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NORTH AMERICAN TELECOM CONSULTING FIRM EXPANDING TO NEW YORK
by Dennis Goodhart on 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK, NY – September 15, 2016 – Abilita, Inc., is expanding to the New York Metro Area for the first time.  Abilita, recognized as one of the largest independent telecommunications consulting firms in North America, has tapped Dennis Goodhart of New York, a thirty-plus-year industry veteran, to head up the New York office.

Abilita General Manager, Derek Atkins, said, “We are very excited about our New York expansion.” He added, “New York City is a perfect market for us, and having a veteran like Dennis head up our efforts there is quite a coup. His experience in telecommunications and IT infrastructure will prove invaluable as we continue to reduce our client’s telecom expenses and offer independent consulting advice on the latest technology to help our clients expand their business.

Goodhart, founder of IP Network Consulting, is enthusiastic about the expansion: “Abilita has always had a great reputation in the telecom consulting industry.” He added, “while they have offices in many major markets, they had just never hung a shingle in Manhattan. I’ve been in this town all my life, and this is a perfect opportunity to expand my practice and provide a broader range of services to new and existing clients. ”

When it comes to business communications technology, Goodhart does not subscribe to "one size fits all." Having come from a combined business and technology background, he understands that every business is different, and that each, unique customer requires technology that will meet their specific requirements. “Having the additional resources of the Abilita network of telecom consultants gives us the ability to provide additional expertise and service our clients all across North America.”

 

About Abilita – Founded in 2004, Abilita, Inc., is an independent telecom consulting firm with offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. They’ve recently expanded to Philadelphia and Vancouver BC, in addition to New York. They provide independent audits of telecom and data expenses as well at outsourced telecom management.

About Dennis Goodhart / IPNC – Dennis Goodhart is a Telephony and IT Communications industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience and expertise. He has designed, developed, negotiated, implemented, and managed global mission critical projects of complex technology to meet client needs. Goodhart founded IP Network Consulting (IPNC) in 2007 on the belief that business communications technology is a key asset in creating and running a successful business.


# # # # #

CONTACT:

Wim Cassard   

Abilita, Inc.      

+1 410 453 0808

wcassard@abilita.com   


Dennis Goodhart    

IP Network Consulting LLC,  dba Abilita Metro New York   

+1 646 308 1580            

dennis@ipnetconsult.com   

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5G: What's In Store for You
by Dennis Goodhart on 

This next-generation mobile technology could be an enabler that changes the way we watch TV, get our news, and communicate with each other.

For those of us who remember the comic strip Dick Tracy, today's smart watches may still seem pretty dumb. On Jan. 13, 1946, cartoonist Chester Gould introduced the two-way wrist radio into the comic strip for use by Tracy and his police squad, and the gadget quickly became one of the strip's most recognizable features. Not satisfied with the status quo, Tracy upgraded to a two-way wrist TV in 1964 (video conferencing on demand anyone?).

Granted, Gould may not have fully thought out the actual technology behind these devices, but the point is that we have dreamed, desired, and thought of reliable, lightweight two-way wireless communications devices for who knows how long. And we have pretty much accomplished the goal of two-way wireless communications with our smartphones and other smart devices thanks to modern cellular, wireless, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other wireless communications technologies... except, of course, when they don't work due to issues like poor service, low-quality audio, garbled voice, freeze-frame video, and no reception.

But such problems may soon be a thing of the past. Emerging 5G technology promises to bring 50 times the throughput of today's 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks, millisecond latency, and enough bandwidth to connect and power the billions of Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices coming our way. (Please note: This is intended as an introduction to a new technology that has the capacity to change the course of communications technology, not as a technology primer. I use the terms "cellular," "wireless," "Wi-Fi," "Bluetooth," "Internet," and "radio" interchangeably. I am well aware of the differences of each technology, however as you will see as this article unfolds, it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference, as most of these in their current forms will soon be outdated.)

Gartner estimates that 6.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide this year, and predicts that number to grow to 20.8 billion devices by 2020. With projections such as these, it should come as no surprise that every major telecom manufacturer in the world is working to make and provide even faster smartphones, watches, and other wireless devices. It should also be noted that most carriers worldwide have either stopped or will soon stop investing in and supporting old analog copper-wired infrastructure.

To have enough bandwidth for IoT connectivity, we are going to need a new, more reliable wireless infrastructure much different from today's. The new infrastructure has to be capable of supporting existing verticals, be quickly configurable for different and new use cases (think of it like class of service), be able to deliver and distribute high-quality signals and guaranteed quality with little or no latency, and support self-diagnosing, auto rerouting, and possible self-healing.


Say Hello to 5G.

