Enterprise Connect kept me in the dark

Graham Francis : The SIP School
Graham Francis
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Enterprise Connect kept me in the dark

It was my first visit to Enterprise Connect (formally known as Voicecon) as well as my first visit to Orlando.  The problem was staying at the conference hotel meant I hardly saw daylight for 5 days.  As it turned out there was so much going on at the show there was no time for visiting Mickey and his friends but anyway let’s see what I found.

There were so many announcements and press releases that I just won’t even attempt to cover them all, instead here’s a link to the Enterprise Connect PR page so check them out for yourself.  This specific report is to highlight what I thought stood out at the conference and maybe even got overlooked by other PR releases. 

Two ‘main’ themes ran through the show for me; Cloud Communications and SIP Trunking. 

It seems that everyone is now offering (or about to offer) a cloud based service.  Check out Verizon, XO Communications, Siemens, Adtran, Mitel, the list goes on but when various panels at the show talked about the cloud and their offerings I sensed that the audience still needed to see more detail maybe in the form of actual case studies to understand the benefits of a ‘Cloud based service’ and be able to construct a solid business case to shift the majority of their infrastructure into another companies hands.  Some companies simply want to keep total control of their own systems whilst some will find it hard to move away from legacy systems and applications that they rely on.  Possibly the companies that will be able to take advantage of these offerings best are new companies or companies will little or no real infrastructure in place already.  Let’s see if it’s all the same talk about the cloud next year and maybe we will see some successful case studies. 

SIP Trunking sessions and panel debates were very well attended and this shows the level of interest in a technology that’s going to (slowly) replace traditional business lines.  Again I was impressed by a lot of offerings from the carriers at the show and I did particularly like the service from Verizon called BEST (Burstable Enterprise Shared Trunking). This allows a company to buy a number of SIP trunks let’s say 50 and ‘share’ them across all of their branches.  For example:  Some SIP trunking providers will set you up with a 50 trunk service that may give 5 branches, 10 Trunks each.  With BEST, if Branch 1 starts to generate calls over their own allocation of 10, they are allowed to connect and work due to BEST.  All it means is that out of the 50 SIP Trunks allocated across the company less are available at that time to the other branches.  I’m sure other providers will look at BEST and provide something similar at some point in the future. 

Avaya had a massive presence at the show and of course were showing off their Avaya Flare experience on their proprietary tablet.  The Avaya Keynote showed the Flare experience in action and it looked a very effective communications tool that really helps teams work together intelligently.  However, I do think that Avaya could have effectively wiped themselves out the ‘hardware tablet’ market by announcing that the Flare experience (the actual software itself) will be available on other tablets such as the iPad later this year.  Quick question; Who will wait for it to be available on the iPad?  Ok, everyone put your hands down now. 

The Avaya keynote also expressed the importance of SIP.  Being from The SIP School, you’ll get no disagreement from me but what was notable was the comparison to the long term development of TCP/IP on it’s way to becoming the single most important protocol out there to how SIP is on a similar journey that may take a number of years to deliver on all of it’s promises.  Take the comparison of the 1st IETF RFC document on TCP that was published in 1980 to the availability of the first Cisco Router in 1984 and then another 12 years before the Web was born thanks to Tim Berners Lee developing HTTP.  The first SIP RFC was published in 1999 and it’s only over the past few years that SIP has been effectively implemented into PBX systems, VoIP Telephones and offered as a PSTN Replacement. I guess it will be a long hard road to full adoption of SIP but hopefully worth it. 

Avaya has a sibling in the shape of Skype as they are both owned by ‘Silver Lake Partners’,  I mention this as I’m sure that this ‘connection’ is aiding collaboration between the two companies as I heard about a really nice feature that they are working on.  At the moment the Skype connect service allows companies to setup a Skype account and when people contact that account it connects the call into a corporate PBX which of course can then be handled like any other call.  Outbound calling is a whole different story and not quite so elegant – at the moment!  It seems that sometime this year you’ll be able to use an Avaya device (Flare or a Softphone for example) and browse / search the Skype directory of 500 million plus names.  Find the one you want and click to call.  Brilliant and bring it on soon please. 

And keeping with Skype, at their keynote David Gurle (General Manager and Vice President of Skype for Business) announced a strategic partnership with the Go2meeting people Citrix.  What this means is soon you’ll be able to take your Skype voice and video conferences to the next level and with the click of a button, launch a Go2meeting session.  This is a great move for Skype as it further enhances their credentials as a business offering though I fully expect to have to pay for this feature. 

One last company I was happy to see make an announcement was our old friend snom.  This company has always worked hard to produce feature rich IP phones that conform to the SIP standard and now they have got themselves into the IP PBX space.  The snom ONE plus PBX was debuted and it looks a good option for business up to the 150 seat mark. 

So to sum up, a great show that I encourage people to attend as the panel discussions are broad and informative, the teaching sessions are focused on what people really need to understand today and the exhibition is large with top quality exhibitors displaying products that you’ll certainly be wanting to try our for your enterprise. 


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