Ericsson made a $1.15 billion offer to acquire Telcordia, a provider of operations support systems/business support systems (OSS/BSS) for telecom service providers. The Telcordia acquisition enables Ericsson to establish a leading position providing service fulfillment, service assurance, network optimization, and real-time charging services to wireless and wireline operators worldwide. Ericsson will gain Telcordia’s 200+ customers in 55 countries, including AT&T and Verizon in North America. The acquisition will also augment Ericsson’s managed service capabilities, which are currently used by firms including Sprint and Telefonica Brazil.
BSS/OSS solution demand is increasing due to communication service provider requirements to deploy a variety of converged services and applications to customers across fixed and wireless networks in a seamless manner. Telcordia’s OSS software solutions, combined with Ericsson’s global position, marketing clout, and existing billing services will enable the combined organization to offer a more comprehensive range of BSS/OSS solutions. This acquisition will also change the competitive and fragmented BSS/OSS vendor landscape. Ericsson will be in a better position to compete against key BSS/OSS vendors, including Amdocs, Huawei, and Nokia Siemens Networks, as well as systems integrators, including Accenture, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, that also offer BSS/OSS solutions.
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.
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.
Last week I attended the TM Forum Management World 2011 conference, which was held for the first time in Dublin, Ireland. Over 3,500 attendees including nearly 200 service providers participated in the event, the largest group ever to attend the conference, which is sponsored by the TM Forum, a global industry association focused on helping simplify the complexity of running a service provider’s business. For me, the highlights of the event were in the renewed positive energy and focus of the delegates, vendors, and service providers in identifying opportunities for communication service providers to innovate and collaborate in new ways in order to address emerging opportunities in the communications industry.
Keynote presentations during the forum highlighted the diverse perspectives from traditional telecom operators and new participants in the communications industry. For example, Kevin Peters, Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T Business Solutions highlighted the network as a critical asset that is global, efficient, and robust with the ability to connect billions of smartphone devices and the growing number of machine-to-machine (M2M) end points. These connected devices use the network to provide intelligence and insight into the status of objects, items, and people. Stephen Shurrock, Chief Executive Officer, Telefonica O2 Ireland, highlighted the ability to deliver a wide variety of new mobile applications and services.
The acquisition of Skype puts Microsoft into a commanding position in the consumer UC as a service market. To date, Microsoft has had little to say when Skype, Yahoo, AIM and others talked about enabling IM and adding voice and video. Their Microsoft Messenger voice services were less well known and less widely adopted. Today, Microsoft turned the tables, paying $8.5 billion to acquire Skype and its 170 million customers who value the “free” in free voice/video services so highly that they are willing to accept variability in quality of service and a service level agreement that specifically spells out, “Skype cannot guarantee that You will always be able to communicate with other Skype Software users, nor can Skype guarantee that You can communicate without disruptions, delays or communication-related flaws or that all Your communication shall always be delivered to other Skype Software users. Skype will not be liable for any such disruptions, delays or other omissions in any communication experienced when using Skype Software.” So, what did Microsoft get?
· 170 million customers whose online communications connections were one of the first social communications communities, and who are loyal to the Skype experience
· A worldwide peer-to-peer network that is proving increasingly able to deliver usable voice and video streams to PCs and increasingly mobile devices
· A portfolio of P2P technology media encoding algorithms with proprietary, non-public specifications
Today, Forrester has published its report “Sizing The Cloud”. This report applies Forrester’s sizing methodology for emerging markets to the cloud computing market for the first time. This methodology allows us not only to apply our growth assumptions to the current numbers for cloud markets, but also to take into account when those markets will hit saturation and see commoditization, affecting the price of a cloud service over time. The result? The first serious attempt to size the cloud computing market for the next 10 years.
