Australian Skype for Business Launch & Conference

I am pleased to announce the Australian Skype for Business Launch and Conference will be held in Sydney in May 2015.  Generation-e, as AsiaPac’s largest Microsoft UC integrator is driving this event with Microsoft as the Platinum sponsor and Keynote speaker.

The conference will deliver compelling content in both commercial and technical streams.  Commercial sessions will focus on taking advantage of the technology and the technical stream will focus on implementation, integration and migration.

The keynote will set the scene, then experts and customers will share their experience and knowledge.  You will leave the day educated, entertained, enthusiastic and enlightened.

Between conference sessions the vendors that support Skype for Business will provide live demonstrations of their solutions, allowing you to understand the end-to-end ecosystem.

Follow @AUSkypeBusiness on Twitter for real-time updates and don’t forget to register your interest at www.skypeforbusinessconference.com.au.

 

Why UC Will Go Mainstream In 2015

Last year around this time I posted an article on UCStrategies “Why 2014 Is the “Perfect Storm” For UCC Adoption.” I believe that in this past year UC has been recognized as that next step progression and now drive Unified Communications to the next level. UC has been available to the enterprise marketplace for over eight years. In my experience it takes up to 10 years for a new technology to go mainstream, and in 2015 we will move well beyond the “hype cycle” for UC and, in my opinion, UC will go mainstream.
This past year we have seen a migration of emphasis from Telephony to UC. In fact, the conversation with any enterprise user we have had discussion with, including all clients and projects we serve, has been centered on Unified Communications, the game-changing elements of UC, and how it impacts the user communities they serve. The conversation around Telephony has virtually gone “extinct” and has completely been missing from the discussion. Telephony is a required component, yes, but any value statements and perceived value associated with Telephony-only are simply no longer there.
As mobility continues to gain ground (just look at Apple’s recent announcement around worldwide iPhone sales and associated profitability), elements of UC are also growing in the consumer space. Consumer elements of UC have been around for some time, including ad-hoc video conferencing (Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts), IM/chat (texting), and presence (aka friends lists and availability on Facebook). UC clients are available on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) with all of the tools available in a desktop UC client.
Now it’s the enterprise’s turn. All of our clients are embracing UC and its entire suite of tools. They want a more robust environment; they want the ability to work from home and remotely from anywhere; they want one number reach to any device; they want desktop mobility (working from anywhere as though working from your desk); they want to collaborate and share documents and get consensus on a topic together; they want to get all email, voice mail, and faxes in a single InBox (Unified Messaging); they want to call one another by name and not by number any longer (corporate directory); and they are beginning to show great interest in having video conversations one-on-one and in groups.
Drivers for UC Adoption in 2015
So why will UC go mainstream in 2015? In my opinion they include:
1. The Hype Cycle Is Over – The hype cycle for UC is over, period, and interest in UC and UC adoption will be at the forefront of the real time communications conversation
2. Consumer Components of UC Here - Consumer components of UC are already here (as noted earlier)
3. Millennials Want It - Millennials will make up a full 50% of the workforce in less than five years and recently have surpassed baby boomers as the largest segment of the domestic US population. Millennials embrace all of the elements of UC and not just tolerate it – in a word, they want it (see my December 5, 2014 post “Planning for the Best UC Experience? Follow the Millennials”).
4. Telephony Is Dying – Telephony, and the interest in it, is for all intents and purposes, “dying” or even “dead.” Of course TDM has been dead at the enterprise level for over 60 months, and that part is obvious. The less obvious is that, although Telephony is not actually dead, the interest in it as a necessary component of real time communications is more than just irrelevant, it no longer carries any perceived value. The emphasis and conversation is now on UC and how UC and collaboration can connect everyone in real-time. The UC suite of tools brings so much more to the user experience than Telephony alone could ever bring by itself.
5. Enterprise’s Interest in UC Is Greater Than Ever - Enterprises have shifted and are now showing more interest in UC than at any other time. And they want to be creative with it. One of our clients is interested in adding UC clients for all Board members, providing them their own DID number, and holding a virtual Board call that can be recorded, in the event that a critical decision is necessary quickly or in the event of inclement weather. Another client is interested in providing all students with a tablet and adding a UC mobility client for each. This will provide faculty members the ability to notify students of a change in class venue, or hold a class “virtually” via collaboration or videoconferencing or both in the event of inclement weather. This will provide a richer, more connected student experience on or off campus.
6. Front Line Business Units Are Asking for UC Components – Many Contact Center leaders are now requesting multi-channel components, including IM/chat functions, responding to emails, phone calls, social media integration, and even video calls (Amazon Kindle Fire has been doing so over 15 months now). Some customers are planning on video kiosks for virtual specialists to work “across” multiple branch sites in any given day, a feat virtually unattainable if that specialist were physically required at all sites in a single day.
7. The Cost of UC Continues to Plummet - Pricing alone per UC license / end point has dropped close to 20% in the last 24 months, in our experience. Price consistently drives adoption in any industry, in this case UC. And UC offers huge ROI opportunities, from SIP trunking, working from anywhere (reduced real estate), reduced maintenance costs, and reduced end points (as desired), among others.
8. Next-Gen UC and Collaboration Is Here – New entrees are offering (some or all) feature and functionality including ease of use tools, “like” interfaces across multiple devices (desktop, tablet, smartphone), moving a single “conversation” among multiple devices, adding device awareness, geo-location presence for location-based identification, and powerful search functions for referencing multiple discussions. These new features and functions are creating new “buzz” surrounding UC. A single “like” user interface across multiple devices minimizes any extensive learning curve (in some cases nearly zero) and will be another key enabler to driving UC adoption this year.
Summary and Conclusions
So if you are a channel partner, gear up with appropriate manufacturer certifications to successfully implement UC day one for your enterprise customers.
If you are an end user organization, embrace UC as a core, key component of real time communications for your community going forward.
Note that the acceptance of UC in your organization relies heavily on a strategic deployment of UC, carefully constructed and rolled out for a high user acceptance rate. Without such an approach, your organization’s acceptance level will be less than stellar and even a possible failure.
So to be prepared, in my opinion this is the year for UC to go mainstream. If you don’t place UC into the pipeline as one of your next major projects for 2015/16, the level of adoption by competitors will begin to surface. The clock is ticking and you have 12-24 months before you will have to catch up to your competitors; now is the time to embrace the full UC suite of tools for your organization.
This article excerpt, by Stephen Leaden, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1L5MktO

