Networks Generation

December 1, 2010  1:14 PM

SaaS Is Snow-Go? Surely A Solution For Snowbound Scenarios…

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
Broadband-Testing, BroadSoft, Converged infrastructure, HP, NTL, Oracle, SaaS, SAP, Thingamy, Virgin

There’s been plenty of talk in the IT press recently about the issue of SaaS pricing models and its ability to really deliver profitable services.

Our testing of virtual data centres – see Broadband-Testing website – has proved that any cost benefits of “going virtual” can be adopted without fears about the technology itself not standing up. On that point, watch this space for a report in the New Year on HPs Converged Infrastructure solution – looks very promising at this stage from an efficiency: high availability perspective.

But back to the aforementioned issue: can companies afford to offer you SaaS? Is there any dosh in it? If it’s about delivering that service across as many different communications platforms as possible, then someone like BroadSoft, which launched BroadCloud, a cloud-based, hosted infrastructure to serve as the foundation for the company’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communications capabilities, needs a bit of an audience here. Let’s face it; if I am someone with “Broad” in both my name and the company I run, then I really ought to be liaising with IT companies with “Broad” in their name. And, let’s face it; “Broadhard” doesn’t really have the right connotations does it…

So, back to BroadSoft, where the focus is on Unified Communications (UC) – that key element of delivery to everybody and anybody – enabling fixed-line, mobile and cable service providers to extend their communications services to include UC services. After all, why shouldn’t an application be available via whatever route is feasible?

Look outside? Is it snowing? If so, are you working from home? If not, why not? If someone like NTL/Virgin can deliver (however well or badly) TV, Internet and voice services, then why not enterprise applications too?  Granted, they would have to improve their support a tad… But the serious point is that SaaS has to be available anywhere, anytime, via any connection, in order to make sense.

Back to my old mates at Thingamy, still THE true upstart of enterprise software, designed from day one (back in Victorian times) as a SaaS product. We’ve successfully run Thingamy apps over a 64Kbps connection for gawds sake. Swapping notes with Thingamy CEO, Sig Rinde, recently, Sig noted that the adoption rate is not only increasing (for SaaS) but the model is changing, with companies looking to splash big bucks (not that fine long-distance hurdler of Paul Nicholls’) from day one, rather than the extended “toe in the water” approach.

With BroadCloud, BroadSoft is also looking to speed up the whole time-to-market model, so these guys are singing from the same Christmas carol sheet, albeit coming from very different directions. Very complimentary though – maybe they should be talking to each other. And I’ve already earmarked that fine ViBE VoIP enhancement tech from my mates at Voipex as looking ideal for BroadSoft.

From a Service Provider perspective, all of the aforementioned technologies provides that “value add” that ISPs so strove for, often failing spectacularly in the process – WorldCom anyone? – so there are NO excuses any longer. The world has truly moved beyond SAP and Oracle’s mainframe-oriented view of the universe and paying pure lip-service to Internet-enabled delivery mechanisms.

Time for the world to wake up…

Footnote: As I type this, the UK appears to be officially “closed” because of especially cold precipitation. Apparently it’s sub-zero in places! Any poor old Alaskan tourists over there must be freezing to death. Here, in Andorra, where we’ve had a foot or more of snow this week (just took the side route back from the shops – on foot- to check the depth)), absolutely NOTHING is closed – everyone is going to work, the kids to school, roads (often near vertical) are completely cleared of snow, all the bus services are running (as would the trains were there a railway in Andorra, but that would require a LOT of tunnels). And Andorra is run by a set of guys who probably don’t even know where London is. Still – all the more reason to get SaaS sorted and working from home as a de-facto standard. Combine that with children actually WALKING to their schools and it might actually be worth driving (conditions allowing…) in the UK again.

November 23, 2010  2:41 PM

Novell Acquisition Strategy By Attachmate…

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
Attachmate, Linux, Microsoft, Novell

So Novell finally gets acquired!

