Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life After Nortel Webinar - this Friday at 1ET

Just a friendly reminder for my next Ziff Davis B2B webinar this Friday.

As you may know, I write regularly for their portal, and some of that content is complemented by webinars. "Life After Nortel" is a theme I've been writing about there recently, and that's what this upcoming webinar is about.

The theme is pretty self-explanatory, and for more details along with how to register, here's the landing page for the webinar. Hope you can join us.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cisco Connect 2014 - Takeaways

Yesterday I attended Cisco Connect 2014 here in Toronto. This was their 12th event, and it sounds like this was their biggest to date. Sure looked packed to me, and a good sign that Cisco is doing its fair share of business in Canada.

Analysts and media were on a track of our own, so the day was pretty structured. The opening talks were similar to last year, but this time around we're pretty much being told that IoE and IoT is the future, so get ready. The Internet of Everything sure sounds ominous, and they're expecting the world to have 50 billion "people, processes, data and things" connected by 2020.

Well, if that doesn't make us really smart, I don't know what will. There's ceratinly an opportunity here, and lots of business to be had from "connecting the unconnected". What that opportunity really is, nobody knows, but it will be big. The number Cisco is putting out there is $19 trillion - too big for me to comprehend, but we're talking about a new world order after all.

Just to clarify, however, this isn't a spending opportunity - it's "value at stake", and primarily represents cost savings from doing things more efficiently. Still, it's another big transformation that's very much underway, and it was correctly noted that some big names out there will go away but new leaders and industries will emerge.

On a local level, we heard a lot about what Cisco Canada is doing to drive innovation here, and they're making good on initiatives we heard about last year. There was a well-done video illustrating how technology is being used to deliver telehealth and education to remote communities in the Far North. Closer to home, the innovation hub is going to be built here in Toronto, and they are seeding research chairs in the higher education sector to get more kids going into science/technology studies. Financially, they'll soon be announcing initiatives about how they're working with the VC community to help foster startups and entrepreneurship in our space - definitely something we need more of here.

We also had a guided tour of the show floor, with lots of focus on the cloud and data centers. Not too many phones, but lots of video/collaboration tools along with security offerings. Aside from that, everywhere you turned, there was something about their role in the 2015 PanAm Games which will be held in the greater Toronto area. These mega-events are great technology stages for the likes of Cisco, and prime opportunities to show us why IoE is the next big thing.

As a sidebar, if you only want to think locally, the PanAm organizers looking for 20,000 volunteers, so if you want in, Cisco Canada can get you in touch with the right people. That number isn't quite 19 trillion, but it sure shows that we need a lot more than technology to get big events like this done. My toaster may soon feel empowered to talk back to me, but it won't be much good helping people find out where the ping pong matches are being played - leave that job to us humans - it may be the only job we have left.  :-)

Exec keynotes from Nitin Kawale and Rebecca Jacoby

Rowan Trollope demo'ing the SX10 - small scale out-of-the-box telepresence for about the same price as a decent HD TV - I'd say they've really got it right with this one. Would you buy telepresence from this man? I would.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This week's smart grid webinar - reminder and update

Just a quick shout-out for tomorrow's Zpryme webinar on managing power outages in extreme weather. I'll be moderating and presenting trend data based on a recent survey conducted by Zpryme. Joining me will  be sponsor Ventyx (an ABB company), and Kansas City Power & Light. This is a last minute change, as Oklahoma G&E had a change in plans.

We're on at 1pm ET tomorrow, and as usual, registrations have been strong. For more details, here's the registration page on Zpryme's site. Hope you can join us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Next Stop: Toronto and Cisco Connect

I hardly ever attend local communications events here in Toronto, mainly because there are so few of them - and the same applies to Canada in general. Very strange, given how active I am in this space, but that's another conversation.

Not only am I attending one in my native Toronto, but this is an unprecedented second week in a row for local events. As you may know, last week I attended the CTCA's annual conference, and was happy to contribute not just as a moderator but the keynote speaker to open the event. You can read more about that in this post from earlier today, along with links to the presentations.

