Unified Communications Featured Article

FaceTime Faces Off Against Unified Communications Security Concerns at ITEXPO West

September 02, 2010

FaceTime Communications is one of the many companies that will be sending representatives to ITEXPO West 2010 (Oct. 4-6). Its representative will be speaking about unified communications and some of the affiliated security and privacy complications.

To prepare for ITEXPO, Rich Tehrani, CEO of TMC, interviewed Sarah Carter, chief strategy officer and vice president of marketing at FaceTime Communications Inc.

Rich: What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?

Sarah: The adoption of popular consumer-oriented real-time communications and Web 2.0 applications within enterprise networks has significantly altered the way many workers approach business collaboration today. As the convergence between the two continues to grow, so the enterprise architecture will more likely include authorized public applications such as Twitter, Windows Live and Skype, alongside the enterprise UC platform.

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

Sarah: Security and policy control over social networks. The rapid growth in social media has moved business communications beyond the corporate firewall and into the public domain. The control and management of collaborative communications is now a priority for many organizations as they struggle to come to grips with tightening regulatory and compliance standards, particularly in the financial services sector. Socialite from FaceTime Communications addresses these challenges by offering comprehensive control and management over the wide variety of social media channels, integrating seamlessly with existing IT infrastructures

Rich: When will unified communications go mainstream?

Sarah: I think it’s already started, we’re all using different forms of Unified Communications, whether that’s our Skype clients, our gmail, or our corporately provided OCS - but not all organizations have included federation which is when unified communications really comes into its own. This is partly because of concerns over data leakage, malware exposure and security. However, without policy enforcement not federating doesn’t stop users from downloading publicly available communication tools, which puts the organization equally, if not more at risk. Whilst enterprise UC solutions are extremely effective in delivering UC, they do not natively provide the capabilities to meet all of today’s security, compliance and legislative requirements. Regardless of whether an organization chooses to federate or not, these need to be in place to secure the environment.

Rich: Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?

Sarah: At the moment Apple and Google are battling it out with challenges from Microsoft, but it is just as likely that a relatively unknown company can come in and steal the show if they’ve the right branding or a killer app. The trouble with technology is that it’s always changing. It is also just as likely that before there is a clear winner, newer devices, perhaps even a convergence of smartphones and tablets, will emerge and the whole point will be mute.

Rich: Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?

Sarah: Completely. Using tools such as LinkedIn has enabled us to achieve a far better response rate with potential new customers than telemarketing or email has ever done. Through Twitter we’re able to interact constantly with the rest of the world, and even just today, when a prospect who follows me on Twitter wasn’t responding to our rep, a quick DM and we were in business again.

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

Sarah: It will be another two years or so before we start to see widespread deployments. It relies not just on network upgrades, but also users switching to newer phones and although manufacturers are offering HD audio support it’s only on selected models.

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

Sarah: I love the idea of mobile video chat, but I think we’re a long way from network operators being able to deliver reliable bandwidth at a sensible cost required to make it viable for businesses. However, I also think that non-video chat will still be used a lot of the time. There are too many situations such as travelling out of hours or working at home (and having to get formally dressed for the call!!) , where having video for business calls will be seen as an unwanted intrusion by users.

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

Sarah: A lot will depend on the market you’re in, how much reliance you need to place on compliance and eDiscovery. Blackberry may be getting a lot of tough press at the moment, but it is its ability to integrate into business systems and the provision of servers available makes it very popular with many corporations. On that basis it’s highly likely that though Android or iOS4 may dominate the consumer market, Blackberry or Microsoft will the business choice.

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

Sarah: The two will sit side by side for some time yet. There are several factors that will guide people in their choice not just costs and this will be yet further influenced by the applications running over it. Before choosing to go the option of completely wireless organizations should carry out a risk assessment that considers other aspects such as security, bandwidth and data leakage.

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

Sarah: We've embraced this by launching our own cloud based service, so that we're able to support customers whatever their deployment requirements. As companies look to control employees’ use of social media outside of the corporate firewall, a hybrid deployment of on premises and SaaS provides the flexibility need for meet compliance requirements, particularly in heavily regulated industries such as financial services.

Rich: What do you think of the net neutrality debate?

Sarah: Whilst allowing some of today’s biggest hi-tech companies to set the rules for the future of the internet is not desirable, at the same time it is also obvious that if the amount of data continues to grow at the pace it has done in the last few years then doing nothing now raises the possibility that in the future it will be too slow for anyone to use. What is required is an open discussion that enables everyone to have their say.

Rich: What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?

Sarah: In some respects social networking, or rather, specific social networking sites. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn maybe top dog at the moment, but the road behind is littered with those that didn’t make it. Remember Bebo, Second Life? There is absolutely no doubt that social media is making a huge positive impact for those organizations that have embraced it wholeheartedly. However, it’s very easy to get focused on one particular network and not consider when where your strategy is going when it’s usurped by something else more hip.

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

Sarah: It’s about UC – and some of the security implications that arrives from the trusted nature of these types of communications. UC implementations differ from traditional data from a security perspective. Despite these benefits – or, rather, because of them – UC applications present privacy compliance issues and other unique security challenges that exceed the capabilities of traditional data security solutions, which cannot detect and protect against UC-specific attacks.

Rich: What will attendees take away from your session?

Sarah: How to extend network security and mandated compliance to any endpoint anywhere and to protect personnel using WiFi/VoIP/UC applications that are often otherwise open to call interception and other real-time intrusion. Attendees will also learn how businesses can extend enterprise security postures – including privacy regulations and security compliance mandates – to UC applications and devices, particularly critical in healthcare, financial services, credit card processing and education. (oh and they’ll also take away a 4gb thumb drive with a copy of my materials on it).

Rich: Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.

Sarah: That the managed computer is a thing of the past. The challenge of the enterprise is to manage to device of choice by the end user, and in the same way that we’ve seen (certainly) in Europe the demise of Company cars, with the rise of a “car allowance” users will now get a technology allowance. The enterprise no longer has to provide hardware, just a dollar amount.

To find more about FaceTime, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Don’t wait. Register now.

Erin Monda recently graduated from W.C.S.U. with a degree in professional writing. She primarily writes about network technologies, including cloud computing, virtualization and network optimization, however she also has a focus on E911 technologies and legislation.

Edited by Erin Monda