Author: Paul Desmond

A post I wrote late last year about WebRTC noted that more and more applications for the technology would be coming out in 2015 and beyond, so I figured it was time to see where things stand. WebRTC, for Real-time Communications, promises to enable audio, video and data communications in a peer-to-peer fashion from directly within a web browser, without the need for a phone, IP-based PBX, UC server or any other infrastructure. While it’s still not clear just how widespread use of WebRTC is, the sorts of things companies can do with the technology are coming into focus. In this post,…

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I’m sure we’ve all heard lots about the Internet of Things and how all sorts of devices will be outfitted with sensors so they can be monitored from afar, and all the possibilities IoT holds in store. But after listening to my colleague Kevin Gulley’s podcast interview with an executive from Jupiter Systems, it hit home how IoT data also has a significant role to play in unified communications. Jupiter is an interesting company. Its history lies in “display walls,” which involve multiple monitors working in unison to display all sorts of information and video content. Jupiter, founded in 1982, pioneered the concept, according…

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Unified communications implementations are difficult to effectively monitor and manage simply because there are so many components, and they’re not necessarily all from the same provider. Even if they are, at least some components were likely gained through acquisitions, so integration may not be quite as neat and clean as customer would like. With this topic in mind I talked with Darc Rasmussen, CEO and Managing Director of IR, which makes proactive performance management tools for various areas of IT, including UC. UC presents a particularly vexing monitoring and management challenge because of all the capabilities it integrates, Rasmussen says.…

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As more companies, large and small, deploy UC solutions, they are looking for ways to effectively test, monitor and manage these mission-critical applications. Riverbed Technology has been talking for some time about the four pillars of unified communications management. The topic came up again when my colleague Kevin Gulley met with some Riverbed execs at the recent Enterprise Connect event, so we thought it worthwhile to explore just where the concept came from and why they believe it vital to long-term UC success. First, the pillars. They are: Automated testingConfiguration managementPerformance managementRemote troubleshooting To learn more about where they came from,…

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When most people hear the name Vonage they likely think of the company that was an early leader in providing voice over IP (VoIP) services to consumers, enabling millions to say goodbye to far more costly landline services. Now that same company is vying to become a leader in unified communications (UC) services for business customers, and is gaining traction in a specific market: companies with lots of relatively small locations. Retail stores and chain restaurants are prime examples, companies that may have thousands of locations but only need 10 to 20 lines at each, says Clark Peterson, President of Telesphere, a Vonage…

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Skype for Business (the former Lync) is set for general availability this week so it’s time to take a look at just what kind of impact it may have on the unified communications market along with any challenges that customers may face should they decide to roll it out. As with all things Microsoft, it’s the channel partners that will ultimately play a large role in determining how successful Skype for Business ultimately is so I talked with Justin Stevens, Director of North American Channels for Sonus Networks. Sonus makes session border controllers and other devices that play a key role in securing and…

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It’s been well-documented that SIP is taking off in a big way in the U.S. and North America in general, so it’s only natural that multi-national companies would want to use the service in other regions as well. The good news is SIP is now becoming more readily available in Europe and other markets as well. “SIP is gaining traction in the EU,” says Peter Quinlan, VP of the Integrated Business Video Services for Tata Communications. Tata is an international company with broad experience helping multi-nationals deploy SIP to their widespread locations. “Being behind the U.S. is a result of lagging regulations,…

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We’ve reported a couple of times on the viability of Skype and, more recently, Skype for Business, to support business-grade unified communications applications. In the interest of equal time, in this post we’ll take a look at whether Google Hangouts is now business-ready. Hangouts has some interesting features going for it, not least of which is video conferencing for up to 15 participants, including those who don’t have a Google Apps account – although you can also restrict access if you like. A feature called Hangouts On Air allows for broadcasting of video to an unlimited number of people. That’d be handy…

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The SIP trunk market is booming as companies are flocking to the service in order to save money and support their unified communications applications, as we reported in a previous post. But as companies install SIP trunks, they would do well to consider it’s effect on another issue: 911 emergency calls. While it’s well know, or should be, that voice over IP (VoIP) complicates calls to 911, E-911 services have been available for years to help companies deal with the issue. But SIP presents new wrinkles, according to a webinar hosted by 911 Emergency Telecom (911ETC), which sells E-911 services. The good…

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We’ve written about the session initiation protocol (SIP) many times on this site, and with good reason: it’s crucial to establishing sessions in various unified communications applications. In the reporting of these stories, we are increasingly hearing about another, related protocol: Diameter. Figuring our readers were likewise hearing Diameter chatter, we thought we’d dedicate a post to explaining what the protocol is all about and just how important it is. As it turns out, Diameter is indeed important, but really only to carriers. It’s part of the plumbing that enables effective communications for smart phones, tablets and the like in a wireless…

