Tag Archives: dominant

Visual collaboration software needs seven pillars for success

The workplace has evolved to become more distributed. As a result, the virtual workforce is becoming dominant, as organizations look to capture and capitalize on the best talent unrestricted by geography. As teams have expanded geographically, real issues have emerged around maintaining team and project cohesion.

To bridge the physical gap, several tools are available, including video conferencing, conference calls and document sharing. The result, however, is piecemeal. Assorted tools cannot deliver a natural work environment where everyone can be an active participant.

This is where immersive visual collaboration software comes into play, bringing the advantages of in-person team collaboration and project development to the virtual work environment.

Organizations need seven key pillars to ensure successful implementation of visual collaboration technology. Each pillar is necessary for optimal collaboration. Without any one of them, the work will suffer.

It’s like teleporting into meetings

Visual collaboration software needs to be designed with the human factor in mind, making it an extension of how people work.

Access. Unfettered access to content and the ability to see every step of the project is key. When content lives in a room on dry-erase boards, for example, teams don’t have ubiquitous access. Consequently, employees need to refamiliarize themselves with the content and what happened the last time they met in the room.

Access to a collaborative workspace that’s available anytime, from any location and from any device is required. In addition, the ability to maintain access across time is critical. Distributed teams need access to content across time zones — from the moment an idea is generated through development and execution.

Content. Users need to be able to visualize their content in the form and format they are accustomed to using, with the ability to manipulate the elements as desired. Seeing content in a visual way helps users recall the discussions surrounding their work every time they look at the workspace. It also helps members who may join a project late to see the starting point and how the work evolved before they became involved.

Interaction. Once content is uploaded into the workspace, all participants need to be able to interact with it in an organic manner. This is what has been missing until now. Visual collaboration software can provide an engaging experience — it’s like you’ve been teleported into the meeting. Whether drawing in the workspace, viewing content or making annotations, all forms of interactivity must be possible to fuel brainstorming. It’s the lynchpin for successful remote participation.

Sharing. Customers’ expectations are evolving. They want to be part of the creative process, not simply waiting for the end result. Visual collaboration software needs to provide a rich tapestry and preserve the work process and the final product. Sharing how the work evolved into its final state is a great advantage. It offers valuable insights for future projects and builds a relationship between teams, management and other stakeholders.

Integration. Visual collaboration software cannot be an island; it needs to be extendable. A variety of predefined integrations and robust APIs must be compatible with web-based apps, native apps and other devices. Visual collaboration doesn’t change how people create content; it changes how they share and evolve content to obtain the best final product.

Visual collaboration can break down remote barriers and deliver on the long-awaited promise of the virtual workplace.

Enterprise-ready. The software needs to be secure, easy to adopt, perform with low latency and work quickly so information can be shared instantly. In addition, the software must scale to any number of collaborators and to the amount of content uploaded.

Ease of use. Visual collaboration software needs to have a highly intuitive interface that works the same way as other popular devices and software programs. It needs to be designed with the human factor in mind, making it an effortless extension of how people work. Even as the software continues to add more complex features, it must behave in a simple way, so the user organically becomes more sophisticated through use.

When these seven pillars are combined, visual collaboration can bridge the gap between traditional and virtual workforces, enabling teams to feel connected through every step of the process. Visual collaboration software can enhance meetings, presentations and products. Perhaps most importantly, it can also break down remote barriers and deliver on the long-awaited promise of the virtual workplace.

Nick Brown is vice president of product and marketing for Bluescape, a visual collaboration software provider.

Huawei wants to grow public cloud market share

Huawei wants to gain public cloud market share and become a dominant public cloud provider, according to Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis in Sterling, Va. At its annual Huawei Connect event, the Chinese vendor laid out its plans to grow public cloud market share to compete directly with Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM. However, as Shimmin noted, Huawei’s plan is not to dominate in the same way as its competitors — instead the vendor aims to create an open platform that interoperates with other clouds.

Huawei will initially focus its attention on growing public cloud market share among telcos and in its home market, with clients such as China Telecom and China Central TV. Shimmin doubts that Huawei can match other hyperscale cloud providers in scope and scale. Although the vendor recently launched Huawei Enterprise Intelligence AI, Shimmin still sees Huawei’s machine learning ranking far behind the AI capabilities of its competitors. “In my opinion, where Huawei is most likely to succeed with its cloud play is in helping partners and customers apply Huawei’s significant hardware expertise to trenchant problems like cross-cloud security, AI-scale hardware and IoT edge computing,” Shimmin said.

Read more of Shimmin’s thoughts on Huawei.

Achieving container workload performance

Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said instead of fretting over competition between containers, virtual machines (VMs) and serverless machines, professionals need to focus on the architecture of new applications. Many emerging applications are geared for microservices and depend on new infrastructure to scale and interoperate.

