Thursday, December 16, 2010

Virtual Queuing - Adding Value to Contact Centers

I meant to post this earlier today. My latest Focus Brief is about virtual queuing, a concept that's gaining credence in the contact center community. There are some Canadian angles to the story, and maybe that's what got me going on this topic!

How about you go read it for yourself on and let me know!

Acme Packet - Analyst Day Takeaways on UCStrategies

Regular readers will know that I attended Acme Packet's first-ever analyst day last week at their new Boston-area HQ. Whether you were new to Acme or a long-time follower like myself, they did a great job covering all the bases and explaining why SBCs matter, and of course why they're so well positioned.

No argument there, and I shared some of my thoughts about this in my current contribution to the UCStrategies portal. Titled "Acme Packet's Analyst Day - Clarifying the SBC Opportunity and the Death of Telecom", it's posted there now, and you can read it here. Hope you like it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Podcast with Rad - 2001 Outlook - Security - Watch Out!

I do occasional podcasts with Peter Radizeski about what we're seeing in telecom, especially following industry events we attend. Yesterday we chatted about what we expect to see in 2011, and across the many themes we touched on - the cloud, mobility, social media, contact centers - security kept popping up. It's all interesting stuff, but that seems to be the watchword for 2011.

Also, since I was at Acme Packet's analyst day last week, I shared my thoughts about them at the top of the call. This actually turned out to be a nice segue to security, since this often comes up in discussions around session border controllers.

Enough said - here's the link if you'd like to give the podcast a listen, and if you want to add your own thoughts, just drop me a line.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Acme Packet Visit - From Bedford to Boston

Had a pretty full day yesterday here in Boston. I'm here mainly for Acme Packet's first analyst day, which also serves as a nice welcome event for their new HQ in Bedford, MA. I've been on a good run lately attending vendor events, and while most of these companies are doing very well, it's hard to argue that nobody is hotter than Acme right now.

As many of you may know, I've followed Acme from the beginning, so it's a familiar story for me, but much less so for others, including several of the analysts in attendance with me. In my mind, it's all good, and in short, it's Acme's time. Going forward, it will be hard not to come across them, especially when talking about how service providers are going to scale up their networks for IP.

I'm not going to give you chapter and verse here, but Acme is a good story and if session border controllers aren't in your lexicon yet, then you're missing out on an important piece of the IP landscape.

You'll be seeing more of this logo as SBCs become better understood.

Don't let the simple sign fool you. SBCs are complex, and you don't get far around here if you're not an engineer.

Steve Collins and his opening preso

Andy Ory - just talking and engaging us about the big picture challenges that all service providers face. He's got great vision, and I could listen to - and talk with - him all day. With this kind of leadership, it's not hard to see why Acme is so successful.

Seamus Hourihan - deeper dive on what's new

From Bedford to Boston. Lucky me, I got to go the Celtics game last night. I've never been to the "new Gahden", and it was better than expected. Had a great time, the seats were primo, and until you see NBA players up this close, it's hard to understand just how big these guys are compared to everyone else - esp little people like me! :-) I'm a pretty good jump shooter, but that won't take me very far with this crowd.

KG doing his pre-game ritual

Hey look, a Canadian flag - cool! Hey look, championship banners - even cooler!! The mantra around is "it's all about 18". I'm pretty confident they have the right mix this year win #18, unless they get derailed by injuries like the Red Sox did last year.

Shaq at the line - always an adventure...

ADTRAN Connect 2010 - UCStrategies Podcast Recap

Wearing my UCStrategies hat, our podcast this week was a recap of last week's ADTRAN 2010 Connect event. Some of us were repeat vistors from last year's event, and others were visiting ADTRAN for the first time. The end result was the same for everyone - we all came away with a strong impression of the company, along with some ideas about how they build on this to improve mind-share beyond their core customer base.

I've long felt that ADTRAN is a great story flying below many people's radar, and if you want to know why, check out our podcast. You can pick it up from the UCStrategies portal here, as well as read the transcript if that's easier.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Next Stop - Boston and Acme Packet

One more trip left for the year! It's a short one, but it should be good. Acme Packet is welcoming analysts to their new global HQ in Bedford, just outside of Boston.

