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An Honest Critique of Microsoft and Steve Ballmer

May 26, 2011

For the last five years there have been calls for Steve Ballmer to step down from Microsoft and I have refrained from comment until today because a confluence of news and events has made commentary necessary. Specifically, David Einhorn, an influential hedge fund manager – whose firm Greenlight Capital owns almost 9M shares of Microsoft, said (video) Ballmer is stuck in the past and is ruining Microsoft’s stock.

Technologist Vs. Businessperson: One compliant about Steve Ballmer is that he is more a businessperson than a technologist and as a result, new and innovative products have been developed much more slowly. This point is very tough to argue with and more importantly, what is Ballmer’s vision for Microsoft?

Skype For Asterisk to Shut Down

May 25, 2011

One of the more exciting announcements in the open communications space was when Digium inked a deal with Skype to allow the most popular open source communications server to work natively with the most popular Internet telephony software.

But yesterday Digium put out a note telling users that Skype for Asterisk will no longer be available after July 26th, 2011. Current users should be able to use it for a period of two years after that date.

The question worth asking is whether this announcement marks the end of Skype support for non-Microsoft platforms. As Erik Lagerway asks - will Skype Connect for various PBX vendors be next?

In the past I've have heard there were scaling issues with Skype for Asterisk so this move could be a result pruning products which didn't meet certain standards or requirements.

Obviously we will know more as time goes on but this move likely won't be welcomed by the legions of open-source fanboys out there. And Microsoft needs to be careful to not alienate the influencers in the market if it doesn't want to intentionally reduce the value of an acquisition which many say cost too much.

Update May 26, 2011

Skype sent me their official comment regarding Skype for Asterisk from Jennifer Caukin, spokeswoman for Skype.













Avaya Touts People-First Model

May 24, 2011

This week at IAUG - the Avaya user group event in Las Vegas the company launched a new program called Ace Your Apps with the goal of making communications more people centric while allowing corporations to integrated their UC solutions with a number of IT company solutions from IBM, Microsoft and others. David Yedwab breaks the news on TMCnet here.

Enjoy an excerpt:

At the heart of this program is a compelling offer for enterprises with Avaya Aura or Avaya Communication Server 1000 and Microsoft or IBM (News - Alert) instant messaging and presence clients. Enterprises current versions of Avaya Aura or Avaya CS 1000 are entitled to one free desktop integration user license for each UC-entitled user (up to $140/user in value).   This adds up to a significant savings – up to 87 percent for 5,000 deployed users – plus the ability to establish a communications-enabled business process (CEBP) platform that can further drive innovation and workflow efficiency by integrating critical business processes in order to grow competitive advantage through both the extension of productivity growth within the enterprise to desk-bound and mobile workers and across the supply chain.  





VocalTec adds magicJack to Name

May 22, 2011

In Life and Internet Telephony, Timing is Everything

VocalTec will now become magicJack VocalTec Ltd. – a nod to the fact that most Americans see more magicJack ads than they do even McDonalds and name recognition for VocalTec is virtually zero – except for the handful of us in the VoIP space in the nineties.

The personal irony for me is that Microsoft NetMeeting was an Internet telephony software package which was given away for free by Redmond shortly after VocalTec announced a paid product. As a result, VocalTec had to refocus completely on hardware gateways and Microsoft became the leader in VoIP.

Avaya SMB Event Features Cake Boss

May 17, 2011

Avaya Press and Analyst SMB Live Blog.



At an Avaya Event here in New York City, the company is set to detail its plans to migrate Nortel users to Avaya's IP Office 7.0. According to Isabelle Guis (pictured) General Manager of of the SME Communications Business Unit, the company now has 30 million users - 14M of those came from Nortel and there are 7 million total IP Office users - with 200k systems being sold last quarter.


Here are some shots of the event so far.




10:00 am EST Kick Off

Announcer addresses audience from TV via video Small business make is vital to Avaya.

Dr. Alan Baratz
takes the stage. He transitions to a video of happy customers "Thinking Big."



IP Office was designed for small to medium businesses and can scale to 1,000 users. 60% YoY growth - almost 150% QoQ growth in sub-20 end of market.


















Tehrani's Train Fixed

May 17, 2011

IBM to Eclipse Microsoft Market Cap

May 17, 2011

Ouch. The PC revolution took all the power away from the hardware leader IBM only to give it to the software company making operating systems - Microsoft. For decades, Microsoft used it's OS dominance to help subsidize and sell myriad software products causing the company to grow like a weed.

But Redmond needs a new growth engine and it looks like PCs and servers just aren't going to continue their massive growth curve - especially when you consider how well iPads are selling.

Moreover, IBM brilliantly transitioned from a PC company to services where they are doing very, very well.

This is why as Matt Rosoff at Business Insider explains the reason IBM is about to pass Microsoft in market cap.

He infers this is the reason for the Skype acquisition by Microsoft but really, the company needs a solid mobile advantage and a way to get it's voice and unified communications strategy to be successful and the Skype deal kills these birds as well as adding a social and consumer electronics elements to the mix.















Should Carriers Charge Less for Pipes to Get More For Services?

May 17, 2011

Interop 2011 Day One Wrap Up

May 11, 2011

Day one of Interop has been great so far – I had video and written interviews with a number of companies such as Juniper Networks, Siemens, Brocade, ShoreTel, Navisite, Broadcom and Cisco. The videos will be posted soon – I will alert you when they are up or just go to our video page and click on the forthcoming Interop 2011 tab.

One point which came up repeatedly in my meetings is the micromanaging of budgets by CEOs – not just in small companies but some really big ones. It seems CXOs are scrutinizing new spending like at no time I have ever seen.

My Day of Shooting Videos in Dallas

May 5, 2011

I am here at the Joule Hotel in Dallas, Texas where I met with over a dozen companies in the communications and tech space today. The mood is very very optimistic - there was more confidence than my last trip to Boston this past December. A few interesting items - I forgot my phone on this trip as I left it charging until the last possible second - and whoops, I forgot to take it. When I realized, I freaked out for ten seconds and then realized I had a tablet.

Since my voicemails get transcribed and emailed and I could use Skype, I actually didn't miss the phone.

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