In Conde’s view, what really matters with containers and similar technologies is the performance of the workload, not how the workload is actually run. Having choices is vital — even if it means mixing and matching containers and VMs. The traditional system of underlying platforms and operating systems has been displaced by a much more complicated set of services such as Cassandra, NATS or Apache Spark; cloud platforms; and lower-level offerings such as Apache Mesos or Red Hat OpenShift. “The old notion of a highly curated platform as a service (PaaS) is effectively dead because developers demand choices and the world is changing too rapidly to choose a narrow path. …The analogy would be the five-year plans of the old planned economies. The current world is too dynamic to go down such a narrow path,” Conde said.

Dig deeper into Conde’s thoughts on container workload performance.

Cisco emphasizes LISP for enterprise campuses

Ivan Pepelnjak, writing in ipSpace, responded to questions he received from readers asking why Cisco was pushing LISP instead of EVPN for VXLAN-based enterprise systems. While Pepelnjak admitted that he wasn’t certain of the exact reasons, he suggested that Cisco and a few other large vendors still see a need for large Layer 2 domains. “It looks like the networking industry is in another lemming rush. Everyone is rolling out VXLAN to solve large VLAN challenges, or even replacing MPLS with VXLAN for L3VPN deployments,” Pepelnjak said.

He added that every large vendor is deploying EVPN as a control plane for VXLAN, including Cumulus Networks, Juniper Networks, Cisco and Arista Networks. According to Pepelnjak, LISP is a system searching for a problem that Cisco has chosen to deploy as an additional control plane, without any technical factors driving the decision.

Read more of Pepelnjak’s thoughts on LISP.

Before deploying Skype for Business, follow these key steps

Microsoft has been a dominant unified communications vendor for almost a decade, but most customers have used it primarily for chat, presence, web sharing and other desktop-related functions. And as popular as Microsoft’s Skype for Business has been for desktop UC, it has struggled as an enterprise voice platform.

But Microsoft, it seems, has turned a corner, as Skype for Business voice is now becoming a mainstream platform.

In a declining voice market, Skype for Business has taken share from many incumbent voice equipment and platform vendors, according to Synergy Research Group. Synergy’s most recent market data shows the voice market and the revenue for all major vendors have declined — except for Microsoft (see table below).

Over the next few years, I expect many of the Microsoft customers deploying Skype for Business for chat and presence will shift their focus toward using it for enterprise voice as well.

voice market revenue

Checklist for deploying Skype for Business voice services

Deploying Skype for Business enterprise voice and its cloud-based equivalent, Office 365, is unlike voice services from other vendors. Traditional voice systems are more turnkey in nature, where the business buys the call servers, applications, phones and often the network from a single vendor. Instead, Microsoft provides the call control and some of the applications, but everything else is purchased from a Skype for Business partner, which can make the deployment more challenging.

Skype for Business deployment checklist

When deploying Skype for Business voice services, the predeployment work is extremely important. Many large companies with massive deployments have no issues, showing that the technology does work.

Organizations that are considering deploying Skype for Business voice services should take the following steps:

  • Do a network assessment. This is an absolute must for deploying Skype for Business enterprise voice. With an on-premises deployment, companies must pay attention to the local area network and Wi-Fi network. With Office 365, organizations should assess the wide area network and internet connection because traffic will be going to and from the cloud.
  • Start with a small pilot. Deploying Skype for Business enterprise voice isn’t overly complicated, but some adjustments to the network and other infrastructure are necessary. Starting with a small pilot allows the IT department to iron out kinks in the deployment, measure the benefits and build best practices. Once the pilot group has migrated successfully, a larger group can be addressed.
  • Due diligence required when selecting technology partners. A large number of technology partners work with Skype for Business and Office 365, but not all partners are equal. Some partners require custom software or gateways to interoperate with Microsoft. In addition, the quality of voice and video can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Organizations should perform due diligence and thoroughly test technology partners to ensure the best experience and easiest deployment.
  • Keep the handset. Microsoft pushes customers hard to give up their desk phones and have workers make calls directly from a PC or laptop with a headset. As convenient as computer-based calling may seem, however, it isn’t appropriate for all sessions. A desk phone is significantly better suited for speakerphone calls and allows workers to make calls when they don’t have their computer or when it is rebooting. Also, most handsets generally provide better audio quality than PCs and laptops, particularly low-end ones.
  • Consider video as part of the deployment. Video is becoming increasingly popular with younger workers, particularly millennials, who now constitute 24% of the workforce and will grow to 47% within 10 years. Video adds an extra element to collaboration, as it lets workers interpret body language and facial queues. Organizations using Skype for Business or Office 365 should consider including video now or at least having it on their roadmap for the near future. 

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