Monday, August 31, 2009

Away to LA Today - IT Expo and Smart Grid Summit

Am flying out this morning to Los Angeles for I expect will be a great week between the IT Expo and the launch of our Smart Grid Summit on Tuesday. As noted earlier, this is the 10th anniversary of TMC's flagship event, and with all the challenges faced by telecom conferences in the past year, the Expo continues to stay fresh and explore new opportunities.

Last year they added a wireless event - 4GWE - which is becoming a conference of its own, and this year they've added a sister event - Machine-2-Machine and ours, the Smart Grid Summit. All of these represent new markets for TMC, and aside from what I'm doing with the Summit, you have to give kudos to Rich Tehrani and his team for evolving the Expo experience and staying on top of the leading trends.

I've done plenty of shout-outs and posts to promote the Smart Grid Summit, and at this point, you'll have to find them on your own - or just go to the Smart Grid portal.

Otherwise, I'd like to steer you to a post from Friday by Andy Abramson, who echoes my comments here, but in more detail and more objectively. If you're still sitting on the fence about coming to LA, I hope Andy's thoughts will get you off it and on your way. You might be thinking I'm attending so I can see Manny and the Dodgers - although it certainly crossed my mind - but the Expo will keep me pretty engaged all week, and I'll have plenty of distractions going on where I'll be. Come on out and see for yourself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Red Sox, White Sox

Back to baseball. Since my last post - Good Sox, Bad Sox - the last seven Sox games have been against teams with black and white uniforms, and they've gone a disappointing 4-3 during this important homestand. The Yankees series last weekend was a mind bender - the Sox scored more runs in both the fist two games than the Patriots mustered against a pathetic Bengals team last week. Ugh. The ChiSox are a pretty mediocre team, but it's never easy to sweep a 4 game set, especially for a Sox team that's still trying to center itself for the last quarter of the season.

Anyhow, yet again, you just never know which team will show up. The lineup from the 14-1 game on Saturday is by far the best they've fielded 1-9 all season, and if that lineup is clicking, I still think they're the best team in MLB. That's a big IF, of course, and the Yankees hitters last Friday were just so INSANELY good - nobody can match that kind of production. On the other hand, that same lineup was held to 1 run the next day by an Tazawa, a no-name pitcher, so go figure.

And the same Tazawa gets bombed last night, giving up 9 runs before you even knew the game had started. Go figure again. Gee, maybe Nick Green should have started instead of finished - he was actually pitched pretty well all things considered. Not only that, but even after spotting the White Sox to a 9-0 lead, the Red Sox had several chances to chip away and get back into the game. All those solo homers went to waste, but with the confidence from winning the first three, and the walkoff Ortiz HR the night before, it looked do-able. If the game went another 2 innings, they probably could have evened things up. Again, go figure.

Anyhow, between Good Sox, Bad Sox and Red Sox, White Sox, these posts are starting to sound like Dr. Seuss. The way the Rockies are playing right now, I can just see the next post being something like Our Sox, Your Rox, and then we'll be back to 2007 again. A very unlikely rematch, but October is pretty far off right now.

Back to the present. Actually, a small detour to last Friday. There are three things I've come to dread about my teams - 2 for the Sox and 1 for the Bruins. For the Sox, it's Friday night games and extra innings. Last Friday was the 20-11 blowout, which actually exposed the Yankees as much as it did the Red Sox. Sure, there was the perfect storm of their hitters being on fire and terrible pitching, but we did score 11 runs. We also left the bases loaded in the 7th and 8th innings, at which time the score was 16-9, or something like that. A couple of big hits in those innings, and that could have been a winnable game. The Yankees have their flaws, and they're not going to score 20 runs every night.

However, it was a Friday night game. So was the 10-9 game the Sox won in Toronto the previous Friday night - and that was one of the weirdest games I've seen in a long time. It was a laugher early on, but somehow, the Jays kept coming back, again and again. Something about Friday night games with these guys that is worrisome. And - oh! - it's Friday, and we're playing the Jays again tonight. Should be interesting...

Quickly - the other two things I dread. For the Sox, it's also extra innings games. On paper, they're 4-6 this year, but it seems much worse than that. They have had some crushing OT losses, esp to the Rays and Yankees, most notably the 13 inning game with Tampa and the epic 2-0 game in NY that went 15. The moral of the story - we need more clutch hits in the late innings and walkoff wins - I don't like our chances when the game goes past 9 innnings.

