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August 2010

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In Store's Howe, Rule.fm, Glowpoint's Brust

August 25, 2010

TMC CEO Rich Tehrani sat down recently with In Store Solutions's Chief Technology Officer, Thomas Howe, for an interview. In Store makes and sells Skype-related stuff, such as headsets, handsets and cameras, and as Howe said, "we have two products coming out in the next two months we're very excited about." Howe said much of the reason he joined the company recently was that he was convinced they have the potential to be "groundbreaking products." In fact, "I think it's going to change the face of how a lot of things get done," Howe said. A typical customer for the B2C company, Howe explained, would be Skype  users, or other users of headsets and handsets. "Our customer base is wide," he noted, adding that 70 percent of their sales are outside of the United States. "We sell in 62 countries." In 2010 alone they'll sell half a million products, he said, "collect in local currency and provide Tier 1 and Tier 2 support for those products." Read more here. ... Jonathan Brust, the vice president of marketing for Glowpoint Video, recently joined TMC CEO Rich Tehrani on the program, "In The Studio," to discuss the company's latest news. Glowpoint supports telepresence, video conferencing and such video technologies through managed services, Brust says, and as Tehrani remarked, since telepresence is all the rage these days, that's a good space to be in. The basic business model, Brust explained, is that "people buy the equipment, and we manage the environment for them in many different ways, to enable them to connect with whoever they need to connect to." To begin with, Brust said managed services are a great value proposition for companies. "One, because you can take advantage of expertise, processes, understanding the technology, and making sure that the systems you're investing in are always working." Hard to argue with much of that.

Adtran and Covad, AOL Portal, Web 2.0 Telecom, California 911

August 25, 2010

Adtran recently announced a deal with Covad, a vendor of voice and data communications, making Adtran their exclusive network termination products provider. The mutually beneficial deal will put Adtran products in over 2,000 Covad locations, according to Wall Street Equity Research, which noted that the deal "has also led to shares jumping 19 percent since the end of May." In other recent company news, TMC noted that Adtran has been selected by WNM Communications to provide its Adtran's Total Access 5000 Multi-Service Access and Aggregation Platform for enhanced broadband deployment, Carrier Ethernet delivery, and next-generation services migration. Financial details were not available. The product will be used for Broadband DLC applications using ADSL2+ combo cards, company officials said adding that voice services will use industry standard GR-303 switch connections currently, with an upgrade path to SIP in the future with a simple provisioning change. Adtran officials said the product will also allow Carrier Ethernet applications for business customers, as well as "the flexibility to support ATM and Gigabit Ethernet transport options. Read more here. ... Once giant-like Internet service provider AOL has unveiled a new smartphone portal, m.aol.com, "optimizing" AOL for any mobile device. Raise your hand if you'd kind of forgotten AOL was still around. Sorry, we did too. AOL's hitching much of its future on Android, as company officials say the company's increasing their focus on the Android operating system with the launch of the AOL app for Android, giving users a way to access dozens of AOL's properties, and the DailyFinance app for Android. The company's renewed focus on mobile apps and content comes on the heels of the arrival of David Temkin, the company's new Vice President of Mobile. "The company, which is working hard to transform into an Internet-content provider, is making a big bet on mobile to compete for eyeballs with Google, Facebook and Twitter," notes industry observer Clint Boulton, adding that "many users are accessing the Web on the go from smartphones fitted with full HTML Web browsers. Google, Facebook and Twitter now are vying to show these mobile users online ads." Read more here. ... In order to optimize revenue from new Web 2.0 and wireless 3G and 4G applications, telecom service providers need to better understand communication patterns and subscriber behavior. To this end, suppliers like Volubill are looking at ways to enhance their offerings with information such as connection times and the services used.

