Latest Columns

Disaster Preparedness

Chicken Little's Predicament - Show Courage or Caution
"The sky is falling" is a phrase central to the Western variations of a moral folktale that dates back more than two millennia. The moral varies between emphasizing courage or not taking every story at face value. Generally known as Chicken Little in the United States, the lead character mistakenly thinks the sky is falling and spreads panic throughout the local community. Ultimately, a sly fox named Foxy Loxy invites Chicken Little and his panicked companions into his den and where they become his main course for dinner.

Regulation Watch

EU Adopts Cybersecurity Directive That May Impact VoIP and Cloud Services
On July 6, 2016, the EU Parliament adopted a directive of the security of network and information systems. The NIS Directive aims to promote a common level of security of network and information systems across the EU through improved cybersecurity measures at the national level, increased cooperation within the EU, and risk management and incident reporting by "operators of essential services" and "digital service providers." EU member states will have 21 months to transpose the NIS Directive into their national laws, and an additional six months to identify covered service providers.

Wireless Wonk

FCC Releases Millimeter Spectrum Order
The FCC is on a roll with approving more unlicensed spectrum and more sharing of spectrum allowing a limited publicly owned property to be efficiently used.

What’s Next

Value-Added Services in the VoLTE World
3G networks ushered in the era of everything is data, where applications that utilized the data network to add services started to put a dent into these service provider-controlled VAS. For instance, the go-to messaging method went from texting (offered by the service provider) to Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, Instagram (apps simply running on any data network). This is a very different paradigm indeed, and one that has rocked the service provider world.

Guest Room

Why Business Leaders Can't Afford To Ignore Robotic Automation
From automated vehicles to workplace processes, the potential for using automation to improve and accelerate business is endless. It is already being implemented across a wide variety of industries, including medicine and financial services. But, believe it or not, we've barely even begun to scratch the surface. According to a report published by Transparency Market Research, the global IT robotic automation market is predicted to be worth $4.98 billion by 2020 - a substantial increase from the $0.183 billion it was valued at in 2013.

Real-Time Web Solutions

The Real-Time Web Is Becoming a Reality
Regardless of whether you are an enterpise with an app for customer interaction, have an existing application in the market, or are looking at new app business models, considering how to integrate real time is critical. The Asia Real Time Web Solutions event will be Oct. 28 through 29 in Bejing, China. Just as the real-time web is accelerating in North America and Europe, the capability to use real time is accelerating in Asia as well.

Hosted VoIP

The Promise of ENUM
Ten years ago the promise of ENUM - Electronic Numbers meant to replace PSTN telephone numbers as a mechanism for routing telephone calls to the right place - was all the rage. The idea then was that cost, quality, and network utilization could be refined by moving calls from origination to destination in their native VoIP format.

Application Networking

Software-Defined Applications Break Traditional Security
In today's dynamic and virtualized application environments, traditional security models are no longer an effective means of protecting networks. The introduction of software-defined architectures has forced organizations to rethink how they utilize and deploy technologies to protect their applications and data in these environments.

Publisher’s Outlook

Talari Adds Firewall, Features to SD-WAN Solution
SD-WAN is another one of those growth areas in tech that often goes unnoticed. Some time back I went to visit Talari to learn about its solutions in the space. This was before the term was called SD-WAN. I named the company one to watch in 2015.

Top of Mind

Network Transformation Leads to Suppliers' Business Transformation
Transformation: It's a word communications and networking companies use frequently these days. But typically these entities use the term to describe what's happening - or what they wish to happen - at their customers, as organizations leverage new technologies to improve their businesses.

Convergence Corner

Looking at the World of Collaboration through a Prysm
Today's so-called digital workplace is creating new ways for businesses to collaborate and conduct business both internally and externally, with colleagues, partners, customers, prospects, and any other stakeholders, regardless of location. Geography is no longer a barrier to collaboration; nor, frankly, is the type of interaction or collaboration - applications, content, video, voice, multiparty interactions can all be shared interactively in the digital workspaces that are replacing traditional conference rooms.

Guest Room

How Mobile Operators Can Better Support Today's Global Customer
The world is getting smaller and smaller, with people across all countries using phone calls, text messages, and applications like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to connect with family, friends and colleagues. This type of interaction is only expected to increase, with experts predicting that by 2020, there will be 6.1 billion people using apps via smartphones for communication. That's over double the 2.6 billion users in 2014.

Enterprise View

The Value of Support in Closing Sales
There are many reasons to migrate to the cloud, including cost savings, business continuity, and ease of use. Certainly, freeing up IT staff is also a principal factor. By eliminating routine chores like updates and bug fixes, IT staff members can focus on their mission-critical core operations. Regardless of the specific reasons the customer decided to migrate, it selected your company's cloud/hybrid solution based on its reputation and the assurances made during the sales process. Therefore your company's crucial and ongoing responsibility is the constant reaffirmation that the customer made the correct decision.

