Feedback: Enterprise Connect 2012 Locknote
Interoperability, network management, and overall system complexity were the most salient points of the concluding session.
Having a "quiet time" opportunity, I used the moment to watch the Enterprise 2012 Locknote session, which I found interesting and compelling.
Zeus Kerravala made a good point about middleware and I think a great example is BlueJeans Network. Andrew Davis made the comment, "I just want it to work" and without having to know what the other user or company is using for their video solution. Andrew also went on to elaborate that “users just want to call other endpoints." But does this really matter? How many choices do users have, how many do they really need? No doubt service providers like BlueJeans Network are going to prosper and people will still retain their choices of video gear, hardware and apps.
Still, another example of middleware is found as an integral part of Microsoft Lync deployments because without it, there would probably be fewer licenses sold and less voice penetration.
But what exactly is middleware? According to the Middleware Resource Center:
"Middleware is the 'glue' between software components or between software and the network, or it is the slash in Client/Server"
The discussion about standards and interoperability really needs to include using standards as a framework. Sure interoperability is important but so are open source and proprietary solutions. Then, without middleware, how far behind would we be today?
I don't see standards going away and interoperability is going to be an issue until the end of time. Open source isn't just novel, it's required glue that even Microsoft has taken a fancy to. Taken as a collective: standards, open source, proprietary solutions and middleware--it's really pretty amazing that all this stuff does just work and that this mix keeps improving.
Too much time was exhausted trying to exorcise "proprietary" out of the industry, and the word became demonized instead. Without proprietary, we’d be decades behind. Proprietary works pretty well whether you're talking about protocols or telephone systems, so you can thank either Cisco or scores of vendors that continue to develop and sell solutions with proprietary components.
Dave Michels made a good point on openness and "getting everyone in and out," and it's going to be challenging in communications to do it transparently, securely, cost effectively while maintaining acceptable quality. Welcome aboard middleware and open source solutions.
Network Management Tools
Fred Knight opened the question of complexity and noted the layers of complexity that users are riding on. The reality is, it is complex and there isn't one guy to call to fix your problems. Who's going to provide the tools? Which tools? This is another trip down memory lane and as Zeus points out, there are numerous decision points. Then hearing that "convenience trumps quality" doesn't mean that network management tools and MOS scores are thrown out. I disagree with the premise that monitoring isn't needed. Business knows that reactive fixes almost always cost more than proactive monitoring and management steps. I believe the same thing with call quality; it is important and allowing user tradeoffs of convenience for call quality and/or time will continue, just not as the rule for enterprise class communications.
A few weeks ago one of our sites had a T1 that went down the tubes with rain--yes rain! As expected and because we were "monitoring," a (proactive) trip Sunday night to the customer premise resolved the T1 degradation issue not with a hair dryer but by removing in-line protective fuses. Monday morning that company staff was online and working. Otherwise no monitoring (reactive) meant an easier Sunday night but a potentially ugly Monday morning because a company is road-blocked, at the front gate, from conducting business as usual.