Internet Tax, Microsoft and Google, EU's Ruling, ENow Mobile PBX

August 25, 2010

They're at it again, trying to tax the Internet. To quote Pete Seeger, when will they ever learn? Online shoppers in most states avoid paying sales tax on items purchased over the Internet. You might have noticed that it's one of the few parts of the economy doing well about now. Democrats would like to change all that. On July 1, given the typically Orwellian name such legislation gets, the Main Street Fairness Act, sponsored  by Democrat Rep. William Delahunt from Massachusetts, wants to impose a state sales tax on consumers who shop online. A bipartisan delegation led by Rep. Paul W. Hodes, (D-N.H.), would maintain the business-friendly status quo. It contains language that says "Congress should not impose any new burdensome or unfair tax collecting requirements on small online businesses, which would ultimately hurt the economy and consumers." "If you are concerned about rising taxes, this is a vehicle to avoid that," Delahunt said in proposing the tax.

Phone.com and VoIP, VoIP Insider, Google Earth

August 25, 2010

A recent blog post at Phone.com notes that yes, there is "no question that VoIP providers are making moves to make their services friendlier for companies of all sizes." This is the good news. But, as the blog asks, "what about the non-profit companies?" Phone.com officials say they are, in fact, doing something about it. They've formed a partnership with a company called Grassroots.org, which will make the VoIP service - "including its list of features," Phone.com officials say - available to non-profit businesses. Who is Grassroots, you ask? Good question - we had no idea either. Phone.com officials say it is the mission of Grassroots, a non-profit in itself, "to assist the efforts of non-profit businesses by offering useful business-related services at little or no cost to the non-profit." They do this by focusing on web tools and IT needs "that can otherwise be costly to secure for a business that has little to spend," Phone.com says. Read more here. ... Looking for a business VoIP phone system, but concerned that your infrastructure might not be ready? In fact, say officials of VoIP Insider, ascertaining that your Internet connection and network infrastructure can handle VoIP isn't as hard as you might think. Well, unless you've got one of those huge, incredibly complex networks.

Neustar Q2 Report, Speedflow Communications, Cell Call Quality

August 25, 2010

According to officials of Speedflow Communications, a provider of VoIP software solutions, their new Mediacore product release has, "significant alterations in billing and routing algorithms." The existing Guardian functions and program Web-interface "have been amended," company officials say, adding that, "the new reports provide users with various data analysis and objective information about customers and completed calls." The installation is done "according to the arranged schedule of updates for our partners," Mediacore officials say: "The core modules are set by scripts and additional ones are configured manually by the Speedflow system administrator." This is done to allow full command over the installation process and data security during all the stages, they explain. Read more here. ... There is, in fact, a basic design problem with cell phones, as industry observer Lee Gomes noted recently. "Even under the best of circumstances, these phones don't do a very good job of the most basic thing we buy them to do -- make phone calls." From one call to the next, Gomes notes, "one never knows what a phone call is going to sound like. Think of this as the real form of chat roulette. In fact, it is not uncommon for phone conversations these days to begin with a meta-discussion of the sound quality of the connection." Part of the problem, paradoxically enough, is that there is no phone monopoly anymore. (Note to under-30s: Ask Mom and Dad about the AT&T phone monopoly.

WAN Optimization, Panduit, Alcatel-Lucent

August 25, 2010

The Ards Borough Council in County Down is one of 26 local authorities in Northern Ireland, administering an area of approximately 140 square miles with a population of 74,000. The Council performs a host of diverse functions, ranging from street cleaning and refuse collection to operating a retail craft outlet and public aquarium. The council has nine offices within its boundaries including leisure centers, tourist offices and an arts center where employees use data that is stored locally, in addition to accessing centralized applications in the data center such as Lotus Domino and Microsoft SQL over the WAN. They decided to consolidate servers back to the data center to centralize back up and simplify management. To support the consolidation project, Ards Council selected Expand Networks for its knowledge of WAN optimization and its ability to accelerate all applications. The Ards Borough Council implemented one Expand 6930 series Accelerator within the main data center environment, and four 4930 series Accelerators for the remote offices of the Council. With minimum impact to the Council's existing networking infrastructure, they say, "the Expand technology is delivering, on average, application and data acceleration of 200 percent, peaking up to 2,000 percent." Read more here. ... According to a white paper for Panduit, the deployment of Category 6A copper cabling system "has been increasing rapidly as enterprises enable their physical infrastructure with 10 Gb/s capacity to support Smart Data Center server virtualization, I/O consolidation, switch-up links for parallel processing, and convergence of back-bone links applications." While the use of Category 6A cabling has been growing significantly in High Speed Data Transport systems, as the paper explains, "a number of deployment challenges remain which impede broad acceptance of Category 6A cabling systems." The paper does a good job identifying and sketching these challenges.