What’s Next

The Marriage of the Internet of Things and Real-Time Communications
Device connectivity and the Internet of Things are taking the industry by storm. IDC estimates that more than 29 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. Cisco estimates more than 50 billion connected devices. And these devices will drive new industries and revenue streams to the tune of more than $1.7 trillion by 2020.

Convergence Corner

ITEXPO 2017: That Which is Old is New Again
This February will mark the 34th edition of ITEXPO. I don't know that there are many longer running communications events in North America that have consistently delivered some of the best education and business networking opportunities in the industry. Coming Feb. 8-10, 2017, to the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, this next edition will provide great value to attendees and exhibitors, as we have been hard at work collaborating internally and with vendors, partners, and analysts to create the best ITEXPO yet.

Hosted VoIP

Considering Communications Platform-as-a-Service
In June 2016 Twilio went public and has subsequently soared above all expectations to a multi-billion-dollar valuation - 15 times 2015 revenues for an enterprise that has yet to make money. In May, Vonage acquired Nexmo for around four times 2015 revenue. Both of these transactions heralded the arrival of another category within the larger business communications market dubbed communications platform-as-a-service. In this brief piece I hope to put this opportunity in perspective, explain why it is so hot and give my opinion on how service providers can benefit from these cloud APIs.

Rethinking Communications

Why Aren't You Using Video?
If you follow me here, you'll know that over the past few months I've been exploring various questions regarding various communications applications, such as telephony and email. Habits become deeply ingrained, and we don't often give them much thought, making this a great topic for my Rethinking Communications column.

Application Networking

Micro-Infrastructure: How the Need to Maintain It Impacts Network Design & Management
One size fits all is no longer good enough. Products tailored to individual user preferences continue to grow more common, and modern IT architectures must be able to support them. Thankfully, virtualization, DevOps, and other initiatives have made it possible to customize IT applications and efficiently deliver microservices to the general public, though consumers may not know it by that name.

Publisher’s Outlook

Gogo, IBM, and Weather Company Reduce Flight Turbulence
We are literally in what seems to be a golden age of API integration. No, APIs aren't new, but something magical seems to be happening in the space as evidenced by the huge amount of news related to the topic recently. Twilio, an API company, had a blockbuster IPO debut. Without Twilio, some of the best Uber communications features wouldn't exist.

Top of Mind

Google Wins API Lawsuit
What constitutes unfair copying? This question comes up again and again in debates related to a variety of industries, and the software space is no exception. But, interestingly, a recent lawsuit involving tech giants Google and Oracle focused on application programming interfaces, which need to have some commonality with the software programs with which they interface to work, making the whole debate a bit hairier.

Convergence Corner

Microsoft Releases REST API Guidelines, Says Documentation is Critical
One of the big themes apparent from the first day of the recent All About the API conference is that, while there is little doubt APIs will dominate the business landscape going forward, thanks to the incredible potential they have for creating new business and revenue opportunities, the key lies in a well-designed API strategy.

Disaster Preparedness

Balance, Training and Common Sense
"Balance, training and common sense are the critical skills separating you from life and death," said the tightrope walker to his student. The same is true of protecting the life of your organization's data.

Regulation Watch

Revisiting E-911 Location Accuracy Requirements
Issues regarding the provisioning of E-911 services have been around for as long as VoIP. In the early years, VoIP service providers routed calls to the main number of the local emergency service provider. Following the issuance of Federal Communications Commission rules, however, VoIP providers were required to obtain the subscriber's address, route calls dynamically to the local public safety answering point, and provide customer disclosures regarding the differences between traditional E-911 and the services provided by VoIP providers. In the years since these rules were issued, the FCC has periodically asked if new technologies such as GPS or other systems could improve VoIP E-911 delivery.

Wireless Wonk

The New New Spectrum: 3.5GHz
To manage the newly available TV spectrum, the FCC is using a unique spectrum database system built and tested by the TV White Space broadband radio entrepreneurs. The database will allow regulators and mobile carriers to make efficient use of the newly licensed TV spectrum and allow the TV White Space broadband providers to use the remaining unlicensed spectrum.

Rethinking Communications

Why Are We Still Working in Offices?
Going back a few posts - to my Why Are We Still Using Desk Phones? piece - I viewed this as a one-off premise, but it's since taken a life of its own. A good question always begets more questions, and why is one of the best ones to ask. Of course, it's totally aligned with the spirit of this column, as there's no end of things to rethink that we've been stubbornly clinging to in the world of work, especially around communications technologies.

Hosted PBX

Selling to Business Verticals
Summed up these are an overall decline in voice communications, the emergence of unified communications as a way of centering communications tools in the middle of business processes, and the overall trend toward commodity status of the standard PBX - whether delivered on premises or hosted. What I have markedly noticed - primarily among service providers that use VoIP Logic's PaaS - is that operators that focus on specific industry verticals like financial services, health care, hospitality and others increase their odds of winning business against the competing providers.