If you follow my work, you'll know that I've been close to Acme and the whole session border controller space since the beginning. Sure wish I was an investor! I can't think of a better performing stock in our space this year, and the investor community is finally getting it with SBCs.

Since going public a little over 4 years ago, the stock trended down from around $17 to just under $4, then worked back up to the $10 range by January of this year. Since then, though, it's been on an incredible run, trading now around $54, and it's been up $10 just the last week alone. Phew! Something tells me they'll be taking good care of us this week. :-)

ADTRAN Connect Highlights - Day 2 Photos

Promised I'd post more photos, so here they are. Technically, the first few are from the first day - an evening tour offsite. Anyhow, never a dull moment, and as you'll see, we did a lot more than just sit through presentations.

Wednesday night was a tour and presentation from the Hudson Alpha Institute. This was all new to me - and probably all of us - but very impressive. Tons of leading edge biotech research happening here (funded in part by ADTRAN), and it's another example of how diverse the Huntsville economy is. Boy, did we learn a lot about genome research - very fascinating, with huge implications for IT. Their needs for computer power, bandwidth and storage are massive - way, way, way beyond what our kids are clamoring for to watch YouTube videos. :-)

These vertical beams really caught my eye. Very cool - and as we learned, they come from Alabama woodlands.

Very colorful lab coats!

Day 2 - Networking Management session

My favorite part of the event - the plant tour. While not as extensive as last year's, it was great, including some new things.

I understand how nobody wants to see data centers overheat, but is this really how they do it? :-)

Ahh - the fun stuff. This is the testing lab where they put products through extreme conditions to see how well they hold up. Here's a cold box where you can see how a cup of water behaves at 40 below (F or C - it's the same either way). Can you imagine the fun they must have on late shift during a long weekend? I'll bet they watch Mythbusters for inspiration!

Friday, December 3, 2010

ADTRAN Connect 2010 - Day 1 Photos

Had a great time at ADTRAN's press/analyst event in Huntsville. Between having very sporadic broadband (why does this happen so often at telecom events?) and getting in very late last night, there hasn't been much time to blog. I only have time right now to post some photos from Day 1 - Day 2 will follow, as will some narrative.

Gary Bolton - opening presentation

Gary leading the executive leadership panel with CEO/Chairman Tom Stanton and the GMs of each division - Jay Wilson for Carrier Networks, and Rick Schansman for Enterprise Networks

Darrell Brown - future of broadband presentation

Joy Eldred from Frontier Communications - great review of how they've grown with ADTRAN, after absorbing a lot of Verizon subscribers

Kevin Morgan leading the broadband stimulus panel - very interesting topic!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

WikiLeaks and Stuxnet - Smart Grid Wakeup Call

I don't often blog about the writing I do for our Smart Grid portal, but with all the buzz and sobering implications around Stuxnet and WikiLeaks, I thought my blog readers would find this of interest. In case you haven't seen this on the portal, here's the link. This topic can take many side routes, and I just might take one of those in another posting. Until then, I hope you enjoy this, and would welcome your comments!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cisco Takeaways - Five Business Opps for Carriers

I promise - this will be my last reference to Cisco's Collaboration Summit! Can't help it - there were a lot of good ideas there - not just about what Cisco is doing, but also the bigger picture as to where communications is going.

I've written about these things in various places recently, and I also see a specific angle that's relevant for carriers. That's the focus of my latest Service Provider Views column on TMCnet. I've identified five specific business opportunities for service providers based on what I saw at Cisco's event.

Some of this will not be news, but for me, what Cisco is doing in these areas really underscores the need for service providers to be more proactive - not just to leverage new technologies, but also to adapt to changing end user behaviors and expectations. These things go hand-in-hand, and addressing these opportunities is easier said than done.

Enough preamble - the article is posted now, and you can read it here.

