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There has been a lot of press on VoIP recently; however, the jury is still out as to when this technology will become the business standard rather than the new kid on the block.There are a number of reasons but the primary one is the cost to move away from traditional and highly reliable analog telephone systems to digital. Most small office environments have key systems installed, many of which have been in use for a decade or more, and they continue to run with little or no upkeep.

Convergence of voice and data is, and will continue to be, the key enabler that will drive the deployment of VoIP on a wide scale across Corporate America.Convergence offers more flexibility in the development of automated and streamlined business processes, but equally important, it provides the opportunity to consolidate access to the WAN and the PSTN which will drive down support and recurring costs.

This potential to reduce staff as well as recurring data and telephony costs will enamor the CIOS and CFOS. The carriers are driving this point home by taking the legacy Centrex service offering out of moth balls with a fork lift upgrade to IP and then branding the service with new sexy names. Regardless of the name, it is essentially Centrex with a new dress. This new Centrex service, which is now available, makes it possible to provide both data and telephony service at branch offices with a single pipe to the phone company.

Services such as AT&T’s Voice DNA makes it attractive to modernize branch offices because. By converging voice and data at these remote locations, an immediate reduction in recurring costs will be realized in most cases. This also opens up a plethora of applications such as voicemail, 4-digit dialing, and call waiting which the old key systems that are in use today simply cannot accommodate economically. Now you folks that have resided in the ivory towers of headquarters all of your career will not be able to appreciate this. However, the seasoned professionals who venture out to the branch offices periodically to kick the tires will fully understand what I am talking about.

I looked at a couple of services but was impressed most by AT&T’s. Voice DNA eliminates the need for a PBX or Key System at a given location, yet provides all the functionality one would expect to see at a corporate headquarters. A multitude of functions including call waiting, call forwarding, DID, DOD, conferencing, faxing and a host of other applications can be made available.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t indicate that I was swayed by the intuitive administrator web tool. This tool makes MAC activity a breeze. The tool also makes it easy to set up billing codes and pull up an abundance of reports, such as usage for starters, that the CIO is always requesting at the spur of the moment.

The infrastructure and intelligence behind the Voice DNA service puts the workload on AT&T’s network for voice traffic and not mine. If the traffic is destined for a Voice DNA enabled location, it is processed and delivered on the Voice DNA network. All other traffic hops off the Voice DNA network an on to the PSTN rather than eating up valuable bandwidth on my private IP network.

Most national companies are organized by geographical areas, and as a result, there is a significant amount of interaction between offices in a specific area. This is a perfect situation for Centrex. In example, why not put all of the offices in the Atlanta metropolitan area on a common Centrex service? Then multiply this across the nation in the other large metropolitan areas where you do business. This would, in effect, make each of these areas a large virtual office and provide the same functionality the folks over at corporate consider a given.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of this service is the flexibility it provides the road warriors who are in and out of branch offices more than they are at their own desk. This will enable them to sit down at any office with the service, log into a telephone, and voila, all their phone calls will come to them regardless of the office they happen to be working out of that day.

You techies out there will say “this is nothing new.” We can do this ourselves by implementing our own private VoIP capability at the branch offices and the corporate WAN.

Yes, you are indeed right, but I ask you why would you want to?

Another big item you need to consider is the “feet on the ground” required to support these chúng tôi you implement it yourself, you are going to have to “belly up to the bar” and add staff or make arrangements for contractors to be at your beck and call.

Why would you want to do this? Offload this burden to the carriers such as AT&T, MCI, or Sprint who are all better equipped than you to do the job. After all, they have been doing it since Alexander Graham Bell first started providing the service.

This article was first published on chúng tôi

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Cisco Voip: Getting To Mobililty

Cisco Systems has made a couple of announcements about mobility of late.

The first one, issued at the end of April (read it here), snuck past us initially, but we caught up with it. It describes a partnership with Nokia that “extends the rich Cisco Unified IP phone capabilities to Nokia Eseries dual-mode smartphones over Cisco Unified Wireless Networks, to offer users a seamless mobile experience in the enterprise environment and public cellular networks.”

Translation: With the help of some software from Cisco, Nokia’s dual-mode handsets will be able to place and receive phone calls over Cisco wireless LANs—when they’re in range—and save money on cellular minutes. In enterprise telephony parlance, this bit of technology will ‘port the desktop phone number’ to the Nokia device over Wi-Fi.

