It's The Network! AT&T Marks Their Territory

During the recent AT&T Analyst Conference, we analysts were all treated to 2 great shows - a tour of Yankee Stadium’s ICT systems (followed by an opportunity to watch the Yankees beat the Royals) and Kevin Peter’s annual spectacle of spherical geodesic references to make sure we all got one thing straight - AT&T’s network delivers value. 

Following last year’s event, I referred to the clear presence of AT&T Labs innovations (http://blogs.forrester.com/henry_dewing/10-05-24-att_business_solutions_drives_technological_innovation_practical_use) delivering value to customers. Keith Cambron, President and CEO of AT&T Labs, focused more this year on the importance, value, and urgency of the IPV6 transition, before Kevin delivered another rousing speech declaring “IT’S THE NETWORK!” more frequently and more emphatically as he went. While Kevin’s presentation was all style, he is a serious technology executive having received a master's degree in Information and Technology Management from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Kevin’s stump speech was followed by technical topics and serious presentation styles that illuminated his points. 

John Donovan, AT&T’s CTO, settled the audience down describing AT&T plans to deliver solutions using

  • AT&T’s Network as a ubiquitous, reliable, intelligent platform.
  • AT&T’s Cloud featuring multitenant, location aware, interoperable services.
  • AT&T’s Software meeting business and industry demands for value.
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What IS Telepresence?

Whenever vendors talk about videoconferencing today, they use the term telepresence.  Come on guys – do yourself and your potential customers a favor – let’s be more careful with our terminology.  Immersive telepresence should only be used to describe a meeting experience that leaves participants believing they were really in a live meeting – similar to the suspension of disbelief that occurs when watching a Pixar movie like “Toy Story” where viewers willingly forget the technology and become immersed in the experience.

  • Telepresence: When Cisco launched their initial telepresence offers in 2006 (was it that long ago, really?) they were adamant that it only referred to solutions that replicated life-like meeting experience with multiple screens, dedicated rooms, and high-speed connections.  Existing vendors like Teliris were all too happy to agree and reinforce that definition.  Today, most clients I talk to think that telepresence refers to the classic 3-screen configuration but are willing to include larger deployments like Polycom’s RPX, which can accommodate up to 28 participants in 3 rows – and I think that should be the definition of a telepresence endpoint. 
  • Personal telepresence: At first blush, this seems like a non sequitor, but I call a dedicated videoconferencing screen that is roughly equal to the size of a human head and shoulders (so that the remote participant appears near life-size on the desk/table where the endpoint is positioned) a personal telepresence unit.  Distance from the camera, lighting, and alignment must be managed carefully by the participants on both ends to maintain the meeting continuity. 
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Polycom Doubles Down On Its Video Bet

Polycom today announced:

  • Its intention to acquire HP’s Visual Collaboration Business — adding to the rich set of endpoints and capabilities Polycom has developed internally.
  • The formation of a group of service providers to be called the Open Video Communications Consortium (OVCC) — dedicated to making intercompany video communication as easy as intercompany telephone communication.
  • The continuation of joint development and go-to-market activities with Microsoft.
  • A two-for-one stock split.
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