Polling Technology, WAN Optimization, VanillaSoft, Infor

August 25, 2010

Ever wonder how that famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline appeared on the Chicago Tribune in 1948, held aloft by a smiling -- and victorious -- Harry Truman? Polling technology, that's how. According to Craig Silverman's article on the subject, conventional wisdom, supported by polls, "was almost unanimous that a Dewey presidency was inevitable, and that the New York governor would win the election handily." And how did the pollsters get it so wrong? They used the telephone to conduct their polls. Therefore they spoke with a disproportionate number of the relatively well-to-do, who could afford the technology.

BPS Resolver, Philly School Spy, Service Desk Software, Water Billing

August 25, 2010

Remember back in February a school district in Philadelphia got slapped with a lawsuit for spying on students at home via the cameras on school-issued laptops? You'd think they'd have learned their lesson. But now another lawsuit has been filed against them. According to the Associated Press, Jalil Hasan, who graduated from Lower Merion High School last spring, "says the school district activated remote-tracking software after he left the laptop at school December 18." The lawsuit filed in federal court says "the laptop was returned three days later, but the surveillance software remained activated for about two months," the AP reports, adding that the suit alleges that "more than 1,000 photos were taken, 469 from the webcam and 543 screen shots." The Lower Merion School District, "in response to a suit filed by a student," the Associated Press said, acknowledged that webcams, which came standard in laptops issued to students - who were not told that the cameras could be remotely activated by the school district - were remotely activated 42 times in the past 14 months. Read more here. ... Toronto-based BPS Resolver, which works in the Governance, Risk and Compliance Management field, has announced the release of their recently-enhanced Issues & Actions Tracking offering. The product represents "a new step in composing fields, workflows and reports," company officials say, adding that IAT enables "the identification, allocation, prioritization, sizing, scheduling, additional testing and monitoring of issues and action plans." It also uses features found in BPS Resolver's BPS Suite to "create meaningful relationships between issues/action plans and other risk-based activities," company officials say. The idea is to give users the information and insight to locate systemic root causes of risk management failures, and to provide the oversight required by senior management. In January, TMC had the news that BPS Business Propulsion Systems and Resolver Inc. announced a merger which took effect on January 1, 2010 to form BPS Resolver. This merger brought together two governance, risk, and compliance software product offerings. The new company's combined offering "will provide a complete product suite of planning, execution & refinement solutions for GRC and sustainability best practices," according to company officials of both firms at the time. Read more here. ... A good recent post on BooshNews runs over the benefits of using the PDF format on a help desk.

