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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Archive for March 2017

Extreme Networks continues industry consolidation with
acquisition of Brocade’s data center networking business

Any fan of the PGA Tour will never forget the “better than most” call by NBC’s Gary Koch. On March 24, 2001, Tiger Woods stepped up to execute one of the most difficult putts of his career. Halfway to the hole, Koch uttered the words “better than most” as it looked like his putt was going to be a good one. It wound up going in, and that become yet another notable moment in Tiger’s illustrious career where great execution was becoming the norm.

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Remembering this year’s event for cloud, comms APIs, team
collaboration, physical meeting rooms, and the digital experience.

The 2017 edition of Enterprise Connect is just about in the books, as we head into the final morning of the conference program and the vendor booths are all packed up. As is always the case with this show, due to the very nature of unified communications, a large number of subtopics, ranging from the basics to the most sublime, emerged throughout the week. However, I will remember Enterprise Connect 2017 for the following five major themes.

1. Evolution of the cloud. The cloud has been a major storyline at Enterprise Connect for several years in a row now. However, up until recently, the value proposition of the cloud has revolved around being a cheaper, faster way of doing UC when compared to premises-based solutions. This year the tide seems to have turned, and the majority of UCaaS provider vision now centers on how to use the cloud to create new ways of working and new experiences. We should see some interesting results, as now it’s time for the cloud providers to differentiate themselves from one another.

For example, RingCentral is moving toward an integrated UC/team workspace experience, Vonage is leveraging its Nexmo asset to appeal to developers, 8×8 is leading with contact center and BroadSoft is making available a wealth of contextual information through its Hub. Even companies like Cisco and Microsoft that have relied heavily on premises-based sales have shifted to cloud-first strategies with Spark and Office 365, respectively. The differentiation is certainly good as it gives customers more choices to solve different problems.

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Brocade continues to bring new features to
Fibre Channel, helping companies as they move
toward high-performance, all-flash data centers

Last year, Brocade introduced its 32 Gig Fibre Channel portfolio. Gen6, as Brocade calls it, is ideally suited to meet the demands of a digital world that is seeing an explosion of traffic from data center modernization, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing.

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It’s the network architecture that can
match the speed and agility of the cloud.

For me, the second day of Enterprise Connect began bright and early with a panel on software defined (WANs SD-WAN), which I previewed in this No Jitter post last week. Much of the value proposition of SD-WANs has revolved around cost savings on bandwidth as businesses look to cut the high cost of running a wide area network today. Much of the cost savings comes from replacing, or at least augmenting, high cost MPLS networks with much lower cost broadband Internet connections. Organizations can use the higher price, high-value network for real-time or mission-critical traffic, and then send general-purpose data down the Internet connection.

Most people I talk to inherently get the cost saving argument, but after that, the value proposition isn’t very well understood. So I spent a fair amount of time drilling down on this topic in the panel. Here’s a summary of the benefits businesses should expect with an SD-WAN (other than cost savings on bandwidth).

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Don’t look for a hockey stick-shaped adoption curve just quite yet.

As I mentioned in my previous No Jitter post, “Thinking About the Cloud 2020,” I had been tasked with being the prognosticator for cloud 2020 as part of the one-day Enterprise Communications & Collaboration 2020 conference-within-a-conference that took place on the opening day of Enterprise Connect Orlando. During my presentation, I shared my vision of a world where the cloud enables predictive, contextual communications, driven by machine learning, and where information is pushed to us, when we need it, making our personal and professional lives much simpler and more efficient.

My panelists — from 8×8, BroadSoft, Cisco, Genband, and Microsoft — mostly agreed with my prediction of what cloud 2020 would look like. Knowing that technology shifts are never easy, we spent some time discussing the barriers to the cloud 2020 vision. Here are the main points:

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Today Cisco introduced Spark Room Kits, enhanced
Spark security, an update to the Spark Hybrid
Media Service and expanded Spark care

The industry’s largest collaboration show, Enterprise Connect, gets underway this week in Orlando, Florida. The show has become the place for vendors to show off the latest and greatest, and the week started off with Cisco announcing some new products and updates to existing ones.

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