Clouds Forming Over Orlando #EC12

by Dave Michels

Enterprise Connect (#EC12) is coming-up at the end of March in Orlando. Lots of Pre-EC activities are already filling my days. This year’s event looks to be shaping up nicely. Corporate wallets are opening again, R&D is up, and the vendors actually have some exciting products to share.

This year, I expect lots of cloud stuff at Enterprise Connect. I think ShoreTel buying M5 in Feb was the tip of the cloud iceberg. The premises vendors have mostly ignored or causally experimented with cloud solutions – I think this year is the inflection point. But few have really brought to market a reasonable hybrid model which I think is the end game.

The other cloud, virtualization, is also big news. How big? Mitel is returning to EC and probably dragging VMware along with them. Recently Mitel expanded its virtualization footprint to include softphones on virtual desktops including call centers -using VMware View. The patterns seems that Mitel innovates on virtualization, and the others follow (but the gaps vary widely).  With just about every vendor pushing virtualization, you’d think VMware oughto buy a booth…

Speaking of which, IBM isn’t on the exhibitor list either, though IBM is doing a keynote presentation. I assume the keynote will say if you want to know more about IBM to tweet them or like them. IBM doesn’t do UC, they do social. If you are in a social setting at EC12, tell someone about IBM. If it’s UC solutions you are seeking they can be found in the exhibit hall.

Siemens Enterprise has  lot to say, but I don’t know what yet. Speculation is a new name (about time) is included in the news. I expect NEC to make lots of noise around Spherical 8.1 – Spherical 8.0 was quietly launched a few months ago. I am betting there will be more iPads in the Avaya booth than phones. Speaking of phones, I’m looking forward to seeing Digium’s new phones, the nerve of them putting a Java engine on an IP endpoint. I bet Cisco provides an alternative to Skype. Microsoft has been quiet lately, I suspect a new release of Lync may be near- maybe one with more telecom features.

Mobility shows no sign of subsiding. Aastra and Shoretel will be featuring mobility even to those with competitive voice systems. Aastra will also be featuring its BluStar video client, but won’t be alone on the video front. The best of Enterprise Connect finalists includes Vidyo.

Below are the sessions where I get to talk out loud.

Leveraging Voice and Video in the Cloud: Integrating Skype, GoogleVoice and Other Platforms with Enterprise UC

Monday, March 26, 2012, 4:15 PM-5:00 PM

Your enterprise probably has users, customers and partners on Skype, and many may use GoogleVoice as well. If your enterprise IP communications platform could talk to these public services, you could greatly expand your reach, using voice, video or other collaboration modes, without ever touching the legacy PSTN. Skype and Google both have the global scale and branding to position themselves at the center of a new public network—but the matter is complicated by Skype’s acquisition by Microsoft, and Google’s potential to compete with the vendors in this space. This session will help you understand the mechanisms available today to use cloud-based providers like Skype and Google to reach your stakeholders with all-IP communications; it will also show you the obstacles to this goal. You’ll come away with a grasp of the state of the art today, and what you can expect tomorrow.

Innovation Showcase Presentation
We will announce the four companies selected for the Innovation Showcase on March 1. This year, there were 15 applicants, and it was extremely difficult to pick four.  Tuesday morning two of the four companies will do an on-stage demo, and the other two on Wednesday. All four will be exhibiting in the Innovation Showcase booth during exhibit hours.
Tuesday, March 27, 9:00 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 9:00 AM
Note: Innovation Showcase graduates Fonolo and Proton Media have their own booths this year.

Summit: BYOD, Consumerization of IT: How to Cope?
Thursday, March 29, 10:00 AM-10:45 AM

The explosion in wireless and the desire for the latest and greatest smartphone or tablet has made “BYOD” – Bring Your Own Device – all the rage. But BYOD is just the latest example of how the “Consumerization” of IT is changing user behavior as well as corporate policies about what can attach to and be sent over the network. In this Summit, we’ll discuss the steps you can realistically take to influence user choices in mobile device usage, application deployment and the use of social networking.

Locknote  (This is my favorite session)
Thursday, March 29, 11:00 AM-Noon

To wrap up Enterprise Connect, please join leading analysts and program Co-chairs Fred Knight and Eric Krapf for a conversation, analysis and debate over the major issues covered during the Conference. The issues covered in the Locknote/Town Hall include analyzing the progress in deploying Unified Communications and an assessment of its benefits and challenges; the viability of the Cloud as a deployment model for communications; the progress toward SIP Trunking and a New Public Network; issues around mobility; vendors’ positioning, strengths and weaknesses; and how emerging social networking functionality is being integrated into communications. Hear what the analysts have to say, and come prepared to share your questions, comments and perceptions.