Overheating iPads, Monet Software, Chevy Volt, Web-based Call Center

August 25, 2010

Officials at workforce management software provider Monet Software claim that call centers that use the company's Web-based offering, Monet WFM Live, can improve service levels and reduce operating costs "without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional software." Specific functions of the company's WFM Live offering include: --Forecasting: Run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from ACD. --Scheduling: Monet's advanced scheduling engine incorporates all call types and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors. --Intra-day Management: A graphical display of agents' schedules can be manipulated by dragging and dropping breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Real-time updates can be made to required and assigned agents instantly. Read more here. ... No stranger to litigation, Apple has another lawsuit on its plate now: Some people are irked how fast their iPads overheat. Industry observer Susan Jacobsson notes that a complaint was filed in federal court in Oakland on July 23 by Jacob Balthazar, Claudia Keller, and John Browning: "According to the filing, the iPad does not 'live up to reasonable consumer's expectations created by Apple... as the iPad overheats so quickly under common weather conditions that it does not function for prolonged use outdoors, or in many other warm conditions." Mac.Blorge says that yes, in fact, "one way to insure that your shiny new iPad overheats is to turn it on, lay it down so that the noontime sun shines directly on its screen, and wait awhile for the iPad to be smart enough to turn itself off to avoid damage. Apparently, a group of attorneys somewhere has noticed that if you do something that stupid, the iPad in question does indeed overheat and turn itself off." Having "proven to their satisfaction that the laws of physics still apply, the attorneys in question have filed a class action suit against Apple (instead of the universe, which actually enforces the laws of physics)," Mac.Blorge says, adding that "the overheating iPad issue is analogous to putting your foot in front of a bus tire and waiting until the bus rolls over it, then suing because the bus injured your foot." Evidently -- we can't speak from experience here, we haven't received our iPad from our dear sweet loving wife for our birthday yet, and it never gets that hot or cold around here anyway -- users get a screen that reads "iPad needs to cool down before you can use it." Read more here. ... Hundreds -- nay, thousands -- of call centers in recent years have switched to the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model of delivery.

MySpace and Facebook, Google in LA, Phone Warning Labels, BlackBerry Improves

August 12, 2010

News Corp. is still looking to buff up their five-year old $580 million investment in MySpace, and company officials say they're planning a relaunch of the most probably passé social network site this year. Agence France Presse reports that in an effort not to slide into permanent irrelevancy vis-a-vis the Facebook juggernaut, MySpace will target a younger audience. Facebook has 500 million members. MySpace has "a healthy user base," according to AFP's reporting of comments by News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller. "It's still around," Miller said of MySpace at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Colorado, according to AFP, "adding that the site attracts around 65 million to 70 million unique users a month in the United States alone." MySpace evidently has largely abandoned competing with Facebook as a lost cause, and is set to be the go-to "platform for musicians and their fans," according to Miller, who told AFP that it intends to "go younger, go youthful" and put a premium on "creativity and self-expression... A little more rock and roll." Read more here. ... It appears Google's failure to meet a deadline to implement Google Apps into the city of Los Angeles' various departments will cost it about $135,000 in reimbursements to the city. They can take it out of the $7.25 million the contract's worth. As The Register reports, Google is upgrading LA's computer system from Novell tech to its email and collaboration software. MarketWatch revealed the delay in a report last Friday, using LA's tech boss Randi Levin as its source. Google officials say all the concern is overblown. " It's not surprising that such a large government initiative would hit a few speed bumps along the way, and we're working closely with CSC and the City to meet their evolving requirements in a timely manner and ensure the project is a great success for Los Angeles," company officials said in a prepared statement. Lalawag puts it a bit more trenchantly: "Google now claims that they didn't quite catch all the details in the requirements for the contract. " Read more here. ... Is it constitutional for the government to require that mobile phones carry labels with radiation information? We'll find out pretty soon -- according to The Register, the cellular trade body The CTIA is "challenging a San Francisco ordinance that requires radiation labels on every mobile phone sold, claiming that such a rule breaches the US constitution." The ordinance passed last month requires buyers to be informed "at the point of sale" about the radioactive properties of different mobile phones, The Register explains, adding that "the CTIA reckons that requirement undermines the FCC's (national) rulings and is thus unconstitutional - states can't go around overruling federal bodies." PCWorld's Jared Newman is a bit too subtle and undecided on his take on the law: "It's a good thing the CTIA is suing San Francisco over an inane law that will publicize cell phone radiation levels in stores, because this a rare case where more information is too much." Read more here. ... Nothing like a good new product launch to goose the stock shares. Reuters reported that the phenomenon worked fine for Research In Motion, whose stock jumped "on speculation that next week it would unveil a new touchscreen BlackBerry that could compete more effectively with other smartphones." Good news, the Blackberry was looking rather dowdy next to all the iPhones and smartphones all the other guys at the health club pull out. Industry observer Marguerite Reardon writes that, "while RIM has done well selling low-end BlackBerry devices throughout the world, it is starting to slip in the high end of the smartphone category, especially in North America, where new iPhones and Android devices get more attention from consumers." She notes that RIM is also facing more competition from other smartphone makers in the enterprise market, "as more companies start letting employees swap BlackBerrys for other smartphones." RIM should announce the launch of the BlackBerry 9800 at a joint event with AT&T Inc in New York this Tuesday, Reuters reported, adding that "AT&T is expected to get exclusive U.S.

