Edited by Eric M. Zeman and Michelle Maisto
Waiting for Vista
Microsoft’s Vista—the first major update to the Windows operating system in nearly five years—has met with criticism in recent weeks. In a report published this May, analysts from The Yankee Group described several areas of Microsoft’s next-generation OS—which aims to increase security for end users—that need some significant tweaking before its projected release date in early 2007. Andrew Jaquith, senior analyst for The Yankee Group, explains that several features designed to prevent the spread of malware were identified as weak enough to potentially hurt adoption of Vista. “Both user account control and user interface can be improved,” says Jaquith, who explains that users may find both features confusing and intrusive.
He also cites Vista’s incompatibility with third-party software as another possible roadblock. Whether or not companies will be willing to switch to Vista, according to the report, is contingent on the improvements Microsoft makes in the next nine months. Even if the problems are corrected, says Jaquith, the change will be gradual. “The uptake may not happen the second Vista is released … it will take a while for companies to feel comfortable with upgrading.” However, Microsoft still has time to make improvements to the operating system. “They are definitely refining and polishing things,” says Jaquith. “They’ll get there—we just think it’ll take them a little while before they get it absolutely right.”
IP Telephony’s Four-Step Program
Corporate communications are rapidly moving toward IP-driven software applications, says Phil Sayer, senior analyst for Forrester’s European telecoms and networks team. So how do companies build a business case for throwing out old silos and implementing new IP communications systems? Based on interviews with 21 service providers and a selection of end users, a recent Forrester report found that companies adopt IP communications in four stages: Visibility.
“Very few enterprises know what systems they have, and there is very little interconnection between them,” says Sayer. Inefficiencies in purchasing make it difficult to know how much you’re spending. “Find out what you’ve got, and think about how you approach purchasing,” he advises. Transformation. When the time comes to replace old systems with an IP communications environment, determine your company’s strategy. “What are you trying to achieve?” asks Sayer. “Is it cost savings? Improving your field force? The key is deciding what architecture you are going to need.” Service Management.
“When rolling out these applications, you need to be thinking up front about what service-level performance you’re looking for from vendors,” says Sayer. Protecting and managing your systems is as important as deciding what systems to buy. Customer Self-Service. Enterprise employees order services directly from the service provider, rather than placing an internal order through a help desk, which in turn places the actual order. “Eliminating a step in the ordering process saves time and money and reduces errors,” says Sayer. To purchase a copy of “The Four Stages Of Enterprise Managed IP Communications,” go to www.forrester.com/findresearch.
Staking New Network Territory
In May, U.K.-based Truphone triumphantly declared that it was the world’s first operator of a 4G network—the next generation in wireless networks. But what exactly is 4G? It depends on whom you ask. Even Truphone admits that a precise definition of 4G has not been agreed upon.
Andy Fuertes, senior analyst for wireless industry analyst Visant Strategies, says that most experts can agree that 4G technologies connect an aggregate of different networks, including Wi-Fi. “A lot of people just perceive it as a high-speed network that is decentralized and data-centric,” he says.
Truphone developed a software infrastructure that it says will enable mobile phones equipped with Wi-Fi to talk and send SMS messages using only Wi-Fi technology and the Internet. Essentially, Truphone’s 4G network would allow anyone using a mobile phone equipped with Wi-Fi to continue making calls and sending SMS messages even when outside of Wi-Fi range. And though Truphone claims it is the first company to deliver a 4G network, companies such as IPWireless, Flarion, ArrayComm and Broadstorm have developed 4G technologies that rely on Wi-Fi networks with mobile networks using fewer base stations.
Why the need for 4G? 3G is not easy to operate across networks and on different devices. Fuertes says that essentially any call on a 3G network needs to be routed to a switching station, which is a relatively inefficient process. With 4G, all IP routing and switching occurs intelligently and peripherally; in other words, not every call needs to go to a central station.