Unified Communications Forges Ahead in 2015

Collaboration is the most tangible form of digital transformation multinational companies are undergoing in 2015. The nature of doing business has spread across more regions as China, the Middle East and Africa become major hubs of commerce and trade. This requires communication tools that are smarter and integrated, moving beyond just voice and video. It involves more than just opening a clear channel between two points on a globe and hoping for the best; it’s all about leveraging a company’s full intellectual capital in the service of its people. That is the evolution of collaboration in 2015.
Coming out of 2014, the enterprise market for unified communications (UC) and collaboration has undergone a massive shake out. The days of operating voice and video in separate silos have given way to converged tools that marry voice, video, Web conferencing, desktop and mobility as features on a single, unified platform for employees to use. In 2015, businesses are demanding multi-functionality on one platform which impacts how UC providers operate, the tools that are made available and the very nature of workplace collaboration itself.
#1: CISCO AND MICROSOFT DOMINATE THE COLLABORATION MARKET
In 2015, the only two major UC providers that matter are Cisco and Microsoft. The startups that we saw in years past offering customized tools for voice, video and Web conferencing have fallen to the wayside as Cisco and Microsoft offered the same rich functionality on a common platform. Cisco’s value proposition is providing end-to-end connectivity across all touch points. Microsoft, owning the majority of all desktop applications, is pushing its core competency with its Lync client and relying on partners like Polycom to come onto its platform and build out unique offerings. Integration is a key element in both platforms, providing an opportunity for integrators like Orange Business Services. Customers are relying on integrators to balance UC priorities with their legacy system investments and general unfamiliarity with these new tools. So far the demand for Microsoft and Cisco solutions has been quite good. Instead of debating the issue, customers are moving forward with deployment.
#2: THE MATURITY OF THE CLOUD DELIVERY MODEL
The concept of cloud-based UC solutions will become a very attractive value proposition in 2015. Businesses are under a lot of pressure to lower their day-to-day business costs, so they are turning to opex-based cloud solutions to get economies of scale and being able to pay as they go. We can already gauge the popularity of such as services with the sizable number of voice deployments occurring on either a hosted or managed platform. So far the uptick has been most felt within the borders of single regions than outside of them but this disparity should gradually even out over time. Again, demand will be tempered by the need to balance a hosted model with previous investments in legacy equipment.
#3: COLLABORATION IS NOW MORE THAN JUST TELEPHONY
The parameters of what we mean when we say “collaboration” has expanded beyond voice to become a broader IT discussion involving the entire desktop. Video conferencing, along with interactive, online white boards offer a more detail-oriented functionality to collaboration. These are quite popular when communicating with really remote offices where the lack of interpersonal contact and cultural differences may impede productive collaboration. This is not to say that voice no longer matters. We still see strong demand in that side of the business, particularly audio conferencing in support of Web conferencing, but the signifiers of what goes into a collaboration solution are definitely shifting.
#4: UBIQUITY POWERS VISUAL COLLABORATION
Demand is also shifting from immersive solutions like telepresence to ubiquitous offerings that provide easy access for visual collaboration on either a desktop, smartphone or tablet. Customers want flexible video conferencing which is quite feasible through WebEx or a managed cloud service. Either solution can easily deliver that experience across any type of device.
#5: SIP TRUNKING TAKES HOLD
Telco-based voice services are rapidly fading from the scene as customers opt for end-to-end solutions delivered over IP. SIP trunking is an easy sell to customers when they realize that it delivers a cost-savings of nearly 40 percent over a traditional telco solution. Less infrastructure is involved by consolidating connections and eliminating the need to juggle multiple service contracts. SIP trunking customers also gain centralized billing and reporting for a pinpoint view on how much they are spending on voice. Industry figures from Infonetics Research estimate that nearly 58 percent of enterprises will be using SIP trunking this year.
#6: MOBILITY IS A FACTOR IN ALL UC DECISIONS
In 2014, 60 percent of employees were already using their own personal devices for work. BYOD is a reality and all IT decisions must factor it in as a consideration. Any UC wish list must include cloud-based solutions that can readily service such distinct end points, solutions that add an extra layer of security on top of unprotected devices, and enterprise-grade mobile applications for collaboration.
#7: GAINS IN THE ACCEPTANCE OF SOFTPHONES
New UC deployments are moving towards software-based phones instead of dedicated hardline phones on a desk. The costs are cheaper and the reality is that the workplace of the future is more than just a desk in an office. The way things are going the demand for softphones will reach 100 percent uniformity across all enterprises. Even among our own customers, those who were fond of dedicated hardline phones had a complete change of heart after sampling softphones, deciding in the end to shift to an all-softphone deployment.
#8: SECURITY IS THE PRIORITY
The worldwide news of the cyberattack against Sony Pictures that saw corporate communications leaked to the Web will likely cause an uptick for email and mobile security solutions at the beginning of the year. Even though day-to-day communiques might not rise to the same level of importance as social security information or bank account records, the incident proved that such communications can be turned into a weapon to embarrass and expose a company. The sophistication of this attack will also raise a green flag for stronger security solutions. It will be on integrators to balance the need for security with the need for open, unhindered collaboration.
Taken together, UC is naturally evolving into a more comprehensive market with tools that are more powerful, diverse and easily accessible via any medium. Integrators will be the glue holding these unified platform together.
This article excerpt, by Sean Burke, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1IFDchY