What Exactly Is 5G?
5G stands for the "fifth generation" of modern mobile phone services. These date back to the early 1990s, with what today we could call "1G." Second-generation, or 2G, technology brought the ability to do two-way text messaging, while 3G gave us the ability to make phone calls, send text messages, and browse the Internet. The next generation, 4G, improved on many of these capabilities, but did require a complete infrastructure upgrade. This infrastructure upgrade allowed for faster speeds for more Internet browsing, upload and download of larger audio and video files, and even live video chats (not video conferencing).

Married to 4G, LTE permitted even faster connectivity, faster browsing speeds, highly reliable connectivity, and new UC mobile-type applications.

Building on the 4G LTE foundation, 5G will significantly increase the speed and reliability at which data can be exchanged across the network. In addition to supporting the expected millions of daily connections without slowing down the network, the 5G network will support devices capable of uploading and downloading ultra HD, 3D video, and multipoint collaborative enterprise applications.

How Fast Is 5G?
4G LTE transfer speeds top out at about one gigabit per second, which admittedly is pretty fast. However, due to inherent latency, network configuration limitations, signal disruptions, carrier distribution, legal and other restrictions, the average end user rarely gets to experience 4G's maximum speeds.

With 5G, download speeds will increase to up to 10 Gbps. Providing your device is capable, you should be able to download a full HD movie in seconds, with little latency. It will provide the kind of wireless broadband capacity that broadcast networks, social media companies and Internet giants like Google and Amazon want so they can reach into our homes and workplaces. In short, 5G could be an enabler that changes the way we watch TV, get our news, and communicate with each other.

What's Behind the Curtain?
While 5G holds the promise of providing bandwidth for many different types of applications from many different types of suppliers, carriers are most heavily invested in 5G, and with good reason; it is their future.

Cell phones are basically two-way radios (remember Dick Tracy?). Your phone converts your voice into an electrical radio signal for transmission to the nearest cell tower. The cell tower routes your call to the number you dialed. 5G is assigned a higher radio frequency, most likely up to the 6-GHz frequency band. New wireless technologies are assigned higher frequencies because they typically aren't in use and can handle more information at faster speeds. The downside side is higher-frequency signals don't travel as far as lower-frequency signals, so the carriers will probably need to deploy more multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) antennas to boost signals anywhere they offer 5G.

Other technologies, including the visible light communication technology called Light Fidelity(Li-Fi), may provide alternative signal paths.

The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance defines the following requirements for 5G networks:

  • Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
  • 1 Gbps simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for massive wireless sensor networks
  • Spectral efficiency significantly enhanced compared to 4G
  • Coverage improved
  • Signaling efficiency enhanced
  • Latency reduced significantly compared to LTE

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the spectrum for 5G advances on July 14, in a 5-0 vote, in so doing seeking to create an environment that will encourage technologies to flourish and to lead the world into the generation of 5G. While telecom consortiums are still working on 5G standards, experts expect 5G to be backwards compatible with 4G and 3G and provide interoperability. (That said, one of the biggest carriers -- Verizon -- is not part of one of the major consortiums and may roll out its own version of 5G.

How Real Is 5G?
5G already is available in some test locations around the U.S. In February, for example, Verizon announced that it has begun limited trials of 5G in Texas, Oregon, and New Jersey, and AT&T has said that also began testing 5G technology. However, experts, including those with the NGMN, don't expect 5G to be widely available until 2020.

As with any new technology, nothing will be certain with 5G until all the testing is finished, pricing is set, and user adoption takes root. And we have to remember that carriers are infamous for over-promising and under-delivering.

Questions to consider include:

  • Will 5G and non-5G networks be compatible?
  • Will 5G roll out over a period of the next five years, as predicted?
  • Will consumers be willing to ditch their beloved 4G LTE Androids and iPhones and buy 5G-compatible ones?
  • How much will 5G services cost?
  • How secure will 5G network be?
  • What are the security risks for advanced remote apps and services?

While sources suggest that a new generation of 5G standards may be introduced in the early 2020s, debate continues as to whether or not 5G can actually live up to and deliver what it promises.

  • New mobile generations are typically assigned new frequency bands and wider spectral bandwidth per frequency channel (1G up to 30 kHz, 2G up to 200 kHz, 3G up to 5 MHz, and 4G up to 20 MHz), but skeptics argue that there is little room for larger channel bandwidths and new frequency bands suitable for land-mobile radio.
  • The higher frequencies would overlap with K-band transmissions of communication satellites.
  • From a user point of view, the major difference between 4G and 5G must be something other than faster speed (increased peak bit rate). For example, other considerations are the ability to support a higher number of simultaneously connected devices, higher system spectral efficiency (data volume per area unit), lower battery consumption, lower outage probability (better coverage), high bit rates in larger portions of the coverage area, lower latencies, and more supported devices, while offering lower infrastructure deployment costs, higher versatility and scalability, and higher reliability of communication. Those are the objectives in several research papers and projects.

