Tag archive for » The Cloud «

Desktop Voice Virtualization – The Next Frontier

Wednesday, 14. September 2011 14:46

Is there anything in recent memory that has brought as much benefit to the world of information technology as virtualization? If there is, it would be hard to name.

A recent announcement from Mitel and VMware is extending the benefits of desktop virtualization to the phone and the unified communications (UC) applications on which more and more workers are coming to depend. These benefits may be amplified in the capital markets, where many forms of trading depend on an intense and immediate level of collaboration among colleagues who, more and more, it seems may be located anywhere.

As an example, I happened to be invited to the US Open last week where I met a group of people who work for an investment bank and manage an investment fund there. The team is based in an office in midtown Manhattan. At any given time there are members who may be sitting at the trading desk but just as likely others will be meeting with investors in a conference room, meeting potential investors in another city, on a research assignment on another continent or, given that it was August, on vacation somewhere. One of the staff spent half of his time in New York and the other half in Delhi, India.

It is critical that these types of workers be able to communicate and have access to their desktops whether in an office on a plane or anywhere their lives take them.

In earlier posts we have made mention of WCS’s technology leadership position in voice virtualization which is based on innovations from our partners at Mitel and VMware. And while the benefits of virtualization are compelling, fewer servers, hypervisors and virtual machines do not have the same cachet among non-IT employees as say, a cool iPhone app.

This may be because a lot of what is transformative about virtualization happens in the data center, out of the view of the rank and file.

This is beginning to change somewhat as virtualization extends its reach to the desktop. And with it, the lives of many knowledge workers will change for the better. This is because desktop virtualization untethers the worker from the need to be in a particular place, say a cubicle, to actually perform their job effectively. And as workers become more mobile and the work force more distributed, desktop virtualization will become the norm.

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Coming of Age: The Server-Based Turret System

Wednesday, 9. March 2011 16:52

Up until about a week ago, if you chanced to ask anyone at the world’s leading turret manufacturer about the efficacy of installing a server-based call control platform for traders we imagine the response would have been a curt “N-O!”

One-by-one the incumbents have moved in the server-based direction. In April of last year it was Orange Business Services, then British Telecom  announced the availability of a cloud-based platform, now, the lone holdout, IPC has announced that they will soon be in customer beta trials with their platform called Unigy. WCS, IP Trade (Belgium) and Speakerbus (United Kingdom) have all been on the server-based bandwagon for several years.

Anyone who has read “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore knows this is the normal course of things in technology. Incumbents are invested in maintaining the status quo. Along come the pesky disruptors evangelizing about a new and better (and often cheaper) way of doing things.

Most customers (all but the innovators and early adopter types) standby and watch the old guy and the new guy duke it out with bemused interest until (or if) the new approach gains a reasonable foothold. From there any number of things can happen from the incumbent buying the disruptor to the disruptor displacing the incumbent to the incumbent responding to the demand for innovation by finally developing their own version of the new platform.

This is what is playing out in the turret market as we speak. The incumbents are now “on board” that server-based systems are the way to go now that they have them on offer (or will shortly).

Server-based systems offer tremendous advantages to the customer in terms of reduced space and power footprint, flexible deployment options, scalability, software-based call control, resilience and so on and so forth. And let’s not forget it should have the potential to lower costs.

And it would seem for customers that all is now “okay” in the turret world. That they are “spoiled for choice” as it were. Six providers and six server-based systems. Different flavors of the same thing, almost. Just go ahead and pick one.

But all may not be as it seems.

Customers should be asking themselves (and their vendors) some questions.

For one, can one reasonably expect that the incumbents have re-calibrated their engineering and implementation/support teams to be able to deal with soft switch and IP networking technologies?

Second, will the incumbents, from a business model perspective, be capable (willing?) of passing on the economies they are realizing with introducing streamlined platforms. Customers should have a right to expect their acquisition and life cycle operating costs to go down in correlation with the reduction of  “big iron” to software-oriented platforms.

