23/05/2013 - Orange enters North American, Asian IaaS markets
France Telecom's Orange Business Services is expanding its Flexible Computing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) product for enterprises to North America and Asia, the firm announced this week.
Cloud and mobility deals continue to drive high-tech mergers and acquisitions (M&A), according to quarterly stats compiled by accounting firm Ernst & Young.
A majority of senior-level IT professionals said they are expected to be accessible 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, according to a survey of 200 IT professionals by IT staffing firm TEKsystems.
16/05/2013 - IDC lowers 2013 IT spending estimate
Research firm IDC has lowered its estimate for 2013 worldwide IT spending growth to 4.6 percent from a previous 5.5 percent. IDC cited economic uncertainty caused by the U.S. government sequester, the ongoing European debt crisis and China's weakening GDP as the reasons for the adjustment.
LAS VEGAS–Enterprises are embracing private cloud but not yet "jumping" to the public cloud, observed Eli Almog, chief technology officer at CSC Cloud Services, at a Thursday panel on enterprise cloud at the Interop conference.
Three-quarters of 625 enterprises surveyed by cloud management firm RightScale are adopting cloud computing. Large enterprises with more than 1,000 employees are slightly more likely to have some level of cloud adoption than smaller firms. Those large enterprises are choosing multicloud deployments, with hybrid cloud proving to be a popular option. A full 61 percent of enterprises that have a hybrid cloud strategy are running apps in the public cloud, 38 percent are running apps in the private cloud and 29 percent are running apps in the hybrid cloud. Read more
Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) has overtaken SAP (NYSE: SAP) as the top customer relationship management (CRM) software vendor, posting a 26 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2012, according to the latest stats from research firm Gartner.
By contrast, SAP posted a meager 0.1 percent revenue growth rate, and third-place Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) inched up 7.8 percent. Fourth-place Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), however, also posted an aggressive 26 percent growth rate, and fifth-place IBM (NYSE: IBM) soared with close to a 40 percent growth rate in 2012, according to Gartner.
Gartner attributed the rise of Salesforce.com to its direct sales, which helped the firm reach $2.5 billion in revenue, or 14 percent of the CRM market. The SAP drop to second place was due more to a weak Euro than slowing sales, according to the research firm.
Overall, CRM software revenue jumped 12.5 percent year over year, reaching $18 billion worldwide in 2012. Software-as-a-service revenue made up nearly 40 percent of the CRM total last year.
Gartner said vendors significantly expanded their CRM features and functionality last year. Many took the acquisition route, with more than 50 CRM-related acquisitions in 2012.
"With corporate cash at all-time highs, many vendors are willing to pay high premiums to acquire specific technologies and expertise in an increasingly dynamic and competitive CRM market environment," said Joanne Correia, vice president at Gartner.
A hot area for acquisition was marketing software, with IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and other firms buying marketing software firms. Analytics, lead quality and multichannel support for social and mobile technologies top the requirements of line-of-business buyers.
Reflecting the growing importance of social technology, Salesforce.com last week launched Salesforce Social.com app to help marketing firms expand their presence on social media. Social.com is part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, which includes Radian6 social listening app and Buddy Media publishing app. The new platform enables marketers and advertisers to create, automate and manage social media campaigns from a single dashboard.
25/04/2013 - GE pumps $105M into cloud platform spinoff Pivotal
Through its Pivotal investment, GE plans to accelerate development of data analytics for the industrial Internet, which entails the integration of intelligent machines, enterprise systems and people. GE estimates that the industrial Internet could eliminate $150 billion in economic inefficiency.
"It's no secret that the cloud and big data are driving dramatic business transformation. They are enabling the industrial internet," said Bill Ruh, head of the GE Global Software Center, which is located in San Ramon, Calif., close to Pivotal's headquarters.
Pivotal is developing a private cloud platform that provides enterprises with rapid application development, data analytics and cloud architecture. It also plans to run a public platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for IT organizations.
Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, is promising enterprises an infrastructure-independent operating system for the cloud, according to a report by GigaOM. Maritz said Pivotal's platform will be able to run on Amazon Web Services, OpenStack and other cloud infrastructures.
Gartner analyst Yefim Natis is skeptical, however. "Although the general direction of the company is promising, some notable components that are essential to a comprehensive cloud computing platform are missing. There is no integration technology. Integration of data, applications, cloud and Web services, partners and event streams is an essential element of any such environment. Pivotal will find that its customers demand that capability," he wrote.
Natis noted that the Pivotal platform lacks mobile and social components, which are considered essential by IT leaders for next-generation applications. "Pivotal has put stakes in the ground for the cloud and information initiatives, but social and mobile are still to be integrated into the vision and the product," he related.