Among naysayers, one particular concern is that carriers will control 5G, barring the way for other types of service providers and startups to enter the market and provide lower-cost competing services. Still, certainly a lot of research time, effort, and money has gone into developing 5G technology, and it indeed does look very promising.


This article originally appeared on No Jitter, as part of the column "SCTC Perspectives."

No Jitter provides daily commentary and analysis of the enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and converged networking worlds. No Jitter strives to be the leading online community for the exchange, debate, and incubation of ideas and best practices regarding enterprise communications and collaboration.

No Jitter is produced by the same people who run Enterprise Connect, the largest conference/exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to enterprise communications. No Jitter has unique access, insights, vigilance, energy, and reputation, which allow it to generate vibrant content on a daily basis.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an International organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

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BREXIT: Using Our Professional Expertise to Help Mitigate the Effects of a World Altering Decision
by Dennis Goodhart on 

There is a lot of discussion and with good reason about Great Britain exiting the European Union.

                        

We have already seen some fall out from this referendum, and there will no doubt be more. This is obviously a world altering decision

 

While I do not profess to be either a world political leader or a prognosticator of things to come, I do think it is a bit early to panic. England has been around for a long time, Europe has been around for a long time, jointly and independently of each other.  It is pre-mature to predict what will happen.

 

England is in the process of forming a new government with a new Prime Minister having just been presumptively announced today, and politicians in other countries do not know themselves what the end result could be.

 

Britain may in fact be at the forefront of a new European rearrangement; several other countries are now also considering leaving the EU as well. They (Europe) are not the “United States of Europe”. Remember these are individual sovereign countries, separate and independent. While they all share a land mass, they have very different cultures and disparate views on politics.

 

To speculate now on what will be, is just that: pure speculation. Who knows, maybe they will all work it out? They may decide to amend the charter that is causing some nations to re-evaluate their continued membership. Maybe Donald Trump will negotiate a “Huge Deal” between all interested parties so that they can all get along and build luxury condos and hotels for the tourists.

 

But some things are certain:

 

As one of my British colleges pointed out, “Britain has been around for a long time.”

 

-          They (Great Britain) have survived numerous invasions, various Kings & Queens, WWI & II, Margret Thatcher, Tony Blair, the Rolling Stones, started their own church, explored and colonized every part of the world, survived labor unions, and have kept their currency one of the highest valued in the world. Good, bad, or indifferent, I believe that they will weather the storm if indeed there is one. Economically they are strong enough to withstand any temporary currency fluctuations.

 

Whatever the outcome, for us as world-class professional Telecom and IT Communications consultants, we need to be there to support our clients.

-          We will need to be there to lend our knowledge and expertise in helping them navigate a new environment

-          We need to be the voice of experience, a steady voice to reassure them that we will be there to help them through whatever the world political stage may look like

-          For those of us with International expertise, this is where our experience and knowledge of dealing with divergent cultures will be a big value add to our clients

-          We (as consultants) deal with finger pointing, adverse situations, and coordinating multi-vendor environments every day, granted there are other issues here we may encounter, but like any other project problem we will find the best solution for our clients

 

Whichever way this goes, strictly from a business stand point, this is an extraordinary opportunity both for us as consultants and for our clients to audit, review, reevaluate, inventory, and update their current networks and infrastructure to ensure the least possible disruptions.

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The End of Linked-In as we Know It?
by Dennis Goodhart on 

I am not an expert on corporate mega-mergers and acquisitions, but I've been around long enough to know that what seems to be is not always what it is.

Admittedly I was totally blindsided by Microsoft buying Linked In as I know many in the industry were, and I could think of at least a dozen different partnerships that would on the surface look like it would have been a better match for both, but in reading Satya Nadella's letter to Microsoft employees and Jeff Weiner, Reid Hoffman remarks about the purchase I do have a clearer sense of what they want to accomplish.

My take on this though is that Microsoft has never given up the battle for Search Engine dominance and this is a way for them, albeit an expensive way to do it.  

If you look at Microsoft's strategy:

Imagine “a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on,” Nadella said. “And Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.”

Nadella also sees the LinkedIn acquisition as a way to reinvent “selling, marketing and talent management business processes.” Maybe the acquisition does have something to do with spam after all.

It isn't much of a stretch to "Imagine" that this could eliminate or at least lessen the need for Google searches. Which good be good in the sense that if Google faces real competition it may be easier for businesses to be ranked on Google without extensive SEO and Ad words. Or it could be bad for the Linked - In user community since all of their Public information will now be in the hands of a mega monster marketing company. One of the "community" features about Linked - In was that while the information you put on Linked In could be mined, it was safe from "predatory" marketing companies.

I wonder, how much information people and companies will be willing to put on their Linked- In profiles once Microsoft claims ownership to that information and data.

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Growing Your Business Digitally
by Dennis Goodhart on 

Embracing digital business and developing a digital strategy can usher in new levels of competitiveness and success. Here's how.