Application Networking

Software-Defined Everything: The Fruit Salad of Networks
We are in the midst of an IT evolution. Both IT organizations and vendors are implementing software-based solutions to replace their legacy hardware technologies. Software can adjust to changing network designs and conditions more easily and quickly compared to proprietary hardware-based solutions. Software-defined everything, or SDx, is becoming the model for next-generation network architectures and shifting networks toward flexibility and agility.

Publisher’s Outlook

Flowroute Highlights the Gargantuan Opportunity for APIs
Flowroute is one of the companies in technology that gets it when it comes to APIs. The company provides carrier communication services enabling developers to integrate calling and messaging capabilities into their digital offerings or applications.

Top of Mind

What Is Commodity Hardware?
Networks are becoming more software-centric, with the goal of making communications service providers more agile, cost-efficient, quick to market, and less vendor-dependent. But while software is where much of the value resides, the fact is that it has to run on something, and that something is hardware.

Convergence Corner

Cisco VNI Sees IP Traffic Near Tripling by 2020
As resources that tend to become the gold standard as references for what lies ahead, there are few that can rival the Cisco Visual Networking Index. The latest VNI predicts that global IP traffic will nearly triple at a compound annual growth rate of 22 percent over the next five years.

Real-Time Web Solutions

Choosing Your Path to the Real-Time Web
It is becoming increasingly clear that real-time is going to be the next big thing for the web. In fact, while Web 2.0 was all about social, groups, crowd-whatever, it certainly appears that Web 3.0 is going to be about real time: real-time chat, real-time video, real-time audio and real-time data. In fact, even the Internet of Things has a huge real-time web component that many are trying hard to understand.

Enterprise View

Fear of the Dark - A Reseller Challenge
Nyctophobia, or fear of the dark, is a relatively common phobia. Many psychologists and behavioral scientists believe it is a link back to ancient times when nighttime predatory animals had an advantage over humans. Consequently, fear of the dark was a rational response. Studies also indicate nyctophobia may be a learned experience analogous to people learning about predators lurking on the World Wide Web or using the dark web for criminal purposes.

What’s Next

How Do Service Providers Feel About Open Source?
Open source used to be a hands-off technology for service providers. It was thought that open source technology is less reliable, and less secure than proprietary software. A product being based on non-traditional development and testing approaches made business executives sick with thoughts of chaos and disaster. But with major tech companies such as Google and Facebook increasingly using open source, and succeeding, that view started to change - even with the more established, traditional companies like the service providers.

Hosted VoIP

Android OS - Can It Save the Desktop SIP Phone?
Telephone manufacturers are starting to more explicitly market Android desk phones, like Jablocom's Raven, as smart desk phones or as a flagship model - Fanvil - and other major manufacturers like Panasonic plan to shift more of their SIP phone catalog to Android in the near future.

Application Networking

IT Agility or Stability - Can We Have Both?
IT infrastructures are evolving to a virtualized model through cloud, hybrid cloud and software-defined data centers, a shift designed to create a more dynamic and flexible application delivery architecture. But agile networks that can provide on-demand availability seem to be contrary to traditional, fixed networks, which provide a more stable framework for IT functions. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds?

Publisher’s Outlook

Perfecto Speeds Time to Market, Aids Cloud Testing
Recently, my company, TMC, launched a new and very exciting event called All About The API, the leading conference bringing together companies that offer APIs to the developers and product managers looking to be where the next opportunity lies.

Top of Mind

Ericsson Reorganizes in Effort to Build Growth, Profitability
Ericsson will have a new organizational structure and some new executive leadership starting next month. As the company announced in April, these executive and organizational changes are an effort to accelerate its growth and profitability, deliver a higher level of customer service and eliminate duplication across capabilities and portfolios.

Convergence Corner

Mobile-First Businesses Creating Demand for Data-Only MVNO Model
While consumer MVNOs have been hit or miss (more miss, traditionally - remember ESPN?), DataXoom's business-specific model is founded on providing not only a service that will benefit businesses, but with a service commitment and existing channel relationships to match. It would be surprising to not see this market grow.

Real-Time Web Solutions

It's a Web World After All
I remember the first time I rode on the Disney attraction It's a Small World. The key message is that we all live in a small world, and we all work together and should communicate with each other. Beyond the message, the reality is the attraction consists of hundreds of dedicated systems controlling each of the figures or sets of figures. Each system is optimized to the movement of that figure or set. As you move through the attraction, you interact with each scene, much as we interact with websites in the web.

What’s Next

Does Google's Support for RCS Signal a Reinvigoration for the Technology?
And really that's what it is all about: business. Will RCS ever truly replace the glory days of SMS/MMS? No. Will RCS end the OTT guys' reign? No. But will RCS actually be deployed, giving value to hundreds and hundreds of millions of subscribers, and enable more than a few companies to carve out a RCS niche? Seems likely.