It’s nice to see Cisco taking the first steps toward mobilizing its formidable IP telephony capabilities. And in characterizing this dual-mode capability as “mobile unified communications” (a stretch in our view), the announcement constitutes at least a tacit endorsement of the idea that mobile phone users in the field should have access to the same communications resources they enjoy at their office desk.

But if the company wants to be a serious contender in anything that could legitimately be called mobile unified communications, Cisco is looking at a serious game of catch-up, as a generation of smaller, more nimble competitors has already got a formidable head start.

The first to take on the challenge of the dual-network telephony were the so-called fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC) vendors—startups such as Kineto Wireless and the other members of its Unlicensed Mobile Access coalition (UMA) or BridgePort Networks and other members of the Mobile Ignite trade group.

These companies figured out how to identify the “best available network” for a call and how to engineer automated, on-the-fly handoffs between carriers’ cellular networks and local wireless LANs for mobile users. (With Cisco/Nokia solution, it appears, the user can manually select Wi-Fi or cellular.)

These technical solutions (which relate only to voice, not other communications modes) have been available for years now, although as they are carrier-centric solutions—that is, they are deployed in carrier networks—and the carriers by and large have not seen fit to deploy them yet, they are not currently an option for many would-be adopters.

There are, however, several enterprise-centric solutions that chúng tôi has written about in some detail. Technology from DiVitas Networks, OEM provider FirstHand Technologies, and (to a lesser degree) Siemens Communications, not only goes beyond basic F/MC to mobilize PBX functions and/or other key modes of enterprise communication, they are fully available for deployment now.

For Cisco to get to the place where these providers sit today—again, with a level of functionality that could be reasonably termed mobile unified communications—will not be easy.

Providing extended communications features, such as PBX functions (hold, forward, extension dialing, etc.), e-mail, conferencing, corporate directory access, and the like over cellular networks is not a trivial problem.

Doing this over Wi-Fi is relatively easy, DiVitas CEO Vivek Khuller told chúng tôi in a recent conversation, “because you are in control of the network and it’s an all-IP network. However to provide the same feature set over cellular is not a trivial task. That requires coordination—both on the client side and on the server side—between two disparate networks: cell voice and cell data,” Khuller said.

“When you combine all three together—cell voice, cell data, and Wi-Fi—it gets even more difficult,” Khuller continued. “There could be three people on a single call; one on cell, one on campus Wi-Fi, another on public Wi-Fi—three very different networks, controlled by three separate entities. How do you now manage that call—without echo, latency, with everybody having equal features?”

From DiVitas’s perspective, the task is far easier if that functionality was a fundamental goal of the product’s initial design—from the ground up. It’s tougher to do as an add-on to an architecture that didn’t envision it at the outset.

Which brings us to Cisco’s second announcement (last week), of the Cisco 3300 Series Mobility Services Engine or MSE (read the release here).

If you don’t know what a Mobility Services Engines is, don’t feel bad. Neither did we. If we’ve got it right, this is an appliance-based middleware platform that will serve the ambitious goal of normalizing and integrating the entire spectrum of networking technologies, both wired and wireless, allowing the sharing of both data and application functionality among devices, regardless of their network connections.

The “platform offers an open application programming interface (API) for consolidating and supporting an array of mobility services across wireless and wired network,” according to the company. That is, software applications—and other appliances—will be able to access resources provided by the MSE.

Cisco will be releasing an initial four software offerings for the MSE platform, one of which—Cisco Mobile Intelligent Roaming (MIR), due out some time in the second half of the year—can facilitate (but not actually execute) handoffs when devices roam between networks.

“If we know that network performance is changing in a way that impacts the application, it might make sense to transition to another network. MIR can provide that intelligence to other platforms that actually trigger the roam,” Chris Kozup, Senior Manager, Cisco Mobility Solutions told our sister publication Wi-Fi chúng tôi in an interview.

Actually bringing about the connection transfer requires another device or gateway, and one member of Cisco’s technology “partner ecosystem”—Silicon Valley startup Agito Networks—announced (in conjunction with the MSE release) that its RoamAnywhere Mobility Router will integrate with the Cisco Engine to provide customers with a full-blown solution for seamless cellular/Wi-Fi handoff.

