Greg Galitzine : Greg Galitzine's VoIP Authority Blog
Greg Galitzine

IP Communications

Busy Week Inches to a Close

April 2, 2009

It's been quite a good week. The Dow is steadily rising (let's see what Friday brings: profit taking or Dow 8,000) and in less than 10 hours, it's wheels up for this Galitzine, heading home after a jam-packed week of IP communications at a couple of trade shows in Orlando and Las Vegas.   I've posted a few items already, covering some of the companies I met with and I have a few write-ups to go, but the bulk of the content will be coming to you in the form of videos posted to our TMC Newsroom. I can't remember such a busy schedule. I would say I met with well over 80 people this week, each with an interesting story to tell.   Truth be told the general feeling I walk away with after all these meetings is that innovation continues unabated, the economic malaise has to some degree spared a telecom sector that may have been prepared courtesy of the previous financial meltdown, and end users (you and me both) are growing ever more hungry for new apps - check that - new bandwidth hungry apps.   I'll be mostly out of pocket tomorrow as I'm flying back East across 3 time zones, but I look forward to hitting the ground running in short order.    

Nuance Mobile Care Enhances User Experience

April 2, 2009

  I'm at CTIA in Las Vegas today, where I just had a meeting with Nuance senior product manager David Winarsky, who shared his insights into Nuance's latest offering Nuance Mobile Care.   The solution gives end users the ability to self-solve simple problems including customer care and billing directly and instantly on their handset thus eliminating wait times for customer service agents, and allowing customers to help themselves.   Winarsky told me that this creates a large opportunity for service providers to reduce costs and provide a superior customer experience.   Deploying the Nuance Mobile Care solution has reportedly been shown to reduce calls being directed to live agents by over sixty percent. Winarsky cited a statistic that a miniscule shift of just 1% to automation can save large carriers $1 million per month.   He showed me a demo of the solution on a Nokia N-series phone, and walked me through the different options for account management, visual IVR, ease of navigation and the ability to display complex details on the handset.   Subscribers can choose which channel (speech, text...) is best for self service and they can always zero out to an operator   The application also does some diagnostics, helping users determine if there are problems with the device.   One interesting opportunity is that service providers can use this application to send consumers targeted advertisements, and fulfillment takes place right on the device, which is another incredible revenue opportunity for the operators.   The solution is currently deployed with T-Mobile in the U.S. (postpaid) and Metro PCS (prepaid); and with Vodafone in the UK (with a contract to expand to 18 other operators in Europe).   Looking ahead, Nuance plans to add personalization and by continue to enhance the user experience. And while they are addressing wireless carriers today, Winarsky tells me that there are plans in the works to target the enterprise market down the road.

IBM Unveils Solutions and Partners Around Sametime Unified Telephony

April 1, 2009

IBM heralded the future of enterprise voice collaboration today with a series of announcements addressing new software, new services and an array of business partner offerings.   IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony lies at the center of the company's UC strategy.   As more vendors look to IBM as a partner, IBM took the wraps off an interoperability validation program for the product. This program is designed for IBM and key business partners to test a product's capabilities with Sametime Unified Telephony.   Participants in the Sametime Unified Telephony Validation Program include, IP PBX service providers Alcatel Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, NEC, Nortel, Mitel and Siemens, media gateway vendors Dialogic and NET, and enhanced voice quality providers GN Netcom, Plantronics, Polycom and Psytechnics. Additional partners will be announced in the coming months.   IBM also announced the availability of IBM Converged Communications Services for Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) a new service designed specifically to enable clients to readily reap the benefits of SUT. According to IBM, the service provides strategy, assessment, architecture, design, integration and implementation for the new solution.      

ShoreTel Upgrades Unified Communications Offer

March 31, 2009

  ShoreTel has released the latest version of its Unified Communications software, ShoreTel 9. Among the new features, ShoreTel 9 is targeting mobile and desktop users with enhancements designed to enable them to communicate more effectively-regardless of location-and increase individual productivity.   I had the good fortune to meet ShoreTel Vice President of Marketing, Kevin Gavin, who shared some insights regarding the latest offering from his firm as well as the market opportunity in front of ShoreTel.