From Inside the Cloud: What Commitments Does Microsoft Make When You Subscribe to Office 365?

If you have been following the From Inside the Cloud series, you know we regularly bring you an insider’s view from the people behind the services on how we operate and manage Office 365 for security, privacy and compliance. We thought we’d focus our first edition of the New Year on outlining the commitments Microsoft makes when you subscribe to Office 365 services.
Watch this brief video for more details and examples around the overall process. 
Moving to the Cloud can be a paradigm shift, requiring additional assurances to help you make the decision for your organization. We know that you need to have trust and comfort knowing that things you used to operate locally may now be run by Microsoft on your behalf.
We’ve established our service commitments to align to what matters to you and your organization. We invest in the design and operations of our services worldwide, which means contracting for core principles versus technical specifics that can change.
You can see the full list of our commitments in our new online services agreement. It’s a long list including things like physical security, access control and security incident management.
There are a number of inputs and drivers influencing these commitments.
First, we look for patterns in the requests and requirements of our customers across industries and geographies.
We’ve also built an evolving control framework to help support customer compliance with industry regulations. Notably, Microsoft was the first cloud services provider whose contracts have been approved by the Article 29 Working Party, a collective body of all data protection agencies in the European Union. The means that the contractual commitments we offer to customers are considered compliant with Europe’s most stringent data protection requirements.
And we have a dedicated legal and community affairs team working with government bodies globally to monitor ongoing changes to legislation and regulation. As part of that dialogue, we sometimes receive direct requests from regulators on operational requirements. (See the From Inside the Cloud episode, “How does Office 365 continuously meet your compliance needs?” for an in-depth look at customer compliance.)
Whether originating from the request of a single customer, or in response to a new regulatory standard, enhancements to our service commitments ultimately benefit all Office 365 customers. In fact, we encourage industry leaders who are interested in moving to Office 365 to engage with us on their specific needs so that together we can solve for the right things contractually at a sector level. For example, we recently organized a consortium of leading financial institutions, which greatly influenced the basis for all contracts with financial institutions globally.
If you fear the complexity of contractual discussions, you’ll be happy to know that we recently published a new online services agreement that covers all of Microsoft’s enterprise services. We have eliminated links to contract terms that can change at will—a common practice among cloud service providers. You have peace of mind that you are signing up for the terms written in your contract, pure and simple.
Please let us know if you have further questions or ideas for future topics we can cover in this series—and of course, you can access additional resources at the Office 365 Trust Center.