Wireless Wonk

The FCC Hacks into Mobile Privacy
The FCC's proposal imposing privacy requirements on mobile carriers is inevitable. Courts, agencies, and legislators around the globe are quickly closing in on all entities to protect privacy. U.S. mobile carriers, and wired common carriers, will now be required by the FCC to implement very similar privacy policies that are imposed on web firms like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Disaster Preparedness

Embrace the Dark Side
Implementation is where TMC can be a big help. Collaboration is a valuable tool, and TMCnet's Online Communities are where to find others with the same goals and interests. The Cloud Security, Cyber Security and Dark Fiber Communities should be your first stops.

Regulation Watch

The FCC Considers ISP Privacy Requirements
The issue of consumer privacy has captured increasing FCC attention, and it appears that the new proposal is intended to advance this issue deeper into the broadband ecosystem. Managed service providers that provide Internet access services to their customers, in particular, should pay close attention to this issue as it evolves over the coming weeks and months.

Rethinking Communications

Why Are We (Still) Using UC?
There's a reason why Avaya just launched a standalone entity called Zang. The same goes for Cisco with Spark and Unify with Circuit. Similarly, there's a reason why Vonage acquired gUnify, and why RingCentral did the same with Glip, just to name two. UC has been in the market for many years now, yet all this hyper-activity has come along in the last year or so. All of these moves speak to a problem set that vendors and operators recognize, and are not really being addressed by UC in its current form.

Hosted VoIP

How to Harness Big Data and Cognitive Computing
Technologies like Splunk and others that process gobs of data and extract operational intelligence are the tip of the iceberg. At VoIP Logic, we have been using Splunk for several years. While it is powerful in the analysis, it has been hard, so far, to couple the lessons that can be found in the data with intelligent cognition available from systems like IBM's Watson.

Application Networking

The Transition from Network to Application Delivery Management
DevOps breaks down barriers through agile and continuous development processes to provide seamless transitions between development, testing, staging, and production environments. This new development model requires the integration of the different IT organizations.

Publisher’s Outlook

Mitel Buys Polycom: The Good and The Bad
Another important point here is that scale matters to buyers of enterprise phone systems. And the Polycom name is on par with Cisco to many people. This move cements Mitel as a major player in communications and tech and gives buyers more confidence.

Top of Mind

Chatbots - Ready to Take Over the World?
Social customer experience company LiveWorld already has an integration with Messenger. And Aspect last month formally unveiled its own chatbot, called Mila.

Publisher’s Outlook

Bolste Offers Your Company Workflow 2.0
If you want to duplicate the functionality offered by Bolste you'd have to purchase individual subscriptions to cloud-based services and then integrate them through APIs. Bolste offers an easier and more streamlined alternative.

Application Networking

As Encryption Use Rises, Impact on Security Designs Rises Too
Increasing amounts of traffic on the intranet and Internet are being encrypted. Individuals are concerned about their privacy and utilizing encrypted services more. Companies are protecting and securing the communications to their applications. Finally, HTTP/2 was introduced last year and most web clients encrypt HTTP/2 traffic by default. Sandvine predicts that more than 70 percent of Internet traffic will be encrypted by the end of 2016.

Real-Time Web Solutions

The Web Paradigm - Integrating Communications into Applications
Since the mid-2000s the concept of integrating communications into business processes has been a topic of repeated conversations in our industry. The concept of communications enabled business processes - or CEBP - has been understood to have huge potential. However, while products like Skype for Business are well integrated into the personal process of Outlook, the integration of communications into business applications has lagged far behind.

Convergence Corner

Think Tank Calls for NASA to Unleash Gryphon-X
I won't spoil the why ICIT feels Gryphon-X should not become just another proposal that sits on a shelf someplace. Community members are encouraged to read the details in the white paper about this project. It clearly speaks to the challenges that have become a priority of the U.S. government and those with responsibilities for the protection of absolutely critical digital assets and capabilities of our nation's infrastructure.

Wireless Wonk

Will Wireless Disrupt the Cable Model?
The opportunity to disrupt the cable model seems possible. What did not work 15 years ago with LMDS could work today. If technically successful and the marketplace buys the benefits, Starry could potentially take a slice of the cable business and significantly deliver a viable competitive alternative to 1Gig of Internet and cable TV.

Rethinking Communications

Why Are We Still Using Email?
This question in the above headline is definitely in the spirit of my column, and is a logical follow-on to last month's post, which begged the same question about desk phones. The vast majority still uses both and will continue doing so, but things are changing, and these are legitimate questions to be asking.

What’s Next

The Case for a Real-Time Application Delivery Controller
The telecom ecosystem has always responded to the challenges the new networks bring forth. New products and new ways of thinking have spurred innovation since I've been part of this industry. As telecom and IP continue to converge, specialization of existing elements will be required as voice becomes a component, not the reason for existence, of the overall network. The real-time application delivery controller is one example.