Next Stop - ADTRAN

Heading into the final month of 2010, I have two short trips coming up - back to back. Tomorrow I'm going south, to Huntsville, Alabama. It's my second analyst event for ADTRAN, and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Last year's event was quite impressive, and I had no idea how much of tech hub this town is - not to mention being the birthplace of the U.S. space program, and a not-too-far bus ride to the Jack Daniels distillery. :-)

Stay tuned for hightlights, and now that I'm on Twitter, I'll have even more timely updates.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cisco Takeaways: Five Ways to Rethink Communications

I've been writing a fair bit about last week's Cisco Collaboration Summit, but that's because there's a lot to talk about. This time, I've channeled some new thoughts into my latest Focus Brief. The idea here is to summarize five themes that I believe business decision-makers need think more critically about, and for you to mull over during the Thanksgiving break.

Cisco is looking to play an even bigger role than most of you can imagine for our workplace needs, and if their plans come to fruition, these themes will become core drivers for communications planning at all levels. To follow my thinking, you can read my brief on now, and then let me know if I'm on target or not.

UCStrategies Podcast - Cisco, Microsoft and HP

Last week sure was busy in the IP comms space, and while a few of us were busy at Cisco's Collaboration Summit, others were busy following news from Microsoft and HP. I've shared a few things about Cisco's event already, with one more coming today.

I can now add this podcast to the list of analysis and commentary. This was our weekly group call with UCStrategies analysts, and we reviewed our thoughts about the summit along with these other major news events. The podcast can be downloaded here, and there's a transcript if you'd rather just read along.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cisco Collaboration Summit - Takeaways and Photos

I managed to post some photos and brief comments during Cisco's 2010 Collaboration Summit last week, and promised I'd share some thoughts. On the flight back, I wrote up my takeaways and bigger picture thoughts on where I see Cisco going. This was written specifically for the UCStrategies portal, and as such, most of my analysis focused on how Cisco's plans impact the Unified Communications space.

My article was submitted for posting on Friday morning, but it didn't end up getting published until last night. So, please keep in mind, this was written just hours after the event, with every intention of posting it fresh the next day. Anyhow, not much has really changed since Friday, but if you're still interested in Cisco's grand plans, I think you'll find this a good read. It's running now on the UCStrategies portal, and you can read it here, along with UCS colleague Blair Pleasant's take on the summit.

This is actually the first of two analyses about Cisco's summit. I'll have another one coming this week with a slightly different focus.

While I have you, I mentioned photos earlier, and just wanted to share a few shots from the final day of the summit...

Marthin De Beers - great wrapup presentation

Preview of umi, their home-based collaboration suite - very impressive

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Podcast with Peter Radizeski on BroadSoft and Metaswitch

Peter and I often travel in the same circles, and he's well known in the channel space, especially for training and go to market strategies. We do podcasts from time to time, and last week we did one about our shared impressions of two recent telecom events. I attended the Metaswitch Forum and saw some of BroadSoft Connections via video, and Peter attended the latter.

These companies are increasingly coming up against each other, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that both are doing quite well. I go back a long way with both, and it's great to see how they've grown and evolved to become leaders for integrated communications platforms, especially for hosted services. I've been posting about both for some time on my blog, so feel free to review those for more.

Anyhow, if these companies are on your radar, you should enjoy our chat. You can download the podcast here, and if you'd like to follow up, just drop me a line.

Cisco Collaboration Summit - Day 2

Just have time to post some quick pix. Ironically, broadband access has been close to impossible, at least for me. You'd think at this event we'd have super service. Seems that some people are getting access and some are not - might depend on where we're sitting in the room. Anyhow, I'll tweet when time allows, and I'll have my overall thoughts in a day or so.

Day 2 was mostly roundtables with analysts and consultants, and these were under NDA - that's why you won't hear much about that. Aside from that, there were some good panels yesterday with customers, and for companies who buy into Cisco's collaboration vision, the results have been pretty good - it's really about transformative experiences rather than being more efficient with the status quo.