And by Attachmate – who saw that one coming? Novell turned down recent offers by a New York hedge fund but seems to have given in on this occasion, to the tune of $2.2bn. According to official sources, Attachmate plans to operate Novell as two separate business units. The first will be focused on Novell’s management technologies – the ZENworks desktop management software – and the second will focus on Novell’s Linux offerings (SuSE).

What is amusing and a sign of the times – given that both Novell and Attachmate (whatever became of Ian Wells?) were very good clients of ours in the ’90’s – is that, back then, Novell was the big guy and Attachmate the little, specialist terminal emulation company. Seems that terminal emulation has outlived all expectations! In truth, Attachmate has expanded into network and server/client management etc, so the Novell acquisition does make sense, and is now owned by a private equity thingybobby, so does have cash to splash. In which case, can someone from Attachmate please contact me as I have a couple of very excellent UK companies I can interest them in…

As a footnote to the demise of Novell and its long-standing fight with Bill Gates’ (or should I say Steve Ballmer’s) boys, it is worth noting that, in addition to the sale to Attachmate, a sell-off of $450 million worth of Novell intellectual property assets to a consortium organised by Microsoft is also part of its swansong.

October 26, 2010  2:43 PM

Amazing What You Can Achieve With A 3G Dongle

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
3, Blue Coat, Certero, Firewalls, ftth, HP, Latency, Mobile data, NetPilot, Spirent

… as the actress said to the IT-aware bishop.

So, just back from more travels in the UK which – given that we were scheduled to fly out of Toulouse during the French “greve nationale” – went every bit as smoothly as you’d expect in those circumstances, but more on that later.

Thanks to, let’s say, several unforeseen changes, I was surviving by plane, train, automobile and a different hotel every night, meaning that I was relying on 15 minutes free WiFi time at Toulouse, then by 3 mobile data dongle in the UK. Survive in this case did not mean simply checking emails. Wednesday was a interesting day, testing onsite with a client in the Spirent test labs in glamorous Crawley and combining two webinars (UK then US audience) about our recent “securing a virtual data centre” testing (report available from the Broadband-Testing website as ever of course). No probs with the first; a quick break in play while the tests continued to run in mid-afternoon. The problems lay with the second, bearing in mind I was the key speaker at the webinar, scheduled for 7pm UK time except that the Spirent offices closed before then. So it was I found myself on a train bound for Brighton (hotel destination) emailing US Spirent parties to update them as to my, er, progress – given that this was the UK rail network. It was agreed that they would work the slides from their end and I would contribute by voice at least.

But I did better than that; arrived at the hotel bang on 7, courtesy of mad taxi driver (tipped honorably), ran up the stairs trying not to run over any OAPs (check out the Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton, but don’t plan on staying there until you’re 80+), un-hibernated laptop, connected to mains (safety first) and inserted said dongle – 90 seconds later, with a 5-bar signal I was on the webinar and ready to perform; suffice to say all went swimmingly in terms of signal strength and voice quality until it came to the awkward Q&A session when, spectacularly from a timing perspective, the signal went crap and I had to concede defeat and let my colleagues take the strain. We’ve all talked about bandwidth on demand but this was perfection…

Unlike the rest of the trip – so you know what happens when you make one enforced change and everything else falls apart at the seams; chain of event stuff? So, Tuesday’s planned flight turned into late night Monday flight, turned into delayed early morning flight; quick call to hotel to ensure they were aware of delay, all fine they said. So, we get to the hotel in Brighton at 1:15am and, guess what, no room at the inn for us. So they farmed us out to a nearby hotel for the night… For the second night they also farmed us out to a different nearby hotel; overbooked by 50 people – Brittania clearly needs a new reservation system for those of you reading who can supply one. And so the week went on, trains so late that the connection you thought you had missed was so late that you caught the (even more delayed) one before that. And trains that didn’t actually go to where it said they were going but stopped earlier, as in – all change, get out please. Nice. And so onto the return flight, early Sunday morning out of a packed (what ARE all these people doing at 6am on a Sunday in late October?) Gatwick and, just as we should take off we don’t, cos there’s a fuel leak been spotted in one engine, so it’s back to the gate to wait for an engineer to get out of bed and give it the once over, before finally being allowed to take off, the engineer explaining the concept of condensation and distillation to the pilot, “ah – cold, wet, then warm…”

