” the Vulcan equivalent of Eden, where everything began. Nirvana, if you will.

In the networking industry, software defined networks (SDN) are supposed to bring the networking equivalent of Sha Ka Ree. However, I don’t need to be a Vulcan telepath to understand customers’ pain when it comes to SDNs. Almost every network professional I talk to today has an interest in SDN. However, the majority of businesses feel that deploying a software defined network is too complicated.

At least at one point, RadioShack was the only place you could find these tech products.

Remembering the Shack

RadioShack announced recently that after 94 years the company would be going into bankruptcy, selling off a number of stores and shutting some others down. As a techy who was born in the 60s, RadioShack was a huge part of my life. I remember hitting the RadioShack every time I visited the Duncan Mall just to see what was new. For you younger people out there, understand that at one point, there were no other options for many of the products you could find at RadioShack. No Best Buy, no or Tiger Direct. Here are 10 of the products that I could only get from RadioShack.

How ‘Personal UC’ can help make unified communications useful for every user in an organization.

As an analyst, I’ve been covering the topic of unified communications (UC) for the better part of 15 years. It seems every year the industry proclaims the current year to be “the year of UC,” but it never really happens. The one thing that’s been consistent about UC is that the technology has been long on promise and short on deployments.

Now, I’m not diminishing the value of UC. The value proposition for UC has always been high. UC is a highly transformative technology with the power to change the way we work, bring productivity to new heights, and significantly lower the cost of communications. Yet despite the potential, according to ZK Research, only 23% of businesses have UC deployed fully across the organization (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research). This begs the question, if the value proposition is so high, why are full deployments the exception and not the norm?

Polycom showed some flash and sizzle at its annual Team partner conference, but it still has plenty more work to do.

Last week Polycom held its annual partner conference, Team Polycom, under the sunny skies of Orlando, Fla. The change in venue from the dreary, overcast conditions of Vancouver, B.C., home of the previous two Team events, seems well timed with the vendor’s improved market position.

A year ago, Polycom had recently gone through a CEO change and was struggling to find its identity amid questions about its very existence as a stand-alone company. Despite having some great products, Polycom spent most of its time defending itself against Cisco and the myriad of new competitors that had emerged in the past few years. However, the Polycom I witnessed in Orlando seemed to have more swagger and a whole new identity based on a tremendous amount of success since the arrival of new CEO Peter Leav.

Breaking down Brocade’s new VDX 6940 fabric switch.

While the networking industry has gone crazy over software defined networks (SDNs), Brocade has been one of the few vendors that have continued to evolve their fabric portfolio. Customers looking to improve the agility and level of automation do not need to make the jump to an SDN – instead, an Ethernet fabric can be used to accomplish these goals and provide an excellent foundation for a future SDN deployment.

Earlier this month, Brocade announced a new fabric switch, the VDX 6940. The new switch set the current high water mark in the industry with respect to port density for a fixed form factor switch. The 6940-36Q is a 1RU switch with 36×40 Gig-E connections or 144×10 Gig-E connections (assuming breakouts are used). The 6940-144S is a 2RU switch with 96×10-Gig-E ports and either 12×40 Gig-E or 4×100 Gig-E ports. Both switches have a massive amount of capacity, making them ideal for on-demand scaling of a fabric by adding capacity to a spine horizontally as the number of leaf switches increases.

As contact centers leverage feature-rich communications technology, session border controllers become an important infrastructure component.

As the contact center is often the first company touchpoint for customers, we’ve all learned that a great contact center experience can leave a customer happy and ready to do more business. Conversely, a bad contact center experience can make a satisfied customer as grumpy as Patriots coach Bill Belichick when asked about Deflategate.

It’s possible for a business to offer great products yet have the experience with a product be significantly overshadowed by a subpar contact center interaction. Bad contact center experiences can hurt a company’s net promoter score, damage its reputation, and ultimately lead to revenue loss and decreased profits.

This is the primary reason why businesses have been obsessed with improving the overall contact center experience. One way to improve the experience is to shift the contact center from being driven only by voice to a more media-rich environment.

Avni Networks has stocked up on experience as it prepares to emerge from stealth mode.

One of the ways you can tell that software defined networking (SDN) has the power to change the vendor landscape is by the number of startups that have emerged. Over the past few years, we’ve seen startups pop up to address the evolution of the data center and the WAN. For this reason, I always tend to keep my eyes open for companies generating buzz in the marketplace in this area.

In my recent travels, I was made aware of another “stealth-mode” startup that’s building a solution to address a new use case for SDNs. According to its website, Avni Networks addresses the “transformation of the Data Center to Virtual Clouds for the Applications Economy.” From what I can tell, there seems to be some buzz around what this company is up to, which made me curious about learning more.

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