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Posts Tagged ‘No Jitter’

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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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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We’re about to enter the third phase of the cloud,
one that will fundamentally change the way we live.

Most technologies go through some period of being overhyped and failing to live up to inflated expectations set forth by the vendor community. Cloud, however, has been the exception.

Cloud services have become ubiquitous — you’d be hard-pressed to find a company today that isn’t using at least a little bit of something from the cloud. And many organizations have directives to utilize cloud services first, when available. Make no mistake: The cloud era not only has arrived, but is taking over.

However, we are on the tip of a cloud transition point. In fact, I think we are about to hit the third phase of the cloud — one that will fundamentally change the way we live, allowing us to do things we couldn’t do without the cloud.

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As compelling as this network option might be,
some questions need further exploration.

Not only has WAN transformation been talked about for decades, but SD-WAN in particular has been a red-hot topic for the last couple of years. Investors seem to believe the market will stay this way as well; over the past couple of months both VeloCloud and Aryaka have raised additional funds to be able to meet the explosion in user demand for SD-WAN.

One of the core tenets of my research is that the best opportunity to gain customer share is when markets undergo transitions, which is why we see so much startup activity in this market right now.

Why Is the WAN in Transition?

That’s an easy answer. Legacy WANs are broken and have been for decades. Prior to becoming an analyst I was in corporate IT, and back in the ’90s we discussed WAN transformation. However, unlike today, there really wasn’t a viable alternative at the time. Also, traditional WANs were inflexible, inefficient, and overly expensive. It wasn’t holding the business back so most IT departments took an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude regarding the wide area network.

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When thinking about the ramifications of Avaya selling
off its networking business, take the long view and relax.

The Green Bay Packers, led by struggling QB Aaron Rodgers, started off the 2014 season 1-2. The always-calm Rodgers told the panicked Packers’ fans to R-E-L-A-X, and the team ended up finishing 12-4 — winning its division but losing in the NFC title game to the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks.

Rodgers’ message to fans not to panic so early in a long season resonates with me as I think about the news coming out of Avaya yesterday regarding the sale of the data networking business.

We’re obviously very early in Avaya’s bankruptcy cycle, with the Chapter 11 filing coming about six weeks ago. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place last night, when the company announced that Extreme Networks had offered to buy Avaya Networking for $100 million. I see no need for Avaya customers or channel partners to panic; making rash decisions so early in a prolonged cycle can end up bad, so take a breath and see what happens.

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