“The idea is that 4G would be more efficient and better at data. The current systems don’t do data all that well,” he says. Fuertes has reservations, however, about the quality of coverage Truphone’s network can deliver. Wi-Fi is not designed to go very far, or be very reliable, he says. And of course there are security issues. Wi-Fi is all about open access, while cellular networks are more secure.
Is OTA the Thing?
In May, Nokia announced that it was extending support to devices using Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA DM) technology as part of its Intellisync Device Management solution. It will allow IT staff to remotely manage handheld devices used by mobile field workers, with no software installation necessary. Meanwhile, Red Bend software is also working toward comprehensive mobile software management solutions. Red Bend’s EMD technology allows low- and mid-range mobile phones and smartphones to be upgraded and enhanced remotely—or, “over the air.” Red Bend works in tandem with mobile phone manufacturers and estimates that about 100 million phones are using the company’s technology.
What do enterprises stand to gain? Morten Grauballe, executive VP of marketing for Red Bend, says that mobile field workers could be using many applications on their mobile phones that they can now only use on their laptops. But mobile software management allows IT staff to update mobile devices so they can be equipped with more robust applications. “With mobile software management,” Grauballe says, “you could update the software as you go. And I think that’s something that both IT and operators buy into.” As for Nokia, its OMA DM technology lets IT staff deliver, install and configure the settings of the devices themselves, as well as mobile email; calendar apps; software patches; security features; sophisticated mobile CRM, sales, and field force automation applications; and more.
Tom Libretto, director of product management for Nokia mobility solutions, says that OMA DM allows IT staff to manage a mobile phone just like any other asset on the corporate network. In essence, he says, the mobile phones become mini laptops connected to a network, and they are as secure as physically plugging a PC into the corporate network. “It makes our lives and IT personnel’s lives easier,” he says.
— William Gillis
Who’s Afraid of VOIP?
Just a month or so ago, Mobile Enterprise touted the virtues of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services as a potential boon to end users. Have a chat with a carrier, however, and you’ll hear it described as a threat, particularly to fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). A first issue is call quality. Recent studies detail customer complaints about pops, crackles and delays in their conversations that in turn lead to on-site visits by technicians. A second less-well-known reason is that VoIP might turn into a palpable threat to both network capacity and cellular revenue. Cingular and Verizon Wireless, the two largest U.S. wireless companies, have banned VoIP and other data-heavy services from their networks for the time being. Mobile operators have more to potentially lose here because the prices for calls over their cellular networks are higher than fixed-line calls.
As the popularity of VoIP surges, the more likely that mobile revenue may decrease. Now the issue is also beginning to garner notice from companies such as T-Mobile and Alltel. But the carriers needn’t worry too much just yet. The gross majority of VoIP calls are made from computers using DSL, cable or Wi-Fi connections—not from converged wireless phones. Nokia and Motorola are still the only handset manufacturers that have working FMC systems, but for either to work, the network operators have to be on board.
So far, U.S. wireless companies have eschewed the solution for its data-heavy requirements. While the dream of having cellular calls seamlessly handed off to local Wi-Fi or other wireless networks is still an attainable one, the players haven’t come to agreements on the capacity and revenue models. Which sounds more like a threat to progress, mobility and end users. //
—Eric M. Zeman
In The News
AIRDEFENSE, a wireless security and monitoring provider, has formed an alliance with MOTOROLA to deliver AirDefense InSite Suite T, an integrated product suite powered by Motorola’s LANPlanner. The suite will enable engineers and network architects to design, install, maintain and troubleshoot wireless networks for optimal security and performance.
VOXEO, a provider of standards-based Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and VoIP platforms, has announced a partnership with MAP
TELECOM, a global IVR provider. Under this agreement, Voxeo will provide MAP Telecom’s current European and Middle Eastern facilities with its award-winning Voxeo Prophecy platform.
NOKIA and GOOGLE have collaborated on a firmware OS upgrade to offer better memory performance, VoIP functionality and a pre-installed Google Talk Client. The new release will also
support standard SIP-based VoIP clients for enterprise use.