This article excerpt, by Robert Dring and Vijay Kumar, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1CGjuLr

Why Unified Communications Are So Important Yet So Difficult

Most people in the world today are familiar with Skype or other low-cost or free voice calls made via the Internet. Many businesses of all sizes rely on this concept of IP-telephony.
What Unified Communications (UC) does, however, is expand into other communications, too, and provides benefits, which are numerous.
As techradar.com wrote back in 2012: “By combining telephony and business data on the same network, it gives firms the ability to combine and use voice, data (and video) information in their common business applications, saving and forwarding whole instant message streams, faxes, e-mails, voice phone calls or videoconferencing sessions as chunks of data.”
Clearly the benefits of UC are many. Put simply, the need to be able to communicate face-to-face across any and all mediums on any device at any time is paramount for brands wishing to survive and thrive in today’s world.
Defining & Challenging
Before we get to the challenges that are present with Unified Communications, it might be a good time to define it, for many may not be aware of just what the term actually means.
There are no shortage of definitions but I prefer this one from Gartner, who define it as “those (communications) that facilitate the interactive use of multiple enterprise communications methods. This can include control, management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.”
Their definition was defined further to summarize the term: “The primary goal of Unified Communications is to improve user productivity and to enhance business processes.”
Okay, so now you know, if you did not already, just what Unified Communications is all about. And clearly you should see the benefits inherent in it.
So, why then, is it so difficult to implement?
Well to start, there are no shortage of players in the UC space. There are big name players such as Cisco, Microsoft and Polycom while there are also some exciting upstarts such as Starleaf, who specializes in both cloud based video conferencing services and offer a comprehensive range of video endpoints for meeting rooms, desktops and mobility.
Then there is the issue of legacy systems, many of which simply do not integrate well, if at all, with new UC technology. There is of course an inherent cost associated with transitioning from a legacy system to one that is unified. However, as previously noted the benefits are numerous.
And make no mistake about, essentially every business and company and organization can benefit from UC. Like, for example, one of the world’s oldest institutions of higher learning.
From an article appearing on esi-estech.com, the aptly-titled article says it all: University of Oxford modernizes with unified communications.
“A three-year contract was recently signed to replace the school’s aging telephone system with a UC suite that would provide staff and students with the ability to better collaborate, work remotely more efficiently, and fully embrace the benefits of bring-your-own-device policies.”
Clear Expectations Lacking
In a July 2014 piece on their blog, Logitech wrote of InformationWeek’s 2014 State of Unified Communications Report. In the piece they touched on the fact “2014 marked exciting growth in UC. Out of the 488 respondents, 70% have or plan to put systems in place. Of those, 34% will roll UC out to 76% or more of their user base.”
However, the article closed with a clear and present danger that needs to be addressed.
“Despite these advances in UC technology and adoption, network services aren’t keeping the pace to meet the needs that increased connectivity demands. 17% of the participants worry over their network capacity and list a lack of WAN bandwidth—and the cost to upgrade it—as their most pressing concern.”
But the most pressing need lay elsewhere as “the analysts at Information Week believe that the biggest problem plaguing UC is an inability to create clear expectations in both technology and business buyers’ minds of exactly what it delivers.”
So what sayeth you on the topic of Unified Communications? Does your company currently provide it or a reasonable facsimile thereof?
This article excerpt, by Steve Olenski, originally appeared here: http://onforb.es/18P3f68

Regarding UC’s Future: Toss Out What You’ve Known

The industry is undergoing phenomenal, unprecedented and extraordinary change. Twenty years ago, vendors competed on speeds and feeds. Imitations happened more than innovation, and declaring a leader was as fruitless as announcing varsity leapfrog.
The buzzword for unified communications continues to be transformation, though the term now applies more to the industry than the technology’s use. Presence/instant messaging, mobility and video are table stakes. In flux now are all the things we previously considered rock solid and predictable. Here are eight examples.
1. Globalization: The old rules favored local players — Ericsson did well in Scandinavia, Siemens in Germany and Mitel (via BT branding) in the U.K. Nortel and Avaya dominated the Americas. NEC, Toshiba and Panasonic were strong in Asia. IP flattens the world. Ericsson ended up in Dallas via Canada, China Huaxin is the leader in France, and Huawei is doing well in Canada. Global players have always existed, but globalization is eliminating the home court advantage. This represents more of a threat than an opportunity. The largest smartphone maker in the world quite possibly will soon be Xiaomi.