The success or failure of Pivotal "will depend on strong execution; continuing access to capital; the new company's ability to operate in a coordinated and focused manner, despite its diverse origins; and its ability to attract partners [as well as] innovative startups and mainstream IT organizations," Natis concluded.
Certainly the investment by GE will give Pivotal the initial resources to get its innovative plans off the ground. Whether Pivotal will be able to fly in the turbulent winds of enterprise IT will depend on whether it can make mid-course corrections.
In the blog, Chris Drumgoole, senior vice president of global operations at Terremark, said his firm was investing money in the Xen project, joining the Linux Foundation as an advisory board member and endorsing the CloudStack project.
"Our support and investment reflects our desire to see the cloud market mature quickly and provide businesses with cloud-based offerings that address specific needs like performance, cost and flexibility. From our perspective, investing in open source technologies at this stage of market development makes sense because it accelerates sharing, technology and ecosystem growth and reduces development and go-to-market costs," wrote Drumgoole.
This is the first time Terremark has actively invested in open cloud projects, but it will not be the last time, Drumgoole said.
The Terremark announcement comes on the same day that Citrix (Nasdaq: CTXS), the commercial backer of the Xen Project, announced it was turning Xen over to the Linux Foundation. The member-led Linux Foundation will provide infrastructure, guidance and a collaborator network for the project, which is expected to accelerate development of the Xen hypervisor, Citrix said in a release.
Perhaps not coincidentally, these announcements come in the middle of the OpenStack Summit being held this week in Portland, Ore. Rackspace (NYSE: RAX)-backed OpenStack is a competing open-standards cloud project to the Citrix-based CloudStack.
Verizon's Terremark is a leader in providing managed hosting services in North America, along with Rackspace, AT&T (NYSE: T) and Savvis, according to the latest magic quadrant report from Gartner. Managed hosting is offered on physical and virtualized infrastructures, including cloud-based infrastructure as a service, Gartner explained.
HP (NYSE: HPQ) unveiled Monday new Converged Cloud products for the enterprise that incorporate OpenStack technology. HP released HP Cloud System 7.2, which integrates OpenStack technology into HP's private cloud product, and launched two new CloudSystem bursting activation services designed to enable enterprises and service providers to rapidly deploy cloud-bursting capabilities. In addition, HP expanded its public cloud portfolio with HP Cloud Messaging, enabling app developers to duplicate messages on multiple services. Read more
IT managers should extend the reach of their integration strategy into the cloud through the use of integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS), advised Massimo Pezzini, vice president and fellow at research firm Gartner.
Gartner defines iPaaS as a suite of cloud services that enable the development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting on-premise and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data.
Pezzini recommended that enterprises use iPaaS to tackle the cloud services integration (CSI) challenge rather than applying traditional application and data integration tools.
Gartner predicts that by 2016, at least 35 percent of large and mid-size enterprises will be using some type of iPaaS offering. Pezzini says enterprises find iPaaS attractive because of its similarity to software-as-a-service, the ease of use, lower costs and faster-time-to-integration of traditional integration methods.
iPaaS should complement, not replace, traditional on-premise integration middleware such as enterprise service buses, business-to-business gateway software and managed file transfer, Pezzini noted, adding that IT managers will need to federate iPaaS with on-premise integration platforms.
To implement CSI, enterprises will need to plan for step-by-step development of their integration team's structure, methodologies and governance processes. CSI projects often require a more agile approach and faster time to value than traditional application or data integration programs, the Gartner analyst said.
In a SearchCloudComputing article, Tom Nolle, president of consulting firm CIMI Corp., argued that iPaaS suffers from a lack of understanding of its value. "Many companies considering a cloud deployment won't even encounter iPaaS or consider it--even when it would have clear value to them. Public cloud service providers rarely encourage users to consider iPaaS, and the current number of users of the concept is small enough to limit opportunities for user-to-user dialogues and support communities," he wrote.
Yet, iPaaS will be "critical" for cloud computing to expand to mission-critical applications that make up the biggest chunk of IT spending. "At some point, iPaaS may give us the foundation for true cloud-specific applications, and that would be an enormous advance for sellers and cloud adopters," Nolle concluded.
Dropbox, the controversial file sharing service, is renaming its Dropbox for Teams as Dropbox for Business to reflect its business focus.
Anand Subramani, product manager for Dropbox for Business, explained the rationale for the name change in a blog: "With all the changes we're making to create a Dropbox that's better for companies both large and small, it's become clear that the name 'Dropbox for Teams' doesn't quite fit anymore. To better rep the features we're building and the awesome companies that use Dropbox to create, share, and save their most important work, we realize the time has come to rename to Dropbox for Business," he explained.
