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August 24, 2010

Cloud Computing Overhyped? ITEXPO 2010 Interview

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The trends in communications are fast moving and those who fail to get on board may be left out in the cold. As for the most significant trend as of late, Pierre Kerbage, senior vice president with Zultys Inc. believes it is not one trend, but many that are grabbing attention today.

When asked about the one product or service the market needs the most, Kerbage pointed to unification of communications and protocols, and simplification and elegance in platform, among other things.

Kerbage recently participated in a TMCnet interview, which was captured in full below.

Kerbage believes that unified communications has already gone mainstream and when asked who will win in the smartphone/tablet wars, he picked the Sprint HTC EVO 4G phone. And, while he acknowledges the power of social media, he is not set on one format and one method for all customers. When asked about widespread HD voice, Kerbage highlighted the current challenges the U.S. faces in available bandwidth. He does see the viability of mobile video chat and conferencing and believes Android (News - Alert) will experience the most success over the next three years due to free development tools, no licensing fees and the availability over nearly every network.

As for wireless networking replacing wired environments, Kerbage believes we must first see much more speed and security. And, while he sees the virtue in cloud computing (although he believes it is the most overhyped technology), he is not so sure it has a place in telecom due to the overall cost. At ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2010, Kerbage will speak about hosted versus premise-based technologies. When asked about the neutrality debate, he believes it will be limited at best. As for his bold technology prediction for 2011: SIP will come ubiquitous.

The full conversation follows:What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?

It is hard to state that there is 1 trend in communications today. One may argue that there are MANY trends in Telecom today – some of them are:

a. The death of the old protocols such as H.323 and MGCP and the migration towards one platform of Telecom: SIP – an Open Standard protocol designed to converge multiple vendors under one platform of communication.

b. The death of the multi-server system in premise based systems. We are seeing more systems converge, collapse, and virtualize ALL their applications down to 1 appliance, thus facilitating installation and reducing multiple points of failure.

c. Mobility everywhere. Mobile clients that work on different platforms, such as RIM’s blackberry or Apple’s iPhone (News - Alert) or iPad and others. Such mobile clients should include features such as CHAT back with the office using its own communicator and possibly open with XMPP bridges. Other features that are a must are presence, single number deployment, employee directory and the ability to dial with a minimum set of keys.

d. The wide adoption of Unified Messaging amongst ALL size of companies – it is no longer an enterprise play, but rather becoming ubiquitous and mandatory, as additional efficiencies are required in today’s economic times.

What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?

a. Unification of communications and protocols amongst all telecom vendors.

b. Simplification and elegance in the platform

c. Reduction in price – Enterprise class does not have to mean huge prices.

d. Secure and dependable platforms with pure SIP standards WITHOUT the need of Gateways and teleworkers WITHOUT the need of VPNs

When will unified communications go mainstream?

I believe it already has and getting stronger every day. We are seeing systems from so many vendors, at wide prices and wide features.

Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?

Nokia’s Symbian continues to have strong numbers amongst overseas consumers, but not much in the Americas. RIM’s blackberry continues to have strong numbers in the business sector but losing market share continuously and rapidly to the ANDROID OS. The latest phone under AT&T (News - Alert) has failed to impress the analysts or the consumers or even businesses, as fewer businesses are making the move to an oversubscribed AT&T.

Last, Apple’s iPhone 4 rollout has been less than perfect to say the least, and shows that the consumers are not willing to tolerate this type of behavior from a manufacturer or a carrier. The combination of dropped calls and failed hardware has Apple with the biggest Egg on its face for decades. In the interim, Android – and especially FROYO 2.2 is rapidly gaining market share and is now the defacto market leader and within less than a year will dominate worldwide amongst all carriers and all devices. Microsoft’s long awaited and, “too little and way too late” Windows 7 is OUT.

It is disappointing to see a complete failure of Microsoft in the mobile sector when its functionality and tight integration with Microsoft Exchange is embedded in its OS and does not require an additional server a la Blackberry Enterprise Server – but a slow and buggy and OLD OS is not the way to play or to win consumer confidence. My vote is on the Android and if I had to pick 1 winner, I would pick Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G Phone – by far the most elegant phone on the market – with a dependable carrier: Sprint (and no – I do not work for Sprint nor am I compensated by them nor am I an agent – but I DO own the device)

Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?

