Posts categorized "Unified Communications"

UC Strategies podcasts with Mitel executives about unified communications, Microsoft, Sun, HP and more...

Back at our Mitel Forum event in late June, analyst Blair Pleasant from Unified Communications Strategies recorded a couple of podcasts[1] with Mitel executives and I've been meaning to write about them here. (Full Disclosure: While Mitel has no direct connection to this blog, I do work for Mitel.)

image First up, Blair interviewed Mitel CEO Don Smith.  They discussed Mitel's view of unified communications, business process improvement, the use of SIP and XML interfaces and much more. Don discussed the importance of presence and availability, the need for "in the moment" communication and the importance of "presence everywhere". He also offers his view of the greatest challenges facing Mitel and the industry in the time ahead and his view of where Mitel is heading.

image Second, Blair interviewed Stephen Beamish, Mitel VP of Business Development and Strategic Alliances about the partnerships Mitel has with Microsoft, HP and Sun. Given the announcement before Mitel Forum of the partnership with Sun, this interview gives one of the first views into the Mitel-Sun relationship.  Blair and Stephen also, of course, discuss Mitel's relationship with Microsoft, especially in light of the Microsoft-Nortel relationship as well as Microsoft's other partners.  Stephen also talks about the HP relationship and Mitel's participation in HP Procurve's upcoming "Taking It To The Edge" Seminar Series. Finally, he discusses some of the environmental benefits of using Mitel products in terms of power savings.

For those interested in where Mitel is heading and Mitel's views of unified communications, both podcasts are highly recommended. Each podcast runs around 16 minutes.

[1] And yes, as a podcaster I had serious geek envy of the Sony PCM-D1 recorder that Blair was using  courtesy of her colleague Jim Burton.  Very nice piece of hardware! (And also just a wee bit outside of my personal price range!)


Heading out to VoiceCon, Aug 20-23 in San Francisco. Will you be there?

image If any of you reading this will be attending VoiceCon out in San Francisco, August 20-23, please do drop me a note. I'll be there from August 20-22 and am looking forward to connecting with a range of people from around the industry.

FYI, if you are a Facebook user and are attending, there is a Facebook event for VoiceCon to which you can add yourself to facilitate networking with other FB users at the show.

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CRN: "The Coming VoIP War" (between Microsoft and Cisco)

imageIs "the coming VoIP war" to be fought out between Microsoft and Cisco?  So asks a column "The Coming VoIP War" by Larry Hooper in today's issue of CRN.  On one level, the debate isn't as interesting to me as the venue... "CRN" is "Computer Reseller News" and has been around the industry for many years.[1]  At various times I've personally had a subscription to the print version or at least had it around the office to read.[2] Supported by advertising and theoretically sent to a targeted profile of subscribers, I've always seen it as one of the more "established' newsmagazines of the information technology space... and one obviously targeted at resellers of such technology. So to me it is interesting that the question is being discussed within CRN's print and web pages.

As to the larger question of whether "the coming VoIP war" will be between Microsoft and Cisco, one can't ignore that these two companies are giants in the overall IT industry with extremely significant resources and yes, the point is valid that as the interests of the two companies have converged in this merger of communication that many call "unified communications", they are now definitely going to be competing head-to-head.  All I can say is that the time ahead in this industry shall very definitely be quite an interesting one!

P.S. In full disclosure, my employer, Mitel, has had a partnership with Microsoft for several years now. A lot of Mitel equipment also gets deployed on a Cisco infrastructure and I communicate with a number of Cisco folks on standards issues.

[1] I would love to find out when CRN started, but the CRN.com site seems to have no info about its history and there's no Wikipedia article on it yet.
[2] At the current time, I do have a subscription to CRN.  Sometimes my subscription has lapsed when I've forgotten to annually fill out their subscription form.


Ken Camp starts a new series of posts on Jaiku and the new client for Nokia S60 phones

imageI have not really written about Jaiku here at all... I have been meaning to explore it a bit more, but just haven't had the time.  What limited time I have had lately has been more focused on Twitter, Facebook, Skype and the evolving mashups of all of those.

But Ken Camp has been writing and advocating Jaiku, and is starting a series of posts with his one today: "Unveiling the new Jaiku Client for Nokia - Part 1"  Ken is going to talk more about the new client for Nokia S60 phones.  But this part of his first post is perhaps more revealing:

First, if you aren’t a Jaiku user today, you need to understand that Jaiku is what I call a lifestream aggregator. When you build your profile, you have complete control over what you wish to share of your lifestream of information. For many, that’s simply their Jaikus. Using this approach, a used can share brief snippets of information - current status, pose a question, leave a thought - for others to see.

Digging more deeply into Jaiku, we find you can also import RSS feeds of all flavors into your lifestream. For me, this means if you read my lifestream, you see blog posts from three different blogs, Flickr photos, blip.tv video posts, even Twitter posts. I’ll explain more about why I think this approach is revolutionary and exciting in a post tomorrow or Friday. It’s taken me a while as a Jaiku user to develop an appreciation for just why this is apprach to aggregation is really important. I think it’s positively revolutionary from a social networking perspective.

I agree with Ken that this type of "lifestream aggregation" represents a direction in which social networking is evolving.  The challenge, I think, really comes back to where you do that aggregation.  Jaiku would like to be your aggregator.  So would Twitter (which can bring in RSS feeds through sites like Twitterfeed.com).  And so indeed would Facebook which now includes an RSS application as part of its platform.

So which do you choose?

All are, to varying degrees, walled gardens of some sort.  Ken can't follow my status updates because I primarily use Twitter.  Alec Saunders does most all his updates within Facebook.   We do need to have some kind of common aggregator.   We need to tear down the walls so that we don't wind up in isolated islands of communication.