Now back in White Octoberland of Andorra, with FTTH and glorying in 10MB downloads being as near to instantaneous as possible. But without that 3G dongle…

Meantime – checkout new Blue Coat URL Filtering report on the Broadband-Testing website and watch out for the arrival of a Certero AssetStudio report; another top UK start-up with an excellent Software Asset Management and Metering solution. Regarding aforementioned earlier testing, also watch out for the arrival of a report on the rejuvenated NetPilot – UKs answer to, er, all those US security appliance vendors – with excellent low latency results for a fully-functioning firewall (easy for you to say after 5 pints of Dark Star Best Bitter). Last but not least, watch out for a report on HP’s latest SMB wireless product; now a fixture in the Andorran abode, kicking the old Netgear (and old HP) into touch.

September 29, 2010  12:43 PM

Avaya – Sexy? Oh Yes…

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
Avaya, Collaboration, HP, IBM, IP telephony, Microsoft, Video conferencing, VoIP

There are those vendors – typically start-ups – that have some really interesting, nay almost-truly exciting technology.

And there are those that have worthy but (verging on) dull. Avaya would typically come into the latter camp, let’s face it; got voice cracked but hardly revolutionary.

Until now (as Jezza Clarkson would say).

Speaking with my Avaya man Nigel Moulton (scouser who’s into cars but only those that he actually owns) about Avaya Flare, rarely has a product been so accurately named.

Contained in the form of its “Desktop Video Device” this is the hottest-looking touchscreen technology since the HP 150 back in 1984 (man, that was awesome for the time – MS DOS compatibility via a touchscreen, when IBM/Microsoft had the B&W 12″ monitors and the DOS prompt to rival it). Basically it’s merged vid-conf and collaborative working into one, that looks to have moved the whole genre forward a generation and made it Android-powered at the same time. So you simply choose who and what you want to be part of the session and “drop” it into the “spotlight” in the centre of the screen.

Which is nice and something even iPhone users should be able to cope with.

It includes what Avaya describes as “a virtual Rolodex” that provides a singular view of multiple directories, including corporate and personal, Facebook, Twitter and others. Users flip through to find the person with whom they want to collaborate, see their availability, select the preferred mode of communication and launch the connection.

Moreover, it’s an open architecture so could and should spawn the same kind of Flare-App (as opposed to Flare Up) rush that the IPhone and now iPad have created. Avaya spoken in the same light (iLight?) as Apple? You’d better believe it.

Anyway, I’m sincerely hoping to get my paws on this stuff to put it to the test before the end of the year, so look out for updates here.

Now if only Avaya would go and grab the VoIP optimisation technology from my mates at Voipex (before a certain someone else licenses it to death) its quest would be complete…

September 29, 2010  12:16 PM

Autumn Turkey, Modern English And Real Virtualisation

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
HP, ISP, Linkedin, Netevents, Security, Spam, Spirent, telecoms, TippingPoint, Virtualisation

Hello from yet another Netevents – my bi-annual vendor/analyst/press jolly, sorry – symposium, that I am attending as a judge of the awards of the same name (as well as a CW blogger, a tester, alleged wine expert etc).

This one’s in Istanbul, where there appears to be lots going on in the Telecoms/ISP world. And, yes, it is full of kebab (kebap) shops. I’ll be reporting on the debates over the next two days, and trying to do a count on how many times the word “virtualisation” (or virtualization) arises. Likewise cloud.

Which brings me onto the subject of IT “speak” and imagining what it might be like to be transported forward 30+ years into the contemporary ‘net world and see a browser screen for the first time, with ads such as “Novell – Cloud Management”; little would they believe we can now manage the weather, but, at the same time, ’tis exactly the kind of futurist thing they would expect.