Finally, I don't know why, but I've noticed a pattern with the Bruins the past few years. Whenever they have a Saturday matinee (usually when double-booked with the Celtics), it's almost a guaranteed loss. These games almost always are against dreary teams like Ottawa, Chicago or the Islanders, and for some reason the Bruins never score more than 1 or 2 goals, and the outcome is almost always the same - losing 2-1, 4-2, etc. It doesn't keep me up at night, but it sure is hard to figure out.

Enough sports. I've got more important things to figure out today, so back to work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Tekelec White Paper on Telecom 2.0

I've been busy this summer on a few fronts, including writing White Papers for various clients. One of these was with Tekelec, and building on their dominance for signaling in legacy networks, they're well positioned for Telecom 2.0. That's the focus of this paper, and if you give it a read and get to know them better, you'll see that they get it with Telecom 2.0.

To download the paper, you need to register at their website - it just takes a minute - and the link is here. If for some reason this doesn't work, let me know, and I can get you a copy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

4GWE Preview - Focus on Wireless

Lots going on this week, and my latest Service Provider Views article is running just days after the last one. This column focuses on the 4GWE event - 4G Wireless Evolution - running next week at the TMC IT Expo in Los Angeles.

I've addressed wireless issues in earlier columns, and this one serves as a timely preview for what 4GWE will be covering next week. To do this, I put together a Q&A with Carl Ford, who most of you will know, and he shares his thoughts on the the evolving mobility market as well as what's coming at 4WGE. The interview was published this morning on the 4GWE portal, and you can read it here. Their event runs September 1 - 3, and I'll be dropping by during the 2nd and 3rd days, as I'll be busy running the Smart Grid Summit all day on the 1st. See you there!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fonolo Makes Time Magazine List

Making Time Magazine should be a big deal for anyone in our space, and it was so great to hear that hometown startup Fonolo just made their list of Top 50 Websites for 2009! How cool is that?

I haven't had time this week to blog about anything other than Smart Grid, but this was too good to pass up. Now, sure, I'm an Advisor to Fonolo, and am a bit partial to Canadian startups - and guess what - Fonolo CEO Shai Berger will be on one of my panels at next week's IT Expo. What a happy confluence of events! Let's just put those things aside for a sec - c'mon, this is great recognition for a company that happens to be on a pretty good roll these days. Just have a quick visit to their website and you'll see what I mean.

To provide some context, after looking over all 50 sites in the list, Fonolo is the only startup in our space that I recognize. However, they sure are in good company with other Top 50 sites, including household names like Skype, Flickr, YouTube, Google, Hulu, Twitter, Amazon, Wikipedia and Facebook. Pretty nice crowd to be running in, so hats off to Shai and his team for making this list! Needless to say, I'll be making sure the audience knows about this at our session, and I'm looking forward to buying Shai a drink - care to join us?

UC Strategies Podcast - Cloud Computing

This week's UC Strategies podcast was on a topic I'm quite keen on - cloud computing. We had the usual mix of UC analysts/experts/pundits, and a pretty lively discussion about the opportunities around UC, what it means for the telecom vendors, the software players, and the VARs/channels. We also (myself included) talked about what Mitel is doing in particular with the cloud, especially since a few of us got a detailed upate at their recent analyst event.

The podcast is running now on the UC Strategies portal, and you can download it any time. As always, comments are welcome, as are suggestions for topics you'd like to see us cover in future podcasts. We do these weekly, although I'll miss next week's call as I'll be in transit to LA for the IT Expo.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Smart Grid - Where Service Providers Meet Utilities

My latest article for Service Provider Views is running now on TMCnet. Not surprisingly, the focus is Smart Grid. With the Smart Grid Summit being a week away, that's what's on my mind right now.

With this article, I'm adding another dimension to my focus on the service provider space. The Smart Grid Summit is all about where energy meets communications, and with every passing day, we're convinced this is going to be a major trend in 2010. If you're not there yet, this article is a good place to start, and as you'll see, TMC has published it on our Smart Grid portal, so hopefully it will serve as a jumping off point to explore all the other content we're putting up there.

With all this being so new, I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions, and if you're coming out to the IT Expo next week, I sure hope to see you there. The summit runs only on the Tuesday, and we're starting at 9am sharp.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Good Sox, Bad Sox - Who Can Tell?

Is it just me, or are the other Sox fans out there scratching their heads after a convincing sweep over the roll-over-and-play-dead Jays? This is a very different team compared to when I last posted after being swept in the Bronx.

Aside from adding V-Mart and Gonzalez, the cast is basically the same, and you just can't tell which team will show up. I was at a game when the Sox last came to Toronto, and they were just so lackluster. Now they return to Toronto and look like the championship-caliber team I've always felt they could be.