Enterprise View

Customer Care and Consistency
The speed of today's communications technology and social media choices like Twitter and Facebook, plus the search capabilities of Google, combine to make rapid change inevitable. Quality and consistency can easily take a second seat to customer acquisition programs which ultimately could prove disastrous.

Hosted VoIP

Current Needs and Hot Prospects in 2016
Every year I enjoy writing a piece that amounts to a strategic assessment of where hosted PBX/unified communications is headed. It is valuable to take a step back from daily challenges and think more about the medium- and long-term evolution of the market and the technology. Like you, my sources for understanding what is hot are trade shows, blogs, publications like INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, and trend reports like our annual VoIP Service Provider Market Report. However, my best sources are the 32 service providers partners who rely, in part, on us to innovate the platform they use so that they can stay competitive.

GUEST ROOOM

AI Worries Millennial Workers Too: What We Can Do to Make Sure Artifial Intelligence is a Human-Led Journey
But despite this challenging future, our next generation of workers feels mostly positive about technology. They are interested and willing to learn the skills necessary to excel in the future workforce. For example, 39 percent of young people globally are interested in leaning how to build a mobile app, and 33 percent are interested in big data analytics and data science. So despite the latent fears, millennials are optimistic about their own future, where learning computer science skills and coding must become the norm.

TOP OF MIND

IOVOX Insights Delivers Google Analytics-Like Experience for Phone Calls
Speaking of women at work, this issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY features an interview with Hilary Gadda, who was recently named president of Women in the Channel, an organization of which she is a founding board member.

Wireless Wonk

Hacking Drones: 802.15.4 and 802.11
What's the big deal with new flying battery-powered toys that the FAA is spending our tax dollars trying to regulate? The big deal is that drones are low-cost, extremely mobile IoT devices capable of collecting data and moving goods as we've never seen before.

Regulation Watch

The Minnesota PUC Pushes to Regulate Fixed VoIP Services
Over the past several months the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has been engaged in a dispute with certain cable service providers over the MPUC's jurisdiction over "fixed" VoIP services.

Rethinking Communications

Why Are We Still Using Desk Phones?
There's definitely a generational element to consider, and despite what you may be hearing from Millennials, desk phones are alive and well.

Guest Room (with Johan Gott of A.T. Kearney)

The Changing Face of Offshoring
The business process outsourcing industry, once seen as the displacer of domestic jobs, now faces displacement itself.

Real Time Web Solutions

Will We See the End of the Phone Number? Facebook Messenger is Working on It
In the world of computing, the Web paradigm has virtually eliminated the client-server model for many applications.

Hosted PBX

Business Voice after Peak Telephony
Analysis of reliable industry data by Disruptive Analytics indicates that, for most of the developed economies of Western Europe, North America, and East Asia, peak telephony occurred sometime between 2008 and 2013.

Publisher's Outlook

Lifesize Reinvents Itself in Cloud Video
I first introduced you to Lifesize in 2007, explaining the company offered near telepresence quality at a fraction of the cost.

Disaster Preparedness

Basic Rules of the Game
The last few years have presented cybersecurity professionals with a host of new threats and created major problems for senior management. Cybersecurity specialists are in high demand and short supply.

Application Networking

The Blurring of the IT Organization
The IT environment is rapidly changing with the evolution of virtualized infrastructures creating software defined data centers utilizing technologies like SDN and NFV.

Convergence Corner

APIs, Cloud, and Managed Services Create Buzz at ITEXPO
While there were likely several factors that drove the excitement level, one of the most openly evident variables is always the engagement and enthusiasm of exhibitors. We've all been at shows where booth staff members are constantly on their phones, or standing around talking to one another.

Top of Mind

DeveloperProgram.com Helps Support Developers, Partners
You may not have heard of developerprogram.com, but you've probably heard of Avaya, Cisco, Harman Kardon, Sprint, Vodafone, and many of the other customers for which the company supports developer and other partner programs.

DeveloperProgram.com Helps Support Developers, Partners
You may not have heard of developerprogram.com, but you've probably heard of Avaya, Cisco, Harman Kardon, Sprint, Vodafone, and many of the other customers for which the company supports developer and other partner programs.

New Report Offers Insight on Tech-Related Salaries, Minority Pay Inequity
Our annual IEEE-USA Salary and Benefits survey, the most comprehensive and accurate survey to date, provides insights into these trends, quantifies the value of advanced degrees, and identifies the best-compensated areas of technical competence.

Convergence Corner

Location, Location, Location
We're in an unprecedented era in the tech space that combines countless startups looking to leverage the emergence of things like cloud computing and the Internet of Things within a mobile, app-driven economy, with the natural consolidation that follows. In addition to the technological innovation being demonstrated, a natural side effect is a constant demand for real estate at a time when costs are escalating and viable site options are limited.

Wireless Wonk

The Problem with Mobile Device Cybersecurity Standards
As we all know, cybersecurity is being taken seriously by the U.S. government. Cyberhackers are costly and are retrieving the royal jewels.