Then there’s this headline I saw on an IT news website today: “ LinkedIn users attacked by deadly Zeus spam”

For anyone only familar with Greek gods and Danish pork produce, this would be a pretty surreal headline. And I guess “LinkedIn” would sound like some bizarre sex format, so I suspect they would simply be thinking “serves them right”.

Meantime, in the land of converting this stuff into meaningfulness, can I please point you at our brand spankers report on securing the virtual data centre – where we used real, virtual products (not so much of a contradiction in terms as it sounds) to prove the case using a Spirent test bed and donor kebab, sorry, product, from TippingPoint of the HP variety (not the sauce).

Anyway – tis available for download from our website:

The reality is that vendors are pushing out virtual solutions without having been able to test them; so we’ve taken up the challenge on their behalf. Join the queue here my good vendors…

September 7, 2010  2:00 PM

Le colis est arriveé!

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
.11n, FedEx, HP, ProCurve, Wireless

Anyone who read my previous installment of the soap opera that is and was FedEx’s inexplicable failure to deliver a parcel of HP goodies (one of which is for me to test) should be pleased to know…

The package has finally arrived – in Grenoble at HP EMEA HQ that is, not with me yet…


Picked up
In transit

There – the proof. So, in case you didn’t believe the – admittedly outlandish sounding – story of this parcel’s travels, here’s the trace, taken from the FedEx website:

(note – most recent entry at top, so go down to bottom and read upwards for best results, starting at August 13th…). BTW  – it’s a long read…  Film rights are a must.

Date Status Location Detail
Sep 7, 2010 11:31 AM
Sep 7, 2010 8:56 AM On FedEx vehicle for delivery ST QUENTIN FALLAVIER FR
Sep 7, 2010 8:32 AM At local FedEx facility ST QUENTIN FALLAVIER FR Package not due for delivery
Sep 6, 2010 9:57 PM Departed FedEx location PARIS FR
Sep 6, 2010 6:07 PM Int’l shipment release PARIS FR
Aug 30, 2010 8:35 PM Clearance delay PARIS FR
Aug 30, 2010 8:18 PM Arrived at FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 30, 2010 8:18 PM In transit PARIS FR Package available for clearance
Aug 28, 2010 10:00 PM At local FedEx facility PARIS FR
Aug 28, 2010 7:04 PM Arrived at FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 28, 2010 1:24 PM In transit LANTAU ISLAND HK
Aug 28, 2010 12:34 PM In transit CHEK LAP KOK HK
Aug 27, 2010 11:50 PM At local FedEx facility LANTAU ISLAND HK
Aug 26, 2010 10:47 PM In transit LANTAU ISLAND HK Package available for clearance
Aug 25, 2010 9:38 AM Departed FedEx location ANCHORAGE, AK
Aug 25, 2010 8:06 AM Arrived at FedEx location ANCHORAGE, AK
Aug 25, 2010 1:57 AM Departed FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 24, 2010 11:24 PM In transit MEMPHIS, TN Package available for clearance
Aug 23, 2010 8:46 PM Arrived at FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 23, 2010 11:21 AM Arrived at FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 22, 2010 9:43 PM In transit MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 22, 2010 8:06 PM Departed FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 19, 2010 11:41 PM In transit MEMPHIS, TN Package available for clearance
Aug 19, 2010 11:01 PM Arrived at FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 19, 2010 10:39 PM In transit PARIS FR
Aug 19, 2010 9:02 PM Departed FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 19, 2010 6:39 PM Arrived at FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 18, 2010 10:40 PM At local FedEx facility PARIS FR
Aug 18, 2010 9:05 PM Arrived at FedEx location PARIS FR
Aug 18, 2010 4:42 AM In transit MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 18, 2010 4:25 AM In transit MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 18, 2010 3:55 AM Departed FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 17, 2010 3:16 PM In transit MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 17, 2010 4:16 AM Arrived at FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 16, 2010 8:00 AM Delivery exception CORDOVA, TN