The business world is moving to digital. This can be observed in the new mobile apps, omnichannel contact centers, the Internet of Things, the act of moving your first application to the cloud, or simply finally replacing that old analog PBX with a digital phone system. Today, there are more cell phones and mobile devices than desktops and people.

Recently, the GSMA Intelligence real-time tracker put the number of mobile devices at 7.79 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the number of people somewhere between 7.19 and 7.2 billion. One of my own prognostications is that as wearables become more the norm, they will become the device of choice, incorporating and possibly replacing all of today's PCs and mobile devices.

"Close to one out of three people in the developing countries are online."


Why Is This Important to Your Business?

Digital offers unparalleled potential for rapid, constant change. It offers the promise of being able to quickly implement new technologies and solutions such as collaboration both inside and outside the internal enterprise network, as well as new levels of interoperability between existing legacy and new digital systems.

Companies like Zapier have the potential to allow average PC users to instantly create their own apps (See related post, RingCentral Brings UCaaS to Zapier). Platforms like AWS and companies like Equinix give the user control over those apps and help a business employ them to their fullest potential. The old established hierarchy of carriers, application providers, IT, and end users blurs to the point of not being recognizable to those who live in the structured communications world. It is virtually non-existent to a generation raised on interactive technology.

Understanding how to incorporate this technology into your business is a key element in ensuring your future success. It is critical for your company to forge its own digital identity, distinguish itself from the competition, and define its digital business success strategy.

Whether you are a traditional brick and mortar mom and pop shop, a retail chain, an Internet e-tailer, or a B2B service business; whether you subscribe to the ideology that technology drives the business, the business drives the technology, the consumer drives the business, or the business becomes more consumer oriented, to succeed in business today you must have the technical infrastructure to ensure that excellent customer experience journey. With the advanced capabilities of the Internet and mobile devices, consumers are empowered with both technology and knowledge. The need for speed and information is foremost in almost every buyer's decision process.

Accenture Strategy research from 2015 found that the digital economy, which involves some form of digital skills and capital, accounted for 22.5 percent of the world economy. Due to the growing importance of digital, the global professional services company expects that by 2020, that will increase to 25%.

The Deloitte Consumer Review Digital Predictions 2015 made the following observations on the enterprise usage of digital devices:

  • Every experience is becoming a digital experience
  • As consumers become more comfortable with the use of smart, connected devices, there is a noticeable gap materializing between consumer expectations and the ability of businesses to meet them
  • Businesses not engaging and investing in connected devices (IoT) risk becoming disconnected from their customers

The research showed that the accelerated rate of technology change can be overwhelming, and many businesses are challenged to keep up with rapidly evolving consumer demands. It suggests that moving forward, we should expect to see the emergence of more startups and new business alliances as companies work to meet changing customer demands with new solutions. As companies realize the value of customer information databases, the battle to win consumer loyalty by providing exceptional customer service has never been more competitive.


Defining Your Digital Business Technology Strategy

You may not fully realize it, but you are already using digital technology. Existing technologies your business likely already has in place are based on digital technology. At the very least, your business communications network should be using VoIP for its phone system, SIP trunking for its voice network, high-capacity Ethernet fiber for data connections, and possibly MPLS in efforts to lower monthly recurring charges and improve reliability and flexibility.

The question for the business owner is how do you determine what is the right strategy and digital technology for you?

If you want your business to stay relevant, you will have to embrace digital. You are being driven by your customers, suppliers, creditors, competitors, and the industry to ante up or perish.

On the other hand, you may recognize that digital business provides unlimited opportunities. Now might be the ideal time to expand your business, implement some of those new and creative ideas you've been mulling over, and get out of old service and equipment contracts that are dragging your business and profits down.

Are you ready to move forward into this brave new world? In almost any business segment you can think of, it holds true that those who do not adapt have little to no chance of survival.


Factors to Consider

You need to go into the process of developing your digital business strategy with a solid plan. You should have key performance indicators identified as well as a solid initial understanding of the technologies and vendors best suited for your business so that you are able to craft a constructive methodology that identifies and defines critical decision paths, milestones, and progress for lines of business, operations, and IT. Business goals and a comprehensive transition plan should be taken into account when devising the methodology for digital upgrades.

Of course, it is vital that senior management is on board with your digital strategy, but all stake holders should be in agreement on the business's path forward. It's always a good idea to have a fallback strategy, or plan B, and remember that training may be a necessary component of any digital transition so should be taken into account alongside other budgetary concerns such as new technology costs, capital investment, on-going business operations expenses, the cost related to internal and external resources use, and the expected ROI, of course.

A good place to start is with a resource assessment. You'll want to be sure to form a dedicated project team so that the project gets done properly rather than becoming a "when we have the time" initiative. When forming your team, don't be afraid to re-assign staff or even bring in additional knowledgeable personnel. A consultant or other subject matter expert could be a valuable asset to assist with project development, management, implementation, and training.

