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Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise Connectivity & Collaboration’

IT executives looking to maximize their UC investments or searching for a way to gain budget approval should make UC a core component of a company’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

When I interview current or potential deployers of UC, the conversation typically focuses on cost savings and how to measure productivity gains. However, one thing that does not get brought up often enough is how organizations can use UC as a way to ensure continuous communications in the event of a disaster.

Organizations that haven’t been through a disaster tend to only think about the ones that gain national attention such as hurricane Katrina or 9/11. However, the majority of disasters occurs with very little media attention and can be just as harmful. For example, one enterprise I recently dealt with had a chemical truck spill directly in front of the building so workers were not allowed in the building. This meant none of the workers were able to get into the location even though there was no problem with the physical location; it was more of an access problem.

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In 2012, look for the Unified Communications (UC) industry to finally evolve away from using terms like “calls” and “trunks” and replace it with the concept of a “session.” I believe this to be an important step on the road to more pervasive UC deployments, particularly mobile UC.

Why do I believe that? The first step in believing this is to understand what a session is. With voice over IP (VoIP) and UC, the industry uses terms like “calls” to discuss the features in a UC solution. However, this term is a throwback to legacy communications and is used to make new UC solutions look like an old PBX. It reminds me of when I was in college taking a software development class and the lab instructor referred to lines of codes as “job cards.” There were no cards, just lines of code. Similarly today, we aren’t making calls in an all IP world.

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Back in March, I wrote a blog post about Extreme Networks new positioning around mobility.  This was a very bold move for Extreme considering they are best known as a wired switching vendor.  However, the repositioning of the company is consistent with Yankee Group’s vision of mobility being redefined, with the wired network playing a key role in that redefinition.

This week, Extreme announced the expansion of their product line introducing the “Ethernet Access Switch” (EAS) to deliver cost effective access for corporate networks.  The concept of the EAS is similar to the concept of a wireless access point.  That is a company would build a robust network with a rock solid core and LAN edge and then extend the network to an access edge for the various devices to attach to.  Because of the impact of consumerization, much of the focus of building an access edge has been on building a wireless access edge but there are still millions of devices that connect over the wired network.  The best way to think about it is that organizations will use wireless APs to build out their wireless access edge and EAS switches for their wired access edge.

The Extreme EAS is a switch that has been feature optimized specifically for access, so it has layer two and layer three options, Gig-E connectivity, optional POE+ and QoS.

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Today, Cisco announced AppHQ, a corporate-focused Android app store for its Cius tablet.

What makes AppHQ different from the consumer app-based open source Android Marketplace is that AppHQ’s applications will focus primarily on the enterprise market and unique corporate mobile use cases (and not just tablet versions of corporate applications). For example, many AppHQ apps will be vertically oriented, i.e., focused on medical, field service, campus workers and corporate executives – and that will be a great differentiator for Cisco and allow the company to stretch its lead over Microsoft and other competitiors.

See the Yankee Group report “Cisco Expands its Communications and Collaboration Portfolio with Cius and AppHQ” for further analysis.

I was on a flight earlier this week and watched one of my favorite movies – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It made me think about how the movie, and even the original TV shows that dated back to the 60, gave us a look into where technology was going and indeed has gone today.  I’d like to point out some of the more advanced technologies in Star Trek.

  • Virtual resource mobility. About a quarter of the way through the movie, the Reliant attacks the Enterprise and Mr. Scott tells Admiral Kirk that he’s diverting all power to life support.  A few moments later he diverts the power to phasers as they attack back.  Juxtapose the fluidity of IT resources that the Enterprise has compared to current IT environment.  Mr. Scott was able to move a compute resource — power — to the system that required it most, as business policy dictates from a centralized management console.  If Mr. Scott had to go manually move from silo to silo, the Enterprise could not have been agile enough to respond competitively.  This is a great example of why organizations should look to virtualization and pooling their own IT resources.
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One of the most important changes in scaling corporate data center has been the evolution of the application delivery controller (ADC).  The ADC bridges the network and application environments together.  By having the ADC at this strategic control point, organizations are able to scale their data center infrastructure without disrupting the service to the user.

As we move more and applications and infrastructure to the cloud, the ADC will play a similar role in scaling the cloud.  As more traffic moves to and from the cloud, the ADC will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that this can happen without degradation of performance.  That much is well understood.  What’s not well understood is what the form factor of the ADC should be.

Many of the data center appliance vendors have shifted their strategy to build virtual versions.  The thought being that if the server and storage infrastructure is virtual, and then so should be all of the appliances that sit around it.  This would include ADCs, WAN optimizers, security devices and other functions that surround the server infrastructure.

However, before the industry proclaims, “All hail the virtual appliance”, it’s important to understand there are some limitations to the model of the virtual appliance.  With the ADC playing such a key role, it’s critical that cloud providers understand where these limitations are.

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