2. Brands: Quick, recite a UC tagline. If you had trouble, it’s understandable why so many brands are undergoing makeovers. Brands are much less important. Loyalty is fading coincidentally along with capital commitments. Unify rebranded in 2013. Mitel relaunched in 2014. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is expected to rebrand this year. 
Microsoft will drop one of the fastest growing enterprise brands (Lync) and expand/create a new brand — Skype for Business. Customer retention is becoming as important as new sales. Portfolios are expanding into uncharted (unbranded) areas.
3. Complexity: For decades, complexity sold. Anyone could build a simple solution, but advanced solutions required years of evolution. The three most powerful attributes of an enterprise communications system were: features, features, features. 
Somewhere we hit the complexity threshold. Customers are demanding simplicity. The small and medium are flocking to the cloud for outsourced solutions. Enterprise accounts are asking solution integrators to figure it all out. Forget offsite training, webinars and manuals — intuitive is all that matters.
4. Channels: Historically the key attributes of a successful channel partner included skills, inventory, ladders and trucks. But now that industry-standard boxes dominate the hardware business, trucks, ladders and inventory are liabilities. Even when a channel partner makes a big win, it still displaces many more partners due to centralization. The keys to channel success now include services such as project management, licensing expertise, training, vertical specialization, design and savviness on interoperability.
5. Disruption: Yes, somehow this new term became an old term. But disruption isn’t going away, it’s getting worse. The real competition isn’t coming from the usual suspects but rather the next big thing. The barriers to creating new companies or new communications solutions have never been lower. WebRTC is spawning all kinds of new ideas.
6. Security: A general sense of helplessness surrounds information security and integrity, with frightening examples of how weak the mechanisms are that protect our interconnected lives. Everyone wants, and is generally getting, your private information — be that medical records, location or shopping habits. Intruders lurk everywhere — smartphone apps, email, paper mail, websites and elsewhere. The same is true for businesses; many visible breaches took place in 2014, including those at Sony, Target, Home Depot and literally hundreds more. The problem is getting worse, not better. Accountability is easier to control and manage than the thieves, so expect slow and big changes.
The Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act of 2002 (Sarbanes-Oxley) was the direct result of financial mistrust and abuses at firms such as Enron and WorldCom. Over the next few years it’s quite likely that IT security will follow suit. I expect to see an increase in liability, even prison sentences for IT and corporate leaders, as well as vendors, for negligent behavior regarding information security.
7. Video: Video cameras are everywhere, but still on the periphery of enterprise communications. Video will rapidly expand beyond just conferences and into workflow. How and where we use video will radically expand — without headphones and with better lighting, improved graphics and alternatives to YouTube for recording.
8. Collaboration: Since the PBX transformed into UC, collaboration has been the coveted outcome. The initial problem was adapting in-person activities, such as meetings and water cooler chats, to accommodate distributed teams. Even if you personally work in an office, other team members likely work elsewhere. UC technologies such as voice over IP, IM/presence and video are certainly key enablers, but not the end-all. Effective collaboration requires new methods, practices and disciplines. We have more Inboxes — not only for our multiple email accounts but also for our social, SMS, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and IM accounts — than ever before, and this is placing enormous pressure on prioritization and communications. As a result, expect a major migration toward workflow-based communications (sometimes referred to as communications-enabled business processes) and improved solutions for conversation management.

This article excerpt, by Dave Michels, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1yWhOid

Microsoft Skype for Business Bridges Enterprise Needs, Functionality

Interoperability between Microsoft Lync and Skype has been in place for some time, but it’s been limited to instant messaging (IM) and audio calls. But with the upcoming release, Microsoft is expanding that to video calls through integration with Skype’s enormous, worldwide user directoryMicrosoft customers will be able to reach any standard Skype user on any device, right from the new interface. The platform will also adopt the familiar consumer Skype icons for making a call, initiating a video chat and ending a call. Additionally, Microsoft will incorporate Skype’s call monitor feature, which keeps active calls visible in a small window when a user moves to another application.
Bellevue College in suburban Seattle has been using an on-premises deployment of Microsoft Lync, and is preparing to migrate Lync to Office 365 in the cloud as part of its communications strategy for both its administrators and students. While Skype wasn’t widely used for business purposes, the revamped Skype for Business might fill an emerging need for the college, said Russ Beard, Bellevue’s vice president of information resources.
“One of our goals is around building our international student program, and the ability to make international calls with Skype is huge,” he said. “I think we’d see great adoption of Skype for that purpose.”
In addition to better integration with existing Skype features, Microsoft Skype for Business will keep all of its existing Lync capabilities, such as content sharing, instant messaging and telephony. However, Lync’s features will be improved, according to Microsoft. “Transferring a call now takes only one … click instead of three,” Microsoft’s Gurdeep Pall wrote.
The overarching goal is simplification of Microsoft’s UC portfolio, all the way down to having consistent icons between tools. “Skype for Business is still going to have the security, authentication, and scalability — everything that makes it a corporate tool — but it will also have the ease of use consumers appreciate for things like switching quickly between IMing and screen sharing,” Constellation’s Alan Lepofsky said.
The change will benefit Skype enthusiasts, regardless of whether they use Skype for Business or Skype’s consumer version for personal purposes. Skype will improve security and codecs for both business users and consumers, he said.
Microsoft Skype for Business is also expected give Microsoft a boost in the telephony space, an area in which the company has struggled historically.
Bellevue’s Beard, who is also on Microsoft’s higher education advisory board, said that Lync has been tied into Bellevue’s corporate voice system, but that integration has never been a part of Skype’s roadmap until now. “I think that is what we are going to see from Skype for Business now — that same ability that Lync had to integrate with voice systems,” he said.
To be successful, Microsoft must streamline authentication and identity management between its disparate tools — a concept the vendor hasn’t yet addressed, Lepofsky said. Even with the latest integrations, users will still need one account for Skype and another for Skype for Business users. 
“Your Skype for Business ID has to match your corporate directory — you don’t get a choice in Lync — and Microsoft has to ensure that consistency in Skype for Business as well,” Lepofsky said.
To take advantage of the new service, current Lync Server customers must update from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their data centers. Microsoft will be pushing out the updates to its Office 365 customers, the vendor said. 