It depends on the customer. But no one form of communication is the silver bullet and the only way. He who is in most channels WINS. Some clients react better with a phone call, while others with an Email – and some react well through Social Media. Disseminating information to SOME clients through Social Media, like it or not, is here to stay and is ONE form – not the ONLY form – of publishing information

Selling through social media maybe a bit challenging. But Social media can do wonders when getting a vendor CLOSER to the client – again, it is only one of many ways – but necessary and should be on and in every strategy of a marketing dept.

Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs.  Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?

Having wideband codecs is one piece of the puzzle, the other is the INFRASTRUCTURE. Less bars in less places is not my idea of “fastest network on the planet”. We are still seeing many dropped calls and molasses like speeds through major LECs and CLECs.

Europe, Asia and the Middle East have spent their money wisely on aiding many of their providers to roll out infrastructure. Continuous demand on bandwidth will continue to accelerate rapidly as more people join the mobile phone revolution, HD voice, video, chat, and much more. Our mobile devices are starting to look more like and behave like Start Trek’s “Trichorder” with no apparent end in site anytime soon, thank Goodness.

What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?

A necessity. But we need 1 client that will work on ALL platforms (Droid, Apple, Blackberry, etc…). Platform independence is primordial.

Which wireless operating system (Android, iOS4, Microsoft, etc) will see the greatest success over the next three years?  Why?

Android. Because Google (News - Alert) is an extraordinary company that is firing on all angles. The free tools to developers and no licensing fee have made it the #1 choice amongst different devices. Unlike Apple’s iPhone which is only rolled out on the oversubscribed AT&T, we are seeing the droid being rolled out on just about every carrier and in every country .While I am still a big fan of the iPhone’s interface, its limited multi-tasking, and distribution only through 1 brand and 1 LEC will limit its ubiquity in the market, even if they have sold millions of phones. People are tired of dropped calls!

Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise.  Do you agree? Why or why not?

Before that is to happen, we will need to see MUCH more speed and though security has vastly improved from the old WEP days, wired networks are becoming Gigabit everywhere with sustained 300 to 400 MBPS speeds – Even some of the highest wireless vendors cannot get to 1/10th that speed (through their claims are MUCH higher).

Furthermore, the beginning deployment of 10 Gig Networks has started (though not mainstream yet) and is likely to get wider in utilization as prices start to drop and acceptability among infrastructure vendors becomes more converged.

What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?

Cloud based services v/s premise based is a long life topic of discussion that will engulf hours of passionate discussions – to include speed, failover, security, where is your data, QoS for Telecom, price, long term cost, scalability and MUCH more. Cloud based in data has its place and is gaining market acceptability as less IT infrastructure is required. Not so sure that the same can be said for Telecom – as costs of hosted systems over the term of the contract can be SIGNIFICANTLY higher – often 400 to 500% higher with questionable quality of service and less feature – why would ANYONE pay at least DOUBLE the price to get half the features and sometimes lousy connections?

 If what you want is a monthly payment, then go with a LEASE TO OWN with a 1 dollar buyout and get your OWN flavor or provider of SIP or T1 or PRI – OR – don’t get out of your contract – and also, that way you do not have to pay for all the PHONES and other infrastructure UP FRONT. HOSTED TELEPHONY MAKES 0 SENSE for the savvy consumer.

What do you think of the net neutrality debate?

An interesting approach – but can the rest of the world comply? Are we naïve enough to think the UAE of Kuwait will adopt and adapt such principles, too? It will be limited at best

What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?

Cloud Computing.

You are speaking at ITEXPO West 2010.  What is your session about?

Hosted v/s Premise based.

Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.

SIP will become ubiquitous – from a trunking side, to a software development side to the instrument side. IF YOU AIN’T SIP – YOU AIN’T! Fake telephony vendors that still have digital handset are doing a disservice to their client. It is 100 percent pure IP or it is a legacy.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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