Image source: Dropbox
Numerous surveys of IT professionals have identified employee use of Dropbox to store work files as one of the top security risks to corporate data. Employees argue that they need to use Dropbox so they can access their work files from various locations and to work collaboratively on documents with colleagues.
To address security concerns, Dropbox recently announced that it will support single sign-on, which enables employees to sign in once to a central identity provider, such as Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Active Directory (AD), and securely access their apps, such as Dropbox. This allows enterprises to use their existing identity and access management (IAM) provider to handle the authentication process, Subramani explained.
"For IT admins, SSO means additional security and administrative management. Single sign-on gives you complete ownership of the authentication process and works with your company's existing password policies. It also easily ties into the existing Dropbox provisioning and de-provisioning API to provide further Active Directory integration," he related.
To deploy SSO, Dropbox is working with a number of IAM providers, including Ping Identity, Okta, OneLogin, Centrify and Symplified. The company expects to have SSO--based on the security assertion markup language--available to enterprise customers in May.
According to Centrify's CEO, Tom Kemp, teaming with Dropbox makes sense for both companies. "So having a solution such as Centrify integrate Dropbox with AD means that (a) users can use the solution they are comfortable with in terms of sharing docs etc.; (b) IT can put in the access control and security rights (who can access what) that they require; and (c) IT can leverage an existing mgmt tool/infrastructure they already own (AD) so they can implement this control/visibility without having to learn yet another tool," Kemp was quoted by TechCrunch as arguing.
In February, Dropbox introduced a new administrative console and sharing controls to provide IT administrators with better visibility and control. The new console enables IT admins to view recent activity, Web sessions, linked devices and third-party applications for each member of the team, as well as get a "complete picture" of activity across the team and generate a downloadable activity report.
In addition, IT admins can set sharing controls at the account level to prevent shared folders and links from leaving the corporate network or allow team members to decide access levels on a case-by-case basis. The sharing controls also require team members to keep two-step verification enabled for tighter security, explained Dropbox.
Terri McClure, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, commented in the February announcement: "Dropbox is making it easier for IT admins to control and manage users and the sharing of company data. These new features will be a welcome addition for businesses looking to bring the de facto standard for ease of use for consumer file sharing into the workplace."
Virtualization firm VMware (NYSE: VMW) has agreed to sell its Protect asset and patch management business to LANDesk as part of an effort to focus on its hybrid cloud, software-defined data center product line as well as end user computing, wrote Ramin Sayar, vice president and general manager of cloud infrastructure and management in VMware, in a blog.
VMware acquired the Protect product line when it acquired Shavlik Technologies in 2011. It provides enterprises with centralized patch management and asset inventory for Windows and third-party applications for both virtual and physical machines.
Sayar explained that VMware is focusing its efforts on its portfolio of virtual and cloud management products for enterprise customers. These include cloud service provisioning, which automates the provisioning of lifecycle management of infrastructure, applications and desktops across clouds and platforms; cloud operations management, which manages the heath, risk, efficiency and compliance of IT infrastructure and applications; and cloud business management, which governs and manages cloud services.
LANDesk, which was spun off from Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) back in 2002, said it acquired the Protect product family from VMware to expand its user-oriented IT management market presence through new channels and an additional product line that complements its existing portfolio. LANDesk is resurrecting the Shavlik brand for the Protect product portfolio.
Mark Shavlik founded Shavlik Technologies in 1993--after working at Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) for seven years developing the Windows NT operating system--to provide security and patching services specifically for the Windows NT platform, explained The Register in a report on the sale. LANDesk plans to double the number of employees for the Protect product line over the next year, according to sources consulted by The Register.
As part of the transaction, VMware signed up to be a partner of LANDesk, along with its former owner Intel, HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Lenovo.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the enterprise applications sector reached $50.5 billion in 2012, the largest portion of the disclosed value of information and communication technology (ICT) merger and acquisitions deals last year, according to research firm IDC.
At the same time, the number of disclosed enterprise application deals declined 11 percent year-over-year in 2012, IDC found.
Although not specified by IDC, one of the largest enterprise application deals of last year was SAP's $4.4 billion acquisition of Ariba, a procurement management software provider for enterprises.
The enterprise application sector bucked the trend for the broader ICT market, which saw a 14.2 percent year-over-year increase in the number of deals to more than 3,800, but a 10.8 percent year-over-year decline in the value of disclosed deals to $211 billion.
The mobile sector was the second-largest portion of ICT M&A value, reaching $40.1 billion in disclosed deals in 2012. More than half of that was made up by Softbank's $20 billion acquisition of Sprint-Nextel (NYSE: S), a deal that has yet to be completed. The telecom sector was third, with $33 billion in deals and Internet deals with $27.5 billion.