WebRTC to WebComms

WebRTC and the Real-Time Web - Alive and Well in China
In early January, the first Real Time Web and WebRTC event in China premiered in Beijing. This event was the first in the change from the WebRTC focus of WebRTC Conference and Expo to the larger focus of Real Time Web Solutions. The change in focus is to reflect the changes we are seeing in the market. The rapid adoption of the web communications model is emerging in mobile applications, web apps, and customer care. In all of these cases, the new paradigm of communications is managed within the application environment directly and without relying on traditional telecommunications carriers.

Rethinking Communications

How Not to Make Unified Communications Strategic
As businesses consider plans for unified communications, the decisions have implications that go well beyond technology, so there needs to be an organization-wide rationale. IT will certainly gain some operational benefit, but there are bigger drivers that will ultimately support the business case.

Enterprise View

Start 2016 on Right Foot:Fight the Dark Side with Positive Positioning
Why can't TV channels ever broadcast good news? This is a familiar question and complaint, and it certainly applies to the coverage global communications and the Internet received in the past year. Frankly, the TV station reasoning is simple - good events are not entertaining. Billions of messages being sent and received securely and thousands of safe airplane flights are boring to report simply because those are the expected results. Someone hacking into government files or a plane crash killing 100 people is certainly distressing, but it does get people to watch the evening news.

Hosted VoIP

Unified Communication + Cloud Information Technology = Unified Collaboration
Thanks to VoIP, the cloud, WebRTC, and mobile technology, communications is everywhere. Many of us (at least in the Internet telephony community) feel that we have achieved, or are well on our way to achieving, ubiquitous accessibility. When I receive a call or an IM/SMS, my phone, computer, mobile app, and tablet all tell me. All these devices know where I am (presence) and are able to pass the call to me - media and signaling. Unified communications? Check!

What’s Next

What Would an IoT Service Provider Even Do?
The Internet of Things means everything is connected. All machines will have sensors and network connectivity that will allow them to communicate with each other and exchange data. It's the thing that will take the world from having just smartphones to smart everything.

Publisher’s Outlook

Cisco's Quad Experience Shows Why Spark Bypasses IT Department
The IT department has an unusual relationship with business. In some ways it's been emasculated, sent to its room without dinner and told not to come back until it learns to shut up about all of the devices and apps people want to use without permission. BYOD has become BYO Everything.

Top of Mind

Growing Threats and New Solutions on the Security Front
Security has long been a top-tier, if not the No. 1, concern of enterprise IT professionals. But given the growing sophistication of the world's hackers - which have gone from hobbyists to organizations - and the move of more of our vital infrastructure and intellectual property to the online realm - security has become even more important.

Application Networking - An Eagle Eye

Artificially Intelligent Networks: When do Virtualization and Orchestration Become Self-Evolving and Self-Aware?
The benefits of NFV include increased speed of time to market and services that can be rapidly scaled up/down as required. In the virtualized and cloud computing world, this means that mobile service providers want to achieve agility and elasticity. Agility is the ability to add, remove, or change services quickly and efficiently. Elasticity provides on-demand resourcing, making services scalable to meet the network demands based on capacity, location, and function.

Disaster Preparedness

Dreaming of A Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year?
This traditional year-end greeting, or a similar variation, has been used for centuries to wish others good fortune in the new year. In today's world, however, it may be a more appropriate wish for non-human systems that also need to remain healthy, alive, and profitable. Some of the better known pathogens for both machines and humans originate in Asia and provide an excellent basis for comparison. The Asian Flu is the most recognizable human malady, and leading the list for system pathogens and intrusions are attacks from China and North Korea.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Stellar Growth of SIP Trunking
SIP trunking adoption has been on a meteoric rise in 2015. SIP trunking services now generate more than $3.5 billion in annual revenue, according to Frost & Sullivan. IHS expects enterprise adoption to hit 62 percent by 2017, up from a strong 45 percent today. Carrier-driven SIP trunking deployments will accelerate this growth substantially in 2016 and beyond.

WebRTC to WebComm

WebRTC - It's Everywhere, and Not Visible at All
The reality of WebRTC is that its success will, to a great degree, be totally hidden. Much as the browser hides HTML and the associated technology; while they are incredibly valuable, they are just part of the framework to most users. In the end, the webification of communications will result in the technology being hidden, resulting in an explosion of use.

Top of Mind

Focus on Enabling Business Transformation - Not Just Selling Your Stuff
We've had this discussion again and again over the years. But apparently it bears repeating. We as an industry need to stop putting the focus on selling specific boxes and software and pushing technology, and instead figure out how to apply our expertise and solutions to help companies transform their businesses for the better.

Regulatory Watch

FCC Addresses VoIP Symmetry Rule
On Feb. 11, 2015, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling clarifying the VoIP symmetry rule. That rule, adopted in the 2011 USF/ICC Order, concerns the right of local exchange carriers to assess access charges on other carriers for functions performed by it and/or by its retail VoIP partner, regardless of whether the functions performed or the technology used correspond precisely to those used under a traditional plain old telephone system architecture.

