Officially, Microsoft and Nortel have been buddies on the Unified Communications front for over a year and a half. Prior to now, however, the partnership was more rhetoric and lip service than actual solutions and products. Now, the partnership is resulting in a flurry of joint products designed to play together for an even more unified Unified Communications. Nortel released Nortel Converged Office, which integrates Nortel’s Communication Server 1000 IP-PBX with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. Microsoft has also certified the Nortel Secure Router 4134 to run Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. The combination of Microsoft and Nortel is a formidable team capable of going to head to head with other network and telephony communications providers in the UC arena such as Avaya and Cisco. Read Nortel, Microsoft Expand Unified Communications at InternetNews.com for more details about the Microsoft / Nortel partnership and the new products and services that have resulted from it.
Unison has developed a free unified communications suite built on Linux. The suite, which includes VoIP telephone capabilities, email, and instant messaging, is affectionately named “Unison”. The Beta version is available for free now. There is a Windows client application. While the server portion of the product runs on Linux, there is oddly no client available yet for Linux. For small to medium enterprises looking to jump on the unified communication bandwagon, a free tool built on Linux with a Windows client application might be a great way to test the water. You can learn more about the suite from Unison by reading this PC World article.
Wireless networks can be cost effective and help employees to be more productive, freeing them to move about while still maintaining access to necessary data and network resources. Since the inception of wireless networking though, corporations have struggled with the security implications. With compliance mandates such as the PCI Data Security Standards, or HIPAA, it is even more important that companies are aware of every possible vector of risk to their network resources and data assets. However, so many devices have wireless functionality now, and it is so easy for users to set up rogue wireless networks without authority, that it is extremely difficult to stay on top of the security issue. Mobile device security: Auditing the airwaves, by Lisa Phifer takes a look at these issues and some ways administrators can monitor for, detect, and proactively manage the wireless access to their networks.
When unified communications was still but a gleam in the eye of its creators, Microsoft and Cisco became mortal enemies jockeying for supremacy. At one point, they shook hands and promised to play nice, but now that seems more like some sort of calculated attempt at gaining inside knowledge on each other, or lulling the opponent into lowering its defenses. As soon as Microsoft had their UCC (Unified Communications and Collaboration) launch, Cisco dropped the gloves and slammed Microsoft’s approach. Since then, the two have gone back to calling a spade a spade and just doing battle openly rather than pretending to be friends. This article, The Cisco-Microsoft battle for unified communications, on ComputerWorld looks at the rivalry, and what’s at stake for the winner, in depth.
Unified Communications is the hot “technology” right now. Replacing plain vanilla VoIP solutions, the buzz is all about taking that VoIP deployment, tying it together with email, fax, instant messaging, conferencing, etc. to create a unified communications infrastructure that will revolutionize the way you do business…if you do it right. This ComputerWorld article, 5 things to know about unified communications points out some factors you should be sure to consider in doing your homework to determine if UC is for U.
Taking the plunge and moving from traditional communications into the world of unified communications is not without its learning curve and price tag. It doesn’t have to break the bank per se. You can analyze the needs of the company and the existing communications infrastructure and come up with a strategy that leverages the investment you have already made to deliver the benefits you are looking for. But, you would still need to implement, maintain, and support that deployment. More and more, unified communications offerings are popping up as an outsourced, or hosted solution. Take a look at Hosted options for unified communications ‘evolving’ on SearchUnifiedCommunications to find out more about this trend.
One of the promises, or benefits, of unified communications is being able to communicate with people where they are when you need them. The concept of ‘presence’ in Microsoft’s UCC (Unified Communications and Collaboration) is designed so that you can tell if a person is available or not, the contact them by the most efficient, or convenient means possible. One potential gap in the communications is determining if a user is actually at their desk, available to answer their office phone, or if they are moving about the building or even off site, in which case you would contact them via their cell phone. Of course, the user can always set up various call-forwarding solutions to try and send the calls to where they will be, but that is cumbersome and most users don’t understand it and won’t take the time. Now, new solutions are emerging that leverage the converged wireless networking and cellular communications capabilities of mobile phones so that the land line can be ditched and the mobile phone can be the sole method of voice communication. For more details, read Wi-Fi cellular convergence can boost mobile worker productivity on SearchMobileComputing.
To manage and maintain a network, you need to have a well-rounded collection of tools in your arsenal. Many commercial tools can be expensive, and may not perform any better (or sometimes not even as well) than their freeware counterparts. This Computerworld article lists the Top 10 (plus one bonus program) free downloads you can use to monitor and administer your network. Check out 10 great free downloads for your network to see the complete list.
You may have heard the term ‘TCP wrapper’. I have. What does that mean? How does one ‘wrap’ a packet of data? More importantly- why?? Networking expert Puneet Mehta answers that very question at SearchNetworking.com. Take a look at What Are TCP Wrappers? How Do They Work? to learn more.
My Yiddish is rusty (OK, it is virtually non-existent), but it sounds a little like my ex-wife’s grandfather inviting me on a fishing trip. But alas, it is even more insidious than that. You are most likely familiar with the concept of ‘phishing’ which involves using some type of bait (generally an email or web site designed to elicit a response) to lure an unsuspecting user into surrendering confidential personal information, such as bank or credit card account numbers, or user names and passwords to sensitive accounts, for the purpose of stealing their money or identity. Well, ‘vishing’ is very similar, but it relies on VoIP phone calls rather than unsolicited spam emails for bait. You can learn more by reading this glossary explanation of ‘vishing’ from WhatIs.com posted on the SearchUnifiedCommunications site.