You should also begin with an assessment of your technology and current infrastructure to determine if your setup is capable of handling new technology. Is your network and network equipment up to date? Can it be expanded in its current state? Has it reached maximum capacity, or end of life? Further, will it cost more to upgrade and maintain than to put in a new system? These are all essential questions to answer at the on-set.

Take a deeper look at the role that communications plays in your current business environment. Is your business dependent on your phone system staying up and running? How about the Internet or your data network? What about your security concerns? How do these factor into your business communications strategy? Consider how you might be able to leverage advanced analytics to improve business management, increase profitability, deliver exceptional customer service, and drive customer loyalty.

When your organization is ready to make the necessary adjustments to implement a digital strategy, there are some additional points to consider:

  • Be prepared to continually refine and adjust your digital strategy based on feedback and success shown by key performance indicators
  • Are your HR and IT departments prepared to support a changing, multi-generational workforce?
  • Do you feel that your information is protected as best as possible against cybersecurity breaches and hacking on premises or in the cloud?
  • Does your organization have a comprehensive analytics strategy?
  • Does your organization enforce archiving, governance, and records management regulations and procedures effectively and consistently, both on premises and in the cloud?
  • Does your organization understand that the collection, management, and analysis of information is a strategic imperative for success?
  • Do global business users have easy access to analytics insight, dashboards, and reports to make informed decisions?

Users will continue to benefit from technology innovations that can result in meaningful reductions in the business process workstream, lower-cost application development, and significant productivity gains from improved communication between workers and customers This can add to overall savings and translate to direct bottom line profitability.

Successful companies are already equipping employees, partners and consumers with new technology capabilities that allow an unmatched ability to create fresh ideas, develop cutting-edge products and services, and disrupt the status quo.


This article originally appeared on No Jitter, as part of the column "SCTC Perspectives."

No Jitter provides daily commentary and analysis of the enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and converged networking worlds. No Jitter strives to be the leading online community for the exchange, debate, and incubation of ideas and best practices regarding enterprise communications and collaboration.

No Jitter is produced by the same people who run Enterprise Connect, the largest conference/exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to enterprise communications. No Jitter has unique access, insights, vigilance, energy, and reputation, which allow it to generate vibrant content on a daily basis.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an International organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


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Enterprise Connect 2016 Business Communications Technology Update
by Dennis Goodhart on 

If you have never attended Enterprise Connect (EC), it is actually three shows in one:

  • It is an education forum where many vendors, industry analysts, consultants, end users, and vendors present topics that are relevant to what is happening in the world of Telecommunications and IT communications technology.
  • It is a showcase for vendors to tout their latest products.
  • It is a meet and greet and networking event on a grand scale.

I have been attending this show on and off for the past 15 years or so, and have watched it transform from Voice Con to the present day premier show that it has become.

This year some 6,000+ people attended. Attendees included end users, vendors, analysts and consultants. Below are some thoughts about what I saw, heard, and think.


Now U.C. IT, now you don’t, but maybe you still do:

I have long held the opinion that there is no such a thing as U.C. (Unified Communications), it is a made up industry term (I think originally by the carriers) to lull you into a false sense of thinking that somebody out there really understands this stuff and that by buying it from them you get a suite of products and services that work seamlessly in harmony with each other.

First, U.C. is not a technology. There is no technical specification that identifies, defines, or provides guidelines for a U.C. implementation.  What U.C. is, is a bunch of individual components (read applications) that a vendor has bundled together to provide a range of communications products to help enhance and improve your business communications experience.

I believe that my long held position is finally being vindicated. First we heard Rowan Trollope (Senior Vice President & General Manager at Cisco) announce that Spark, is breaking out the individual “U.C.” components to provide a better user experience. That night I had the pleasure to meet and have dinner with Enzo Signore, the CMO of 8x8. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned my views about U.C., and he said he agreed. In fact, their Virtual Office product integrates a softphone, voicemail, corporate directory, chat, presence, and other components that make up the U.C. bundle.

As we see more and more of Telecommunications, and IT applications converging, I think we will start to see less and less of the use of the term U.C., but not just yet.

 

“Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs,” and maybe a little pasta and some antipasto:

I’ve said this before: If you are still confused about “The Cloud” don’t worry, you are in good company – so are the vendors. It became very evident that “Cloud” still is not clearly defined, so in an attempt to clarify this current mish-mosh, here are some guidelines that can help to keep it sensible.

If you really think about it, the use of “Cloud” is not new. It can be argued (possibly mostly by me) that “Cloud” has been around for a very long time. If you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate, as the case may be) to remember Centrex, that was an early use of a cloudlike technology, as was centralized computing, and later distributed computing.

Essentially the cloud is an architecture that allows large amounts of data (i.e. databases, applications, instructions), to be stored in one (or more) places, on or off premises and delivered to another location.

