About this blog

News and analysis of developments in the enterprise communication industry and market with primary focus on Europe.

The author aims to tap into ideas, insights and thoughts of the readers to get varied perspectives.

Views expressed in this blog are solely the author's opinion and in no way reflect those of his employer.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Shoretel's IPO and Mitel's lawsuit

On the sidelines of its analyst conference in Las Vegas, Mitel announced that it sued ShoreTel over four patent infringements. ShoreTel on the other hand was busy preparing for its IPO. Shares were expected to have started trading on wednesday. This is a sad news as it couldn't have happened at a more inopportune time for ShoreTel.

Ironically, Mitel has been having a rough ride for a couple of years. Last year, it was forced to shelve its plans for an IPO when Vonage's public offering failed to hit the right notes following a patent infringement lawsuit issued by a carrier. Moreover, Mitel's attempts to acquire InterTel has been facing rough waters following Mihalyo's private equity backed counter offer. For a company that have been in corners, the executives must well know how much pain it causes.

Cisco to change 'right to use' license model

It has been a nightmare for businesses to understand how much a Cisco solution costs, what with its complicated pricing structures. For instance- to buy a basic 7906G phone, one needs to not only buy the phone for $175 list price but also pay another $100 for something Cisco terms as 'right to use' license. It is with this license that things get complicated.

While each 'right to use' license cost $50, different devices require different numbers to run them. While 7906G requires just 2 such licenses, the high end 7985 G requires 7 of them. Think of the confusion it creates when a user buys a desktop, mobile communicator and a soft client that run on the same Cisco Call Manager.

I understand that Cisco is moving away from the device user license regime to a user license regime. This I believe will significantly reduce the complexity of costing and promote Cisco's high-end portfolio.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mobile challenge

I read an interesting observation is Vihaan's brochure that went-

Why does mobile have only 20% market share of phone calls, even though penetration is above 90% ?

I think this question emphasises the market opportunity and the challenge for a mobile operator. Of course, there are solutions in the market that can be used to tap the opportunity. Lets look at them-

1. Mobile operator deploys micro/nano/pico cells within enterprise premises. Enterprises get a private numbering plan, pricing scheme.
2. Mobile operator deploys mobile PBX that runs on the operators network and offers enterprise grade telephony features.
3. Mobile operators enter into a definitive agreement to handoff traffic to private wireless in-building networks

Each of these solutions have opportunities and threats associated with them. At this point in time, I am hearing of the use of option 1 at most.

Going green with communication

Climate change is everybody's concern these days. The weather systems are changing and the effect on our ecological balance is becoming starkly visible.

Environmental sustainability and its pressures are generally concentrated around the industries that generate the green house gases, toxic wastes and the like. More often than not, we forget the role played by industries such as the IT and communications, and the financial services.

Recently, I listened to a podcast by Andrew Winston, author of 'Green to Gold'. He outlined the effect of the decisions of the finance industry on environment which I thought was interesting. He went on to cite that evangelists will have to look for business case to drive environment friendly initiatives and those aren't difficult to find.

British Petroleum for instance saved in excess of $1 billion by closely watching its carbon emissions from oil exploration. Walmart of all companies initiated a close watch on their energy emissions and ended saving up to 20% in electricity by moving to more environment friendly initiatives. I think similar value propositions can be found in the communication industry to contribute to the environment. Conferencing and collaboration is a great example. Shift from hardware to software is another contribution.

The Wi-Fi challenge

The wire read - "Boingo today announced a new flat-rate Wi-Fi service that eliminates roaming fees common in Europe and Asia. For €29 per month, global business travelers can access all of Boingo’s 100,000 hot spots worldwide. "

Boingo Wireless is partnering with France’s Hub Télécom and Norway’s Oslo Lufthavn Tele & Data AS (OLTD) - two of Europe’s leading Wi-Fi providers - to bring Boingo Global to market in Europe. Later this year, customers will be able to sign up for the service at more European locations including hot spots in Germany, Italy and the UK.

The strange thing is - How can a hot spot provider charge roaming fees? In a typical hub and spoke network, the hot spots are rarely interconnected directly. Anyways, for now the question is not applicable.

Customers must have the right expectations set for this kind of Wi-Fi service. Having over 100000 hot spot does not guarantee coverage wherever you need it. However when you need it and have it, Boingo is a definite bliss. I cannot begin to explain the horrors of Wi-Fi charging in Western Europe.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thanks to WiMaX

Siemens Enterprise Communications were demonstrating the capabilities of its new range of products at the Mariott Marble Arch Hotel near Oxford Street in London. I was curious to watch them demonstrate their new Open size video infrastructure and their Openscape unified communication capabilities amongst others. Needless to say, Siemens had put in a lot of effort to make sure it works. For the Opensize product, they had a guy use the system at his office in Munich. In another case, they had placed a softswitch some where in US to do multi-modal communication.

I didn't have too much time at my disposal as I had to take a call from my colleagues in San Antonio, Texas. As I enterted the demo area, I looked at my mobile and to my horror I found that my cell didn't have coverage. But to my dismay I saw an awed audience look at the demos run by expert staff of Siemens brought from various parts of Europe. I thought that maybe Siemens is using some high speed wired connection. I was informed that all last mile connectivity in that area was handled by WiMAX. I knew that Urban WiMAX had established a network in London last year. The exhibitors told me that the WiMAX service provider didn't take more than 24 hours to set up a tower and offer the connectivity to Siemens. And the engineers on the floor seemed happy. The Opensize video instrument was constantly using 1Mbps link to transmit and receive. There were only 2 packets lost in the 10 minutes I spent at the booth - my eyes glued to the scan report.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bell Labs Laptop Guardian turned into a product by Alcatel-Lucent

Omniaccess 3500 Laptop Guardian is a external card that interfaces laptops. These devices offer plug-n-play corporate VPN client service. In addition, the device can be used for remote laptop management for performance and against theft.

I think that this product offers critical value to enterprises. It gives its IT staff control over staff laptops outside the offices. Remote control and management are the USPs of this card.
From the usage point of view, support for different wireless access technologies in addition to wireline will enhance the power of the offering.
Most current offerings address one challenge or the other. For instance, the external 3G card offered by a mobile service provider offers 3G transport links to its network and levies charge accordingly. Secure ID offers access management only. Omniaccess 3500 will offer both and more; in addition it will hopefully give IT staff the control of the resource.
Mobile service providers stand to gain the most out of this product, although the benefit for fixed-wireless/wireline is significant too. The laptop guardian has the potential to add multimedia traffic to mobile data channels.
I think this product is a useful piece of innovation. Saying so, I would rather like to see this card technology embedded in the motherboard of the laptop instead of being a add-on card.