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.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why Does Customer Service Suck?

Well, I'll bet that sure got your attention. It's not my headline, but if it gets you reading my article, you'll see why, and hopefully you'll learn something new.

That's the title of my current writeup for InformationWeek. If you don't know, I write a monthly colulmn for their Unified Communications portal, and it's running now. Here's the link, and if you like it, your comments are most welcome. This is a great topic, and I have a follow-on post coming about in my next IW column.

Life After Nortel - my next Webinar, April 25

Seems that when I'm not writing, I'm busy at conferences - or doing webinars. If you follow me, you'll know I keep busy both in telecom and smart grid, and this time around it's the former.

My next webinar is another Ziff Davis B2B event, with the focus being on Nortel customers. I've been writing about this a fair bit lately on their Toolbox.com IT portal, and now I'm going to complement that with this upcoming webinar.

The title is self-explanatory - "Life After Nortel - Key Considerations and Options for your Telephony Roadmap", and we're doing this on April 25 at 1pm ET. If you can join us, here's the registration form, and I look forward to having you on the call!