The difference in today’s use of cloud is that it has or is developing into its own technology, and can perform a multitude of tasks while enabling new applications.

By now most of us are familiar with the three cloud types: Private, Hybrid, and Public. But that is about the only thing that everyone agrees on.

As this is not a white paper on the “Cloud,” I will not go into detailed depth about the differences, but will discuss what you as the end user do need to know when considering any cloud conversation.

Aside from the three basic cloud types, most confusion stems from the cloud vendors themselves, with each trying to convince you that they have the best cloud platform solution for your business.

To help you understand what is out there, let’s look at the different layers of cloud providers:

  • Arguably, it is generally acknowledged that there are (3) three major cloud platform providers, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. These are the guys that actually have the cloud architecture and infrastructure in place.  Applications are built to run on these platforms.
  • Tier cloud providers (this is my terminology, I don’t know if such a category actually exists): These are wholesalers, aggregators, or consolidators. They will buy huge amounts of Cloud storage and processing capabilities, and work with other companies to build cloud applications. They can supply network, cloud on demand, security, application processing services, and a whole host of other types of services. They are typically used by other companies that provide services as a business.
  • Cloud services providers: These are your end user companies that provide direct services, products and applications to end users. By far the largest promoters of cloud usage and technology.
  • Integrators: Typically, smaller companies than the services providers. They offer to provide cloud and vendor management, network transport, edge security, and other end user services.

The cloud can get very confusing. There are no clear cut lines as to who can and does provide what.

Some things to ask your potential cloud vendor:

  • What is their “sweet spot”? If they can’t tell you, or they tell you “all of the cloud”, walk away. They are probably as confused as you are, and will not do anything particularly well.  
  • Who owns your data?  Don’t assume that you do. Read your contract very carefully.
  • Who manages your applications? Cloud providers can provide services and tools for their applications, however if you are running multiple apps or have more than one serve provider it is still your responsibility to manage them. If you are looking for a third party company to manage it, find out what experience they have with your types of applications and vendors. Just because they say they can, doesn’t mean they can.

 It was a great show, there are new and exciting technologies available, new approaches to solving Business Communications needs and challenges. Overall the vendors have really upped their game in the past 12 months.

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Visit the SCTC booth (108) at Enterprise Connect next week!
by Dennis Goodhart on 

Visit the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) at Enterprise Connect (booth #108) next week, March 7-10, in Orlando, Florida.

  • End Users: Learn why you should hire an SCTC Consultant
  • Consultants: Learn why you should join the SCTC
  • Vendors: Learn why you should become a VAC member


I will be at the SCTC booth (# 108) at the dates and times below:

  • Tuesday March 8th 12:00pm - 2:00pm EST
  • Tuesday March 8th 4:00pm - 6:00pm EST
  • Wednesday March 9th 12:00pm - 2:30pm EST
Schedule an appointment or just stop by and say hello.

Looking forward to seeing you,

Dennis

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Welcome to the New IP Network Consulting
by Dennis Goodhart on 

The business world is moving to digital communications, and today there are more cell phones and mobile devices than people. More applications are being hosted in the cloud, and as wearables become more and more the norm, they will become the device of choice, incorporating and possibly replacing all of today’s PC and mobile applications.

Make no mistake, this is complicated stuff and yes it is “very technical”. Unless you have sufficient in-house resources to dedicated to building your technology strategy and to implementing a working technology platform, you are going to find that going it on your own is problematic and time consuming. And expensive.

Marshaling the resources to conduct a needs analysis, finding the right technology, preparing an RFP, meeting with and vetting vendors, pricing a comprehensive solution, and matching it to your business objectives requires your full time attention.

We have worked hard to reflect the changing trends in Business Communications Technology on our updated web site. We are not dropping older core competencies, or just adding new buzz words, but rather we are focusing on building upon our Optimizing Business Communications Technology™ consulting platform. This platform fully aligns with current industry trends in technology and business communications applications.  We have deepened our relationships with progressive legacy telecom vendors, but have also sought out and met with built relationships with many new providers who are not specifically “telecom” vendors, but specialize in conversion to Digital, Cloud Applications, Cyber Security, Customer Engagement Technology, Mobility, and Wireless.

We are committed to working with our clients to improve their business profitability, and productivity, by defining, finding, and implementing appropriate business technology; whether for internal operations or exploring new business opportunities.

Talk to us. We are confident that we can help you.

Warmest Regards,

Dennis Goodhart

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It Was the Worst of Times, It Is the Best of Times
by Dennis Goodhart on 

A literary look at the state of the communications industry.

Happy 2016! As we continue to forge forward into the first half of the 21st century, I am reminded of the opening line of Charles Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities":

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ...

Why am I reminded of this, and what does it have to do with technology? Glad you asked!


It Is the Best of Times:

For the first time, both telecommunications and IT users are able to customize and take control of their networks by selecting the vendors, applications, and service providers that best meet their business needs. They are not tied nor bound to a single vendor's platform.