Polycom announced today (March 23, 2011) that it is acquiring Accordent Technologies. The acquisition extends Polycom’s portfolio of video technologies and products and enables Accordent to leverage Polycom’s global distribution capabilities. Accordent is a privately held, 11-year old company based in El Segundo, California and has 52 employees. Accordent’s aim of delivering future-focused video collaboration has earned the trust of 1,200 customers who use their video archiving and streaming solutions. Polycom and Accordent share:
A common focus on unified communications and collaboration (UC&C). They both work with a stable of technology and services partners to deliver these rich experiences to market. Common partners like HP, IBM, Microsoft and Riverbed will smooth the companies’ continuing sales to Fortune 500 companies that are already using or considering their solutions for video.
A tight relationship with Microsoft. Both companies have deep technical and go-to-market relationships with various business units in Redmond driving collaborative work with server platforms including the Microsoft Windows Media Server, Microsoft Lync Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and others.
A deep understanding of the adoption of video in the market. Both companies have focused efforts to understand both the horizontal use cases for video (creative collaboration sessions, large-scale status reporting meetings, and ad hoc video communications) as well as industry-specific uses in verticals like healthcare, education, and government.
Before I left for Enterprise Connect this week, I had completed nearly a dozen pre-briefings and tweeted that I expected to see themes including cloud, collaboration, interoperability, mobility, SMB, social, and video. All those topics have been covered and re-covered — and they have often overlapped. As I attended sessions, visited vendors on the floor, and met on-on-one with unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) vendors and service providers, I heard echoes of my late 2008 report, “The Broad Opportunities In Managed Services,” where I highlighted tight credit, rapid technology change, and uncertain business volumes with creating unique opportunities for managed services from onsite management through the then new concept of software-as-a-service (SaaS). This brought cloud and as-a-Service topics to the front of almost every conversation and announcement. Vendors are pursuing this opportunity that we continue to see growing in our surveys, with only 3% of IT buyers in North America and Europe reporting that they currently deploy or manage their unified communications in an as-a-service model; but 23% are interested in doing so in the future.* Vendors from CallTower to AT&T (although neither was at the show) are offering services, and several new cloud announcements were made at the show.
Forrester’s Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010 has quantified for the first time how enterprise demand is shifting from traditional licensing models to subscriptions and other licensing models, such as financing and license leasing. However, the shift to subscriptions for business-applications-as-a-service is the major driver of this change. Traditional enterprise licenses are slowly decreasing, and Forrester predicts that subscriptions for SaaS applications will drive alternative license spending up to 29% — as early as 2011. This demand-side change goes beyond front-office applications like CRM. In 2011 and 2012, enterprises will opt for “as-a-service” subscriptions for more back-office applications, such as ERP, instead of licensed and on-premise installations. Detailed data cuts by company size and region are available to clients from our Forrsights service.
Base: 622 (2007), 1,026 (2008), 537 (2009), and 930 (2010) software decision-makers predicting license spending for the coming year Source: Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q3 2007; Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2008; Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2009; Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010
What does this means for existing independent software vendors (ISVs) and infrastructure vendors?
Let me start off this post on a downbeat note: Improving sustainability is not a high priority for companies, according to data from the recent Forrester survey of business decision-makers. The survey, part of Forrester's Forrsights research, was fielded to 2,600 executives with budget authority at companies in Europe, North America, and Asia during the fourth quarter of 2010.
When we asked these corporate decision-makers about their company's top business priorities, revenue growth was #1, customer retention #2, and cost-cutting #3 (see Figure 1 below). Improving the corporate sustainability posture? Oops, it's down at #10, with just 10% of respondents indicating that sustainability is one of their firm's high priorities for 2011. When we cut those numbers by industry grouping, utilities/telecoms and public sector/healthcare are highest, with 15% prioritizing sustainability, compared with a low of just 7% in financial services.
Now, I'd like to contrast that eye-opening data with a much more optimistic set of figures from our recent research about the growth of sustainability consulting services. My colleague Daniel Krauss and I have worked with many of the large consultancies over the past few years and seen their sustainability practices grow from practically nothing to very substantial businesses.
Among 21 consulting firms that we surveyed late last year, 17 have a dedicated sustainability practice, and five of those count more than 1,000 practitioners (see Figure 2).