Daily E-Mail Limits, Snom at Berkeley, Dragon Dictation, Type 'N Talk

August 12, 2010

According to a Harris Interactive poll reported in USAToday, 50 is "the breaking point for employees' daily allowance of e-mail. Anything more sets their heads spinning, based on the results of more than 2,000 American adults in early June." Harris found that one in five people say "50 work-related e-mail messages per day is the magic number before they feel swamped. The effect is even more pronounced for smartphone users -- 37 percent feel 'overwhelmed' by 50 or more work e-mail, says Jonathan McCormick, chief operating officer of Intermedia, a Web-based e-mail provider of services including Hosted Exchange, that sponsored the survey." Evidently small-business users want to stay that way: Fully 94 percent of small-business employees said 50 e-mails is their limit, USAToday reported. That means only six percent of small business employees have learned how to answer five e-mails, play Bejeweled, answer five more, drink coffee, answer five more, make a couple work-related calls, answer five more and work for twenty minutes. Read more here. ... Tommy Lee -- insert Motley Crue joke here, he's probably heard 'em all before -- hits the road for snom again, starting with the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education's Summer Seminar, hosted by UC Berkeley at San Francisco's Palace Hotel. The higher ed technology confab is "always one of the busier conferences for snom," company officials say, as it brings together "a broad cross-section of IT decision-makers from US colleges and universities." Unified communications is expected to be a hot conversation topic in higher education soon, with schools such as Georgia Military College realizing the benefits of this technology on campus, snom officials say. At the show, snom exhibited its portfolio of IP desktop phones with the special snom OCS firmware that enables these phones to integrate with both IP PBX and Microsoft OCS R2. Read more here. ... Great -- something to finally save you all that laborious work of tweeting. Industry observer Ben Patterson reports that there is a dictation app for the iPhone which takes what you say and puts it directly on Twitter or Facebook.