Not much more to say other than to vent a bit. If they could play with consistency, they would have stayed in first place and not be fighting for their lives to make the Wildcard. And now I'm not so sure they'll get that far. Sure, the pitching has holes, but it's the uneven offense that is killing them, and they just don't seem to have the ability to sustain a solid attack for more than a few games at a time. It's like the whole team has ADD - they just can't focus for long periods of time.

You'd like to think the Toronto sweep is a sign of getting on track, and with the Yankees up next at home, they'll have a true reality check. If they continue swinging the bats and sweep, all of a sudden they're in contention for the AL East. But if they revert being the Bad Sox, nobody hits and the Yankees blow them away. In that case, their only hope is the Wildcard, and their confidence to beat good teams will be totally shot.

It's coin toss to me. I'm certain that one of those scenarios will unfold this weekend, and opening with the #4 and 5 starters, this could be an ugly series. If they can keep hitting, they can probably overcome weak pitching, but the Yankees are playing so well right now, and will be pretty motivated to put the Sox away at Fenway.

Something tells me Texeira will have a lot to do with this, and that would be a painful reminder of how costly it was for the Sox to lose him to NY. I can't think of any recent scenario where one player could impact the balance of power so much between these two teams. The Angels didn't lose any ground seeing him go to the Yankees, but the Sox sure did, and I think it's going to haunt them for a long time. I'd better stop now and get back to Smart Grid - this is starting to ruin my weekend...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

IT Expo/Smart Grid Updates

Been running hard since our vacation to get the Smart Grid Summit program together. I've been so busy with that, it's easy to forget about the bigger picture. TMC's IT Expo is a little more than a week away, and it's their 10th anniversary, which is a pretty nice milestone in the show business. They've recently announced that Sir Terry Matthews is keynoting, and it sure will be busy.

I'll be moderating two panels - one on SMB IP telephony, and one on voice/Web 2.0 - and you can read more about these here.

I'm also part of TMC's Editor Day, and will be doing my share of briefings in their part of the press room.

On the Smart Grid Summit front, there's lots going on. First, our Smart Grid portal has added some new content, including Q&A's I did with the SIP Forum and Redline Communications. We've got many more of these in the works, and over time, we'll be adding podcasts and video interviews in addition to written contributions.

For the summit itself, we've made some recent tweaks to the agenda, and a full update will be published probably tomorrow. I can't share the details quite yet, but our panels are well represented, and we know the sessions will be good. We are lining up a couple of keynote speakers, and these will be announced ASAP. I should add that we have Redline Communications on as a sponsor now, and we have active interest from a few other majors in the works.

The website is open for registrations, and we're attracting media interest as well as inquiries from the social networking communities. All told, we've come a long way in very little time, and we can see already that a great foundation is in place to make this a full scale event in January for the next IT Expo.

I'll keep you posted here, but don't forget to check out the summit itself, and hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gone Fishing...

Family vacation time - back Wednesday - no blogging til then.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Skype For Business Winners Announced

I've been meaning to post this since Monday, but the Smart Grid Summit is just keeping me too busy. Anyhow, I've been a Skype follower from the beginning, and try to keep up as best I can. I don't have the dedicated focus of Skype Journal or Jim Courtney's blog, and those are the places to go for the in-depth low down on what Skype is up to.

That said, I get asked by the media a lot about Skype for business in particular. It's always been a bit of a conundrum, as you don't always think of Skype as a business application, even though it's so widely used in the office. Problem is, most people associate Skype with PC-based telephony, but of course, it's so much more.

Aside from the Summit activity, we're off on vacation tomorrow, so I don't have the luxury to time to give you any real analysis of the purpose of this post. Basically, on Monday Skype announced the winners of their global Skype For Business Competition. The results were posted on Stefan Oberg's Skype blog that day, and you can review them all there. I don't know how many entries were submitted, but it's great way to get the Skype developer community focused on real world applications that add value for business users.

It's great to see the global breadth of the winners, although it's too bad there were no Canadian winners! Anyhow, just a quick scan indicates there are business applications that go beyond basic voice calling, and hopefully Skype is takig some good steps forward to develop a suite of features that can be monetized with business users. There's lots of latent opportunity for building on everyday Skype features and extending that to collaboration, and there are some examples of that in the posting.

