Archive for March 2016

A lot of exciting, revolutionary possibilities emerge out of the union of IoT and UC.

If you’re married, in the process of getting married, or involved in a wedding, you’ve probably heard the expression “something old, something new.” In the tech industry right now, there’s a bit of a marriage going on of “something old and something new,” and that’s the intersection of unified communications (UC) and Internet of Things (IoT).

At first glance, you might wonder what one has to do with the other. UC is a relatively mature market largely involved with real-time communications to enable people to collaborate better. Compared to UC, IoT is a relatively new trend and has focused primarily on connecting traditionally unconnected devices such as medical equipment, sensors, industrial tools, and other endpoints. One technology deals with people and the other with objects, so this raises the question, is there value in bringing these together?

I believe there most certainly is, and I think some of the vendors are starting to see that as well. For example, Cisco recently put IoT software under the leadership of Rowan Trollope, who heads up the collaboration business unit at Cisco. If there was no value in bringing the two together, this leadership structure would make no sense.

Digital transformation has been a hot topic with both IT and business leaders. Organizations of all sizes are trying to harness the potential of shifting to digital business models to lower costs and bring worker productivity to new heights. Unfortunately, the path to digital workspace isn’t an easy one as there are many components that need to be brought together.

The concept of “as-a-service” or pay-per-use has become pervasive across the IT industry. The value proposition of as a service is that businesses can pay for things as a monthly subscription over a long period of time instead of having to fork over huge sums of money now. Traditional procurement methods create incredibly lumpy spending patterns as a one-time purchase is made at year zero and then minimal spend is made over the next several years until the next upgrade when the cycle starts again.

As technology advances, the way we live and work continues to change.  Nowhere has this evolution been more pronounced than in the area of communications. We can text, call, email, direct message and chat through various social platforms, and of course, do a video call.

The area of video conferencing is very interesting for millennials. Contrary to the opinion of the older generation we don’t live on video but we do use it when necessary.  It’s not the norm or a even a de facto communications tool but it’s certainly part of our toolkit. One of the things I hear over and over is that millennials don’t like to engage each other face to face. Millennials actually love face-to-face communications.  When we use electronic communications, we prefer short tools such as pictures or texts with short videos that disappear like Snapchat has perfected.

These types of messaging tools offer the “best of both worlds”.  It’s like having a face-to-face interaction broken up into sessions of 10 seconds or less.  I know the older generation has trouble understanding the value of this but we find it ideal for both leisure and flexibility. Our preferred method of communicating is texting because we feel comfortable responding when we have the time to respond. With instant messaging platforms like Facebook or Skype, the need to be present for the conversation is more of a commitment and is not ideal as it requires constant attention.

Even though we don’t use video calls as a normal form of day-to-day communication, we do have use cases for it. Here are a few:

We’re almost there, but lingering questions will keep 2016 from being the year of the cloud in UC.

As the 2016 edition of Enterprise Connect unfolds in Orlando, Fla., next week, one of the hottest topics will be the rise of the cloud in unified communications. Many industry pundits have heralded 2016 as the year of the UC cloud, and the mania is at an all-time high.

Truth be told, I see 2016 being more the year of UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) hype than the year UCaaS becomes pervasive in the enterprise. Too many big questions still need answering. They are as follows:

Enterprise Connect, the industries largest business communications show, gets underway next week in Orlando. While the themes for the event have changed over the years, one that has not in over a decade is how to get Microsoft and Cisco UC solutions to work better together.

With traditional network infrastructure, services have been tied to dedicated hardware devices. Network functions virtualization (NFV) changes this paradigm by decoupling the network functions from the underlying hardware platform.

To date, NFV has been used primarily by service providers for service chaining, but recently digital enterprises have become interested in the technology. ZK Research (I am an employee of ZK Research) data shows that 61% of organizations are investigating or have deployed Enterprise NFV.

I’ve seen many reports and articles that compare NFV and server virtualization and while I understand the comparison, there is a significant difference. Server virtualization has been used primarily to consolidate servers in the data center. While NFV has tremendous value in the data center, it can also bring value to other points in the network including the campus, branch offices and even the cloud. Also, the main value proposition of server virtualization is to lower costs but NFV can lower costs and increase the agility of network services.

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