Ixia Q2 Results, Boost VoIP ROI, Voxeo, Super Technologies

August 12, 2010

Ixia, a provider of technology for testing wireless networks, has reported its financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2010, racking up record revenue and slashing the net loss from $2.7 million to $361,000. Total revenue for the 2010 second quarter was a record $66.1 million, an increase of 72 percent over $38.4 million reported for the 2009 second quarter and an increase of seven percent over the $62.0 million reported for the immediately preceding quarter. Revenue for the 2010 second quarter includes approximately $15.3 million attributable to sales of the IxN2X and IxCatapult products following the acquisition of Agilent Technologies' N2X Data Network Testing Product Line in October 2009 and the acquisition of Catapult Communications in June 2009. "We are pleased with our 2010 second quarter results," said Atul Bhatnagar, Ixia's president and chief executive officer. "We are seeing strong demand for our wireline testing products, including our high-speed Ethernet products and our newly introduced NGY Fusion-enabled offering." TMC's CEO Rich Tehrani had a chance to interview Bhatnagar at Interop 2010 in Las Vegas, who told him the best time to change is when business is slow, as you can do things you cannot when the business is running at a faster clip. "In the company's business planning they realized convergence is the driver," Tehrani noted, adding that "this convergence applies to wireless and wired. And this convergence has the effect of causing the testing tools to converge as well." Read more here. ... A Webinar scheduled for Tuesday, July 27th, "Five Steps to Cut VoIP Operational Support Costs and Boost VoIP ROI," will feature TMC's  very own Stefania Viscusi, our in-house VoIP maven. Analysts say the payback for VoIP deployments typically ranges from 4 to 19 months, according to the Webinar's organizers, "but when VoIP quality problems overwhelm operational support teams and VoIP service levels disappoint corporate stakeholders, that ROI metric is just wishful thinking." Convergence technologies, as the Webinar will elucidate, bring with them complex configurations, hyper-critical performance demands, and un-relenting quality issues that can seriously strain your voice network support teams - "putting your converged communications services and VoIP ROI at risk," organizers say. You'll learn why you must integrate operational methodologies across your voice, data, and IP network domains and how to cut the operational costs of deploying and supporting VoIP and converged voice services. Read more here. ... Just last year, at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, Voxeo, a vendor of Unified Communications and self-service platforms announced that the Tropo.com cloud telephony service source code would be made available to developers for free under open-source licenses. At the time, Voxeo officials said the release, "demonstrates that cloud computing vendors can subscribe fully to open-source ideals, and avoid the proprietary lock-in typically found in cloud services." 

Tropo.com provides a cloud telephony service that lets developers write voice applications in popular programming languages including Groovy, JavaScript, PHP, Python and Ruby. 

Since then, the company has announced a number of open-source projects. Also in support of developers, the company made headlines in May of this year with the announcement that it expanded its free developer program to include international SMS numbers, support for European languages and local direct inward dialing "DID" numbers. Read more here. ... Suzanne Bowen, vice president of Super Technologies, Inc. and DIDX, recently participated in a blog conversation titled, "Intelligent Things You Can Do with Phone Calls or Numbers?

BPA Quality, Covergys, Conference Calling Overseas, Teo TSG-6

August 12, 2010

If Christine Kowalczyk, vice president at the Convergys Corporation, is to be believed, then Wednesday before lunchtime is the best time to call a customer service number to avoid being put on hold. Industry observer Gregory Warner wrote recently that "I figured she should know; her company answered one billion customer service calls last year. Convergys is a company that lots of other companies pay to handle their customer calls." Okay, so why Wednesday? "It's hump day," Kowalczyk told Warner, who added that on Monday and Tuesday, people are still going through their weekend to-do lists: "By Wednesday it quiets down on the call center floor. Especially just before lunchtime." Warner then reproduces a Customer Service Empathy Quiz. Sample question: How would you respond to the following call from a customer: "I was lost in a maze in a telephone menu, transferred to three different departments, and then put on hold for a total of 30 minutes. The customer service is horrible here!

Alcatel Lucent, Monetize Multimedia, Lead Generation, The Gap

August 12, 2010

If the telecom market seems like it's in a state of flux - you're right. According to a recent white paper from Alcatel-Lucent, that's because "traditional operators and emerging players vie for competitive advantage by delivering a wide array of new content and service offerings." Operators need a new strategy in order to differentiate and compete successfully, the paper finds: "Instead of relying solely on the deployment of new technologies and rollout of new services, operators need to think in terms of adopting new strategic operations approaches and outsourcing business models." Among other useful content, the paper outlines several approaches: Assistance and consolidation. This can be viewed as something like consultancy and support. The operator has decided to implement change management but not to outsource the processes to a partner; rather, the operator calls on the managed services partner for help in analyzing the processes, to propose the change that's needed, and to implement the change. The operator, meanwhile, maintains operation of the network, but begins to consider a managed services approach for operations with cost or technology challenges. Read more here. ... A recent look by Alcatel-Lucent at the way service providers are losing out even as traffic volume increases finds the three following to be true: Operators can monetize multimedia services by selectively exposing high value network capabilities. Service provider network assets offer quantifiable value to third-party developers.
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