What really stands out for me, though, is how many winning apps have to do with language translation and learning English in foreign countries. Skype sure is a natural tool for that, and all Skype users get their share of random requests from people who just want chat to learn English - I know I do. The international community is probably the one thing Skype has over all the other IM platforms, mainly because they are largely U.S. in origin. By extension, I would think this could be the pot of gold for Skype as a business tool - either to support multinational businesses or as a platform to enable international business, regardless of language. That's my two cents for now, and if you have another take, I'd love to hear it.

All told, though, congrats to the winners, and I sure hope this is a sign of good things to come for Skype in the business world.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Smart Grid Summit Press Release Issued

Am working at warp speed this week on the Smart Grid Summit trying to get our roster set, add new content to the portal, and strategize our marketing plans with TMC. Lots going on, and things are coming together nicely.

I just have time to pass on the latest news, which comes in the form of yesterday's press release, which you can read here.

I'd also like to steer you to the latest content, a piece written by my partner, Shidan Gouran, which was just published today. Next up is a Q&A I did with the SIP Forum - look for that by Friday.

Google Voice - UC Strategies Roundtable Podcast

Yesterday's UC Strategies podcast topic was Google Voice, which is a pretty interesting topic. Everyone has an opinion, and we had a lively roundtable discussion about it. Most of us - myself included - do not see Google Voice being a real enterprise-class offering, but it can certainly find a home with SMB/SOHO users. I do see opportunity for GV in the enterprise market, but more as part of the overall Google Wave concept, and more as an application to voice-enable other things as opposed to being a substitute for telephony.

And of course, we think GV has lots of legs in the consumer space, and some good examples were given as to how great a fit it will be on college campuses, as kids go back to school and need to get set up there.

Anyhow, why don't you give it a listen to get the whole story? I don't chime in until the end, but I'm just one of many voices, and there's a lot worth listening to here. To download the podcast, here's the link from the UCS site.

Monday, August 10, 2009

No Tex, No Tomorow for the Sox

We may never know if the Red Sox were serious contenders in the Mark Texeira sweepstakes, but it was made clear with an exclamation point this weekend, how costly it was for him to sign with the Yankees.

No need to dwell on the painful details of the last 6 games, but as I've said before, their weaknesses have been exposed and exploited completely. The road trip started out with promise, sweeping the Orioles, and being within a half game of the Yankees. But, just like they did in their recent visit to Texas, they got swept by the teams that matter the most. They have a hard enough time as it is beating hapless teams like Oakland and Seattle, but they can't even win ONE game against the good teams. So, just like that, they've fallen completely flat, with no answers in sight.

Plain and simple, once again, the Yankees are our daddies. The Sox have stayed competitive this long by good fortune, but weak hitting catches up sooner or later, and as expected, the injuries to older players are taking their toll as the season wears on. When everybody is clicking, I still think they're the best team in baseball, but that's become the exception rather than the rule, and they simply lack the consistency to stay on top.

We've seen these crushing sweeps by the Yankees before, so there's nothing new there. It's just so hard to take when our pitching goes the distance with theirs over the final 3 games, but to get shut down/shut out over that many innings puts the onus squarely on the hitters. We know the Sox have aging hitters and overpaid hitters playing well below their potential - but hey - so do the Yankees, and they managed to get their late inning heroics and two out rallies - and that's really the difference.

Aside from those intangibles, though, when you go up and down the positional rosters, the Yankees simply have the edge in almost every area - Posada/Varitek, Texeira/Youkilis, Cano/Pedroia, Jeter/??, A-Rod/Lowell, etc. The Sox have good - even very good players at almost every station, but theirs are simply better. The only edge I'd give the Sox is at second base, and not by much. On a good day, I'd give Jason Bay the edge in left, but he hasn't had many of those lately. Rivera is still the best, and the pitching is a coin toss. Both staffs have holes, but we have more right now, especially with only 2 reliable starters.

Enough said. I concede that the AL East belongs to NY - that race is officially over. I'm not optimistic about the Wild Card, unless the Sox suddenly revert to early season form. It's just so hard to see how that can happen, let alone sustain it through October. Stranger things have happened, but without a bona fide slugger - Texeira - there's nobody in our lineup that makes everyone play better or instill fear in the other team. That's what Texeira would have brought, and we're paying the price. Since Manny left town, there's no serious punch in the lineup, and it looks like now, NY will finally spend its way to another championship.

The future all of a sudden doesn't look too bright. It could be time to blow up the roster and re-tool - the problems are too fundamental for some spot fixes. There's still lots of good pitching in the system, but not nearly enough good bats. The competition keeps improving, and we're going to have to give up a lot to get those bats. Even the Angels - who lost Texeira to NY - have managed to stay strong - probably even stronger after losing Tex. I don't see the Red Sox getting better if Bay moves on next year.