Constellation Software, whose main goal is the acquisition of software companies, was the most active acquirer, registering 18 deals that primarily involved its subsidiaries buying firms in vertical application markets. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) was the second most active acquirer with 17 deals, and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) was third with 15 deals. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Publicis Groupe tied for fourth with 12 deals each.
"One of the most important opportunities to surface in 2012 was the emergence of the third platform, built on the four pillars of cloud, mobile, big data, and social technologies," said Dan Yachin, research director of emerging technologies for IDC EMEA.
"As companies move to invest more heavily in these technologies for the future, there was a burst of M&A activity as vendors sought to position themselves for this critical shift in the market. IDC tracked 710 deals--18.6 percent of all M&A deals in 2012--associated with the four technologies that constitute the new platform," he added.
The IDC data contrast with figures compiled by Ernst & Young on tech sector 2012 M&A activity. Ernst & Young found that both deal value and volume declined last year, with the cloud and big data sectors topping tech M&A activity last year.
Softbank, Sprint agree to US government restrictions on Chinese telecom gear, report says
SAP launches new ERP, CRM products at CeBIT 2013
Cloud, big data speed past other tech sectors in M&A deals
Market cap is an important indicator for investors because it provides the stock market's value comparison for a firm's stock, explained Forbes.
"Comparing market capitalization (factoring in those share counts) creates a true 'apples-to-apples' comparison of the value of two stocks," the report explained.
Citrix's move up the market cap ranking comes at a time when it unveiled a number of new enterprise products at EnterpriseConnect 2013.
Citrix unveiled new software that enables customers of its NetScaler application delivery controller (ADC) to gather and analyze traffic in their data centers and troubleshoot problems.
The NetScaler Insight Center uses the company's Web Insight product to gather and analyze data on user and server response times to improve application performance. The HDX Insight provides monitoring and troubleshooting products for XenApp and XenDesktop customers.
"NetScaler Insight solves the disruption of business intelligence as applications and data are aggregated across different data centers and into the cloud," explained Graham Melville, director of product marketing at Citrix's NetScaler Product Group.
"There is one device that is the universal front end for all of these things--the application delivery controller… The ADC is in the path of all of the traffic that is flowing between the user and application," Melville told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
"It is easy for the NetScaler to achieve visibility into all of the network traffic and to bring big data analytics from a single point in the network," Melville said. Using this visibility, "we are able troubleshoot a lot of issues and we can pass that information to third-party tools as well," he added.
On the mobility front, Citrix announced new versions of its Podio apps for iPhone and Android smartphones, as well as an expansion in the number of languages supported by the cloud-based collaboration platform.
Additionally, Citrix is making available rich content editing capabilities for its ShareFile enterprise apps for mobile devices. As a result, iOS users can create and edit Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF documents from their mobile devices.
ORLANDO, Fla.-- The explosion in data traffic generated by unified communications and other applications is benefiting firms that supply networking equipment and applications to enterprises.
Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) estimates that by 2016 there will be 6.6 zettabytes of global data traffic. One of the firms benefiting from that traffic is IP communications provider GENBAND, which supplies session border controllers (SBCs) and other products to enterprises.
The "jump in data traffic is being driven by multimedia communications traffic. That impacts all of our solutions," explained Sanjay Bhatia, senior director of product marketing at GENBAND.
"Our SBCs provide security across network borders, from the network to the access side and into the enterprise, as well as network-to-network security," Bhatia told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
The latest example is an agreement that GENBAND announced this week with Sigue, a global money transfer company, to supply its QUANTiX SBCs for SIP trunking capabilities in Sigue's backup data center.
"GENBAND's advanced enterprise SBC solution fortifies our call center by providing us with a cost-effective way to establish redundant, highly available SIP trunking capabilities to CenturyLink. Additionally, GENBAND's technical support staff, leveraging its deep carrier expertise and working in close collaboration with our partner Intelli-Flex, completed the installation in a very short timeframe,"said Ignacio Ramirez, director of technology services for Sigue.
Intelli-Flex manages enterprise implementation from the Sigue call center to CenturyLink (Nasdaq: CMCSA).
Sigue is "taking our solution to market across a number of different enterprises that they serve today. That is a big win for our SMART EDGE solutions and our QUANTiX product line with the SIP trunking solution set," said Bhatia.
QUANTiX is part of GENBAND's SMART EDGE products that enable interconnection, roaming and improved performance across real-time, interactive data communications.
"We are able to provide end-to-end security for UC or hosted solutions. For SIP trunking we can provide SBCs for different scales not only to address different locations within the enterprise, such as branch offices, and be able to link those branch offices with the headquarters, but also to link those back to the edge of the service provider's network," Bhatia said.