So, before the end of this year, Cisco VoIP shops will have the tools needed to begin to provide communications capabilities to far-flung mobile workers. For better or worse, it will involve one or more additional devices in the network infrastructure that customers will have to manage and troubleshoot.

This article was first published on chúng tôi

Is It Worth Using Low

Such platforms are innovative technologies that are used by both technical and non-technical coders. In fact, not all technical enthusiasts can prove their expertise in coding. It’s not obligatory for everyone to be experienced in generating codes if there is a need to create an application or software within a limited time. Even highly experienced software developers often look out for various alternatives to substitute traditional ways of creating apps with a minimal coding effort, whereas the notion of low-code platform and development is not new to programming specialists.

Such platforms require no preliminary introduction for experts working as part of the coding community. However, there are still a great number of coding specialists who are only on the way to getting started with low-coding application development.

Is It Worth Using This Technology?

The LCAP appeared as a reaction to the complexity and diversity of modern ways of program development. There are many famous platforms belonging to this industry segment. According to what is offered by various vendors, even ordinary users will be able to create business applications with ease in the long run.

However, it’s hard to work on such applications without the assistance of professional developers. And regrettably, modern service vendors are not created for qualified experts, while relying on them in the long-term perspective is always associated with certain risks for your business. If your company wants to use LCAP for industrial exploitation, it’s worth weighing up all pros and cons before making the final decision.

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Automation of Simple Processes and Creation of Prototypes

To describe data models;

To quickly create screens with the help of widgets and samples;

To describe logic with the help of so-called microflows.

However, after going through the stage of prototype interaction of the system with the user, business logic becomes more complicated. In order to develop the project further, professional development experts are needed.

Slow Development

Any logic, be it calculations or interaction with the user, must be described in microflow as stated previously. Here, several problems arise:

It is a long process. It’s much quicker to generate codes using IDE than move or interconnect tens of blocks;

Readability is yet another important issue. Blocks look great, but as soon as the amount of information blocks grows to several dozens, it will become harder to understand the logic;

It’s used as an alternative in complicated cases. The main drawback is the absence of transparency. Here, all points of access are located in microflows. Therefore, the logic is distributed between two weakly linked environments. As a result, it becomes difficult to keep track of dependencies.

Final Word

Low-coding platforms are great for prototyping. They decrease the distance between business users and IT developers, which allows quickly getting the needed prototype and shaping the way your future system will look like. The expenses at this stage are also minimal. However, there are two major drawbacks of this technique, which include low speed and dependency on the expensive platform.

Commercializing Hadoop With Cloudera Enterprise

The open source Hadoop project is all about providing the ability to manage and understand large datasets. Yahoo which uses Hadoop to manage 120 terabytes of data per day, this week released a new version of their edition of Hadoop but they weren’t the only ones with a new Hadoop release this week.

Commercial Hadoop vendor Cloudera this week announced Cloudera’s Distribution for Hadoop (CDH) version 3, including some technologies that were previous closed source. In addition to the new version of CDH, Cloudera is announcing a new Enterprise version of their Hadoop distribution, providing additional usability and management features for enterprise users.

CDH is a version of the Apache Hadoop project that bundles additional projects and technologies to make Hadoop more usable for enterprises. CDH includes the Yahoo developed open source Oozie workflow engine as well as including projects originated by Cloudera. Among the Cloudera-originated projects is one called HUE (Hadoop User Experience), which began its life as the closed source Cloudera Desktop.

“Cloudera Desktop was a desktop based user interface for people building apps for Hadoop,” Cloudera CEO Mike Olson told chúng tôi “That was always available for free, but it wasn’t open source. We believe that the platform has got to be open source in order to succeed.”

Olson added that Cloudera has rebranded the desktop product as HUE and it has now also evolved. He explained that HUE has become a collection of APIs and an SDK aimed at developers that want to build attractive applications that talk to a Hadoop cluster.

Additionally Olson noted the Cloudera developed the open source Flume project. The Flume project, which is included as part of CDH, is all about getting various data sources into a Hadoop cluster in a continual, reliable and fault-tolerant way. Flume is a complement to the Sqoop project, also developed and open-sourced by Cloudera, which is a tool for importing database tables into Hadoop.

With the HBase project included in CDH, Cloudera is also aiming to expand beyond just SQL types of database inputs.

“HBase is a NoSQL layer on top of HTFS (Hadoop’s filesystem),” Olson said.