Incorrect address 

Aug 15, 2010 9:48 PM Departed FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 15, 2010 9:30 AM In transit MEMPHIS, TN Package available for clearance
Aug 14, 2010 11:56 PM Arrived at FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN
Aug 14, 2010 10:05 PM In transit CHEK LAP KOK HK
Aug 14, 2010 10:02 PM In transit LANTAU ISLAND HK
Aug 14, 2010 4:30 PM Left FedEx origin facility TSUEN WAN HK
Aug 14, 2010 12:05 PM Picked up TSUEN WAN HK
Aug 13, 2010 6:13 AM Shipment info sent to FedEx

August 27, 2010  12:05 PM

Flying Around The World In Virtual Mode

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
3Com, Access Points, Certero, HP, IPS, Security, Spirent, Testing, Virtualisation, WLAN

This summer’s been interesting.

It’s supposed to be holiday time, but the IT world is mega-active at the moment. Consequently I’ve been out to Utah with a client there, Paris and now… er, Crawley (where the “summer” weather is 12 degrees and the sky has consisted of several varying hues of grey (or near solid rainfall) for the past five days.

One thing I’ve found interesting in this time is that none of my vendor clients (or other locations I have been residing in – hotels etc) have anything like as fast an Internet connection as I now have in the official home of technology exotica that is Andorra. I notice this particularly in the US. It’s like they get ahead initially and then sit on that technology and get spectacularly behind the times. Think, cable, GSM etc…

Meantime, in Crawley I’m busy testing with Spirent’s (test equipment vendor) excellent new virtual test rig – i.e. does all the fancy L4-7 bells and whistles tests but sits as a virtual appliance on a VMware VM. So, we’re looking at securing a virtual data centre with a virtual test device. How virtual is that? Anyway, if you’re worried that your VMs aren’t going to be as secure as a regular OS, you can read the report when it comes out next month…

And talking of travel and virtual in combo, how about a virtual courrier service? This is one we’ll define as a global courrier service that doesn’t actually deliver anything. A big-name courrier who we won’t mention by name (but it’s not DHL or TNT and they allegedly do EXpress delivery) has been attempting to deliver an Access Point from a vendor client of mine (whose name we won’t mention but they recently acquired 3Com) for almost two weeks, to our French office for me to test. And it still hasn’t arrived. It HAS been to the Far East on more than one occasion (from where I understand it originated), China, Hong Kong, the USA four times, Alaska and Spain once and actually France TWICE, before it headed off to Texas, then Hong Kong and is theoretically on its way to Grenoble as I type (for the third time). So, here’s the “official” explanation:

“Apparently the postal code for Grenoble is the same as Millington, Pennsylvania USA which is what has been causing issue at Fed-ex.  What I find amazing is when “France” is listed as the country you would think this automatically rules out any postal codes in the USA…”

Of course, the above assumes that the folks in the USA have actually heard of France. I kid you not – ask my mate at HP, Martin O’Brien…

Escaping the summer UK weather tonight to head back across the channel (probably suitably bumpy) and test that wretched Access Point if it ever turns up. Meantime, to cut the travel down marginally, I’ve worked on a way of remotely testing software with my UK-based client Certero (Varrington, to be precise) from aforementioned Andorran ‘net connection. Unlike Ryanair and Squeezyjet, both of whom I would happily never see again, I’m hoping this methodology does take off.

Boom boom…


July 23, 2010  1:10 PM

The Spirit of Nortel Networks Lives On In Avaya…

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
Avaya, Cisco, HP ProCurve, Synoptics, Wellfleet

Had the opportunity this week to catch up with an old IT mate, Nigel Moulton – recently of D-Link, anciently of 3Com with several stops in between – now installed at Avaya,

Avaya, that is, who spent a few $ on the Nortel Networks Enterprise business at the beginning of the year. Given that I’ve got a corner of the lab which could easily double as a musuem of Nortel Networks/Bay/Wellfleet/Synoptics products over the past two decades, I have a genuine (and warm) interest in the future of these product lines. It was therefore reassuring to hear Nigel confirm that the old product lines are being maintained and progressed, so the future for enterprise customers is sorted (technical term), in which case, if you’re longstanding (or short, sitting) enterprise customers of Nortel, you don’t have to dash off to Cisco, HP etc… There is an alternative which is to not actually alternate at all.