"The Arrow agreement is a validation of our white label branded cloud strategy," said Joe McGarvey, director of analyst relations with GENBAND. "Arrow is making NUViA its flagship cloud UC offering to mid-market businesses" under the SynapS3 ucCLOUD brand, he told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
"Arrow is addressing multiple market segments: the traditional PBX, the UC market, and vertical solutions," added Bhatia.
11/03/2013 - IBM shakes up the private cloud world
"We dreamed that one day IBM might get involved and do for OpenStack what they've done for Linux and other open source communities in the past. They're actually committed fully to OpenStack for being the basis for every single cloud solution they have going forward," Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, told Knorr.
Unlike Rackspace (NYSE: RAX), IBM will not offer its own version of OpenStack. "We want this to be like the Apache HTTP Server was for WebSphere. Every modern day application server has Apache HTTP code in it. So that's what we want [OpenStack] to be for cloud," Angel Diaz, IBM's vice president of software standards, open source and cloud labs, told Knorr.
IBM is currently testing its first product to include OpenStack, the IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator, which will enable enterprises to compose cloud services using a drag and drop interface.
Rackspace is not waiting around to congratulate IBM on its decision. The private cloud provider announced last week the addition of a number of features to its OpenStack software.
One new feature is OpenCenter, a single interface for deploying, configuring and operating a private cloud in the enterprise data center. OpenCenter provides a centralized graphical user interface and application programming interface (API) to deploy, manage and maintain private clouds.
OpenCenter provides API or point-and-click deployment and management of high-availability environments for the OpenStack controller nodes.
Rackspace customers can now select Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux or CentOS for the host operating system for private cloud deployments.
"Rackspace Private Cloud's powerful new OpenCenter platform is a user interface and orchestration tool built to deploy, operate and scale on-premise private clouds. This paves the way for Rackspace to bring its continuous integration and deployment expertise from the public cloud arena into private enterprise data centers," said Jim Curry, senior vice president and general manager of Rackspace Private Cloud.
In addition, research firm IDC predicted that private cloud offerings would be one of the forces fueling deployment of more software-centric enterprise networks.
Hyperscale networked data centers, such as those built by Rackspace, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), will drive deployment of software-defined networking (SDN) and network virtualization, said IDC.
Communications service providers (CSP) such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and BT will also generate demand for hyperscale networking data centers. These CSPs' ability to support disruptive software platforms will enable multivendor network virtualization, IDC observed.
Customer relationship management (CRM) has surpassed enterprise resource planning (ERP) as the top application software investment priority of enterprises, according to an enterprise IT spending study by Gartner.
Office and personal productivity tools came in third in terms of app software investment priorities, the study found. The enterprise focus on CRM was seen in both developed and emerging markets, Gartner noted.
With enterprises planning more investments in CRM, venture capital firms are ponying up money to invest in CRM startups. The latest example of this is the $1 million investment in CRM startup Contactually by VC firms Point Nine and Boston Seed, as well as existing investors, including 500 Startups and angel investors.
Washington, D.C.-based Contactually provides an email-based CRM for marketing professionals. It plans to use the funding to expand its sales and development teams and focus on expanding its partnerships with complementary SaaS products through its application programming interface, which enables third-party software providers to access contact and communications histories. The Contactually platform integrates with Salesforce.com, Google Contacts, Highrise, Pipedrive, SugarCRM and MailChimp platforms.
Salesforce.com reported a profit of 51 cents per share, excluding one-time charges, on revenues of $835 million. Analysts had been expecting a profit of 40 cents per share on revenue of $831 million, according to a consensus estimate by Thomson Reuters.
"Salesforce.com had a spectacular finish to its fiscal year. We delivered more than $3 billion in revenue and constant currency revenue growth of 37 percent," said Marc Benioff, chief executive officer of Salesforce.com, in a statement.
Gartner predicted that increased adoption of on-premise software and software as a service will spur an uptick in worldwide enterprise software spending through next year.
"Results from the survey indicate that software spending will increase modestly worldwide through the 2014 budget year, with new software sales... and SaaS driving this increased spending. However, significant regional differences in priorities and drivers will require vendors to pursue market-specific strategies," said Hai Hong Swineheart, research analyst at Gartner.
In terms of infrastructure software investment priorities, enterprises are looking to invest in security software to confront the development of new security threats as well as the flood of personal devices coming into the enterprises. In addition, they are investing in virtualization infrastructure software with most moving toward 70 percent virtualization, particularly in North America, within the next several years.
Thinking Phone Networks, a provider of cloud-based unified communications (UC), inked a deal this week with Intelisys, a telecom master agent, to provide cloud-based UC services throughout its organization.