Phil Sherburne talking about VXI and desktop virtualization

Cisco Cius

I love this place - wouldn't you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cisco Collaboration Summit, Day 1 Photos

Day 1 at Cisco's 2010 Collaboration Summit was short - just some late afternoon keynotes, but everything has been great so far. Nobody puts on a better event than Cisco, and the venue is as good as it gets. I've written about the Biltmore before, and what I like is how this place is on a very human scale, and reflects the sensibilities from an earlier time before the balance between man and machine tipped too far to the right. Of course, you have this quirky contrast of small scale leisure against the vastness of the harsh Arizona desert - love it.

Anyhow, time to get going on Day 2, and I just wanted to share some quick photos here. More to come on the blog, Twitter and elsewhere.

Kara Wilson with her welcome message - happy to share her excitement and passion about what's coming - and it's pretty good!

John Chambers doing a video greeting. Even with my crappy 2 MP Bold camera you can see how crisp this image is. It really is impressive and it's another example of how well Cisco is living the dream of all this technology.

Padmasree Warrior, CTO - her messaging gets better every time I see her. She did a great job tying in all the big themes of mobility, video, virtualization and the new big driver, social networks.

Barry O'Sullivan - also did a great job connecting all the big ideas to real world applications, especially during the demos with Jim Grubb.

This hotel is full of history, and the Frank Lloyd Wright touches are everywhere, but none more so than this spectacular stained glass panel in the front lobby.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Select an IP Telephony Vendor - Focus Brief

Anyone following me regularly knows that my writing sometimes comes in spurts, and today is a great example of that. I'm posting here about my latest Brief on, with the topic being titled "Five Things You Should Look for With an IP Telephony Vendor".

In short, making buying decisions today around telephony is more complex than before, especially once you start thinking beyond voice and getting into the broader universe of IP communications. My Focus Brief isolates five factors you need to consider, and if you're in a buying mode for telephony, you might want to give this a read!

Will the Cloud Kill Telecom Vendors?

Am I the only one asking this question? It's been on my mind lately for good reason, and I think there's something to this. The cloud is a big topic, for sure, and on my latest Service Provider Views column for TMCnet, I take my first stab at what this ultimately could do to/for telecom vendors.

You can read my article here, and as always, your comments are welcome!

Mitel's Freedom Updates - our take on UCStrategies

Mitel announced some pretty interesting things today, and the analysts got their briefings last week. There is some news here, as well as some new market positioning messaging, and it all falls under the name Freedom. The tag line for this new stake in the ground is "Flexibility + Simplicity = Freedom". Ok, sounds good to me - but it's also fairly similar to the mantra another player in the space is hanging its hat on.

Well, these are just words, and at the end of the day its all about execution and meeting customer expectations. Mitel is definitely on the right track here, and I'd say they've taken the virtualization path far enough for it to become a nice differentiator. Time will tell, but there's a good story here for sure.

Instead of rehashing my thoughts, I'll steer you to UCStrategies, where you'll get everybody's take, and not just mine. Now that the embargo has passed, Friday's podcast has now been posted, along with a full transcript. If you want to understand what Mitel is doing with Freedom and where this could take them, checking out the podcast will be time well spent.

Avaya web.alive - will this be UC 2.0?

My November contribution to the UCStrategies portal focused on Avaya's web.alive, which they inherited from Nortel. I recently attended their Evolutions customer event here in Toronto, and after seeing their latest iteration of web.alive, it got me thinking about where this could fit in the UC space. I've distilled that into a posting for the portal, and it's running now. You can read it here, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Next Stop - Cisco Collaboration Summit, Phoenix

I've been home for a bit following way too much travel in October, and have just one trip for this month. This time it's Cisco - tomorrow, I'm off to their Collaboration Summit in Phoenix. They're holding it at the famous Biltmore Hotel (Frank Lloyd Wright), which was the site earlier this month for BroadSoft's Connections event. I couldn't go to that one, but did participate via streaming video, so in a sense this will be my second visit to the Biltmore this month. :-)

I was lucky enough to attend last year's Collaboration Summit in San Francisco, and am looking forward to hearing first hand how Cisco's vision becoming reality. I'll be posting and tweeting as time allows, so check back with me tomorrow for news.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Avaya Evolutions - Keeping Customers Happy

Yesterday, I attended a new Avaya customer event here in Toronto. It's called Evolutions, and it builds on the success of a similar event they recently had in Mexico. This one was for the Canadian market, with a nice mix of customers, prospects and sponsors. I couldn't make the morning sessions, but the afternoon presentations were quite good, and I'm sure the full day was worthwhile. Attendance was strong and the buzz seemed great, esp during the reception where we had time to chat up the various sponsors.