Hosted VoIP

Trends in Hosted PBX and Unified Communications
For the past several years VoIP Logic has been conducting a survey of VoIP service providers to improve our knowledge of the market we serve. Strategically, I see the broad trends of a shifting landscape - toward cloud services, toward mobility, and toward increased competition. But the survey really helps me to understand the decision process of our more precise target audience of smaller and medium-sized operators focused on hosted PBX, unified communications, and other business communications services.

Guest Room

The Trouble with Tech Mergers
Dell is doing a mega-deal to acquire EMC for $67 billion. Activist investors are talking up the glory of putting together Mitel and Polycom. To both I say, "Good luck with that." The dirty little secret of the past decade or so is large tech mergers are, at best, neutral. At worst, they are ongoing disasters.

Convergence Corner

The Time is Right for Samsung Business
For good reason, when people hear the brand, Samsung, they likely associate it with a variety of consumer product lines - specifically, mobile devices, home appliances, and televisions. After all, it seems that just about every home you go into these days, you have an above average probability of seeing the brand on any number of products. But the brand recognition and product experience Samsung has gained in the consumer market is allowing it to also make a real play in the business space with its Samsung Business organization, launched last year.

Wireless Wonk

The FCC's 2016 TV Incentive Auction and Unlicensed Spectrum
We have entered the Mobile Age, and it happened fast. Humankind's invention and rapid adoption of the cell phone service is an advance greater than the Iron Age, Industrial Age, or the Computer Age. By 2020 almost everyone on Earth will have a mobile phone. In other words, while it took 30 years to reach 3.7 billion mobile users, it will take just 5 years to reach another 5 billion. We have just begun to connect.

UC Unplugged

The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding the Call
Enterprises, right and left, struggle with a number of strategic imperatives around customer engagement. One among them is avoiding the call. Competitive pressure and an ongoing desire to cut costs drives organizations to look for ways to automate customer service and elevate the role of their contact center agents by leveraging them for more sophisticated inquiries and complex problems. Automation, however, cannot come at the price of customer alienation. And it doesn't have to, as it presents an opportunity to differentiate.

Publisher’s Outlook

Lemko EZ LTE Really Disrupts the Carrier Model
As I write this, I'm in disbelief, as it seems impossible to take the massive carrier equipment that makes up the multimillion dollar central office LTE network and repackage it into a plug-and-play module that fits on a coffee table. Yet, this is exactly what Norman Fekrat of Lemko shared with me.

Rethinking Communications

How to Make Unified Communications Strategic
As per the namesake of this column, unified communications is a big step up from VoIP, and requires a different way of thinking, not just to get buy-in from management, but also to drive adoption among employees. I have written about UC in previous columns, but not from this perspective, and in the course of my ongoing research, it's a key challenge facing whatever passes for IT in your company. This function increasingly struggles to get the right technology to keep up with end user expectations that are largely being shaped by their experiences as consumers.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

WebRTC: The Killer App for Call Centers
Call centers have become the proving ground for WebRTC. So far, what we've seen in real-world call center deployments is that WebRTC is delivering on ROI, efficiency, and customer service. It's becoming an indispensable killer app for the call center.

Convergence Corner

What's on Your Head?
TMC recently held the latest of its semi-annual editors days, this time in Santa Clara, Calif. The trip to the left coast left me with a number of impressions that warrant mentioning.

Wireless Wonk

Cloud-RAN: Is C-RAN in the Mobile Future?
Cloud-RAN was supposed to be in our present, not our mobile future. But carriers have been slow to adopt small cell HetNets and appear to be slow to adopt cloud-RAN even though it is clearly superior to the higher-cost and more fragile networks built by the carriers themselves. Carriers' radio access network designers have been toying with the C-RAN concept for the last couple of years. Also known as central-RAN, cloud-RAN has spawned multiple startups and drawn the strong interest of the venture community. Potentially, mobile carriers could be delivering most of their 4G and future 5G from cloud-RAN radios.

UC Unplugged

Connecting the Unconnected
True breakthroughs are rare in any industry. So is true innovation. But what does innovation even mean?

What’s Next

NFV Vendor Challenges
We've all likely seen the Gartner hype cycle for emerging technologies curve. I remember many, many years ago when I first saw that curve. I don't even remember the context, but I remember it had the Peak of Inflated Expectations, and then the dip down, and then the path to nirvana. That curve stays relevant over time because it is so true. NFV is currently in the Peak of Inflated Expectation area, or possibly just beyond, and starting its journey to the Trough of Disillusionment.

Rethinking Communications

Two Things to Know About Hosted Unified Communications
Unified communications as a market has never stood still, and the strongest trend lately has been the accelerating shift to hosted offerings. Everything seems to be heading to the cloud these days, and UC is hardly immune. For businesses, the appeal is strong, not just for making UC an opex play, but also to mitigate the deployment complexities and stresses this puts on IT. Vendors have their own reasons, and since anyone can offer cloud services, the range of UC providers has really opened up.

