Mobility 2020: The Transition from a Wireless to a Mobile Enterprise as IT spending moves from 80% Capex to 80% Opex

August 21, 2013

A mobile enterprise has vast infrastructure and services implications for Enterprise IT, hardware vendors and Mobile Operators.

A mobilized enterprise is not a destination, but an outcome of the transition from wired and wireless at work, to always-mobile connected to the enterprise IT infrastructure, whether at work or on-the-go as part of an emerging Global Area Network (GAN).

The blurring of the lines between the enterprise and service provider networks will extend the “edge” of the mobile network from the operator’s core into the enterprise premise. A mobile operator managed eco system platform with presence inside the enterprise creates Capex reduction opportunities for the CIOs, and a transition to a more predictable Opex services relationship with mobile operators and partners, bridging the mobility value gap that exists between the mobile operators and its business customers:

  • The shift to a mobilized enterprise fundamentally transforms the enterprise IT infrastructure from 80% Capex to 80% Opex
  • The mobile enterprise increases services revenue opportunities for mobile operators
  • Build a valued business partner relationship between operator and Enterprise

An important step to enable a stronger services presence inside the enterprise is the deployment of a scalable small cell system that can take on the role of a services platform point-of-presence inside the enterprise Local Area Network (LAN). Steps to build a trusted mobile services relationship starts with:

  • Deploy a small cell system in the matter of days or weeks that can scale and deliver mobility services beyond basic coverage and capacity. Prove consistently high throughput, consistently low call drop rates, and transparent reporting (build trust)
  • Easily add 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi and multi-mode small cells as capacity and technology needs evolve, without replacing the original system (build credibility)
  • Start to introduce per-employee/per month applications services based on enterprise needs: Wi-Fi, PBX integration, broadcast alerts and offers, location and context-aware services

A 2013 research study by Exact Ventures demonstrates a $100 billion emerging market opportunity for mobile operators in providing mobility services for enterprise customers.  The research showed that enterprise customers could save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services.

In the next few blogs, we will outline the challenges confronting enterprise CIOs and mobility leaders in moving enterprises from wireless to mobile productivity, and the services opportunities for mobile operators as they build coverage, capacity and cloud/services presence to support the mobilized enterprise. Stay tuned. The move from wireless to a mobile
enterprise is underway, and the changes and opportunities are significant.

Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO
Twitter: haraldsvik

Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies
Twitter: @EMobilityInside

Visit our Enterprise IT site http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Is Wi-Fi Still as Relevant to Mobile Devices by 2015, as it is Today?

July 31, 2013

Got your attention?

Before you jump off your chair and fire off irate comments, or quietly give it a supporting nod, let’s set the context for this question.

1. LTE outdoor and 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi Small Cells Indoors for coverage and capacity and services will become more pervasive within the next 2 years.
2. Indoor usage becomes unlimited for any radio type (where flat rates or no-rate plans are used inside on an enterprise’s LAN).
3. Rate plans accommodate multiple devices per person.
4. Always best radio access becomes more feasible where the device will look for best radio access when and where needed.

Inside enterprise customers’ buildings, campus or floors where a mobile operator has invested in scalable and multi-access small cells, the user experience and performance of the radio infrastructures between LTE and 802.11, across the standards continuum, is very similar. This is due to RF strength decrease that follows the Inverse Square Law combined with the modulation downshifts that occur with longer distance from the radios. In brief, 10 or 20Mhz of licensed LTE spectrum may give a user/employee inside a LAN-powered mobile network as good, if not a better experience for voice/data, then when connected on a 40Mhz unlicensed Wi-Fi network.

The differences between LTE and Wi-Fi are centered on access and mobility overheads due to the origins of each technology from either mobile (LTE) or static (802.11). You’ll see that not only are LTE and Wi-Fi speeds similar, but OFDM and QAM types are shared by both technologies. For overall data throughput, the primary limiting factors are:

  • Latency between mobile devices and the hosts
  • Backhaul speed and congestion
  • 1Gb Ethernet Ports (we have not yet seen a radio with a 10Gbps port)

To learn more, see Wireless Data Standards, LTE-Advanced, and 802.11ac. You’ll see that not only are their speeds similar, but OFDM and QAM types are shared by both technologies.

Let’s compare and contrast using apples and… well, apples:

  • If you assume 1Gb Ethernet connected radios with equivalent uncongested backhaul (full path), the user experience from the same App or web property should be similar.
  • This similarity enables the “question”: If LTE and Wi-Fi (even LTE-Advanced and 802.11ac) are comparable from a big picture perspective, how does good ol’ Wi-Fi fit in 2015?

In 2015, Wi-Fi still delivers a great value to the mobile operator, subscriber and enterprise, but in a different way starting now.

For device connectivity delivered by the mobile operator’s small cell system:

  • New devices will prefer LTE and, if it’s congested, will dynamically shift traffic over to the Carrier or Enterprise Wi-Fi.
  • Legacy devices will take their direction from the infrastructure if they are not dynamically aware of the best LTE/Wi-Fi decision.
  • “Wi-Fi only” or virtual SIM-capable “buy-as-you-go” and “where you go” devices will leverage a Virtual SIM and Carrier-enabled Wi-Fi as part of available services packages in the metro region or country.

By 2015, Wi-Fi takes on a different role as an additional revenue source:

  • Invisible to the enterprise, Carrier Wi-Fi offloads other mobile operators’ data traffic onto the managed mobile/Wi-Fi network — Hotspot 2.0 powered via the mobile operators’ home/visitor backend so it’s invisible to roaming subscribers.
  • Guest Wi-Fi in venues and enterprises will relieve those operations of the compliance and operations burdens that Guest Wi-Fi presents. The mobile operators can offer this service in a number of creative ways that could include a revenue sharing arrangement with the venue owner as they exit the service delivery business.
  • Secure Wi-Fi with 802.1X integration into enterprise backend directory services. The great majority of new devices and network access inside the enterprise will indeed never be connected to an Ethernet cable — in their lifetime. When this is combined with continued BYOD trending, the enterprise perimeter shifts closer to the data center and not at the old boundary of the wired Enterprise-Internet (see Blurring Lines Enterprise Perimeter Changes and Wi-Fi Trust Boundary Change for details). The result is smaller data centers and fewer racks at headquarters and branch offices. Why?  IT will simply source all the mobile/wireless enabled network services from the mobile operator because operating mobile or wireless networks is not the core IT competency, nor core to the business operations.

Wi-Fi is still relevant in 2015 for mobile operators as a residential offload technology, and for vertically integrated businesses that insist on managing their own Wi-Fi networks or insist on taking on the role of a mobile operator for their enterprise employees. But, where LTE and scalable small cell systems become more pervasive as a services offering by a mobile operator, Wi-Fi’s role will be very different from today. Small Cell systems by mobile operators help enterprises exit the operational role for commoditized communications technology.

A new and more important role is emerging for mobile operators where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services is part of the ‘package.’ Mobile is the heartbeat of any organization, and wireless is the digital oxygen that our devices breathe at home and on the road.

Small Cells are evolving with enterprises’ needs, and transition from going wireless to becoming a true mobile enterprise.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside

Visit our Enterprise IT site http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


“Turn Off Wi-Fi!” – Could this be the answer?

May 9, 2013

Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? However, the effect of turning off Wi-Fi at work and other venues is a predictable outcome of the acceleration of the Consumerization of IT trends – when 3G/LTE works as promised. Let’s explore the decisions that result in device owners consciously turning off Wi-Fi.

First, some context:

  • “I asked my kids why their wireless data use had jumped on their smartphones. They said that the school had blocked Facebook and YouTube on Wi-Fi and most students had stopped using it while at school.” – A recent comment by a highly reputable Mobility Analyst
  • “I switch off Wi-Fi when I get to work because my smartphone and tablet don’t work right on our Wi-Fi.” – A comment by a Product Manager at a large mobile operator
  • Blurring the Lines of Networks (Enterprise & Mobile) – (a recent blog)

Why is Wi-Fi turned off? The shared theme is legacy infrastructure configurations and decisions are easy to work around simply by opting out to a medium that cannot be controlled by the IT organizations, best explained by Newton’s third law of motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

Within the enterprise, there are two legacy areas of interest:

Service Blocking

  • ACTION: Security people block availability of select services on enterprise and guest Wi-Fi.
  • REACTION: The device owner TURNS OFF Wi-Fi in favor of mobile 3G/LTE, goes to Starbucks, or tethers a connection that IT cannot control.

Legacy Firewalls

  • ACTION: Smartphone and tablet core services/apps are partially functional while behind the enterprise firewall.
  • REACTION: The device owner TURNS OFF Wi-Fi in favor of mobile 3G/LTE, goes to Starbucks, or tethers a connection that IT cannot control.

Newton’s law shows us that the reactions to both legacy deficits are the same: move to a wireless service that functions as the device owner expects it to. This reaction in both the BYOD and COPE ownership models is expected, as there is an assumption of mixing personal and business usage while at home and work.

Gartner reported this week that by 2017 BYOD becomes the norm in enterprises. Assuming the details are ironed out to make this an equitable reality for device owners and the enterprise, enterprise IT will move their trust boundaries closer to their data centers and implement a strategy that assumes a mobile device is an exclusively remote access device no matter it’s location. If the security people continue to apply service blocking rules even on guest Wi-Fi, mobile operator provided wireless is destined to become the desired destination of device owners.

As mobile operators deploy small cells systems that incorporate 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi, the pervasive availability of service will help make the transition invisible with EAP/SIM authentication or similar forms of primary/secondary device and user authentication. Wi-Fi only networks will start to fade from most cellular-sponsored services and enterprises will start to demand the same from its own IT infrastructure. From a functional perspective, wireless network choice will be an automatic process with service quality, function, and underlying connection automation and intelligence driving the selection process. Exact Ventures has also determined that there is a significant market for enterprise IT operations to outsource guest Wi-Fi operations and compliance to their mobile operator. The driver behind the move to outsource guest Wi-Fi is very clear; when you have finite staff, they must be focused on the core business and activities that drive competitive advantage.

At SpiderCloud, we have taken the approach that all Radio Access Network technology is needed, and mobile operators are positioning themselves to provide wireless services to their enterprise customers. For many enterprises where BYOD/COPE is rising and the Wi-Fi switch is turned OFF at work by device owners, immaculate coverage and capacity of the mobile operator’s infrastructure will be a key competitive advantage in that enterprise.

The important thing to remember is that “a new and more important role is emerging for mobile operators where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services is part of the ‘package.’ Mobile is the heartbeat of any organization, and wireless is the digital oxygen that our devices breathe at home and on the road.”

If we make it simple and secure to both access and use networks, there will be no need to “turn off” Wi-Fi, or turn off any radio access that will help make us more productive at work, on-the-go, and at home.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Blurring of the Lines of Networks (Enterprise Wi-Fi)

April 1, 2013

In a recent post, Blurring the Lines of Networks (Enterprise & Mobile), the enterprise’s trust boundary is proposed to move closer to the Data Center(s) as an enabler of adoption of mobile operator delivered network infrastructure and devices. To illustrate how moving the trust boundary can enable adoption, mobile operator delivered enterprise Wi-Fi will be explored.

Decomposing Enterprise Wi-Fi:

  • Enterprise Wi-Fi has traditionally been viewed as an authenticated SSID that grants you access to the internal network with two functional components of 802.1X authentication and transport access to the internal network (behind the firewall).
  • 802.1X authentication, via one of the EAP types, connects to an enterprise directory via RADIUS. This class of authentication is required to provide scalable authentication, logging, and ties identities to IP addresses for security and forensic purposes.
  • Transport access to internal network is just that, it’s the same internal network that the other computers in the enterprise use.

To illustrate the boundary diagram and the present situation, the simple drawing below will be used.

This is the model most widely deployed inside enterprise offices to allow an iPad to be attached to Wi-Fi as a full citizen and connect to business applications behind the firewall. This strategy assumes that the iPad (regardless of ownership: COPE or BYOD) is a managed part of the computing environment. If COPE is a new acronym to the reader, it’s philosophy and definition can be found at the EMF here.

For a mobile operator who wants to offer Wi-Fi as a Service, this approach subjects the operator to intense scrutiny about not only operating the Wi-Fi, but also data security. The enterprise will have concerns because the majority of the data traffic inside the network is unencrypted and the Wi-Fi attached devices, depending on network design, can have visibility to all other hosts and servers anywhere in the network and Data Center(s).

To illustrate the benefits of blurring the lines to the enterprise, the drawing below shows moving the trust boundary to the edge of the Data Center(s), and assuming the internal private networks are untrusted (like the Internet).

With this approach, the mobile operator’s Wi-Fi infrastructure can be easily joined to the enterprise because all managed devices use a remote access strategy where the devices behave the same at work, home, or coffee shop. The mobile operator doesn’t have an ability to see enterprise data, and 802.1X is reduced to a secure and scalable way to allow devices onto an enterprise network. Security and forensics teams will be happy because trust is not extended to the mobile operator and the RADIUS logs can still be saved and processed with processes developed for yesterday’s architecture.

How does this help Enterprise IT with the BYOD problem? 

  • It levels the playing field by keeping all mobile devices (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) on the outside of the Data Center(s) such that the BYOD problem space becomes a Mobile IT issue along with all company issued mobile devices.
  • IT has to solve for secure data and access, once, for all classes of devices.
  • Mobile devices behave consistently at work, home, or coffee shop.

For enterprise architects, consider extending this strategy to the wired network and desktop computers. The concerns of security people around hackers or employees with unknown machines and direct access to an enterprise Ethernet jack can also be mitigated.

Recommendation to Enterprise IT professionals (As a former Enterprise Infrastructure Architect for a global brand)

1. Move the trust boundary for Wi-Fi closer to the enterprise Data Center(s) with a long term solution that can address performance and capacity needs of your organization. There are a variety of technologies available that can solve for moving the trust boundary (contact me, if you’re interested in my candidates).

The opportunities exist for mobile operators to help address enterprise BYOD and mobility challenges for enterprise IT departments and cultivate value-added services beyond coverage and capacity in the Enterprise space — built upon strong customer relationships, and a proven technical foundation. Positive mindshare and perceptions in the eyes of the enterprise buyers will create invitations to future opportunities.

A new and more important role is emerging for mobile operators, where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services is part of the ‘package.’ Mobile is the heartbeat of any organization, and wireless is the digital oxygen that our devices breathe at home and on the road.

Innovation in mobile, and the increasing need for IT to deliver against more mobile requirements while reducing cost and complexities, and move items from the Capex side to the Opex side of the budget, is blurring the lines between mobile and Enterprise networks, and creating value on both sides.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Blurring the Lines of Networks (Enterprise & Mobile)

March 25, 2013

There is opportunity to adapt to wholesale changes in the enterprise environment due to the increasing capabilities of mobile network infrastructure and devices.

But first, some context:

  • Comment by Banking CIO: “I would buy Wireless LAN from a 3rd party and be comfortable because we don’t extend trust to networks.”
  • Comment by Telecom Security CTO: “The perimeter security model is broken due to how it evolved. Enterprises must focus on selective protection of important business computing platforms.”
  • “For three in four IT security professionals, bring your own device (BYOD) is one of the greatest inhibitors to effective cloud security”. Article: Is BYOD the cloud evangelist’s worst nightmare?

There are two main themes that this surfaces:

  • The notion of trusted networks that end user devices connect to, is no longer valid.
  • Strategies that rely on precision control of end user devices and networks have been defeated by the end user community.

While applications developers, network security, and data center operations teams adapt to this crazy new world where they have lost control of their internal customers, there is an opportunity for the CIO to be positioned to blur the lines between traditional IT and service providers, and benefit both financially and operationally.

To set the stage, imagine in the drawing below that the trust boundary is moved towards the data center(s), and that internal private networks are treated like public networks, but with richer features and additional control.

With this approach, the infrastructure is now open to network services acquisition from mobile operators without the level of security concern that existed in the past. This can be transformational to innovation economics in the enterprise by removing the need for capital funding for every activity on the network, and allowing the acquisition of fully operationalized services as an incremental cost on the monthly device bill, instead of the traditional buy/build/run model where the enterprise is wholly responsible for the service. As IT staff dollars and capital requests for infrastructure get struck from the budget in favor of business software improvements, having the infrastructure be positioned to easily adopt services that blur the lines between the enterprise and their trusted service providers becomes more important than ever.

How does this help Enterprise IT with the BYOD problem?
It levels the playing field by keeping all devices on the outside of the Data Center’s such that the BYOD problem space becomes a Mobile IT issue along with all company issued mobile devices. IT has to solve for secure data and access, once, for all classes of devices. For cloud computing, the data center(s) can securely federate the cloud back-end infrastructure, and the Mobile IT access strategy must accommodate the front-end access method. A solid strategy will provide protection for device resident enterprise data and access, such that mobile devices are not a jump-off point to break into the enterprise from a remote point on the globe.

Recommendation to Enterprise IT Professionals (As a former Enterprise Infrastructure Architect for a global brand)
Consider positioning the IT architecture so when the compelling services are offered to the CIO by service providers, IT can “blur the lines” between infrastructures with less resistance than the current trust boundaries.

The opportunities exist for mobile operators to help address enterprise BYOD and mobility challenges for enterprise IT departments, and cultivate value-added services beyond coverage and capacity in the Enterprise space – built upon strong customer relationships and a proven technical foundation. Positive mindshare and perceptions in the eyes of the enterprise buyers will create invitations to future opportunities.

A new and more important role is emerging for mobile operators, where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services is part of the ‘package.’ Mobile is the heartbeat of any organization, and wireless is the digital oxygen that our devices breathe at home and on the road.

Innovation in mobile, and the increasing need for IT to deal with more mobile requirements, while reducing cost and complexities, and move items from the Capex side to the Opex side of the budget, is blurring the lines between mobile and Enterprise networks, and creating value on both sides.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Around the World… in 88 Meetings

March 8, 2013

Last week, SpiderCloud Wireless attended, and actively participated, at the annual Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Though we miss the old location at Fira Montjuic, the new conference facility at Fira Gran Via proved itself a worthy venue. GSMA put on an impressive event again. Our hats off to Mike O’Hara and team!  See the Wrap Up Video.

We hosted 88 meetings and engagements during the 4 days. In addition, SpiderCloud Wireless was part of a fortunate few private companies invited to speak. We had 3 speaker slots on Tuesday, February 26:

  • Network Offloading” panel @ Mobile World Live TV
  • “What Enterprise IT Wants…” @ Small Cell Forum Pavilion
  • “Smaller But Smarter” small cell CEO panel (Mike)

Several themes emerged from MWC13.

1. The physical borders between mobile and service provider networks and enterprise IT networks are starting to “blur.” Ericsson, Juniper, Intel, IBM and Cisco were among the big firms positioning SDN and virtualization initiatives (including DPI, policy, optimization, etc.)

2. A new round of Smartphone OS wars are emerging. Mozilla, Ubuntu and Jolla are coming on strong and see an opportunity to disrupt a growing duopoly of Apple iOS and Google Android. Mozilla Firefox received support by 23 operators and partners.

3. Small Cell Networks and Integration of Wi-Fi also dominated the topics.  Small cells are now viewed as more mature and becoming a real market. As Needham Co. puts it: “small cells and hetnets remain one of the most popular topics at MWC, there is also a welcome sense of sobriety to hetnet discussions, following two years of relatively limited deployments. The complex reality of deploying hundreds, if not thousands of small cells in a geographically constrained area, as well as the lack of capacity constraints on many early stage 4G networks, has resulted in the small cell market generally moving slower than envisioned, when the hype cycle began two years ago.”

Rethink Wireless & Maravedis commented: “Most operators are interested in the elements involved and making active preparations, so this year saw the debate move from theory and hardware, to real world implementation issues such as self-optimizing networks, Wi-Fi integration and optimized back office platforms.” There was also the recognition that SON will have a critical role when it comes to the deployment of small cells, especially on a large-scale basis.

Signals Research Group stated: “In-building deployments will need SON/HetNet on steroids since in addition to managing the relationships and interference coordination between adjacent cells on the same floor, SON/HetNet will need to work in the vertical plane, or between two or multiple floors.”

“Challenges that are being addressed by equipment providers include how to backhaul the cells, site acquisition challenges, how to manage interference between both small cells and the macro network, or if fresh spectrum needs to be allocated to small cells, and integration of small-cells with Wi-Fi. Privately held SpiderCloud offers a smart small-cell alternative (focused mainly on indoor coverage applications) with its controller-based self-optimizing network architecture.”

It’s clear that there is tremendous interest and traction for multi-mode access using a scalable small cell system (>100 small cells with soft handoff and central coordination) to deliver reliable mobile services indoors for enterprise customers of any size.  In addition to showcasing our performance metrics with the scalable small cell system, many meetings also focused on scaling requirements for small cell deployments and “beyond coverage and capacity” planning with enterprise services focused on PBX and Cloud-based PBX integration, context-aware and location applications, security and compliance, and Wi-Fi as a service.

In their MWC wrap up, Deutsche Bank commented: “The challenges solved by SpiderCloud are much greater for multi-story buildings, given that interference issues are three dimensional instead of two dimensional, as with traditional layouts. Given the increase in efficiency seen by Vodafone and the significantly lower total cost of SpiderCloud¹s solution compared to that of a traditional DAS system, we think the company could see a meaningful ramp in deployments with carriers this year.”

Besides scalability and services, of great interest, was also the findings from 3 recent studies:

  • Valuable licensed spectrum is a largely under-utilized asset indoors: Quantifying the in-building coverage and capacity constraints of an outdoor macro network that is used to provide in-building mobile data services – a research report by Signals Research Group. read more >
  • Enterprise Mobility Services: Market Opportunity for Mobile Service Providers – a market analysis by Exact Ventures that highlights a $100 billion 2020 emerging market opportunity for mobile operators. The research shows that enterprises can save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services, totaling $60 Billion in cumulative savings between 2014-2020. read more >
  • Enterprise IT Coverage & Capacity UK satisfaction survey, which identified concerns with in-building service and willingness to switch mobile operators for better coverage. read more >

We enjoyed positive coverage from our time in Barcelona, and look forward to meeting customers, partners and our industry friends at one of our upcoming industry engagements.

As for us, we already look forward to Mobile World Congress 2014 and continued success for all the small cell vendors.

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO
Twitter: haraldsvik


Joanie Wexler @ Death to the Desk Phone?

February 18, 2013

Unlikely till Mobile UC Grows Seamless

There’s been talk for years about the imminent demise of corporate desk phones. They could simply fade into oblivion through attrition as users acquire smart phones. Or enterprises could make bold decisions to unplug them and immediately save money on telecom gear. Many residential phone users are giving up their landlines in favor of cellular phones; why not at work, too?

There are several issues that need resolving before desk phone annihilation can sweep enterprise telecom strategies. And a few niggling ones indicate that some wired phones are likely to remain indefinitely. For example, there are certain users who don’t really need to be mobile; their jobs require that they sit at a desk for most of their day (think admins, receptionists). For these folks, a tried-and-true wired phone that consistently works with high quality and reliable dial tone suits their needs best.

In addition, many of the enterprises I talk to express a desire to keep at least a few landlines around for the sake of backup in the case of power or cellular network outages.  In other words, wireless devices can be backups to landlines, and landlines can be backups to mobile phones. So perhaps, there will always be some wired phones kicking around.

Doing away with the majority of desk phones, however, is in the cards. But the biggest challenge to doing so, is the inability to create the same enterprise telephony and unified communications (UC) experience on mobile devices that exists on traditional desk phone-to-PBX setups.  Most PBX vendors transitioned into IP telephony a decade ago, and from there entered the UC business, focusing on wired network infrastructures. There are also specialty software UC vendors and UC cloud providers. Interoperability across platforms and features among all these players is far from nailed up. This situation causes mobile users running any variety of operating systems to either do unnatural acts to get features to work, or to just discard the apps in disgust.

Most enterprises have historically had an Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, Nortel, ShoreTel or other PBX maker delivering switched phone calls to user desks, and from user desks out over the WAN. These vendors have taken it upon themselves to extend their IP telephony service to include integrated message boxes, calendaring, contact info, presence (location-based) services, chat, screen sharing, conferencing and other capabilities that contribute to the ability for employees, colleagues, partners and customers to collaborate.

These solutions have worked pretty well inside the enterprise in the wired environment. That’s because each client/server ecosystem has generally been created by one vendor, that has optimized all the components to work together. There have also been some strides toward extending certain features from the PBX to both the corresponding desk phone, and a mobile phone, such that both phones ring (a function called “twinning”). This is handy when the user is away. Some also allow the user to push a button to transfer the call from a mobile to a desk phone and vice versa.

At issue, however, is the diversity of mobile devices and their mobile OSs that are springing up in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) enterprise environments. UC was initially engineered for the wired workplace, and employees find that they have to modify their behavior to use mobile telephony and UC services, and they don’t like it.

Users have decided to dig in their heels. If something doesn’t work intuitively without training, and within just a few seconds, users tend to abandon the capabilities altogether. For better or for worse, the attention span and patience to learn new techniques for doing the “same old things” is nearly nil.

Consider telephony in its most basic form. There’s the corporate wired plan. There are pools of shared voice minutes for cellular, usually with one carrier or, for international companies, with one carrier per country. Employees want to make phone calls the same way regardless of what plan is at work in the background, and whether they are on a landline or mobile phone.

Enter BYOD: the enterprise is no longer in control of the mobile operators in use, or the devices. Unsupported devices can completely derail enterprise hopes and plans for UC deployments. Just how is all this interoperability, and getting a simple automated dial plan to users supposed to happen?

It’s getting to be time for the public and private mobile networks to merge in a way that masks all that complexity from users. In the way that the old Ma Bell phone network didn’t differentiate among the devices that connected to it (admittedly, because it built them all and made them all consistent), let’s envision a world in which the mobile network is the hub where dial plans, UC capabilities and mobile apps reside and are able to work consistently, regardless of the peculiarities of each user’s device. The magic would be ecosystem cooperation at the back end.

Sounds like an impossible dream, but it is something that could be rolled out, enterprise by enterprise, via in-building cellular equipment used to deliver mobile WAN signal. If we could get back to a telephony/UC network that requires no special software client on individual devices to deliver functions, but instead hosts the plans, apps and features in the cloud that work the same everywhere, we’d be a big step ahead toward user acceptance and happiness – and the ability to ditch the majority of clunky old desk phones for good.

– Joanie Wexler, Guest Blogger