Back to the future - so, tomorrow I'm attending Cisco Canada's big annual partner event. It's called Cisco Connect, where they'll be showcasing the latest and greatest in their technology and partner ecosystem. As Canadian events go, it's pretty big, and there will be tons of customers, prospects and aspiring partners roaming about. Aside from the exhibits, there will lots of content and talks from key execs, including rising star, Rowan Trollope.

Content-wise, there's a lot of focus on data centers, service providers and network security, so that should tell you something about what Cisco thinks is important right now. Yes, they'll be talking about collaboration, but I bet we'll hardly hear a word about phone systems or video. The mix of sponsors reflects a lot of this, with most of the top tier supporters being our big 3 carriers catering to enterprises - Bell, Telus and Allstream. Interesting to also see Microsoft, their favorite frenemy up there as a Gold Sponsor. Interesting times, for sure, and I'll do my best to tweet as time allows.

CTCA Conference - Quick Coda and Presentation Links

I've been meaning to post again about last week's CTCA event in Gravenhurst, ON. This the Canadian Telecom Consultant's Association, a community that is a step to the left of what analysts like me focus on. Their clients are the end users, and our clients are the vendors/carriers, so together, we pretty much know everything that's going on in the comms space.
Maybe that's wishful thinking, but the collective experience on hand was pretty impressive, and I'll bet the main sponsors and participating vendors got their money's worth - Cisco, NEC, Interactive Intelligence, Huawei, Mitel and ShoreTel. Ditto for the operators, Bell (lunch sponsor too!), Primus and Cogeco Data Services.
All told, the quality of speakers and content was great, and being a small group, the audience interaction was lively. I've been waiting to post until now, as CTCA has been uploading the presentations to their website, and most of them are there now
Am really glad they're doing this, as it will help show the kind of thought leadership CTCA can pull together, and hopefully they'll continue to grow their membership. Aside from there being some informative vendor presentations, we got a lot of updates on the state of network infrastructure policy issues, telecom regulation, and implications for the 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction
Lots of good updates here worth reviewing, and I would also urge you to look at the locknote keynote from Ron Pickett. He gave a very engaging talk about why a lack of an innovation strategy is really hurting the Canadian communications sector. It was a great way to end the event with lots of food for thought for how we could be doing things so much better.
For the record, I'd be remiss to mention that my keynote presentation has been posted there as well
I hope you review them all, and your comments would be most welcome - both here and by the CTCA.
That's my take on the event, and I'll leave you with a few pix to mark the event.
Cisco's Fran Blackburn addressing the audience
Yup, mid-April - snow, ice and wind - come back in a month, and you'll never want to leave!

Monday, April 14, 2014

VoIP Security - What You Don't Know Can Hurt You - new article

Regular followers will know that I've been focused a lot lately on VoIP security. This post is timely in light of Heartbleed, which is yet another example of how vulnerable we are online, despite what we think are solid measures to avert security breaches.

I don't think VoIP is connected to Heartbleed, but as it becomes more widely used, there will be a lot more weak links to worry about - at least until both end users and enterprises step up their efforts to properly secure VoIP.

My latest article on this topic has been published now by U.K.-based Enterprise Management 360. I've been doing things with them for a while, and their current print edition is out now - Q1 2014. The magazine is big and glossy - very impressive looking - but they also have a digital edition. There are apps you can get from their website to download it to your mobile device, but the link to view it online isn't up yet.

Until then, I wanted to share my article, which is part of the Q1 2014 edition. The publisher has provided me with a PDF version, and I've web-enabled it so you can view it here. I hope you like it, and more importantly, I hope it gets you thinking more critically about the connection between VoIP and IT security.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is Voice Really Dead?

Geez, seems like I'm asking a lot of provocative questions this week - I hope that's creating some good food for thought out there. Disruption never seems to end in the comms space, and this time around, I'm looking at voice.

One of the monthly columns I write is for TMC's Internet Telephony Magazine, and this one is called Rethinking Communications. With a mandate like that, my latest column fits right in - "Is Voice Really Dead?" - and is running here as part of the magazine's digital edition.

Chances are you have a pretty good idea about that already, and whatever side of the coin you're on, I think you'll find this a good read. My commentary is based largely on takeaways from the SmartVoice track during the last ITExpo in Miami, with particular reference to what Martin Geddes had to say. He's definitely on to something with hypervoice, and I would encourage to you to explore that further.