Cloudera Enterprise

To date, Cloudera has built its business around offering services for Hadoop, but with Cloudera Enterprise, they’re now aiming to monetize software as well. Cloudera Enterprise includes deployment management tools as well as support and legal indemnification.

As to where Cloudera draws the line between what is an open source feature for CDH versus what is an Enterprise feature for paying customers, it’s all about the platform.

“If it is a platform feature, it belongs in the open source platform,” Olson said. “Platform features include ways to store data reliably — basically any of the plumbing that is required to make data storage and analysis work well.”

Olsen explained that the enterprise features are the tools that are required to integrate Hadoop clusters with existing infrastructure and the dashboards that IT staff needs to manage thousands of nodes in a cluster.

While Yahoo is a big contributor and backer of Hadoop, Olson doesn’t see Yahoo’s version of Hadoop as being competitive with Cloudera’s corporate efforts. Olson noted that Cloudera benefits from the work that is done in the open source Hadoop community, including Yahoo’s contributions. That said, in his view the Yahoo version of Hadoop isn’t necessarily the right fit of services for enterprise deployments.

“Yahoo has build a Hadoop distro that runs well on its own infrastructure,” Olson said. “Not all enterprises have the same compute infrastructure as Yahoo does and Yahoo does not provide support for that software.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.

Aol Launches Enterprise Im Offering

After months of speculation, AOL Time Warner’s America Online unit has taken the wraps off its enterprise instant messaging solution.

The offering adds proxy-based management tools on top of the media and Internet giant’s free, wildly popular public service, AIM. Indeed, Enterprise AIM’s use of the same client for public AIM is a key selling point for America Online, which claims a broad user base of about 180 million users — including 60 percent of all businesses.(As of September, Web researcher comScore Networks’ data found that AOL had about 29.2 million users, about 8 percent of which are users logging on from work.)

Regardless of the specific numbers, AIM’s installed user base means fewer headaches for IT departments. For one thing, there’s likely to be little or no training required for an enterprise-wide rollout and relatively simple installation — in many cases, the client will already be installed on users’ workstations. (There’s also bound to be fewer complaints from companies’ public AIM users, which can continue using the client with which they’re familiar.)

“End users are adopting AIM within their enterprise, and those end users had asked for some tools,” said Bruce Stewart, senior vice president of Dulles, Va.-based America Online’s Strategic Business Services unit, which oversees AIM. “That all sort of led us to the view of ‘let’s have a suite of enterprise AIM services.’”

Based on FaceTime Communications‘ flagship IM Director offering, the Enterprise AIM Gateway server enables system administrators to manage individual corporate users’ AIM accounts — to control whether they can send files, or send messages outside the company, for instance.

Deployed behind a company firewall, it also provides for host-based broadcast messaging, anti-virus protection (integrating third-party anti-virus applications) and local routing — ensuring that interoffice communications don’t traverse the larger AIM public network. The Gateway also serves a hub for keyword-tracking, logging, auditing and reporting on employees’ IM use.

Additionally, AOL also offers Private Domains with Federated Authentication, which enables companies — rather than AOL — to manage their users’ AIM accounts. One benefit is that companies can authenticate its AIM users against the corporate directory — simplifying management of screen names and privileges.

Another upshot of this is that companies can assign real-world AIM handles to their users. That is, the module allows John Smith to sign on under his real name, rather than “John2345” — an awkward naming convention necessary due to the number of AIM users named John. (To AIM users outside the company, however, John Smith’s user name appears as his e-mail address.)

Private Domain also supports the AIM buddy list, so both corporate and external AIM users appear. The technology is already in use with Apple’s iChat software for its .Mac service.

In spite of the importance of the product to AOL — and its prerelease buzz — the release has some notable drawbacks. First, the Enterprise Gateway won’t actually filter any messages until AOL has deployed version 5.1 of AIM — which supports the proxy-locking necessary to track and properly direct AIM traffic. AIM 5.1 is currently in beta and slated for release later this quarter.

Companies also will have to wait for encryption capabilities from Enterprise AIM. AOL has tapped VeriSign to handle x.590v3 security certification, and has been testing a secure version of both its gateway and AIM client with about 20 customers since summer. However, the product isn’t expected to be brought to market until the first quarter of 2003.