Publisher’s Outlook

Deciphering Apple’s Success Involves a Simple Equation
A recent blog by Charlie Stross of Charlie’s Diary explains why he thinks Apple is blocking Flash from many of its newer devices. In a nutshell, Flash allows cross-platform development, and Apple of course doesn’t want to see this being done. There are other cross-platform tools available for the iPhone, but let’s not go there at this moment.

Guest Room

ARIN’s Guide to IPv6 Preparedness
Every device directly connected to the Internet needs an IP address. There are two versions: IP version 4, better known as IPv4, and IP version 6, aka IPv6. IPv4, the current version, holds 4,294,967,296 addresses, and about 92 percent of them have already been distributed. IPv6, the newer version, holds 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses.

Next Wave Redux

Enterprise Social Networking, Beyond the Enterprise
There’s a classic study, “How Bell Labs Creates Star Performers” by Robert Kelley and Janet Caplan, that was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1993. In their studies, everyone they dealt with was smart. The first difference between star and middle performers was initiative, but No. 2 was work strategies for networking and self-management.

Regulation Watch

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan and Its Affect on VoIP
On March 16, 2010, after a 13-month study, the FCC released “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan,” containing policy recommendations for achieving national goals identified by Congress. The plan recommends six long-term goals, many of which will undoubtedly affect VoIP providers, their markets, and the regulation of their services.

Disaster Preparedness

A Simple, Affordable Business Continuity Strategy
Today’s SMBs are faced with many challenges. Business continuity applications are crucial to a company’s survival. However, the start-up costs and the need for specialized IT staff sometimes prevent or delay a timely BC deployment until it is too late. Fortunately, today’s subscription-based service industry makes it easy and affordable to deploy a BC plan quickly. These solutions are generally referred to as SaaS or cloud computing. Some service providers support reseller channels to make it even easier for SMBs to acquire these technologies.

Tech Score

Developing a ‘Smart Appliance’ Strategy
As ISVs and OEMs rush to plan their cloud computing strategies, IT enterprises are looking to solve real business problems in the near term. Cloud computing is considered a disruptive technology as companies try to maximize their IT-related spending. Analysts report that more than 20 percent of enterprises are either piloting or implementing some cloud/utility computing solutions today and do not plan to own any IT assets after 2012.

Virtualization Reality

VMware: Watching Microsoft and Citrix Partner Up
In a previous virtualization column I discussed how the popularity of virtualization has a good bit to do with provisioning, orchestration, and management. Once a dynamic infrastructure supporting the virtual platform is in place it becomes much easier to provision and turn up new virtual machines and resources than it does to turn up physical resources because the infrastructure is still made up of physical resources: physical machines with real CPUs and RAM, physical networks with real cabling and ports, and physical appliances that are better suited to running on hardware. However, in the current data center model where virtualization is king, physical resources and virtual resources need to work together as one unit. Despite the explosive growth of virtualization over the past few years, this integrated management and provisioning component has been missing.

Top of Mind

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
The need for more wireless spectrum to support the boom in mobile devices and bandwidth has been discussed at great length and, I thought, was an idea on which most in the industry agreed. But recently this supposition, as well as how wireless spectrum is made available for this purpose, has been thrown into question.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

SIP Trunking with Microsoft OCS
SIP trunking with Microsoft Office Communications Server presents a unique challenge, one that’s being faced by many enterprises today. It’s a problem with a simple solution, but one that needs to be addressed in order for SIP trunking to be possible.

Thinking IT Through

Choosing Between UC ROI and TCO Tools
SMBs are approaching UC deployment in a deliberate manner befitting the financial struggles many are experiencing. They see UC as a pathway for addressing several key business pain points.

VoIPeering

CENX - Carrier Ethernet Interconnections with a Voice Exchange
A new entrant to the Ethernet exchange world has arrived – CENX. Carrier Ethernet Neutral Exchange is the proper name and what really defines this business model is the service of facilitating interconnections between Ethernet transport networks. This is done through a common Layer 2 Ethernet switch as VLANs between the carrier participants. Logically, each must be an operator of an Ethernet transport network, or at least have an Ethernet interface, in order to participate.

Viewpoint: Voice of the Customer

Five Things You Can Do to Improve Your Customer Experience
As a customer advocate, I’m happy to hear so many companies talk about the importance of customer experience. But how many are really taking steps to improve it across all channels?

E911 Watch

Building Support for E911 — It Takes a Village
Building support inside your organization to implement E911 is an important task. There are multiple stakeholders within your organization that will be affected in some way by the implementation of E911, and it is important to explain the project to them, identify how E911 will affect them and gain their support. Not only does this approach ensure success in the implementation phase of the project, but it is often the most important success factor in obtaining executive and financial approval to move forward with an E911 project.