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Arthur M. Rosenberg

[November 25, 2003]


By Art Rosenberg

On The Conference Trail

We get invited to speak at a number of different technology shows and conferences because of our objective views of user needs for converged communications. Although show and conference attendance has dropped significantly in the past few years because of the economy, 9/11 travel fears and the increased use of Web teleconferencing, these venues provide valuable insights on industry and market progress towards converged communication technologies.

We have attended or participated in several of these events recently and want to report on some of the important highlights from our unique perspective. (This may be particularly useful for those of you who don’t travel as much as you used to.)

Internet Telephony Conference and Expo – October 14-16, 2003
Technology MarkeGordon Payneting Corporation’s Internet Telephony Conference & Expo, held in Long Beach, CA, gave some evidence of a market turnaround with increased attendance and exhibitors, according to Rich Tehrani, president and conference chairman of TMC. The big emphasis, of course, was on migration to IP infrastructure for Voice over IP and IP Telephony, and the impact of new security challenges on IP-based voice communications. The strategic role of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) was highlighted at many of the program sessions.

Although we had only a limited time at the conference, we were impressed with the keynote presentation by Gordon Payne, chief marketing officer for Net6. Net6 provides network-based “transformation gateways” to support enterprise application information delivery to a variety of screen-based IP telephones and wireless devices. Their transcoding approach enables existing applications to easily and flexibly exploit the diverse communication requirements of end users' information delivery, regardless of location.

We will be curious to see how their kind of technology will blend into the higher “layers” of IP-based (SIP) real-time presence/availability/modality management that will be particularly critical to mobile enterprise users. We recently sat in on a Webinar conducted by IMlogic, which provides enterprise server software for managing and controlling all aspects of instant messaging (IM) activity for enterprise users, including using external public IM network services. They have particularly targeted vertical markets, such as financial services and health care, where person-to-person communications are both time-critical and security-sensitive.

International Association of Messaging Professionals (IAMP) – October 20-23, 2003
We were a keynote speaker at the annual conference of this association of Octel voice mail users, which was focused on migrating gracefully toward converged enterprise communications through new product upgrade strategies of their technology provider, Avaya, Inc.  Our presentation highlighted the results of our survey of the IAMP membership to track the status of the enterprise movement toward converged communications, as well as a special session introducing the new security issues that IP-based networking brings to both traditional voice communications and mobile, multi-modal communications.

Art Rosenberg, Andy Zmolek, Matthew Astel

Avaya is making a concerted effort to enable their large installed customer base to move comfortably from their legacy voice technologies into a converged IP infrastructure at their own pace. They have even gone so far as to preserve the familiar Octel voice mail user interfaces to minimize the impact on end users. However, the feedback survey from attendees confirmed the findings of our own IAMP survey, i.e., that enterprise telecommunication managers are still confused about their role and new responsibilities in planning and supporting users in a converged communications environment.   

The complexities of communications convergence and enterprise security, which is a relatively new problem for traditional wired telephony, was highlighted by presentations from both Avaya and Matthew Astel, responsible for unified and mobile messaging at The Boeing Company. He observed that real problems about organizational responsibilities are also surfacing because of multiple technologies converging at the end-user’s interface with communication devices. Until now, communications convergence, like unified messaging and VoIP, has been usually pushed by the voice folks, rather than the data side.

Unified messaging and mobile messaging systems involve multiple groups across an organization.  These groups include voice mail, e-mail, telecommunications, data network, directory, security and handheld devices. There are challenges with deployment, but the main challenges involve supporting the system. Many organizations are struggling with these challenges. Should vendors assist organizations in meeting these support challenges?

An example of the user support challenge is when you have a wireless handheld device like a BlackBerry, Pocket PC, “smart-phone” or Palm. You access your company voice mail and e-mail with the device. You use a virtual private network (VPN) client to view internal Web information and access database applications. You make and receive phone calls using the device, maybe over a Wi-Fi connection. When any of these functions don’t work, whom do you go to for help?  Is it an issue involving the wireless (cellular or Wi-Fi), the VPN client or system, the handheld operating system, the handheld applications, the enterprise e-mail service, or the Web server's rendering for a small screen device?”

CTIA, October 20-23, 2003
Although the Cellular Telephony & Internet Association show in Las Vegas was primarily focused on service provider offerings for consumers, services for the enterprise were also the subject of some of the keynote presentations.


CTIA retiring President and CEO, Tom Wheeler trumpeted, “Wireless data has arrived,” in connection with CTIA statistics about the 70 percent increase in revenue in the first half of 2003 over the same period in 2002, and a 300 percent increase over 2001. Much of this traffic, however, was in the form of Short Messaging Services (SMS) used for audience voting on reality TV shows, rather than information retrieval or Web browsing. Using the just-announced Common Short Code Registry Service for common, easy addressing of messaging responses across all major wireless operators, SMS provides a convenient alternative to dialing in from wired phones for such real-time polling. SMS and MMS of course are valid forms of one-way, person-to-person text messaging for cell phones that are popular in Europe, but may give way in the future to two-way, wireless instant messaging.  

Keynoters from Microsoft and Intel aimed at enterprise users who will use wireless devices as an alternative to wired desktop PCs for information access. In particular, the rise of Wi-Fi connectivity will increase notebook mobility. However, we seriously question the practical use of handheld devices with small screens and tiny keyboards to do much more than person-to-person communications and short informational alerts. Obviously, with Bluetooth or USB accessories, the handheld device can become the wireless “brains” for full desktop screen and keyboard work.

One keynoter, Juha Christensen (since departed from Microsoft), reported that two-thirds of “consumer” wireless messaging activities are carried out by people who have business jobs, but also pockets of “downtime” which they use for personal matters, not just business. He made the argument for enabling enterprise users to carry a single wireless device for both business and personal communications.

Part 2

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