BRIDGEPORT NETWORKS, a mobile VoIP convergence company, has signed a global reseller agreement with SIEMENS to integrate its NomadicONE IMS Convergence Server into Siemens’ IP Multimedia Subsystem. The solution will enable operators to support true single phone number services, which can seamlessly transfer voice calls between circuit-switched cellular and VoIP over Wi-Fi networks
TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS and SPECTRALINK have announced the availability of a joint project, SpectraLink’s Link 6020 Wireless Telephone. The Link 6020 handset is compatible with the Link Wireless Telephone System and integrates with Toshiba’s Strata CIX IP communication system for a complete mobile voice solution.
MICROSOFT has announced a partnership with e-commerce company GXS to embed Microsoft’s BizTalk Server 2006 and SQL Server 2005 into GXS’ Trading Grid. A BizTalk Server 2006–based Grid Ready application will be made available to GXS’ customer base of 40,000 global users, enabling integration with hundreds of business partners.
SERVIGISTICS, a provider of service management solutions, has been selected by BLUE COAT SYSTEMS, a network securities provider, for its Service Parts Management solution.
The Servigistics solution will become part of Blue Coat’s core infrastructure, which will support the company’s growing service business and help reduce inventory.
TORONTO HYDRO TELECOM, a provider of telecom services to businesses in the city of Toronto, has selected SIEMENS to supply the equipment, implementation and services needed to make Toronto the largest Wi-Fi zone in Canada.
OPTIMI, a provider of customizable planning, optimization and monitoring solutions for wireless technologies, announced that the largest wireless company in the United States will be using its x-AFP (automatic frequency planning) product to manage spectrum on its existing and new networks.
SAVI TECHNOLOGY’s SmartChain Transportation Security Solution has been deployed by EMPREVI LTDA., a Colombian logistics risk management and prevention company. The solution leverages real-time data from active RFID technologies. With Savi’s solution, Emprevi hopes to cut costs and generate new business.
SMS operator TYNTEC has been chosen by international SIM card manufacturer SAGEM ORGA to deploy its over-the-air (OTA) configuration service. TynTec will send Sagem Orga’s OTA service via SMS text messaging using its enterprise SMS platform, ensuring rapid and reliable delivery.
French mobile phone company BOUYGUES TELECOM has selected OPTION N.V.’s GlobeTrotter FUSION + “HSDPA Ready” all-in-one data card to help it offer fast and reliable EDGE/UTMS/GPRS and WLAN connectivity to its nearly 1.5 million subscribers.
QUICONNECT, a systems integrator specializing in virtual networks over wireless broadband, has been selected by BT to establish additional wireless roaming interconnections and increase its number of public hotspots. The deployment will provide greater Wi-Fi access
for BT Openzone customers worldwide.
MTS TECHNOLOGIES, which provides support to government and commercial entities in the fields of engineering, IT and professional management support, has selected NAVTEQ to provide map data for its Family of Wireless ePULSE (embedded Prognostics Utility and Logistical Status Environment) solutions, which serve as end-to-end diagnostic solutions for vehicle development and fleet tracking.
AIM GLOBAL, an automatic identification and mobility alliance, has added five new members to its Board of Directors. Ron Caines of Psion Teklogix, Hugh Dayton of Paxas Americas, Jan-Willem Reynaerts of Philips Semiconductors and Mike Willis of Intermec have all joined the not-for-profit organization.
EVERYONE’S INTERNET (EV1), an Internet technology services provider, has merged with
THE PLANET, a supplier of enterprise-level hosting solutions based in Dallas. The new company will further develop both brands, which support over 20,000 clients and 50,000 servers.
Local telephone operator QWEST COMMUNICATIONS has agreed to buy ONFIBER COMMUNICATIONS, a privately held network solutions provider, for $107 million, to help improve its out-of-region metropolitan coverage. The deal is expected to close in Q306.