It Was the Worst of Times:

However, there is a catch ... or rather, several catches; in order to utilize and take full advantage of 21st century technology, you will need to upgrade your legacy network and equipment. You will need to have an all-digital network, IP voice (i.e. a phone system), SIP trunking, high-speed Ethernet connectivity, cyber security, network management tools, and staff, vendors or partners who can make it all work for you. And last, but not least, you will need a qualified, competent independent consultant whose interest is in working with and for you to sort everything out.


It Was the Age of Wisdom

Our industry is filled with smart individuals, so let's take a look at some of the wisdom imparted by a few industry leaders around what the future holds and what changes end users might expect:

Rich McBee, President and CEO, Mitel:
"Users will enjoy technology innovation in the form of more seamless, pervasive and coordinated, real-time communications -- at the browser and across mobile applications. This will be especially meaningful in business process workstream applications people use to communicate, collaborate, and get work done. More than ever, those processes will be initiated on a mobile device. The march of business communications towards the cloud, particularly the hybrid cloud, continues unabated. VoLTE, ViLTE, VoWiFi, and advanced messaging continue to grow as mobile operators deploy this technology at scale and as the handset upgrade cycle plays out."

Jeff Platon, Chief Marketing Officer, Interactive Intelligence:
The following five key trends will have a critical impact on businesses in the coming years:

  1. Customer-centricity breaks down silos between the contact center, enterprise and external stakeholders -- We'll see the advent of digital workstreams powered by converged systems that support customer engagement, communications and collaboration, and the cloud will play a key role.
  2. IoT expands the omnichannel experience -- Companies will be challenged with how to use IoT to improve customer service without creating yet another siloed channel. Best practices for connecting IoT platforms to the contact center will begin to emerge as companies strive to create a true omnichannel customer experience.
  3. Artificial intelligence: Machine learning hits prime time -- More recent AI advancements have fueled the growth of machine learning, which can help companies identify patterns and predict customer behavior. Companies will increasingly use machine learning to proactively engage with customers and manage the contact center in far more effective and intuitive ways, including the use of conversational bots that serve as virtual agents and supervisors.
  4. Millennials finally get sophisticated DIY customer service -- As the influence of millennials on the purchase process increases, the demand for DIY customer service has skyrocketed. This need will drive more sophisticated self-service deployments (think Web, SMS and mobile), especially for SMBs, which are typically more nimble than their larger counterparts.
  5. Mobile everything -- The topic of mobility is nothing new, but consumers are fast anticipating the ability to do everything via a mobile device. This will drive the need for companies to create an experience that ensures context is transferred as customers move from mobile apps to live interactions.


Jon Arnold: Industry analyst, J Arnold & Associates:

  • As a result of cloud technology, business communications as a whole is moving towards an "as a service" (AAS) model. It is necessary for IT departments to re-think what kind of infrastructure they need to go forward and succeed in a digital environment of public, private, and hybrid clouds.
  • As cloud technology continues to improve and more millennials start to populate IT departments, we can expect to see a shift in trusting the cloud with more and more applications.
  • Today, the hybrid cloud is the dominant choice, however competition for customers will improve the offerings of private and public cloud providers.
  • The end user will have to decide which of the three types of cloud offerings provide the best combination of price, reliability, security and control.
  • Another consideration is the rate at which cloud providers are entering the marketspace. For cloud as a service to really pay off, companies will need to have a large user base. When you look at the marketplace and all of the different types of companies offering cloud services, it is hard to imagine that all of the current and future providers will survive. We can expect to see consolidation among the smaller providers, but even companies like Verizon are selling off their data centers because providing cloud services is not their business model.
  • We can also expect to see more growth for the major cloud players like AWS, Google and Microsoft, mainly because they have huge economies of scale and market reach.
  • Other second tier players like Equinix can do well, both as a direct cloud services provider and as a reseller of cloud services to smaller and niche cloud services providers. For this tier to have success, they will need to differentiate in areas such customer support, application customization, and deep expertise for the market or niche they serve. They will not survive competing against the majors on price, so they must be very focused on segments where these forms of differentiation have value.

It Was the Age of Foolishness

End users now have more choices than ever before, but also more to worry about, including:

  • Security
  • Vendor choices and compatibility
  • Automated application services
  • Multi- and omni-channel access
  • Cloud applications
  • Wireless
  • Wearables
  • Mobile
  • Social media
  • Remote access

There is some amazing business communications technology to be had out there, with more amazing things in the pipeline. And of course, there is also lots of vendor hype. How do you know what is real, and how do you know what will work best for you?

Make no mistake, this is complicated stuff. Unless you have sufficient in-house resources to dedicate to building your technology strategy and to implement a working technology platform, you are going to find that going it on your own is problematic and time consuming, not to mention expensive. Marshaling the resources to conduct a needs analysis, finding the right technology, preparing an RFP, meeting with and vetting vendors, pricing a comprehensive solution, and matching it to your business objectives requires your full-time attention.