Am not sure if there were any other industry analysts there - I didn't see any - so this might be the only place you'll hear about it. The content mix was quite good, including their roadmap, customer deployments, and updates across the board - contact center, Web.Alive, mobility, UC, Flare, Aura, etc.

The highlight for me was the update on Web.Alive from Chris Hardy. This technology is new for most people, and it came over with their Nortel acquisition. I have a particularly long history with Web.Alive, going back prior to Nortel's acquisition of the underlying technology from DiamondWare. If that's of interest, you can read all about that here. Anyway, I think Avaya has a great opportunity with Web.Alive, as they truly have technology that nobody else has, especially Cisco. Stay tuned!

Before leaving you, as it turns out, I was interviewed by VoIP Planet about Avaya and Skype - two companies I follow closely, and who happen to have the same investor. The story ran yesterday, which is timely here, so I thought I'd include it to keep the Avaya theme going.

I'll just leave you with a few photos for the record...

Chris Hardy and Web.Alive

Ritchie Brothers case study with Unity Telecom

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Microsoft Office 365 - UCStrategies Views

The recent launch of Microsoft Office 365 is big news on a few fronts. Google is certainly changing the game with the cloud, and the time has come now for Microsoft to counter. There's a lot at stake here, and we started to explore that on this week's UCStrategies podcast call.

The podcast has now been posted to the portal, along with a transcript if you just want to read along. We'll likely continue the thread on our next podcast, but this should get you going for now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mitel's Don Smith Retires - Nice Profile on CTV

I've followed Mitel for some time, and am especially interested since they're Canadian. In fact, I would argue that they've taken Nortel's spot as our top telecom player. No doubt RIM is tops for Canadian tech companies, but in the telecom space, Mitel is our best known story. There are other companies I could drag into the conversation, but let's leave that aside for now.

The story here is about Don Smith's retirement as CEO, which was recently announced in close proximity to his receiving Ottawa's Executive of the Year award. That's a nice way to go out, and I wanted to share some coverage that ran Sunday night on CTV's Ottawa-based affiliate.

There are two pieces to steer you to, both running on Paul Brent's weekly feature, Tech Now.

First is a short profile article about Don that I'm sure has run across various CTV sites by now.

Second is a video segment from his Sunday show - October 31. Mitel is the lead story, and it runs just a few minutes. There's some great archival footage of Mitel, along with various interviews with Mitel executives.

Paul was nice enough to include me in both pieces, so I'm cited in the article, and provided some comments towards the end of the video segment. I'm not sure how long the video clip will run, so check it out now while it's still there!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Focus Webinar with Panasonic - When it's Time for IP Telephony

Just another shout-out for this Wednesday's webinar - "Top 5 Signs an SMB is Ready for an IP Phone System". It's being sponsored by Panasonic, and hosted by I'll be the first presenter, examining various scenerios that lead businesses to adopt IP telephony.

I hope you can join us - just go to this page for more details and how to register.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BroadSoft Connections - Redefining Business Communications

The schedule didn't work for me to attend this year's BroadSoft Connections, but I was able to follow parts of the conference via streaming video. What I managed to see was very good, and this is one company that doesn't stand still. Of course, now that they're public, they definitely can't do that - way too many people are watching!

Anyhow, the innovation keeps coming, and with the launch of BroadCloud, they're keeping pace with this next evolution in communications - the shift to the cloud and hosted "infrastructure". They've come a long way from being an app server vendor, and made a great choice in having Toronto-based Don Tapscott do a keynote about the value of collaboration and how digital technologies are transforming virtually every type of industry and institution. He was his usual thought-provoking self, and gave the audience a lot to think about - and by association, how BroadSoft can help them stay on the right side of the innovation and value-creation curve.