Nigel also spoke about a new Avaya product for the call centre which is – sit down, buckled up with a stiff drink at this point – designed to make you, as the caller, the focal, centralised point of the conversation, so – instead of being passed around from one staff member to the next, or from one automated voice to another (are you listening Barclays?) and then being dropped somewhere along the line… Instead, you become the fixed point and stay put so, in theory, you don’t get dropped and the emphasis is on the call centre individuals instead in the form of a collaborative type session with you at the centre.

It might just work and here’s a sort of precedent. The Netevents – – industry symposiums I regularly attend and speak at (there’s no escape!) originally had a series of round table interviews between vendors and press/analysts, whereby the vendors had individual tables and the press went round from one to t’other – with a timetable and agenda – except that they regularly failed to make several of the meetings, getting, er, “lost” along the way, especially if a bar was close enough at hand. So, this was solved quite simply by giving the press/analysts fixed table spots and the vendors moved around instead. Since the emphasis was very much on the vendors to attend the meetings and powerpoint people to death, making the meets press-centric did the trick. Spot the similarity between this successful about-turn and what Avaya is doing at the call centre?

Hoping to get my hands on some of the Avaya products for testing but, meantime, we did include an Avaya solution in a recent report on the HP ProCurve 2520 Switch, which is available (FOC of course) from the website, as a wee taster.

Wine Tip: And talking of wee tastings, as is my secondary missive here, if any of you are heading to the Costa Brava this summer (there is one going on in Spain, honest and we won’t get into the Tossa de Mar jokes here) then do try the local Emporda D.O. wines, as they are excellent and have some whacky, old grape types in them too.I can especially recommend  – as a rosé wine author – the Espelt Lledoner Rosat, though they’re all worth a try, including some sweet reds.

July 14, 2010  3:01 PM

Power Down Or Else…

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
Certero, D-Link, Ethernet switching, Green Networking, PCs, power consumption, PowerStudio, Tesco

 Over the past couple of years, at Broadband-Testing we’ve carried out a number of power consumption tests, primarily focusing on switches of the Ethernet variety.

While we found that there are considerable differences in the amount of power drawn by different switch products – for example, just a supervisor module in passive mode on a Cisco chassis switch can draw three times as much as a 24-port Gigabit switch by D-Link at full blast – in reality, compared with the amount of power used by the PC population of most companies, the savings that can be made at the switch level are not always significant.

So, we’ve switched (ahem) focus to power consumption of said PCs with a test of independent UK company, Certero’s PowerStudio 2.0 product, wot is being launched right now. The report will be released shortly on the website (so watch this space, or keep visiting the website for an update) but meantime I can leak a few details of our findings.

First, it’s important to understand what Intel and others means when they describe each latest-generation PC product as being more power efficient than its predecessor. Yes they are, on a watt per CPU cycle basis, but the increase in performance each time as boggo PCs become multi-core, multi-CPU (in somes cases) beasties means that they actually draw MORE power overall than their forebears (a largely untold Goldilocks story and prequel to the famous one).

In a proverbial nutshell (think almond-sized), what PowerStudio does is to let you create a baseline measurement for total PC population power consumption (alliteration enters IT blogging!) and then create any number of power saving schemes to deploy and measure power saved (with lots of different metrics options) as a result.

Where the product gets really clever is that it can auto shutdown/wake PC clients remotely, using techniques such as Wake On Lan in combination with emails – very neat. Better still, it intelligently saves and reloads MS Office docs as well.

