Tag archive for » Virtualization «

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 Case for Voice Virtualization

Friday, 11. February 2011 9:49

Without doubt one of the biggest trends in IT is virtualization. This post will, I hope, answer: what it is, why it is meaningful and why it should be on the radar of anyone with responsibility for voice platforms and services.

Exactly what is virtualization?

Virtualization, in computing, is the creation of a virtual version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources. The goal of virtualization is to centralize administrative tasks while improving scalability, efficiency and availability of these computing resources.

Why does it matter?

Virtualization, done correctly, achieves important two of the “holy grails” for any enterprise: increasing efficiency of assets and resources while decreasing costs and risk.

Why should it be on my radar?

If your competitors are doing it, and every piece of research on the adoption rate of virtualization says that the majority are, then you risk being lapped by your competition. To carry the racing analogy a little further: think of it as a race where your competition is driving a Formula One car that is faster, more durable, easier to drive, less prone to crashing, costs less, is easier to fix and takes up less space in the garage (and of course looks better) while you jump into a vintage stock car.

Okay. Now let’s discuss voice virtualization. Voice is different from other applications in its sensitivity to latency. In other words, if you have latency with voice, users are going to notice. If those users happen to be on a trading floor then the likelihood that they will not tolerate latency is, in my experience, nearly 100%.

Virtualization has the potential to introduce latency. This is why, until now, many have not considered the idea of virtualizing their voice platforms, especially in trading environments. Two years ago, two leading companies in their respective fields, VMware in virtualization software, and Mitel in IP communications, set out to solve the latency issue with voice. After 18 months of hard labor, it was mission accomplished.

What this means is that now customers have the option of deploying their entire voice infrastructure as a virtualized software application on industry standard hardware with VMware hypervisors. This could include trading turrets, enterprise voice and unified communications.

The result is that what previously was a proprietary, multi-vendor hardware/software environment that required ongoing integration and multiple support partners is now a single, normalized software application that can be managed, for the most part, by in-house IT staff.

The outcome, of course, being lower costs, improved scalability, system management and availability. And when the bonus check has arrived for all of this performance could that Ferrari be far off?

To see more on virtualizing voice in a financial trading enterprise please go to: http://www.wesleycloversolutions.com/nrl_empyrean_capital.htm

or for an in-depth white paper on voice virtualization please go to:

http://go.mitel.com/pages/start/google-ads-virtualization/index.html?Campaign_Id=131&Activity_Id=68

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