Last year, Intelisys began offering the ThinkingSuite cloud UC platform as part of its product and service portfolio for mid-sized and larger enterprises. Intelisys provides a suite of telecom value-based services to sales agents; these services include carrier voice and data, cloud, cable, collaboration services, wireless and wired access, voice and web conferencing and telecom asset management tools.
When Intelisys decide to replace its own communications system, it turned to the ThinkingSuite platform because of its integrated communications and collaboration applications, including cloud IP PBX capabilities and a mobile client that connects employees on the move, according to the press release.
Intelisys deployed ThinkingSuite's point-to-point video, video conferencing, presence and softphone applications for both office staff and remote workers, as well as the ThinkingSuite contact center service.
Separately, Thinking Phones Networks signed up Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI) as a master partner. TBI will sell the ThinkingSuite cloud UC platform to enterprises, according to a report by Channel Partners
Last year, Thinking Phone Networks was named as a leader in the cloud-based UC market by Gartner. To attract large enterprise customers, Gartner said cloud-based UC firms will have to provide effective back-office support for large enterprises.
Thinking Phone Networks focuses on mid-sized and large enterprise customers that have 500 to 10,000 users, related Steve Kokinos, CEO of the firm. "We are really the only one in the leader quadrant focused on enterprise accounts," Kokinos told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
"Servicing customers of that size is a different challenge than servicing small and medium-sized businesses. A lot of the noise in the cloud UC market is focused around firms with 50 users and below," he added.
"CIOs have challenges today managing four or five different networks or applications. There is voice, contact center, video, mobile and other UC applications. All of those things require increasingly specialized skills to handle. Our job is to help them unify those into one coherent and easy to manage cloud service," Kokinos explained.
Microsoft unveils Lync-Skype connectivity
Gartner: UCaaS suppliers should provide back-office support to attract large enterprise customers
Cloud-based UC market pits VoIP players against IT, carrier behemoths
Amazon announced Friday that the new service, first previewed in November 2012, is now "broadly available for use." Redshift is starting out at Amazon's eastern U.S. data center in Northern Virginia but soon will be available in data centers in other Amazon Web Services (AWS) regions.
According to Gartner's Magic Quadrant report, EMC (NYSE: EMC), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), SAP (NYSE: SAP) and Teradata are the leading firms in the data warehouse database management systems market. ParAccel, HP (Nasdaq: HPQ) and Kognitio are considered visionaries. Amazon's Redshift service is based on ParAccel's technology.
Amazon said that since Redshift was first trialed in November, customers have ranged from startups to global enterprises in a number of industries with datasets from terabytes to petabytes. The pricing is under $1,000 per terabyte per year.
"When we set out to build Amazon Redshift, we wanted to leverage the massive scale of AWS to deliver ten times the performance at 1/10 the cost of on-premise data warehouses in use today," said Raju Gulabani, vice president of Database Services, Amazon Web Services.
To deliver the services at a lower price than other data warehouses, Amazon said it uses columnar data storage, advanced compression and high-performance disk and network input and output.
Redshift should be able to compete with EMC's Greenplum, IBM's Netezza and HP's Vertica data warehousing offerings as well as BitYota and Treasure Data, which also run on AWS infrastructure, according to an article by GigaOM.
Amazon said it has lined up a number of software partners for the Redshift service, including SAP, IBM, Informatica, Tableau, Attunity, Actuate, Pentaho, Talend, Birst, Roambi and Pervasive. These partners have joined MicroStrategy and Jaspersoft in enabling customers to continue using their current data analytic tools as part of the Redshift service.
GENBAND launched on Tuesday its first cloud-based unified communications (UC) product available to enterprises through service providers and channel partners. NUViA, the cloud-based UC product, provides enterprises with high-definition voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, web collaboration, desktop clients and fixed and mobile UC convergence. "We are offering full-blown UC capabilities from the GENBAND cloud as a service. This is the first time that we are offering cloud-based UC," Sanjay Bhatia, senior director of marketing at GENBAND, told FierceEnterpriseCommunications. In addition, NUViA will include a rich communications suite (RCS) offering that enables wireless operators to offer multimedia communications services for consumers. NUViA runs on GENBAND's EXPERiUS software-based SIP application server. Read more
Three-quarters of enterprises have either partially or fully deployed unified communications (UC) products, according to a survey of 200 IT professionals conducted by Webtorials on behalf of SIP communications provider Sonus Networks (Nasdaq: SONS).
Of those enterprises, 21 percent have fully deployed UC, while 57 percent have partially deployed it, according to the survey contained in the report, "Enterprises Place 2013 Unified Communications Bets."
The survey found that more enterprises are adopting cloud-based and hybrid UC deployment, with a number of premise-based UC deployments expected to decline from 65 percent of current deployments to 31 percent of future deployments.
