If you have ever set up or worked with a wireless network, you are probably familiar with the fact that the signal quality isn’t always the best. Depending on your wireless networking hardware and how you have it configured, the layout and materials used in the structure your network is in, and possible interference from other electronics and communications equipment, the wireless network connection can be erratic. The same can be said for those who may have worked with or set up a VoIP communications system. The issues are different, but the problems still arise with bandwidth and signal quality. It can be difficult to maintain the quality of voice communications over a VoIP network. Imagine then what types of issues you might encounter if you try to implement a VoIP communications system over a wireless network. Yikes! On May 1, Cisco is presenting a webcast entitled Extending VoIP to Wireless LAN’s which will cover six technical challenges you must address, capacity planning, roaming, security issues, and more. For more details, or to register to attend the webcast, click here.
Broadsoft, a VoIP provider, has developed the Unified Connector for Salesforce, bringing unified communications functionality to Salesforce.com, a pioneer in SaaS (software as a service) and CRM (customer relationship manager). The Unified Connector for Salesforce is the premier Web 2.0 mashup from the Broadsoft Xtended program, an initiative by Broadsoft to explore ways to to combine their VoIP solutions with Web 2.0 applications. The Unified Connector for Salesforce enables customers to use their Broadsoft VoIP functionality, such as dialing with the click of a mouse, and the ability to transfer calls or place them on hold, to the powerful CRM capabilities of Salesforce.com. The Unified Connector for Salesforce has earned accolades for Broadsoft from Unified Communications Magazine, and from VON Magazine.
Over the past couple of years, I have appeared as a guest on the IMI-TechTalk a number of times on a variety of technology and security subjects. This coming Sunday, April 27, I will join host Tom D’Auria once again to talk about Microsoft’s ResponsePoint phone system. ResponsePoint brings an IP-based phone system packed with Unified Communications tools and features to the SMB market at a price that makes me want to install it in my house. You can listen next Sunday at 5pm central time on KFNX AM 1100, broadcast from Phoenix, AZ, or you can listen live to the streaming audio from the KFNX web site as well. If you miss the show while it is being broadcast, check back in a few weeks on the IMI-TechTalk web site to download an MP3 recording of the show. You can get more details here.
Microsoft has expanded their alliance with India-based Wipro Technologies. Microsoft and Wipro announced the creation of two Centers of Excellence in India, one in Bangalore and the other in Mysore. The Centers of Excellence, which both Microsoft and Wipro have invested in heavily, will focus on solutions around Windows Vista and Unified Communications. You can read more of the details of the alliance and the new Centers of Excellence in Anuradha Shukla’s article on TMCnet.com.
XO Communications’ XO SIP has passed interoperability tests with Cisco’s Smart Business Communications System. The combination of the 500 series unified communications solution from Cisco, and XO SIP, provides customers with a managed SIP trunking solution for the Cisco unified communications platform. You can learn more about both products, and the benefits of their partnership, from this CNNMoney.com article.
TMCNet’s Rich Tehrani recently wrote about a UC offering from Callwave called Fuze. Unified communications can level the playing field for smaller companies that want to compete with the big boys. In this instance, Callwave is leveraging their approach to unified communications to produce a unified communications solutions aimed at small and medium businesses, and, in the process, squaring off with the big boys in their own arena like Microsoft, Cisco, and Avaya. Fuze appears to provide a fairly comprehensive approach to unified communications, including email integration, Skype-based audio and video conferencing, media sharing, follow-me functionality, and more. What is most unique about Fuze though is that it is a web-based solution, with no software to install and no special equipment to deploy. That could be a tremendous advantage, and it could be an achilles heel. The product is in Beta now, projected for a summer 2008 release. Fuze may be worth taking a look at if you are evaluating UC solutions for a small or medium business.
XO Communications has unveiled a new service which enables a company to incorporate existing phones and communications technologies into a unified communications solution. XO Anywhere can ring up to 10 numbers simultaneously, allowing a call to be delivered no matter which phone a user happens to be at. XO Anywhere also provides functionality that enables a user to make calls through the office phone system remotely, and integration with Microsoft Outlook that lets users dial a number by simply clicking on it. For more information about the new XO Anywhere service, read this InformationWeek article, or visit the XO Communications web site.
Wire One, an established vendor in the video-conferencing arena, just announced the release of One Call. One Call takes Unified Communications and leverages it for support to create a Unified Help Desk. One Call is a unique set of video, audio, and web conferencing services which provide customers with a single point of contact and a highly-skilled technical staff for managing all conferencing issues, support needs, and vendor relationships. And, on a related note, it was announced this week that Wire One is being acquired by global IT services and consulting provider BT.
Companies are typically slow and cautious to adopt new technologies. That is partially a function of due diligence and testing to ensure that any new technology or application will function properly and provide value before committing to adopting it. The larger the enterprise, the slower the process of migrating to new technologies or updating applications. Almost every organization has their share of power users though who push the technology envelope and start using bleeding edge technologies as soon as they hit the streets. These users tend to be the “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” crowd and simply attach their rogue devices and install their rogue applications and figure out how to make them work from within the enterprise. In general, this behavior should be discouraged. It can cause problems with the user desktop and the network. It can introduce unknown risks and make the enterprise network open to threats that the network and security administrators are not even aware of. With some technologies though, they reach a sort of “Hundredth Monkey” critical mass and resistance becomes futile. In those cases, organizations are better off trying to figure out the business benefits of the technology and how to incorporate it in a logical and secure way, rather than wasting resources trying to fight it. This article on SearchUnifiedCommunications addresses three consumer unified communications products which have gained in popularity and could serve as a pseudo test environment for organizations looking to define the business value of unified communications.
Built on an open source foundation, with the collaboration of the open source community in the SIPFoundry Project, Nortel’s new SCS500 (Software Communications System) provides small and medium businesses from 30 to 500+ employees with an affordable unified communications solution. The SCS500 is a SIP-centric unified communications product that provides instant messaging, presence, IP telephony, conferencing, and other unified communications capabilities. Nortel believes that there are 5 key elements to unified communications for the SMB market: productivity, efficiency, flexibility, cost savings, and mobility. They believe that the SCS500 delivers on each of these elements. The SCS500 is offered on popular Dell and IBM server platforms. You can learn more about the Nortel SCS500 in this CNNMoney.com article.