This article excerpt, by Gina Narcisi, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1u5GnmJ

Stream meetings and conferences straight to YouTube from Pexip Infinity

Outbound video enables streaming to CDN and public services
 
Pexip Infinity can output a dedicated multimedia stream to enterprise CDN (Content Delivery Network) streaming and recording services, and public streaming services such as YouTube. Any Pexip conference can be streamed as a live event to an unlimited number of viewers, and can automatically be recorded and stored for later consumption – VOD or push.

YouTube live event streaming

Pexip Infinity enables you to stream any Pexip conference directly to YouTube as a Live Event (standard YouTube functionality). This enables reaching an unlimited amount of viewers at the same time – in high definition (HD).

Direct live streaming via YouTube includes presentation sharing, and a full one-way meeting experience. It can be used for product presentations, company presentations, announcements, and anything you would stream to a large amount of people.

Pexip Infinity bridges the gap between enterprise videoconferencing and broadcast and streaming. 

When the streaming session ends, the entire conference will be stored for later consumption.

Enterprise CDN services

Pexip Infinity’s outbound video stream is simply consumed by enterprise Content Delivery Network services.

Professional streaming and video management services delivered by Wowza, Adobe, VBrick, as well as Microsoft Azure and others can manage, stream, record and store the conference, and enable organizations to consume at will.

Pexip Infinity’s simple integration API makes it easy to integrate with existing or new services, and quickly enables organizations to benefit from their investments.

General features

  • Stream to an unlimited amount of viewers on YouTube
  • Stream securely within enterprise network, to any enterprise CDN service
  • Automatically record and store stream with YouTube
  • Youtube generates a shareable link in advance; share the link at any time
  • Share to mobile, desktop, embedded devices
  • Record and playback as needed
  • Stream and playback on any supported device
  • HD quality, content sharing
  • Support for multiple CDN services, including YouTube, Azure, Adobe Flash Server, Wowza, VBrick and many more 
  • Pexip Infinity API driven – simple integration

 

Unified Collaboration: How Social Business and Other Forms of Digital Engagement Are Intertwining

As collaboration has evolved during the rise of the social and mobile era, I’ve found that the last decade in particular has lead to some of the most significant and increasingly disruptive refinements in the practice:
Social Business (internal). This is the high concept rethinking of how we work together to be more community-centric, open, and participative. It consists of a varied set of practices — depending on whose model you are following — that typically consists of business processes redesigned around new social tools such as enterprise social networks, content/document management platforms, online communities, or even enterprise microblogging services. Needless to say for those of us who have been involved, a tremendous amount of energy and thought across the collaboration industry has gone into how organizations can achieve numerous benefits if they can reorganize the way teams and even entire companies can better work together using the potent model of social media. Techniques typically include Working Out Loud, the redesign of business processes to be more participative, and all the other activities involved in large-scale social business transformation
 
