First Coffee for 11 April 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 11 April 2006

By David Sims


The news as of the first iced coffee this morning, and the music is Eric Clapton’s “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”  Rock acts rarely do gospel music well, but here Clapton nails it perfectly:


A tip of the coffee pot to fellow TMC writer Greg Galitzine for the heads-up that Black Box Corporation and Platinum Equity, LLC have announced that they have signed a purchase agreement for Black Box to acquire the USA Commercial and Government and Canadian Operations of NextiraOne, LLC, a company owned by Platinum Equity, LLC.  


Fred C. Young, Black Box Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, said “our goal from here will be to officially close this transaction by April 30, 2006.  We look forward to this conclusion.”


Upon closing Black Box will total approximately $1 billion in revenues. Young says the company’s core attributes will include a large customer base, a good operating model, a well-established single brand to market under (Black Box) and a “strong financial foundation to provide us the necessary capital to effectively operate and grow our business.”


As the transaction officially concludes, Black Box and NextiraOne will begin the immediate re-branding of the NextiraOne business as Black Box. The combined Black Box and NextiraOne entity will continue to support installed and new voice technology requirements for all NextiraOne clients.


Black Box also will continue to be a Strategic Authorized National Nortel Elite Business Partner for all of Nortel’s products and services throughout the USA and Canada.


The Purchase Agreement contains conditions to close including satisfactory settlement of certain litigation and regulatory matters along with other customary closing conditions.  There is no assurance that all closing conditions will be met and that the transaction will be completed.


NextiraOne North America is a vendor of integrated enterprise network, IP telephony, voice and data products and services.


A good friend sent me this article by Ivor Tossel from the Toronto newspaper Globe and Mail, a first person account about some poor sap whose computer melted down, and who actually has to compose a column via pen and paper about what it’s like to live without going online.


At the end of the well-written piece he notes “It strikes me: There’s no need to wait for the much-hyped Web-TV convergence to happen, because the Web is already fulfilling the same function. At the end of the day, it’s becoming a receptacle down which we can pour our spare hours, expecting little in return but a steady stream of low-grade stimuli, a gentle prodding of the neurons. It’s our boob tube. The future is here, and it’s kind of like the past, but with a mouse.”


In the wake of’s most recent power outage there’s been a little more questioning of the hosted model itself for sensitive company programs and data. Not a rush to the exits, mind you, more like a quick headcheck to make sure where the exits are. After all, it’s good to stay aware of what the options are. Sure on-demand is the sexy choice right now, but, well, she still needs to grow up a bit before you know if it’s a lifelong match.


Naturally those who ply the on-site trade have been making their case, and it’s a good one. “Should mid-market enterprises implement on-premise CRM products over hosted products like Just last week, had another service outage, leaving customers in the dark for hours at a time,” writes one PR agent, doing her job and doing it well.


“While it is easy for businesses to sign up for and it is cheaper to initially turn on the service, many companies don’t know that has limited customization features and ends up being more expensive that an on-premise product over a 3-5 year business cycle,” she correctly points out:


“What’s more, the ongoing technology upgrades that boasts are not customized per client and, therefore, may not add real value to businesses because they are not actually using these generic updates. An on-premise product expert, on the other hand, can offer ongoing upgrades, features and functionality based on a business’ specific needs.”


All true. And First Coffee urges companies thinking of adopting the on-demand delivery model to bear in mind that it’s not a no-brainer, there are options out there – solid, worthy options you have to have a good reason not to adopt before signing checks.


Speaking of which, on-demand guys OpSource have announced that Business Objects, a business intelligence vendor, has selected OpSource to provide the operational on-demand infrastructure and ongoing services for delivering, its new on-demand BI product. 


OpSource offers an Optimal On-Demand product with what it calls “Success-Based Pricing,” part of its on-demand software enablement, delivery, and services offerings.


Donald MacCormick, vice president of product marketing for BO, says working with OpSource “allows Business Objects to maintain our focus on developing software, rather than maintaining the infrastructure for our on-demand BI products.”


OpSource will provide Business Objects with a 100 percent uptime guarantee, full application management, and 24x7 call center support-all priced on demand. The entire infrastructure is built on OpSource’s OptiTech Services Engine, a patent-pending technology platform that supports rapid integration, deployment and monitoring of on-demand offerings.


Abbeynet, a vendor of Voice over Web, mobile VoIP, Instant Messaging and Presence Server technology, has announced that it has secured approximately $8.5 million in funding for MPLAY, a wholly owned subsidiary, to develop an IP set-top-box and a content delivery platform for television and video on demand which will integrate to its existing Abbeyphone voice and video conferencing platform.


Abbeynet’s products let companies offer their “communities and customers” best of breed Voice over Web, mobile VoIP, IM, rich presence service offerings via its Abbeyphone platform, which is an advanced end-to-end VoIP technology platform and fully hosted and managed service on a private / white label basis.


The MPLAY IP set-top-box will connect directly to a television set and also to the Internet bringing not only streaming television and video on demand, but also the full Abbeyphone platform which today provides voice, video conferencing, Instant Messaging and advanced presence to a variety of devices and end-points ranging from web browsers, IP phones, mobile phones and PDAs.


Andrew Romans, Managing Partner at Georgetown Venture Partners LLP who is advising Abbeynet, says “Abbeynet built Abbeyphone with less than $9 million in funding from the Italian Ministry. The recent closing of an additional $8.5 million from Italian government and other EU sources will enable Abbeynet to quickly develop MPLAY and provide the world’s first fully integrated system of presence server intelligence with IM, voice and video communication which will drive a Web 2.0 experience of amateur and major studio generated and controlled content.”


Gianluca Dettori, founder and president of the company, says “Abbeynet’s business is moving the multi-billion dollar calling card business directly to the web. Rather than sell calling cards in shops we have enabled big brands to offer free PC to PC web based calls from their portals and low cost prepaid calls to the PSTN and mobiles. Our product is totally web based. So no need to download, install or configure any client software – just click and speak. We now have this working across multiple devices and plan to target the television next.”


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