But in the meantime, if you want to read about how pretty and nice it is inside of the walled garden of Jaiku, head on over to Ken's post to read more.  This is Part 1, with the others to follow soon thereafter, I would expect.


Mitel connects directly to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 via SIP

In my incredibly long queue of things I've wanted to write about for the past few weeks, one item was the Mitel news release about making a direct SIP connection to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging. The cool part is that you can just use our basic 3300 ICP communications platform (or IP-PBX, or whatever you want to call it) and connect it directly into a Microsoft Exchange Server to use the Exchange Server for a unified inbox (email, voicemail, fax, etc.).  No other boxes or gateways necessary.  Just a nice, standard SIP trunk.  As a long-time proponent of open standards and general "standards geek", it really can't get much better.  It's great to see.

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Rich Tehrani hops on the Mitel "Presence" tour bus... at least for a day...

Scanning RSS feeds early this morning, I was pleased to see that Rich Tehrani will be speaking at our "Presence 2007" event in Costa Mesa, CA, today. I've known the tour was going on, but wasn't tracking who was speaking at the various stops.  Glad to see Rich there... I'm sure he'll give a great talk for whoever attends.  The good news for Rich, too, is that at least he was flying out of the New York area yesterday instead of the day before when the glorious storm played havoc with air travel all over the northeast.


Skype's persistent group chats as a technical support vehicle

Forget email, post your support questions to a group chat! Continuing my experimentation with Skype 3.0, I have to say that the persistent group chats are an intriguing aspect of the product.  Back when the 3.0 beta was announced last fall, I joined the "Skype English Blog Chat" and the interesting fact is... I'm still in there a couple of months later.   Now, the reason that I am still in there is because I never went to the top of the chat window (pictured on the right - click for a larger view) and clicked the "Leave" button.  Because I haven't pressed "Leave", I will stay in this group chat indefinitely (or until a Host kicks me out, as Jaanus has indicated he is now doing to inactive members).  This group chat membership survives through shutting down Skype, power cycling your computer, etc.  In fact, it becomes part of your Skype configuration, so even if you login to Skype on a different PC, the group chat is available to you. 

Two other interesting aspects.  First, when you return to the group chat, the history of the chat is available to you. So you might be gone from it for several days, but when you return you can browse through the history to catch up on what occurred.  When you request the history, it gives it to you in batches, i.e. you see the first X amount of time and then you can get more of the history. 

Second, if you don't want to receive an alert every time a message is posted, you can type "/alertson <text>" as in "/alertson dan" and you'll only get an alert when that text is typed in a message.

So what does this have to do with product support?  Well, the folks at Skype have been using this particular group chat as a vehicle for people to communicate issues with first the Skype 3.0 beta and now the released Skype 3.0.  Several of their developers and/or support people lurk in the forum and answer people's questions.  It's been interesting because I've learned a good bit about Skype simply by reading the Q&A that go by.  If you read the image in this post, you'll see that I posted there about an issue where Skype was advertising it's Unlimited Calling for $14.95 but when you went to buy it, they were going to charge you the full price of $29.95. I sent an email in to Skype support and was told I would get a response in 72 hours. I also posted to the group chat and received an answer back there about 12 hours later (I still haven't received an email back As I hit Publish I flipped to check my email and there was a response).

Now obviously Skype can't use this for all their product support.  It's not scalable and besides the group chat feature only supports 100 users.  But it's an interesting use for the tool.  It also has to be interesting for the Skype developers and product managers to see how people are actually using their product.  FYI, if you have Skype 3.0, you can join the chat still.

(And yes, using a group chat for technical support is hardly unique or new... people have been doing that IRC, Jabber and more for years... yes, I know that.  But it's interesting to me to see Skype now offer that.)

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Cisco's web conferencing to support Jabber clients

As the IM protocol wars continue with AOL, MSN/WLM, Yahoo, etc. all just now starting to actually allow interconnection between their competing IM systems, I have to confess to always having been a personal fan of Jabber and it's XMPP protocol.  Maybe it's the fact that it's got an open source side to it.  Maybe that it's XML based.  Maybe it's just that I liked that anyone could set up a server and start using it. In any event, I've always been a huge fan (and generally have Psi running with a Jabber ID of dyork@jabber.org).

So with that in mind I was pleased to see the announcement yesterday that Cisco's Unified MeetingPlace will now support Jabber clients through the Jabber XCP framework.  From what I can see of the announcement, Jabber clients will now be able to interoperate with Cisco's collaboration server.   What I'm naturally curious about is to wonder whether this is limited to Jabber's commercial Jabber Messenger product (through some means) or is XMPP support being baked into Cisco's product natively, in which case conceiveably any XMPP client could connect to the server.  There, are, naturally, many Jabber clients out there (including, interestingly, Google's GoogleTalk...).

Interesting news, in any event, and congrats to both companies.


Alec Saunders: "New Presence and the Voice 2.0 Manifesto" - how do we move to the next level of presence awareness?

Given that I view "presence" as one of the more potentially disruptive elements of IP telephony, I was pleased to see that over on his blog Alec wrote a very lengthy and insightful piece entitled "'New Presence' and the Voice 2.0 Manifesto". I always enjoy Alec's writing and this time it's no different... it's great when someone can make the time to write a thoughtful piece like this. Since the piece came out, I've wanted to write more about it, but I have to suck it up and admit that with everything else I'm trying to close off before the end-of-year tomorrow, a lengthy reply is just not going to happen.

However, some others have offered replies and they, too, are well worth a read:

All are well worth a read. Thanks again, Alec, for starting a worthy conversation.... hopefully I'll find the time to chime in soon.

UPDATE: Andy Abramson has also joined in... The Doctor is In: New Presence 2.0 by Alec

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