This article originally appeared on No Jitter, as part of the column "SCTC Perspectives."

No Jitter provides daily commentary and analysis of the enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and converged networking worlds. No Jitter strives to be the leading online community for the exchange, debate, and incubation of ideas and best practices regarding enterprise communications and collaboration.

No Jitter is produced by the same people who run Enterprise Connect, the largest conference/exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to enterprise communications. No Jitter has unique access, insights, vigilance, energy, and reputation, which allow it to generate vibrant content on a daily basis.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an International organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

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Turning the Corner on Telecom Systems
by Dennis Goodhart on 

For the first time your company can access the info stored in disparate databases, view outside content, and create analytics that will allow it to develop better customer engagement strategies.


Telecommunications suppliers have traditionally focused more on connectivity and less on business optimization, leading to integration issues as they add other communications applications into their phone systems, as I noted in a June 2014 No Jitter post. The real question to me has long been whether these solutions are able to solve core business needs by helping companies capitalize on technology and boost productivity.

At the time of that previous post, I had recently left the world of telecom consulting to join a contact center integrator. I've now re-entered the consulting world, and I am pleased to see that the mainstream vendors (along with numerous specialty vendors) have risen to the occasion. It looks like they finally "get it," and now have products and services that do focus more on solving business needs and, maybe for the first-time in this industry's history, less on meeting their own self-professed "this-is-what-you-need" offerings.

A month ago I attended Avaya Engages in New York, where the message couldn't have been more potent. Avaya announced it was changing the way it does business, partnering with Google and others to create an "open engagement model" including a contact center agent built into a Chrome laptop (see "Avaya's Barnett: It's All About Engagement".) Yes, Avaya has been down that road before, and yes, the messaging did seem to have a familiar "Aura" about it, but what is different this time is that it worked. What worked was seamless connectivity between Avaya's own products, but also website content, and third-party applications.

A Google representative set up a contact center agent on the fly with the new Chromebook within minutes. Does this a full contact center make? No -- but the tools and ability to do this in a matter of minutes from a laptop connected to the Internet, be connected instantly to the system's administration software, and provide quality multi-channel response is something to be taken very seriously. As part of Avaya's new open engagement initiative, it understands that some of its longtime partner relationships may have to change. Further, new partners that can prove they understand the business model will be brought on board.

A week or so later, I attended the SPS Collaboration Roadshow at Microsoft's New York offices. There I learned more about and saw the Skype for Business collaboration platform, and was honestly blown away (see "Skype for Business Gets Real"). Microsoft has created a business environment that allows the end user to instantly create and orchestrate a high-end, multimedia, multichannel presentation from a PC. It is able to incorporate analytics and database information from the user's own company databases as well as third-party information sources. The SPS event also featured a demonstration by Acano showing how to create a video conference between previously incompatible systems via WebRTC connectivity.

If you attended Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015 last month (kudos to Fred and Eric for creating one of the most fun and best technology showcases ever - we will miss you Fred), you saw these and other Web-enabling technologies and applications. Vendors treated you to a virtual smorgasbord of new products, software, and services specifically designed and dedicated to allow your company to integrate communications services throughout its entire corporate structure.

I have always maintained and still hold that unified communications is a bunch of applications that when banded together can provide a cohesive working synergy -- it is not actual technology. Today, UC, along with cloud applications, WebRTC, and collaboration tools from companies like Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, and HP, users can finally be in control of their own meetings, networks, and data collection (see "UCC 2015: the Year of the User").

What this means is that for the first time your company can access the information it has stored in disparate databases, view outside content, and create the types of analytics that will allow it to develop better customer engagement strategies. This is not to be confused with developing those analytics and gathering the necessary data -- that is still the backend of a data processing function -- but it does mean that information can be made available at the touch of a button, by a voice request, or built on the fly during a video conference.

It seems that we have finally turned the corner and the future is in software, software-defined networks, applications, mobile devices, SIP, and WebRTC access -- not hardware, desktop phones and PCs, or long-term, limiting carrier contracts. It is a an exciting communications technology world out there; it will be fun, frustrating, and yes, confusing, until everyone figures out what they want to be when they grow up. But the future is in the hands of the user, and to that end, there are professional ethical consultants to help them navigate these uncharted waters.


This article originally appeared on No Jitter, as part of the column "SCTC Perspectives."

No Jitter provides daily commentary and analysis of the enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and converged networking worlds. No Jitter strives to be the leading online community for the exchange, debate, and incubation of ideas and best practices regarding enterprise communications and collaboration.

No Jitter is produced by the same people who run Enterprise Connect, the largest conference/exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to enterprise communications. No Jitter has unique access, insights, vigilance, energy, and reputation, which allow it to generate vibrant content on a daily basis.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an International organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

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