According to Gavin, "CIOs are still buying but they are considering more vendors and have become more price sensitive."   "Communications is a fundamentally strategic purchasing decision, and increasingly, UC brings hard dollar savings and CIOs are willing to spend on technology that gives a good return," he added.   The latest version of ShoreTel's flagship solution, offers a series of personalization features, including location-based services and individualized call handling, and enables users create custom call-routing scenarios to ensure priority callers can always reach them.   The solution supports integration with Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007, and according to the company, when Microsoft OCS 2007 is integrated with ShoreTel 7.5 and higher, customers can use Office Communicator to manage their ShoreTel phone, view other parties' presence, and exchange instant messages with other Microsoft and ShoreTel users.   ShoreTel 9 scales up to support larger sized businesses, offer Active Directory integration, and takes the company's renowned distributed architecture to the next level offering N+1 reliability, however it extends N+1 across the entire system, allowing customers to save money while maintaining high levels of reliability.   The upgraded solution also offers security enhancements including SRTP/AES encryption, which is designed to help ensure call privacy, as well as display encrypted call status on ShorePhone IP phones and ShoreWare Call Manager displays, so users can see at a glance that the call is secure.   As far as mobility is concerned, ShoreTel 9 offers location-based services for GPS-enabled mobile devices, allowing users to automatically custom route calls based on the user's location, ensuring that their most important contacts can always reach them, without having to manually manage their call handling settings.   For a full list of enhancements and features view the press release.

ADTRAN Launches Alliance Program; Targets SMB

March 31, 2009

Building on their recent momentum and looking to leverage the best of what the market has to offer, ADTRAN today announced d the ADTRAN Alliance Program, a collaboration between ADTRAN and a number of best-in-breed technology and service providers delivering solutions centered on the NetVanta 7000 converged IP PBX.   This first phase of the Alliance Program features both IP telephony (IPT) technology partners and SIP trunking service providers. In order to be considered for the program, vendors and service providers must have completed an interoperability certification program proving that their services or solutions complement ADTRAN's NetVanta 7000.   "With a network-wide view of our customers' issues and challenges, we created the ADTRAN Alliance Program to help identify leading technology and service providers that are particularly well equipped to address the key needs of SMBs," said Chris Thompson, senior product manager, ADTRAN.   IP Telephony Technology Partners offer innovative solutions that have been strategically chosen to address specific applications in conjunction with the NetVanta 7000 Series. These best-in-breed partners include:   CounterPath Incendonet LifeSize Communications Multi-Tech Polycom Resource Software International (RSI) SIP Print, and snom   These partners were selected to address specific market needs that growing small and medium businesses are looking to deploy.   These markets include:   Desktop IP Phones (Polycom) DECT Wireless Phones (snom) SoftPhones (Counterpath) Speech Recognition (Incendonet) Call Accounting (RSI) Call Recording (SIP Print) Unified Messaging (MultiTech) Telepresence/Video Conferencing (Lifesize)   SIP Trunking Service Providers who offer IP telephony services that are certified to be fully interoperable with the NetVanta 7000 include: BroadVox Covad Communications CommPartners Connect Speakeasy Voxitas

Motorola, Vocera Team for Healthcare Solution

March 31, 2009

Motorola, Inc. and Vocera Inc., expanded their relationship with an agreement to jointly deliver solutions combining Vocera's experience in providing targeted communications solutions and Motorola's expertise in enterprise handheld devices. The joint solution addresses the healthcare market, and is designed to deliver improved healthcare at a patient's bedside.   Healthcare staff will be able to utilize the Vocera communications system on Motorola's Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDA) and voice-over-wireless LAN (VoWLAN) smartphones to improve collaboration, increase patient safety, and provide more attentive care.   The first Vocera-enabled solutions will be a range of Motorola EDAs, including the MC70, MC75, and MC55. Vocera has also developed a software client that will be sold as a software upgrade to run on the Windows Mobile handheld computers delivering instant VoWLAN communication capabilities.   Also announced was the Vocera smartphone, which in addition to traditional full phone functionality will offer Vocera's signature voice-enabled calling and messaging capabilities within the enterprise. The solution will be based on Motorola's TEAM VoWLAN solution, The new semi-rugged phone will run the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, giving users access to a wide variety of applications, such as electronic medical records.      