Third, while it is a relief that the end of the monolithic turret system era is on the horizon can you expect that these platforms will be “normalized” in the IT sense of the word? Specifically, take advantage of industry standard hardware, be switch-agnostic, run with reasonable power draws, provide scalability, resilience and extensibility and integration with enterprise applications, offer modern system management tools and all at justifiable price points?

Fourth, are these new server-based systems “trading floor tested?” The leap from a TDM to IP switching architecture, especially on the trading floor is considerable. At WCS, we have the luxury of marketing a server-based platform that has tens of thousands of nodes installed at enterprises of all types since 2001 and is in its’ 10th software release in partnership with a company, Mitel, that is allocating tens of millions of dollars annually into R&D.

Fifth, if you are a customer who is currently in the “buying mode” are you going to be a “guinea pig?” It takes time to train and more importantly, get the hands-on experience across-the-board. So if you are buying Orange’s  solution in Paris or IPC’s in New York (where their respective core engineering and technical teams are stationed) you can seek comfort in being near the epicenter of expertise and support. What if, though, you are in a far off locale and there are teething problems?

All in all, whichever path makes the most sense, customers are finally benefiting from a much-needed progression away of antiquated, proprietary switching platforms toward more scalable, open systems.

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The Importance of Escaping the Turret Silo

Saturday, 5. March 2011 9:58

When we think of  traditional trading turret system control planes (the “back room”) the image that comes to mind  is refrigerator-size cabinets populated with racks of proprietary printed circuit boards (PCB).

In other words, “big iron.” There is no real excuse for it in this day and age but in and of itself a huge system footprint is not a mortal sin. That designation should, we think, be reserved for any system that is not enabling customers to deploy a software-based call control application on industry standard servers (ISS).

And why is this?

Well, the first reason has to do with a system life cycle and Moore’s Law. If a customer expects to keep a voice trading platform for ten years (not unusual as we salespeople in the industry know only too well) and computing power is doubling every 12 months (it used to be 18 months) that means after only 20% of the expected life of the system it is antiquated in terms of MIPS.

The next thing that comes to mind is increased operational costs (OpEx) that go hand-in-hand with proprietary systems and which, it is well-documented consumes 7-out-of-10 budget dollars spent on IT. Once an enterprise can deploy their voice systems as normalized applications they should expect to reap massive economies through streamlined implementation and ongoing support. Things like user management, authentication, common server hardware, OS, speed and ease of deployment and moves, adds and changes, reduced space, power requirements and training costs and in finance, security and compliance policy adherence, and integration and extensibility to enterprise applications like Active Directory, Lync UC, Silverlight, et al. or for example make the case at least compelling if not mandated.

If you add in the ability to deploy voice in a virtualized (please see previous post) environment the benefits increase even more significantly and increased resilience, availability and simplified maintenance come into play.

And we have not even begun to talk about the cloud. That is, with most every enterprise either already deploying or in the stage of evaluating deployment of IT applications in remote data centers the standardization proposition is front and center.

How you respond to these trends will dictate what your voice trading environment looks like, how easy it is to manage, how flexible it is in terms of accommodating future needs and of course, what it ultimately costs. At WCS we have seen the benefits the ISS model  brings customers through our partnership with Mitel and their award-winning innovations in the move toward industry-standard hardware and more and more we are seeing this become the preferred deployment scenario rather than the exception.

The question today is not whether this approach makes sense but can your company afford not to do it if so many of your competitors are? An interesting article with more information relating to the move to Data Center-oriented deployments for voice applications can be found at http://unified-communications.tmcnet.com/unified-communications/columns/articles/114509-will-uc-pbx-functionality-reside-the-data-center.htm

Category:Buying A New System, Disaster Recovery | Comments Off on The Importance of Escaping the Turret Silo | Autor: