Michelle Burbick
Michelle Burbick is the Associate Editor and a blogger for No Jitter, UBM Tech's online community for news and analysis...
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Michelle Burbick | October 14, 2016 |


No Jitter Roll: This Week in Enterprise Communications

No Jitter Roll: This Week in Enterprise Communications Today's collection of what's hot and happening includes snippets of news from Oblong, Teem, Sprint, Citrix, Lifesize, RingCentral, Mitel, and Fuze.

Today's collection of what's hot and happening includes snippets of news from Oblong, Teem, Sprint, Citrix, Lifesize, RingCentral, Mitel, and Fuze.

It's been a busy week for enterprise communications; it seems like announcements are rolling out right and left, and with all of the change taking place in our space, it can be difficult to keep up with everything and still be productive in your workday. Well, I'm here to catch you up on things you may have missed.

Meetings: Oblong Engages Remote Workers, EventBoard Rebrands to Teem

As Irwin Lazar, Nemertes Research VP and service director, wrote last month on No Jitter, immersive group collaboration is starting to shake up the conference room these days. You may have read my No Jitter article about Mercy Virtual and its use of such immersive group collaboration tools with Oblong's Mezzanine, or maybe you read about these tools in No Jitter Editor Beth Schultz's recent post.

Oblong's Mezzanine is the immersive collaboration platform that gives meeting participants a way to amp up their collaboration, enabling the simultaneous display of images, video conferencing, and screen sharing. Last week, Oblong launched Mezz-In, which enables browser-based access to a Mezzanine meeting, allowing remote users the same opportunity to contribute to a meeting and control presentations as in-room participants have.

"Now, remote workers can be deeply engaged, via data, video and voice, in an immersive experience of a real-time meeting from outside the conference room," said John Underkoffler, CEO and founder of Oblong, in a prepared statement.

Speaking of meetings and conference room, cloud-based meeting management and analysis provider EventBoard has rebranded itself as Teem to better represent its full portfolio of products and vision. In tandem with its rebrand announcement, Teem revealed the results of its Workplace Productivity Analytics Index, which outlines findings in best practices around collaboration.

The Index aggregates data from more than 2,000 global customers, can be accessed at any time by anyone, and is updated monthly so that people can view and analyze evolving trends as relates to workplace culture and collaboration. Metrics include data on number and length of meetings, as well as habits around scheduling. One finding in particular that relates here is 10% of meetings include external participants.

SD-WAN News from Sprint, VeloCloud, and Citrix

In last week's No Jitter Roll, I touched on AT&T's plan to deliver an SD-WAN service using VeloCloud technology. This week, we have SD-WAN news coming out from another carrier, Sprint, as well as Citrix.

Also teaming up with VeloCloud, Sprint announced it will be conducting customer trials for its SD-WAN service in Q4 2016, with plans to launch globally in early 2017. Enterprises will be able to access Sprint's SD-WAN service from a Sprint MPLS network, broadband Internet connections, or via broadband links from other service providers, the company said. Further, the SD-WAN service features integrated security for real-time protection across all sites, including mobile workers, Sprint said.

"Sprint SD-WAN will transform the way our business customers use their network," Mike Fitz, VP of the Sprint Global Wireline Business Unit, said in a prepared statement. "SD-WAN enables enterprises to lower their network costs while dynamically supporting converged services such as SIP Trunking, cloud services, and hosted applications."

On the equipment side, Citrix announced several enhancements to its NetScaler SD-WAN platform aimed at supporting branch network simplification and boosting security. The latest edition of NetScaler SD-WAN features integrated end-to-end visibility and control, and incorporates application-aware virtualized WAN connectivity, dynamic routing, separate routing domains, WAN optimization, and support for the latest Citrix HDX protocols. In addition, Citrix has introduced cloud-based Zero Touch Deployment services, which automates the deployment process and provides a tool for ensuring security.

Perhaps motivating Citrix's SD-WAN enhancements, the press release cited IDC data estimating that SD-WAN will be a $6 billion market by 2020.

If you're not in the know about SD-WAN technology and its advantages, there's no better time than now to become acquainted with it. In fact, No Jitter is hosting an Oracle-sponsored webinar on the subject, "How SD-WANs Will Improve Real-Time Communications Networks," coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. ET. You'll get an SD-WAN primer from networking expert and regular No Jitter contributor Terry Slattery. Register now and mark your calendars!

Lifesize Wants You to Huddle Up

Lifesize has extended its line of video collaboration hardware and software with a system featuring huddle room-friendly camera technology. The Icon 450 incorporates smart-framing sensors that automatically adjust the camera to center everyone in the room (with manual controls for use as necessary), said Michael Helmbrecht, chief product and operations officer at Lifesize. "The camera takes care of panning around the room ... and saves on the frustration and embarrassment of people being in the room but not in the video frame," he told No Jitter editor Beth Schultz in an interview.

In addition, the wide-angle camera lens offers horizontal and vertical fields of view purposefully suited for huddle rooms, Helmbrecht noted.

Like Lifesize's other room systems, the Icon 450 pairs with the company's cloud-based video communications platform to provide what the company calls a "holistic conferencing experience." Recent updates for the entire line include calendar integration with Microsoft and Google productivity suites, as well as a simplified scheduling process and easier calling from the Lifesize Web App.

The Icon 450 is available today, starting at $4,999.

RingCentral, Mitel Make Mobile Moves

We've had a fair amount of coverage on No Jitter about mobile developments as of late, from this week's announcement of Facebook's mobile-first enterprise collaboration app, Workplace, to news of native Skype for Business calling coming soon to iPhones. Well, the buck doesn't stop here!

Mitel yesterday announced its 6900 Series business phones that feature Bluetooth-based syncing between smartphones and desk phones. Users will be able to hand off calls from their smartphones to desk phones, make use of shared contacts access between the devices, utilize Wi-Fi connectivity to untether the desk phone, and even charge their smartphones directly from the desk phone.

"The market for business phones is increasingly being defined by customers looking for better mobile and desktop integration," said Stephanie Watson, GM, MZA Consultants, in a prepared statement. "Physical desktop devices are clearly evolving to feature complementary functionality with mobile devices and Mitel's new range of business phones nicely responds to and reflects this market dynamic."

While Mitel works toward smartphone and desktop interoperability, RingCentral is working on its app game, this week announcing its RingCentral Glip iOS and Android applications for team messaging. RingCentral said it rebuilt the Glip mobile experience to be more intuitive and incorporate a fresh design, aiming to provide a faster and higher-performing application on tablets and smartphones.

The new apps work with other RingCentral applications and allow users to organize meetings and schedule conference calls, send rich media files, and message each other. According to the release, the Android version includes new key features like improved search, an updated shelf design for easier locating of files, conversation labels to mark as unread or to follow up on, better formatting for tablets, and added support for split screen on Android Nougat 7.0. The iOS version allows users to read PDFs and Microsoft Office documents directly within the RingCentral Glip app, the ability to share documents in other apps, sync with iOS contacts, "favorite" conversations or mark as important, and use the app in landscape mode for certain models.

Fuze Revamps User Experience with All-in-One App

Fuze, cloud-based UC platform provider, is focused on providing excellent user experiences that drive adoption, as you may recall from the Fuze-sponsored webinar No Jitter hosted in April, "Guarantee User Adoption of UC: 3 Steps to Amplify IT's Business Impact" (now available for viewing on demand).

It should come as no surprise, then, that Fuze has released a new user interface incorporating voice, video, and messaging into a single application. It features an enterprise-grade platform with high degrees of quality, reliability, security and analytics. To reach this new interface design, Fuze worked with its own customers to come up with a solution that requires employees to learn only one user experience across all channels for both internal and external communications. This allows businesses to eliminate the need for costly training and puts all the collaboration capabilities at their fingertips.

"For us it is all about user experience," said Andy Yates, IT business partner, ThoughtWorks, a Fuze customer with more than 2,000 active users, in a prepared statement. "If the product isn't usable, our employees won't use it. They'll find something else that meets their needs and their standards."

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