"Most companies have trialed UC and now it's going to head to more mainstream procurements. How that will be deployed is a top issue, with cloud deployments becoming increasingly important in the near term," Wes Durow, vice president of global marketing and go-to-market operations at Sonus, told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
Session border controllers (SBCs) are keys to UC system interoperability, service quality and security, Durow said.
Most of the respondents said they purchased SBCs as an on-premise UC product, while 13 percent said they deployed SBCs as part of a service from a SIP trunking provider, and 17 percent said SBCs were part of a hybrid on-premise and services deployment.
According to the survey, enterprise voice was identified at the most important factor in selecting UC vendors, followed by unified messaging, desktop videoconferencing, web conferencing and mobile clients for smartphones and tablets.
Based on the survey, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) is the leading UC vendor for voice, videoconferencing and web conferencing, while Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) leads in instant messaging, presence and enterprise social functions such as internal corporate user profiles, directories and skills search.
"Microsoft pulled up pretty quickly into a challenger position. They continue to strengthen as you see the legacy PBX vendors start to slide backwards," Durow observed.
Durow explained that whether enterprises deploy premised-based or cloud-based UC systems, the demand for SBCs will remain since they "knit together disparate network environments… whether premised-based, cloud or hybrid."
The Webtorials survey highlights UC trends identified by other research, particularly the move toward cloud-based and mobile UC. The cloud-based UC market pits large firms like Cisco, Microsoft and Avaya against smaller firms such as ShoreTel (Nasdaq: SHOR) and 8x8 (Nasdaq: EGHT). The cloud-based market is expected to be worth $1.9 billion in 2012, up 15.8 percent over the previous year, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.
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Enterprise demand for IT and network services is fueling the red-hot Latin American enterprise communications market, which is predicted to post healthy growth over the next few years.
According to recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan, the Latin American data communications services market will increase 33 percent over the next five years, reaching $8.44 billion in 2017.
This growth is being spurred by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are migrating to dedicated IP and multi-protocol label switching virtual private networks (MPLS VPNs) in greater numbers because of the lower costs and broader availability provided for data communications services, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The research firm's estimate agrees broadly with a prediction made last fall by TechNavio, which said the Latin American IT services market would increase at a 10 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2015. TechNavio attributed the expected growth to greater government spending on IT infrastructure and increasing adoption of cloud services by Latin American firms.
Otávio Martins, information and communication technologies research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, observed that the Latin American data communications services market is "clearly leaning toward more hybrid networks, as the ultimate purpose of implementing a VPN network is to support any-to-any connectivity. Service providers will use a combination of technologies to support inter-networking between distributed company locations."
While the SME data communications market is expanding, the large enterprise market is reaching saturation, particularly in Brazil and Mexico.
"Nevertheless, the geographic expansion of companies and new multinationals entering the Latin American market will drive the need for connectivity in several locations. Verticals such as finance, retail, logistics, and government, with numerous branches nationwide, will sustain the demand for data communication services," Martins predicted.
Data center consolidations and bandwidth-intensive applications are fueling the bandwidth needs of enterprises. But network operators are having a tough time generating enough profit from just providing low-priced bandwidth.
To make money, operators are turning more toward value-added services such as telepresence, managed services, unified communications, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud applications, according to Frost & Sullivan's analysis.
Reflecting the move to value-added services, Telefonica, one of Latin America's largest operators, announced last month that it was launching a Channel Partner Program for resellers of its cloud services and machine-to-machine platform.
From its data center in Miami, Telefonica offers cloud services for enterprises operating in Latin America and North America. Telefonica said its instant servers provide infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), delivering cloud computing for developers, digital businesses and large enterprises.
The rapidly expanding Latin American enterprise communications market offers huge potential for operators as well as value-added service providers, such as cloud vendors.
Unified communications (UC) provider ShoreTel (Nasdaq: SHOR) released on Tuesday its Enterprise Contact Center 8 (ECC 8) product with enhancements to the email and web chat channels for contact center agents, enabling consumers to use smartphones and tablets to communicate with the enterprise.
The product upgrade provides enterprises with the ability to move from traditional voice-based contact centers to multi-device, multi-channel options for agents, the company explained.
ShoreTel ECC 8 provides greater insight to the enterprise on customer experience through interaction reports and real-time reporting for email and web chat interactions as well as voice conversations. "We are reporting end-to-end across the entire contact center to all channels types, inbound and outbound voice, email, and web chat to make sure the managers of that contact center have the data they need," said Steve McElderry, director of product management for contact centers at ShoreTel.
The ShoreTel contact center offers both agents and supervisors consolidated capabilities through ShoreTel Communicator, the unified, intuitive desktop interface. The contact center integrates with existing customer relationship management (CRM) applications such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Dynamics CRM.