I've distilled my thoughts into my latest Focus Brief, and it's running now on SMBs in particular can do well by BroadSoft, and your comments on the same are welcome - I'd especially like to hear from anyone attending Connections in person!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Service Providers can learn from Newspapers, Part 2

Following up on last week's Service Provider Views column on TMCnet, this is Part 2 of my take on what service providers can learn from newspapers.

I find the parallels between these businesses really interesting, and given what Toronto's Globe & Mail has done with its latest re-design, I just wonder what's taking telcos so long to reinvent themselves. You can read Part 2 here, and as always, I'd love to hear your< thoughts.

Monday, October 25, 2010 Webinar - When it's Time for IP Telephony

I'm presenting on another webinar on November 3. This one is sponsored by Panasonic, and is titled "Top 5 Signs an SMB is Ready for an IP Phone System".

That's pretty self-explanatory, and I'm looking forward to sharing my perspectives on this webinar. I'm just doing a shout-out now for the webinar, and I hope you can join us. You can get all the details here, including how to register.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Interactive Intelligence - Making the Cloud Work

Followers of my blog will know that I was at the Partner Conference for Interactive Intelligence last week. I've already shared some thoughts about it there, as well as on the UCStrategies portal.

I have two updates for you - one about the IP comms market, and one for fun. On the market side, I've just published an analysis of Interactive Intelligence, with a focus on CaaS - their cloud-based offering - and why this puts them ahead of the curve. The writeup takes the form of a Focus Brief, which is my monthly research contribution as an Adviser with You can read it here, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

On the fun side, you may know that our ad hoc group - Dead Circuits Revival - didn't win the Battle of the Bands last week. All things considered, though, I think we came off pretty well, and we've got a plan for how to win this thing next year. I just got some photos from our performance, and the video will be coming soon. Once I have that, I'll post these items for the record, and maybe you can judge for yourself!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GridWeek - Day 2 Photos

It's been a pretty full day here at GridWeek, starting with a 7am breakfast with SmartSynch and the top wireless operators in the market. The rest of the day featured sessions focused on the consumer, along with a number of meetings and briefings. I've summarized my thoughts about the first two days - and that will run tomorrow on our smart grid portal. I've also been tweeting as time allows, and hopefully you've been picking some of those up. I know a lot of people have done that, as I have a whole bunch of new people following my tweets now.

SmartSynch's Campbell McCool hosting the breakfast

Group shot of all the wireless players with SmartSynch. More detail about this on my recap artcle. Photo courtesy of Edelman's Joey Marquart (can you tell who has a better camera?).

Morning roundtable - Consumer Engagement

Afternoon consumer panel: Recipe for Success

Afternoon media roundtable - public vs. private networks - very lively discussion!

Monday, October 18, 2010

GridWeek - Day 1 Photos

Day 1 of GridWeek is wrapping up shortly, and before the reception, this is a good time to post some photos. I'll be writing up my thoughts in another post, but just wanted to say that the turnout here is strong, and the caliber of both speakers and attendees is very high. This is definitely an A-list crowd, with a very international scope, which is no surprise being located in Washington D.C.

I've attended about half the sessions, and spent most of my other time meeting various smart grid companies. There's been a pretty active Twitter board here, and they're posting that in real time everywhere here. If you want to follow this thread, the hashtag is #gridweek - what else could it be, really?

For now, I'll leave you with some photos, and I should have some more tomorrow.

GridWeek organizer Anto Budiardjo

Opening keynote from Hon. Gary Locke, U.S. Dept. of Commerce

Collaboration roundtable, moderated by Anto

Renewable energy grid integration panel

Got here early afternoon yesterday, and with the weather so perfect, I just had to do a walkabout. Turns out the Department of Energy is literally right around the corner from my hotel. Small world.

It didn't take long to come across this contrast that reminds you about the gap between the haves and have-nots in America. I couldn't resist the lure of the Washington Monument, and found myself simply walking towards it once it came into view. Well, lying in front of me was this homeless man sleeping on the grass, and it has to be worrisome to anyone seeing this steps away from the most powerful icons of what we all believe in as Americans. Ugh. Whatever you have folks, be thankful!