All this is great and means that the lazy user base can be controlled with lots of flexibility to suit any kind of business. However, the idea is for the software to act as an incentive for the users themselves to be more efficient and actually beat the software at shutting down their PCs. A “name and shame” list of worst users can be generated, as can a “star pupils” report, so we have a new employee competition to embrace. Obviously, this shouldn’t be taken too far with large bonuses offered, otherwise users simply won’t power their PCs and, instead, discuss TV for eight hours a day at the coffee machine and then get bonuses as a result of their power saving though, obviously, this has to be offset against additional power consumed by the coffee machine.

The reality is, however, that with a sensible set of power schemes in use and a well-behaved user base, cost savings can be absolutely huge. Moreover, with government schemes meaning that power consumption footprints need to be minimised to avoid punitive charges, there is every reason to look at something like PowerStudio and calculate just how much you can save by using it. Then, and only then, should you look again at power-efficient Ethernet switches. As that supermarket wot makes multi-billion pounds annual profits says, “every little helps….” It most certainly does in their case and it can in yours too.

July 5, 2010  4:43 PM

Holidays Still Means Emails For Many Of Us

Steve Broadhead Steve Broadhead Profile: Steve Broadhead
3G, Business, Holidays, Hotels, Mobile, Wifi

So we’re coming up to holiday time – funnily enought, the idea for me of getting on a flight to a hot destination…doesn’t really work for someone whose life should be co-sponsored by Ryanair and Easyjet.

However, on my travels and the occasional 2-day break I do stay in a mix of “business-class” and “real” hotels, preferring the latter by far, in the same way that I prefer drinking local beer in local places, rather than global, industrial-strength lager. In other words, you take your chance a little more but the rewards can be far higher.

But here’s the real deal. How many people worldwide are working in or with IT in one form or another, who need access to email and maybe don’t want to run up vast Blackberry bills when they are on the move, biz or hols, despite the new enforcement of reduced tariffs across Eorope? So, where are the hotels that cover that splendid middle ground between Hilton and “High Tide”? Interestingly, increasingly the latter are more likely to offer free WiFi than the former, though it is still all too often either ludicrously expensive and often unreliable, or simply non-existent.

Given the number of homes now with WiFi/Internet access – even if the Nintendo Wii is the primary channel – what has happened to hotels since WiFi began to popularise itself 5-6 years ago? Essentially they’ve barely moved on.

And even when you are loaded with two 3G data dongles with two different operators and a mobile phone with a third different operator and various WiFi enabled devices, it doesn’t guarantee you can get ANY access as I found out recently on a brief visit to Fowey in Cornwall. Given that our testing last year showed how bad many smartphones are in the first place at maintaining calls/signal strength, this – combined with the massive holes still in mobile network coverage – the only alternative, unless Femtocell technology gets a look-in, currently is WiFi/cable. So why doesn’t every public establishment have it? Is it because it’s too expensive (surely not now?), or too complex (let’s face it many places have Sky TV but don’t seem to offer access to the bundled Internet access) – I don’t think so.

Is it because us IT guys should be running the hotels (and pubs, bars, cafés etc) instead? Fancy yourself as a Basil Fawlty? Or is it because there is still a huge (and largely artificial) gap between what is seen as “business” class and “leisure” class? And “business” means milking every penny on the assumption that its “guests” are on business expenses and that the business is question is not run by them. But increasingly guys in any form of business are totally accountable and expenses are not the free meal ticket they once were. And – the number of people who run their own business, or are involved in small, “don’t spend owt that’s not essential” companies is signficantly higher than it once was. And, whereas once a holiday meant precisely that, for too many of us, it simply means an office relocation by the sea/in the mountains etc, with email access – even just once a day – being essential.

Let’s then start a campaign for IT-enabled hotels that don’t have to belong to the Hilton/Marriot etc chains, but can be owned and run by Fred and Doris Smedley and serve real, freshly cooked breakfasts to order while offering free WiFi for you to check emails while downing a second cup of cofffee. Or freshly baked croissants and “wiffy” if in France and run by M et Mme Mangetout etc etc.

Or let’s just approach a VC with the idea and become to the hotel trade what Steve Jobs is to the IT world. The word iPad could take on a whole new meaning….

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