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Avaya Users Conference: Telecom Evolution, the Cloud and Network Outages

Modern telecom solutions are not only complex and evolving, they span multiple areas in IT.

June 16, 2015

5 Min Read
Avaya Users Conference: Telecom Evolution, the Cloud and Network Outages

By Josh Long

Josh LongOn Monday, I popped into the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) CONVERGE2015 conference in Denver where Avaya executives, outside technology engineers and sales professionals gathered to discuss such topics as the cloud, video conferencing and the increasing complexity of telecommunications.

The breakout sessions Monday may not have been as entertaining as hearing from former NFL legend Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins (Wednesday morning’s general session) or jamming out to Blues Traveler during the CONVERGE party (Wednesday evening) in the Mile High City. Still, many of the themes highlighted during the breakout sessions that I attended Monday likely resonated with the indirect sales channel.

Consider, for instance, the story of Alex Morales, a telecommunications specialist at Davis Polk & Wardwell, an international law firm. Morales has been in the information systems business for about 14 years, but he knew virtually nothing about telecommunications when he started his career.

He told his new employer at the time, “I know I have a phone in my house and it takes two wires to use.”

To state the obvious, the telecommunications business has become more complicated since Morales began his career. During a panel session, “Death of the Telecommunications Specialist, What Next?” he described the evolution of the industry from the first public telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut, to digital PBX systems and telecom closets to the modern world of cloud computing, MPLS and virtualization.

“The telecom of today, frankly the telecom of yesterday and the day before that, it’s changed,” said Morales, a board member with the New York Avaya Users Group.

Modern telecom solutions are not only complex and still evolving, they span multiple areas in an IT organization, Morales said. He recommended telecom specialists position themselves as IT professionals and learn to interact effectively with various groups such as network and security experts.

Cloud Strategies

Speaking of modern technologies, two Avaya executives discussed a prolific technology that has been all the rage in recent years: the cloud.

Avaya’s Bob Camel kicked off the session with Gartner’s top 10 myths about the cloud, such as the fallacy that the cloud should be used for everything and that the cloud is always about saving the bacon.

Camel, a senior marketing manager, asked people attending the session if they have cloud in their business. A number of hands were raised. He then asked whether cloud means the same thing to everybody. Not one hand went up.

“That means you are starting to understand cloud,” Camel said. 

While the cloud – including the public and private clouds or a hybrid model – offers a number of benefits, it’s important to define the reasons for adopting the technology before jumping on the cloud bandwagon.

For instance, is the movement to the cloud intended to support an enterprise’s video strategy or accommodate a remote and mobile workforce?

“We are getting away from technology … to outcomes,” Camel said.

Preventable Outages

If you are a telecommunications specialist, (a plausible scenario if you are reading this blog), a client network outage is almost certain to ruin your day and strain the relationship. Joey Fister, senior director of CALA support and emergency recovery at Avaya, highlighted the top five network outages that are often preventable. They include power outages, lack of routine maintenance, software bugs, hardware failures and network problems.

The mistakes are not only avoidable but extremely costly. For instance, Gartner projects the cost of network downtime is more than $300,000 an hour, while a separate Avaya study indicates the range is between $140,000 and $540,000 per hour.

Fister said such outages often can be prevented by doing things like implementing redundancy on a network, updating software and checking power requirements.

Failing to replace antiquated commercial equipment may be asking for trouble. If equipment such as a server is more than 11 years old, there is a 36 percent chance it will fail in the next two years, Fister said.

When a car is about 10 years old, the vehicle starts to break down and we know it’s time to replace it with a newer automobile, he pointed out. But “in our networking solutions, we don’t think that way,” Fister said. “We think these solutions last forever.”

Video Fever

During a separate discussion, experts weighed in on trends in video conferencing and unified communications. While video used to be isolated to the conference room, it has increasingly come to mobile devices and desktops, the experts said.

The cloud has changed how technology is consumed, making it easier to deploy and use, said Luke Kannel of NACR, an integrator of business communications solutions. But one expert indicated that relying on the public cloud to conduct video conferencing is a poor strategy, especially if the end user is a C-level executive.

While executives in a company are alright if a cellular call drops off, “if video drops, game over,” said Jill Price, vice president of sales with SPS, a systems integrator for unified communications and collaboration solutions. “More often than not, we are helping our clients build out a private cloud or hybrid.”

Even though video conferencing has blossomed in recent years, some businesses and organizations prefer to communicate the old-fashioned way – in person – even if it costs a fortune. Emily Nielsen, the founder of Nielsen IT Consulting, referenced a hospital in Canada where nurses visiting other facilities were spending a boatload of time and money on taxis.

In such a case, it’s up to Nielsen and other telecom consultants like her to educate clients and demonstrate that video conferencing and cutting down on cab rides are good ideas.

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