The annual communications event moved this year to the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, giving a new and fresh face on an event that is a regular on my annual calendar. ITExpo had been held in the Miami Beach Convention Center since 2008 and I have to admit I was growing tired of the over-priced hotels and “funk” of South Beach. The move was a nice change. New hotels and new dining options.
The show too seemed to gain some new momentum with a sold-out show floor and a real focus on cloud communications solutions, associated hardware and services. Virtually every vendor at the event was somehow playing a role in designing, implementing and servicing cloud communications. The attendees seemed more focused and qualified than the last couple years. From looking at the business cards we collected in our fishbowl, there is still a strong representation from CALA and many are more mature service providers and partners. It wasn’t clear what the cause and effect relationship was, but the change was good.
Keynote Panel: APIs and The Future of Business
Wednesday morning’s keynote featured a panel discussion that included Dialogic’s own Jim Machi discussing the role of communications API and their role in business going forward. A spirited discussion on how business applications can include communications capabilities, likely fueled by WebRTC to facilitate voice and video dialog either business-to-business or business-to-consumer. As Jim Machi noted, the APIs create tremendous opportunities for developers to integrate systems and processes to exactly match the needs of the business. Instead of using one-size-fits-all Unified Communications systems or Skype, web-based applications can have customer interaction build in, only a click away from a quick resolution.
Open Source in Carrier Networks
During the sessions, I had an opportunity to share the stage with Peter Radizeski from RAD-INFO and Anand Buch, CTO at Netsapiens for a discussion on Open Source in Carrier Networks. This topic was one that was started earlier this summer at ITEXPO 2015 in Anaheim, discussing the results from a survey of 21 global service providers that Telco 2.0 published and commissioned by Dialogic. For this event, we had copies of the completed report available for attendees (you can get your own copy by registering here)
A few key observations from the report and panel during the session:
- Open source software is gaining traction in operating system, database, and web services, but not in more specialized portions of the carrier solution. The panel speculated that the specialization required for carrier networks isn’t “sexy enough” for the open source developer community. As a result, commercial platforms dominate the softswitch, media server, and other portions of the overall solution.
- While the initial attraction for open source is its low up-front cost, the cost to maintain and retain the talent to maintain open source software often is close to the cost of commercial software. As noted by the survey results, this seems to be a common response from the service provider community.
- The survey also noted that many of the open source projects are enterprise-centric, meaning they were not designed for the scale or multi-tenant situations more common in service providers. Examples of this were Asterisk – widely regarded as the most popular enterprise PBX application that also has shown to be especially hard to scale and deploy in clustered and redundant environments.
A full-length recording of the session is available here.
Cloud Services in the SMB
Another session I had an opportunity to participate in as a panelist dealt with the difficult situation that resellers are facing with the shift from legacy hardware (CAPEX) sales to cloud applications (OPEX). I was joined by Ray Pasquale, CEP of Unified Office and Ari Rabban, CEO of Phone.com for a lively discussion on how reseller partners are challenged by the changes in the market and some best practices on finding profits in the new business model.
One strong theme in the discussion had to do with how partners generate revenue and profits. With hardware revenue going to on-line e-tailers and commodity hardware, there is little profit in selling the actual hardware. I’ve seen partners who will decline selling the hardware, complaining that doing so ruins their margins. What is a partner to sell? Expertise. The model that has evolved in the market makes the reseller a consultant, guiding the end-customer through the process of matching their business needs to a selection of cloud services. After the consultation is made, the partner then takes ownership over implementation and deployment of the services, fitting employees with the devices/services to best accomplish their jobs. The reseller uses “consultative selling”, allowing the end-customer to continue doing their business (selling cars, being a lawyer, etc). It’s proven to be successful at a number of the large national partners, many of them having their Nortel or other legacy products ripped from their hands 5 years ago.
Dialogic at ITEXPO
Dialogic used the event as an opportunity to launch our new PowerVille LB Load Balancer for Real-Time Communications – earning the new software solution a Best of Show for Enterprise Software.
We also used the event as an opportunity to share that Dialogic recently launched the Communications Developer Zone – a community for news and information for software developers. During the month of February, Dialogic is sponsoring a drawing for GoPro Hero 4 Adventure Camera. To enter the drawing, subscribe to the channel eNewletter and you may win!
As noted, the 2016 edition of ITEXPO was an encouraging place to be with plenty of new energy, much centered on new cloud solutions and offerings. We’re looking forward to participating next year!