Ugh - gloom is setting in and I don't want to go there right now. There's still some baseball left to be played, and we're just trying to hang on for the Wild Card. Maybe the Sox have enough character to shape up, but if we had Texeira, I have no doubt we'd still be the frontrunners. But we don't, and we're not, and may not be for quite some time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Remember When Rock Was Fun?

It's been a very intense week getting the Smart Grid Summit planned and launched. Anyone who thinks conferences are easy to do haven't done this before! It definitely gets easier over time, but we're after a new market and new audience, so most of what we're doing is laying the foundation for something we think has a long road ahead.

It's Friday, and to look on the lighter side, I wanted to de-stress a bit with a post about the Chickenfoot concert the other night. For those who follow these things, Chickenfoot is a very fun, happening hard rock mashup, with 4 veterans playing some great rock music - Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith. I'm not a huge fan of their legacy bands, but I'm a guitar guy, so Satch is pretty special. More importantly, my younger son is a budding guitar shred-meister, and seeing players like this in person is a real treat. Chickenfoot is just finding their touring legs, and their Toronto show here on Wednesday was fantastic.

All I can say is if you love a good rock show, go see these guys. There's a reason why 80's rock went away, and there's only a little of that in their show - and hopefully they'll winnow that out as their tour progresses. Otherwise, these guys really rock, and just plain have FUN. I don't know about you, but I don't have enough fun any more, and it really takes you back to when all the rock shows were this good and this much fun. Sure makes you miss being a teenager, but I can take turning back the clock for a few hours for something like this.

I'm back to work now, but here's a bit of what we were seeing the other night.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nice Blog Recognition - Top 15 VoIP Blogs of 2009

Tippit Inc. has become one of the better-known sources of IP communications news and insights, and I've done a few things with them from time to time. One of their portals is called, and yesterday I became aware of their list of Top 15 VoIP Blogs.

I commented earlier today that this list came out on August 5, but that's not correct. While I only found out about it then, it was published back in May - mea culpa!

Anyhow, I didn't see it before a few people pinged me to say congrats, and I'm very happy to be in such good company again. All the familiar names are there - Jeff Pulver, Andy Abramson, Rich Tehrani, Alec Saunders, Brough Turner, Irwin Lazar, etc., so no big surprises, really. Was nice to see my name in the #1 spot, but I wouldn't read too much into that (it's not in alpha order) - unless you'd like to!

I mentioned that it's nice to be back, as they last published a list like this in late 2007, and my blog was there as well. I've made a few other top blog lists along the way, but it's always nice to repeat from the same source. I'll take that as a sign people continue to follow me, and for that I thank each and every one of you. My job is to continue the dialog, and once again, thanks to for the recognition.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July Media Roundup

July turned out to be one of my busiest media months ever, and it sure made up for a light June. I'll start with the most newsworthy, which is my new venture with TMC to launch the Smart Grid Summit, coming September 1 at the IT Expo.

- First, the press release, announcing the formation of Intelligent Communications Partners, as well as our Smart Grid Summit venture with TMC

- Supporting this was a post on Rich Tehrani's blog

Otherwise, I had a nice variety of citings in the press, as well as a TV interview and two podcasts...

- Nortel/Ericsson deal - TV interview on BNN (interview can be viewed from the link on this page)

- Avaya's bid for Nortel - roundtable podcast on

- SIP Trunking roundtable - podcast for Business Trends Quarterly, along with Ingate, Avaya, AudioCodes and Panasonic

- SIP Trunking roundtable - published transcript, June/July issue of Business Trends Quarterly

- Using Twitter for business - Backbone Magazine

- Fonolo's latest updates - Tech Media Reports

- Status of Nortel/Microsoft Alliance - IT World Canada

- Avaya/Nortel deal scenario - InformationExec

- Google Voice/Skype impact - Business Week

- Avaya's Aura - InformationExec

- Cisco telepresence in the home? - TelecomTV One

- IT Expo Preview - interview with Rich Tehrani - TMCnet

In addition to the media coverage, I had a white paper published along with a webinar on SIP Trunking with Mitel (registration required for both)...

- SIP Trunking webinar replay

- companion White Paper for the webinar

Finally, my regular bi-monthly Service Provider Views column on TMCnet...

- BroadSoft, Microsoft and Chinook Hosting - Getting Hosted Right

- Google Wave Offers New Challenges for Service Providers

All in a day's work - now back to my current projects, and getting the Smart Grid Summit put together...