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It may seem hard to believe, but cloud-based contact centers have been around for some 15 years now, according to the market watchers at DMG Consulting. Indeed, it’s a market that is maturing – and the numbers bear that out. While year over year growth is slowing in terms of percentages, the market is a healthy one. DMG expects the number of cloud-based contact center seats to grow by 20% in 2015, 18% in 2016 and 2017, and 16% in 2018, according to the 2014-15 edition of its Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report. Those numbers jibe reasonably well with predictions…

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All companies these days pay at least some attention to security; it’s hard not to when news breaks about major breaches seemingly every week. While organizations of all stripes almost certainly do their best to protect intellectual property, customer data and anything covered by industry regulations, whether security efforts extend to all areas of their unified communications implementations, including voice, is another question. “UC is flexible, has multiple modalities and mobility features – these are all new ways attackers can try to penetrate the network, or for data to leave the company,” says Paul DeLuca, Director of Infrastructure and Security…

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The cost of implementing, owning and operating IP telephony systems fell by 28% last year while the total cost of ownership for unified communications implementations increased dramatically, by 83%. But the news isn’t all bad for UC; much of that increase is attributed to users adding more applications to their implementations than in the past – and presumably getting more value. Conceptual image – rise and falling These are the highlights from a Nemertes Research summary of its IPT/UC TCO study, performed last year. The company surveyed 189 enterprises altogether, a mix of in-person interviews and web-based surveys, a process it’s been…

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As the use of mobile unified communications applications grows (and evidence points to that being the case), companies need to ensure they’re addressing a related security wrinkle: protecting real-time mobile communications. We’ve long talked about various technologies for protecting mobile data, meaning files, email and the like. Companies have a number of options for tackling that, from virtualization technologies that essentially keep all data within the data center to mobile device management and remote wipe capabilities to zap any sensitive data from a lost or stolen mobile device. But we haven’t heard a whole lot about protecting real-time mobile communications sessions…

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Imagine you work in a call center and every so often you pick up a call and hear nothing but a maddening screeching sound on the line. Over time, the screeching calls become more frequent, every 3rd or 4th call. Pretty soon you’d be dreading each new call. That’s exactly what happened to a bank that had become the victim of a form of denial of service (DOS) attack. The attack went on for more than a year before the company was able to sort it out and address it, with some help from the FBI. On top of putting its contact…

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As unified communications applications become more prevalent, it’s only natural that users and enterprises will come to rely on them more and more, making it mission critical that they be always available. If users can’t get to the apps that they’ve come to rely on to do their job, be it voice, instant messaging, conferencing, desktop video or what-have-you, productivity will naturally suffer. Companies need to take steps, then, to ensure reliability of their UC implementations. And those steps will be somewhat different depending on whether the company uses a premises-based or cloud-based UC solution. In this two-part blog series,…

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It’s winter in New England and those of us with school-age children know that when snow is in the forecast we may get a rude awakening: a 5:30 a.m. phone call from the school superintendent telling us school is cancelled or delayed. Just to make sure, that will be followed by a text message and an email with the same news. In my town, these messages go out via a reverse 911 system. It’s quite effective at spreading news of such important events. Pretty much unavoidable, even (although to be fair you can limit the ways in which the school…

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The session initial protocol (SIP) is taking off in a big way among enterprises, with more and more of them using it for applications ranging from softphones and enterprise voice to conferencing of various kinds, including audio, video and web. These same companies are catching on to the idea that a session border controller (SBC) is a crucial underpinning of those SIP-based services. From where I’m sitting, those are the biggest findings from “2015 Unified Communications, SIP, and SBC Plans and Priorities,” a survey of some 150 companies by the analyst firm Webtorials and sponsored by Sonus Networks. Webtorials is run by a pair of…

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And if you combine headsets with treadmills you get even more highly productive and healthy teams. We have previously extolled the virtues of a good headset in a UC environment, and how they boost factors including comfort and convenience. But combine a good headset with a quality UC environment and you can boost the productivity level of entire teams of workers. At least, that was the experience at Interior Architects, a 30-year-old global architectural firm focused solely on interior spaces. While some 75 of its 400 employees work in the company’s San Francisco headquarters, the remainder are all over the globe. Most…

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Industry pundits and researchers are predicting 2015 will be a big year for hosted unified communications solutions. That, in turn, will be a positive development for mobile UC users, who will likely say, “It’s about time.” To date, there’s been scant evidence that UC is catching on in a big way with mobile users but it appears that may be changing. In its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) report, Gartner cited “mobile-only” UC deployments as one of four key trends. As the report said: There are now isolated cases in which an entire company will not…

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