8x8 Launches Enterprise Scale Virtual Office IP PBX Solution

March 30, 2009

I recently had the opportunity to meet with 8x8's Huw Rees to discuss that company's steps to move their Virtual Office hosted IP PBX solution "upstream" to serve larger organizations in the small to medium sized business range.   Well, today the company officially announced the availability of an enterprise version of its hosted IP PBX phone service suited for deployment in larger organizations. This latest solution is designed to fit in a variety of environments, including a single building, a campus or distributed across multiple locations.   Positioned as the latest generation of 8x8's broadband agnostic hosted IP PBX business phone solutions, 8x8 Virtual Office Enterprise is now being positioned to offer a host of features, flexibility and the economics of hosted VoIP to enterprise environments.   In a briefing today, Rees explained the announcement. "It's not just the technology," he said, "we completely re-did the network architecture."   To meet the critical performance requirements of large corporations, the 8x8 Virtual Office Enterprise solution provides high availability, quality and redundancy. 8x8 recently upgraded its service infrastructure, which included deploying a new triple redundant architecture across three independent data centers with each center connected to redundant IP access providers.   As a result of this new architecture, companies that experience a failure of any software component, server, cluster or even a complete data center failure will not experience an impact on the service to the end customer.   Looking ahead, keep your eyes open for 8x8 to release some unified communications related news later this year.

Mitel Meeting Notes

March 30, 2009

I visited with Mitel today, and they showed me several solutions designed to drive productivity, enhance customer service, and simplify network management. Thanks go to Stephen Beamish, vice president of business development and strategic alliances and Danielle McNeil, public relations manager for spending the time with me to discuss the new solutions.   First we discussed the Mitel Business Dashboard, a management portal designed to allow enterprise and contact center management to monitor call activity and collect trend data on call volumes and times.
  The intelligent call tracking solution is available on the Mitel 500 Communication Platform.   In addition to the Business Dashboard, I also received a firsthand look at Mitel's latest desktop IP Phone, the 5360.   The 5360 color phone with Web capabilities designed to deliver a whole series of HTML-based applications. The phone boasts a 7-inch touch-screen display, which grants access to the applications. The device also features wideband audio, embedded gigabit Ethernet, and a built-in HTML toolkit for application development.   And lastly, while not exactly telling me what the surprise would be, Beamish told me of an upcoming Mitel promotion scheduled for April 16th.

Dimension Data Drives Productivity, Cost Savings

March 30, 2009

Down at the VoiceCon show in Orlando today I had the opportunity to meet with Mark Zerbe of Dimension Data. Zerbe is vice president, Converged Communications at the IT services and solutions provider.   Our discussion ranged to include a series of topics, but the key message that Zerbe spoke to was the fact that clients today want to talk about solutions that drive productivity and cut costs.   Zerbe told me that he believes that integrated collaboration is the technology wave for clients to ride this economic transition, in fact, he said, "IC may turn out to be the wave that helps pull us out of this 'transition.'"   I asked him to explain why it seems that video collaboration solutions seem to have taken off recently, to which he responded:   "Cisco Telepresence + Microsoft OCS + slow economy are combining to drive the market to adopt integrated video solutions."   The proof of course is in what the customers think:   The confluence of these technologies is helping to transform organizations, and customers are saying that these solutions are driving productivity and saving them money.

Charter Moves to Next Phase in Bankruptcy

March 27, 2009

Charter Communications, Inc., one of the largest cable companies in the U.S. today commenced the next phase of its previously announced financial restructuring, which is expected to reduce the Company's debt by approximately $8 billion.   "The financial restructuring is good news for Charter and our customers and, if approved, will result in Charter being better positioned to deliver the products and services our customers demand now and in the future," said Neil Smit, President and Chief Executive Officer.   According to the NY Times, Charter reportedly had about $21.7 billion in debt at the end of 2008. After the bankruptcy, the company will have $13 billion mainly in bank debt, which expires from 2013 to 2016, the Times reported.   So here's a major company, a virtual monopoly in many of its markets I bet, going into a structured bankruptcy in order to emerge in a better financial position on the other side.   Students in today's current events/economics classes are probably left scratching their heads... "What?
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