Not so much a drawback as it is a continued company stance, Enterprise AIM also won’t support server-to-server interoperability. AOL had briefly experimented with the concept in a project with IBM’s Lotus Sametime, but ceased the trial in June. At the time, AOL said that the effort — relying on the IETF’s proposed SIP and SIMPLE protocols — proved too costly and limited in security and functionality.

“Server-to-server interoperability standards aren’t where they need to be,” Stewart said. “We take very seriously the importance of customer privacy, network security and network performance. In the interim … we’ll continue to closely monitor the number of different standards and board activities.”

America Online will offer the Gateway Server on both licensed and subscription models. Sources close to AOL said license pricing would run between $34 to $40 per seat. Private Domains and Federated Authentication will be subscription-based as well, while AOL plans to charge additional fees for the encrypted client.

In addition to the core Enterprise AIM offering, AOL also is pushing to roll out the messaging and presence technology in AIM to businesses and third-party software developers through a developer kit and certified developer program.

“Multiple partners and customers are interested in using IM … to build a multiple of business applications that fundamentally allow them to plug into the AIM service — to establish presence within those applications, or to embed an AIM client in those applications,” Stewart said.

So far, partners having signed on under AOL’s developer program include PresenceWorks. AOL said is speaking to “a number” of other companies about establishing commercial relationships around the technology, but declined to disclose further specifics.

America Online’s foray into the space comes just a month after rival Web portal and public IM player Yahoo! announced its own enterprise IM offering, expected to ship during first quarter.

Unlike Enterprise AIM, Yahoo! Messenger Enterprise Edition is only available in a hosted version. It is expected to be priced similarly to AOL’s product.

Microsoft , maker of the other major public IM network, is also gearing up to release enterprise instant messaging tools under its larger Greenwich initiative.

According to Microsoft, Greenwich will serve as a secure enterprise IM management platform based on standards — likely to be SIP/SIMPLE, which is already supported in Microsoft’s Windows Messenger. The product is expected to debut in the middle of 2003.

Skype Voicemail Lets Voip Users Leave Messages

Skype Voicemail Lets VOIP Users Leave Messages

Skype Voicemail was launched this week on the popular VOIP network. Skype Voicemail allows customers to continually maintain their Skype availability while offline by the ability to leave unlimited Voicemail messages for all Skype users when they are unavailable or offline, and can receive Voicemails from any caller. I don’t consider myself a Skype head but use Skype daily for making International calls (and some domestic calls) and was quite thrilled to hear that there is a new voicemail service for the VOIP solution.

Louis Philip of chúng tôi did a nice little write up of Skype functions. Philip writes about the world of Skype and maintains one of the largest Skype resource sites on the web : Skype is free, Skype is easy to use and Skype works. All you have to do is download, install and start using it. It is completely painless. If you are like me, you will start using Skype because you want to stop paying for long distance. My mother lives in the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic it costs a lot of money to call North America. I told her to get Skype, now she calls me all time. Good thing Skype has VoiceMail!

After you get used to paying nothing for long distance, you will begin discovering some of Skype’s other options. As of June, 2005 Skype has the following options:

1) You can get Skype Voicemail for ~19$ a year (that is about ~1.50$ per month)

2) You can call almost any phone number on the planet for 2 cents a minute, half of what Vonage charges! (Skype to Skype calls are free)

3) You can get an incoming phone number for around ~40$ a year (that is only 3.50$ per month and they throw in voicemail for free! Remember, unlike Vonage which gives you a phone number when you agree to pay the 15$-25$ a month, Skype starts you off for free but will only give you a phone number when you start paying them 3.50$ a month. I started off using Skype for free since I was only making Skype to Skype calls at first)

4) You get a bunch of features included for free (conference calling, Caller ID, Call Waiting …)

5) There are tons of add-ons (also know as plug-ins) for Skype, many of them are free. You can get a Skype Answering machine, you can have Skype integrated into Microsoft Outlook or you can even start Podcasting with Skype.

6) There are lots of Skype communities. You can meet people for fun and conversation, you can even meet people to learn new languages.

7) Last, but not least, Skype has instant messaging and file sharing.

Once you get going with Skype you will find that it starts to grow on you. I haven’t replaced my regular phone with Skype, but it has become my second phone line and I use it frequently. At work I use Skype all the time. Since I’m already sitting at my computer it is much more convenient to talk with my team members using Skype than picking up the phone and giving them a call.

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