Organizations have seen results across the spectrum with their social business efforts, though there have been common pitfalls, especially when the notion of ‘Facebook for the Enterprise’ has been the goal, instead of solving urgent business problems (like trying to resolve poor collaboration between specific internal groups, or making certain key processes more transparent and efficient) The general consensus however is that there is a 25% enterprise-wide benefit in terms of productivity. Lately, the drum beat on social business has taken a bit more of a back seat to full-spectrum focus on digital business transformation in many organizations. Social business has continued to evolve however, and we’ve just now reached the end of the beginning in my opinion.
Unified Communications. Rarely considered at the same time or in conjunction with social business initiatives, unified communications has been making steady inroads into the corporate world, despite some fairly rocky evolution over the years. The unified communications industry has attempted to sort out and make consistent the various digital communications channels within the enterprise, but has often missed major developments in the industry. The most inexplicable oversight was that unified communications vendors missed the social media revolution almost entirely, though that has now been partially addressed in some of the leading platforms, though it took years to resolve. This meant unified communications was sometimes anything but. The issue continues to persist as new and emerging enterprise collaboration channels such as mobile apps, the explosion in enterprise file sync and sharing such as Dropbox, and even legacy content/document solutions are often still left out in the cold by unified communications solutions. Despite these additions — and I think the continuing rapid rise of new collaboration channels will remain the top problem for the approach — unified communications has become increasingly capable of delivering a core set of well integrated solutions for chat, voice, video, and presence, and now finally e-mail, social, and mobile. 
 
Notably, unified communications has taken nearly the opposite approach of social business. Instead of a fundamental rethinking of work in digital/social terms, it’s a much more workman like approach to providing handy new digital communication toolkits to the worker that can be used for collaboration. In the final analysis, however, the unified communications approach has been slow to deal with the important strategic issues that social business aims to address: The unfortunate “evaporation” of digital knowledge in older tools, poor visibility and participation (not enough eyeballs) in legacy collaboration methods, and the still pervasive inability to find knowledge or people in most organizations, to name just a few. Despite all this, the market for unified communications, particularly in the cloud, is now poised for a major wave of growth.
Collaboration suites, next-gen intranets, and lightweight collaboration apps. Recently, a number of new collaboration approaches or digital methods have emerged, some full collaborative toolkits, others just filling in still-unaddressed or just emerging point needs within organizations, or both, a strategy Google is increasingly following with their cloud offerings. These are not as comprehensive or one-stop-shop solutions for collaboration or re-imagining how workers interact with each other and produce value, but organizations are broadly considering them in general as white spaces emerge, often without considering their collaborative workplace strategy as a whole.
Given these three rough buckets of new collaborative focus within the enterprise, most of which happen in isolation from one another in the average organization, it’s been interesting to see how they’ve operated either as genuine silos or as so-called ‘frenemies’, working together a little but competing for each other’s user bases. But, gratifyingly in my view, some organizations are increasingly no longer so accepting of these fragmented efforts, and are proactively trying to do something about it.
The emergence of unified collaboration
I’ve been spending most of 2014 looking at what large organizations have been doing to evolve their collaborative environments and I’ve noticed several distinct trends:
1. A strong drive for meaningful integration between collaborative silos. I’ve noticed there has been a sharp drop in tolerance for collaborative processes to be stuck in one place, platform, or audience, and not searchable or visible elsewhere. For example, I’m seeing that organizations are now seeking to connect intranets, enterprise social networks, and content/document management systems in much more meaningful ways. As Alan Lepofsky has observed recently, mail and social networks are starting to merge as well. Unified comms is also getting embedded everywhere and within many applications. I now believe we will witness considerable investment in the next couple of years in creating bridges between collaborative silos and meaningful presence for collaborative tools in business applications in general.
2. Development of a true enterprise-wide view of digital collaboration strategy. Organizations are increasingly getting their act together and making sense of their collaborative efforts well above the level of the technologies themselves, putting together more purpose-driven plans that eliminate confusion, fragmentation, and inconsistency with collaboration technology while updating worker skills and shifting company culture to take better advantage of the possibilities. This includes, as Stowe Boyd has noted, the measurement and quantification of the collaborative environment in real-time, which I’ve found has been vital in producing feedback to guide a collaboration strategy in flight towards impactful results.
3. An advanced notion of unified collaboration. As a direct result of the first true trends, I’m seeing the organic emergence of an important concept I’ll call unified collaboration. This is the strategic knitting together of plans, the full portfolio of collaborative technologies, and business objectives enterprise-wide into a more cohesive whole. It stands out from mere unified communication by being much more overarching, contextual to the business, scenario-centric, and goal-oriented. It also reflects the understanding that there is more to collaboration than just the next big thing (aka social business), and that collaboration in all its many forms must be better and more comprehensively supported, reconciled, and enabled.
I think these trends — along with important ones like enterprise-wide knowledge streams— herald great things in the enterprise when it comes to collaboration and represents a sort of maturity proof point.
This article excerpt, by Dion Hinchcliffe, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1wBExxa