"Our contact center leverages the inherent robustness of our distributed [unified communications] architecture. And it allows the contact center to be integrated into the rest of the enterprise. The entire enterprise now serves the end consumer. The distinction between the contact center and the rest of the enterprise is crumbling," McElderry told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
With ECC 8, ShoreTel has simplified the agent interface for email by enabling agents to respond to an email with a single click, improved automated responses and email routing and enabled the flagging of bounced back emails for follow-up by a manager, explained McElderry.
While ShoreTel's contact center product leverages its premise-based UC system, there is a growing movement toward cloud-based contact center systems. This enthusiasm for the cloud was reflected in cloud-based contact center startup NewVoiceMedia's recent funding round.
The U.K.-based company was able to raise $20 million in its second funding round held at the end of last month. The startup added Highland Capital Partners Europe and MMC Ventures to its existing investors Notion Capital and Eden Ventures. It plans to use the proceeds to expand its business in North America.
NewVoiceMedia said it has been growing by more than 200 percent per year and serves 8,000 agents in 30 countries. Its ContactWorld product integrates with Salesforce.com's Service Cloud and Sales Cloud platforms.
Cloud-based products do not require enterprises to spend money on equipment and provide the latest technology on demand, although they do require a monthly fee for the service. At the same time, premised-based systems provide robust capabilities that the enterprise can customize and control. The choice for enterprises depends on their size and their requirements.
ShoreTel intros new UC software
MIAMI— This morning, I sat in on a keynote discussion with Charles Vogt, president and CEO of IP communications provider GENBAND. During the discussion, Vogt shared his insights on some of the major developments taking place in the enterprise and service provider space.
While it might be an "exciting and chaotic" time for enterprise communications, chief information officers and IT departments are struggling to grapple with all of the challenges these communication changes are posing for the enterprises, Vogt observed.
Vogt noted that GENBAND has been active in SIP trunking since 2006 and acquired NextPoint Networks, a maker of session border controllers (SBCs) that enable SIP trunking, in 2008.
SBCs were the focus of a panel that kicked off the ITExpo on Tuesday. In that panel, representatives from leading SBC providers Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKT), Sonus Networks (Nasdaq: SONS), Sangoma and AudioCodes shared their thoughts on the key role of SBCs in IP-based enterprise communications. Sonus Networks' David Tipping compared SBCs to the Swiss Army knives of enterprises.
Acme Packet's Rob Popovic stressed that SBCs are the keys to integration and security of enterprise networks. SBCs can improve the interoperability and media handling of the network as well as aid companies in compliance with regulatory requirements.
Popovic contributed an article on SIP trunking to an e-book called Benefits and Challenges of SIP Trunking Migration that FierceEnterpriseCommunications published this week. The e-book provides insights into the growing SIP trunking trend in the enterprise and explains how SIP trunking can lower costs and improve communications features for businesses of all sizes.
Cloud computing will revolutionize the way enterprises communicate over the next five years, Vogt predicted: "Cloud services mean that for the average business, it allows you to completely de-risk your deployment strategy…You are allowing your business to take advantage of all of these services without taking on the risk," Vogt said.
A keynote panel at ITExpo on Wednesday brought together a slew of major players--IBM (NYSE: IBM), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Citrix (Nasdaq: CTXS)--to discuss the implications of cloud computing for the enterprise. The panelists agreed that the best way for most enterprises to deploy the cloud is gradually and through phases. That way, they can test the waters with less sensitive applications, such as email.
This gradual approach could include a hybrid solution combining public cloud for less sensitive applications and private cloud within the enterprise for more sensitive applications. "Hybrid cloud is the way to go," said Cisco's Roberto De La Mora.
The panelists also tackled the topic of security in the cloud. "For everyone who is looking at virtualization and cloud, the question arises, 'How do I secure all this?' Pretty scary," said Gartner analyst Lisa Pierce. She noted that of companies that are looking at the cloud, only 50 percent are asking themselves about security issues.
De La Mora stressed that security requires educating end users and putting policies in place to enforce security best practices
Vogt predicted no one in the enterprise will have a fixed phone on their desks by next year because of the rapid adoption of mobile technologies and devices in the workplace.
"Broadband access has changed the communications landscape. If we still had 2G, we wouldn't be talking about these exciting applications," he opined.
While mobility has enabled a broad range of new applications, it is causing headaches for CIOs and IT managers, Vogt observed.
"We used to see one mobile device at a company, now we see all kinds of devices in the workplace. This has got to be the biggest challenge for the IT guys. The struggle right now is supporting all of these different devices," he observed.
These developments--SIP trunking, cloud computing and mobility--will transform the way enterprises communicate over the coming decade. As Vogt observed, this is an exciting and chaotic time for communications.-Fred