Archive for the 'Virtualisation' Category

The grubby world of exhibitions

It seems like we have entered the grubby season of the exhibition. I say grubby as some of the exhibitions I’ve been to previously have consisted of nothing more than a myriad of stands of vendors who don’t understand what you do, trying to sell you something that you inevitably don’t really need.

With the recent ‘Margin in Voice and Data expo’, there seemed to be a distinct change in direction towards a more focused show. I personally saw it as a good time for event organisers to re-evaluate their expos. However with the economy showing signs of picking up, there has been a return to the scene of the big all encompassing show stopping exhibition. Last week I went to the IP expo. Usually filled with big stands with big companies with even bigger egos. However this year was different. I only went for a morning on the first day, but what I found was an exhibition with a clear theme; Virtualisation. Previously where there were 4 expos centered around different aspects of cloud computing. This had now been amalgamated into one big show. Personally it was interesting to have a chat with different network operators, followed by walking across the room to discuss compatibility issues with specific vendors and system application developers. I found this a lot more worthwhile and was able to get a good level of understanding as to how different vendors/suppliers plan to incorporate a cloud based service into their product portfolios.

I then recently went to the ‘Convergence Summit South‘ run by Miles Publishing. This is specific to the channel within the telecomms industry and by their own admission has been their most successful summit for a while. As exhibitions go, it was exactly as expected. However the shining light of the expo was the seminars. Personally there was a great debate early on between Tim Hubbard of BT Wholesale, Neil McArthur of Talk Talk and Steve Gallagher of Cable and Wireless about what constitutes a ‘Next Generation Network’, and how their respective organisations are striving to compete. In my view, the term NGN is extremely mis-leading and one used purely for marketing spin. To see these industry heavyweights vying with each other about their own USP’s, whilst surveying the potential future landscape of the telecomms market was exciting, as little more than 5 years ago, BT would not have had to defend against such strong competition. The expo also saw an interesting feature, whereby hosted VOIP providers were given 20 minutes to setup from scratch their hosted platform in front of a packed audience. The one that I saw was successful and proved the ease of use and speed of the platform.

In all, expo’s can provide a valuable insight into your chosen market. Going back to the convergence summit, it was interesting to see how many big mobile carriers were present, as they tried to embrace the shift to FMC by traditional voice and data integrators. It’s a shame that the example set by the ‘Margin in Voice and Data’ expo earlier in the year was not followed, and I’m sure that as we emerge from the recession, various exhibitions will only continue to get bigger and probably more brash.

Have we seen the death of the ISP?

The good old days

The good old days

I must admit, the telecomms sector is a fascinating sector to be involved in. Always changing, always evolving, always innovating. The market is almost unrecognisable to 8 years ago, when BT ruled the roost, and we were all left to pick up their scraps. However, the rise of LLU networks has really provided end users with a plethora of choice in terms of obtaining a service that is more suited to their needs. Now one can choose from a range of acronym-ed services to help them support their business. And that is exactly what these services are doing. With the increased pace traditional businesses have moved to obtain a presence on the web, it has become more and more important for them to assess their WAN, starting at the provision of bandwidth. This means agreeing SLA’s with suppliers, obtaining redundant links and having dedicated support lines to access, as well as other key issues. And service providers have responded. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of traditional ISP’s not only providing connectivity, but also diversifying into providing value-add through applications such as AV software, bandwidth optimisation modules and relevant hardware. But even more importantly, we’ve seen a rise in smaller ISP’s taking multiple feeds from multiple networks to increase their offering to their client base and substantiate upon their skill set.

Within the SME market, this was always going to happen, as clients tend to be more loyal to suppliers and consultants who have intimate knowledge of their business practices. However, within the Mid Market and Enterprise sectors, there was still a lot of scepticism around ‘placing all your eggs in one basket’. This is starting to change. With the rise of converged communications, larger companies especially are realising that placing their business with one supplier has a number of benefits that may outweigh the negatives. These suppliers however do not just provide their own solutions. Through a range of partnerships and arrangements with companies who recently may have been deemed as competitors, they have been able to penetrate their market with a unified solution that has a lot more credence than any offering they may have had previously. Take our Advance solutions. One IP range. One router. Two underlying networks. Should one of the networks fail, then traffic is seamlessley routed via the redundant network. Great for business critical applications. Great for the end user.

The rise of the VNO; who has multiple feeds from multiple carriers, has a VOIP offering through an arrangement with a SIP provider, who can offer video conferencing through one it’s partners and privatise a network by offering CPE through a trusted vendor, is becoming a lot more attractive. The key to this is the consultation that happens prior to any agreement. And this is key. In a market where consultants have always had a negative reputation, it’s interesting to see the role they are playing in driving convergence. Because of their expanding product suites, consultants now have a wide range of themes to discuss with their prospects, and more importantly, a wider range of solutions to offer them.

We’ve come a long way since the start of the noughties. And with issues surrounding convergence and virtualisation still unresolved, have a long way to go. To throw my 2pence into the mix, I still think that there is a lot of mileage yet, as ISP’s start to turn into utilities companies through their offering’s and pricing structures. So much to look forward to!

A quick update on Cloud Computing…

UBS logo
Image via Wikipedia

Came across this article in Reuters stating that in a survery conducted with leading CIO‘s in both Europe and the US by UBS, they expect to spend 2% less on their IT systems. However, in contradiction to my article yesterday, it goes on to state that based on their findings, there will be a slowdown in the sales of virtualisation software by roughly 6%, down from a 10% growth in 2008.

I found this quite surprising. The survey by UBS concluded that “This may suggest that while virtualisation is a trend that is no doubt here to stay, it still does not have the collective mindshare as many might think.”

There can be many reasons why leading CIO’s may not see virtualisation as a prominent sector in 2009. However, if we look at the report in a bit more detail, there are clues as to why these opinions exist. The report did not ‘expose’ the CIO’s who took part in the survey. However, revenues of companies involved in the survey “ranged from $2 billion to more than $10 billion annually and they represented industries ranging from communications to healthcare to utilities”.

Personally, I agree with GigaOm, who also suggest that virtualisation will be something that will be extremely popular among SME‘s’ and smaller corporate entities, as they will see more benefit in moving to a more centralised method of computing. As sighted yesterday, there are still many privacy and security issues to be tackled for virtualsiation to be seen as a defacto method of choice among large conglomerates, and it may be due to this that they are still timid about getting on board.

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