When Enterprises Become Carriers

Communication is a critical function for any business. Listening to customers. Negotiating with suppliers. Collaborating with teams and partners. Without it, no business can thrive or survive. In the past, businesses of all sizes were dependent on carriers for all of these services. According to Standard & Poor’s 2013 Global Sales Report, 46 percent of the S&P 500 business occurs outside of the United States, which is up from 42 percent ten years earlier. Accordingly, telecommunications requirements are more global than ever before.
Connecting these international and disparate company footholds has required a complicated and often expensive combination of voice and data carrier expertise. But the long promised convergence of voice and data networks has enabled savings as IT and Telecom requirements and functions merged into an increasingly common set of products, services and skills. Today, the end of the PSTN and obsolescence of the Hardware PBX is clearly on the horizon, and it’s a reality that must be addressed.
People in their work lives, much like in their consumer ways, have gravitated toward a cloud and mobile-first strategy. Unified communications (UC) software and cloud communications have effectively represented a fork in the road for business communications, with smaller organizations outsourcing and larger enterprises insourcing.
Hence, multi-national enterprises today are able to operate more like Telcos. For example, UC software platforms allow them to replace hardware PBX with software that they manage in their own servers or from cloud based resources.
Outsource, Insource or Federate?
Outsource
For smaller organizations, the trend seems to be going in the other direction. Instead of owning their own PBX and email systems and relying on a carrier for the connectivity, their software goes out into the network as well, and is leased on a low operational expenditure monthly basis.
Insource
Larger global multi-national organizations typically choose to own the software and manage it on a Cloud basis. But they no longer have to order local loop services from an incumbent or CLEC country by country; global carriers can help them consolidate into higher volume arrangement. In doing so, they can also choose to further optimize their costs by thinking like carriers themselves. They are able to create their own Least-Cost-Routing tables with multiple SIP trunking termination providers to reduce the cost of long-distance, off-net calling. They can source local telephone numbers in dozens of countries for contact center, conferencing and office phones via Global SIP DID providers.
UC Platforms like Microsoft Lync and others have put the tools into enterprise hands with the promise of fully integrated systems for email, messaging, voice, fax and conferencing via one platform, but enabled by wholesale priced origination and termination partners for voice, fax, and SMS.
The business case and technical feasibility for unplugging local PRIs and replacing them with globally aggregated data networks, coupled with inbound DIDs and outbound calling, is one that many multi-national corporations are now exploring. Instead of procuring local PRIs, the corporate can order telephone numbers via a Cloud provider and map them to the devices as needed. They can then aggregate their global numbers and outbound termination and secure better wholesale pricing, just like the carriers themselves do.
On an engineering level, the organization will be able to centrally manage and control telecom as inbound calls arrive via SIP, rather than from all over the world via local loop into a regional office. Inbound calls to the telephone number are forwarded via IP enabled carrier networks to Session Border Controllers, and then on to UC systems, call center ACDs or conference bridges for further routing within the organization. Calls can be rerouted as needed; if an employee relocates they need only plug in their SIP phone to reconnect and get back to work. If the business requires a new local number for a new hire, or needs to support a project in a different country, IT can order one and map it instantly to that employees SIP address. The employee could even do it themselves using an API enabled portal.
In this scenario, organizations also benefit from disaster recovery, as global carriers can reroute inbound calls via redundant networks. This saves the IT manager valuable time and frees up personnel and other human resources to focus on bringing the organization back online after a crisis.
Federate
Other trends show that enterprises are also banding together into federations to enable industry-wide communication. Federating voice and video across enterprises, based on a shared and interoperable UC platform vendor, will allow more on-net calling. This can eliminate long-distance charges as well as enable more sophisticated services, such as HD voice codecs and video telephony.
Security Implications
When choosing how to handle their communications – especially if they opt for insourcing – enterprises must consider the security implications. Scandals ranging from hacker-data theft, security holes in carrier communications services to perceived government overreach have created an environment of anxiety about the privacy of telecom. One widely-touted advantage of Microsoft Lync Unified Communication systems that many enterprises find attractive is the encryption of all communication between servers using TLS and SRTP.
Security concerns are particularly acute in the banking and finance segment of enterprise communication, resulting in an increasing premium on self-reliance for carrier services and software. In fact, in October 2014 a consortium of banks – led by Goldman Sachs – announced it had invested in a small Silicon Valley messaging start-up called Perzo, focused on encrypted IP communications, to develop a secure communications platform for their own internal and industry-wide use.
Fork in the Road
Cloud computing, virtualization and UC software have enabled enterprises to benefit from Telco-like economics of scale and efficiencies, and they can now purchase their voice and data services as if they were large carriers. Enterprises are looking at the fork in the road, with one path leading to increased outsourcing, the other to insourcing. Carriers are increasingly focusing on APIs, security, developer outreach and SaaS models to make sure they stay along for the ride for both strategic directions, rather than finding themselves left behind.
This article excerpt, by Hugh Goldstein, originally appeared here: http://wrd.cm/1FaP1uI