Information and Communications Technology Consulting
Business Driven IT Consulting
We never lose sight of the fact that technology solutions are deployed in order to serve a business function.
Our IT Consultants work with you to ensure that your business requirements are precisely identified. Armed with clearly articulated and documented objectives we deliver technology solutions and services consistent with addressing your business objectives.
Our IT consulting assists our clients through the entire life-cycle of their initiatives; from initial concept, justification, implementation and operations. On the tactical side, our highly skilled technical staff can be assigned to the implementation aspects of any technology initiative.
Our IT Consultants are highly skilled with years of experience in their respective areas of specialization. Our experience spans virtually all industry segments including:
- Public Sector (Federal, Provincial and Municipal Government)
- Health Care (Hospitals, Clinics)
- Service Providers
- Mobility Supporting Infrastructure
- App Distribution and Management
- Data Loss Prevention
- Personal and Corporate Liability
- Management Systems
- Expense Management
- Procurement and Contracts
- Requirements Analysis
- Financial Justification and Planning
- Product / Solution Specifications
- Mandatory and Optional Requirements
- Author RFP, RFI or RFQ Documents
- Management of Solicitation Process
- Evaluation Matrix
- Vendor Selection
- Contract Negotiations
- VoIP / IP Telephony
- Audio Conferencing
- Video Conferencing
- Communications Enabled Business Processes
- Mobility / Wireless
- Operational Assessments
- Technology Assessments
- Service Delivery Models
- Technology, Process and People
As an authorized reseller of IBM’s MaaS360 Mobile Device Management product we are pleased that it has been positioned by Gartner, Inc. as a Leader in the Enterprise Mobility Management Suites Magic Quadrant for its ability to execute and completeness of vision.
Follow this link to the IBM press release.
The IBM MaaS360 platform enables and secures users, devices, content and apps. IBM is recognized by its clients as a leader in this market based on positive user experiences, execution of cloud-based enterprise mobility management (EMM), and completeness of vision in both market understanding and innovation.
According to Gartner: “Organizations usually adopted MDM [Mobile Device Management] to help enable mobile users. As requirements broadened to more applications and access to more sources of content, MDM evolved into a broader set of technologies, which is now commonly referred to as EMM.”
“We feel this recognition from Gartner underscores IBM’s ongoing commitment to helping clients transform and protect their businesses through mobile,” said Deepak Advani, general manager, IBM Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure. “Today’s news further validates IBM’s commitment to delivering the best mobile management and security experience for our clients.”
The IBM MobileFirst portfolio helps businesses adopt mobile technology to better engage with customers and extend their businesses to new markets. The IBM MaaS360 offering expands the IBM MobileFirst portfolio of solutions with cloud-based capabilities, delivering a comprehensive mobile management and security solution for global organizations of all sizes. These capabilities support IBM’s vision for enterprise mobility management, which also encompasses the lifecycle management of apps and security of transactions between businesses, partners and customers.
With IBM MaaS360, organizations can:
· Fully embrace Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs
· Support multiple mobile operating systems
· Distribute and manage public and private apps
· Enable secure content collaboration
· Protect sensitive corporate data on mobile devices
IBM MaaS360 provides several advantages over existing solutions:
· Instant deployment with no ongoing maintenance
· Flexible container options to tailor security policies for specific use cases
· Worry free scalability when deploying devices and apps to thousands of users
· Seamless, non-intrusive integration to existing infrastructure
MaaS360 On-Premises was announced earlier this year, providing organizations the same award-winning SaaS platform in a 100 percent on-premises delivery option. The MaaS360 On-Premises offering includes the complete set of features available in cloud-based MaaS360 deployments used by thousands of customers globally.
On May 22, 2014, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools also named IBM as a Leader. IBM Endpoint Manager and MaaS360 solutions combine to offer clients a holistic way to securely manage both fixed and mobile endpoints. The ability to seamlessly manage mobile diversity will become increasingly important as organizations of all sizes continue to provide employees with more access to mobile applications, documents and devices.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC), Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) , Choose Your Own Device (CYOD), Bring Your Own App (BYOA), Corporately Owned Personally Enabled (COPE). Trendy acronyms and hype aside the fact is that mobility and cloud services are changing the way we work and IT organizations must adapt. If we must use an acronym to describe the new work environment, I choose BWTD (Bring Work to Devices) and managing and securing this world is the focus of this article.
Whether it’s VoIP, Unified Communications, Cloud Computing or Big Data, whenever there is an emerging technology trend we can expect the accompanying marketing hype, a multitude of definitions along with conflicting statistics and projections. BYOD is no exception and statistics and projections depend entirely on the context and how it is defined. For the purposes of this article I will limit the use of the term BYOD to describe mobile devices that are being used for both corporate and personal purposes, regardless of who owns the device.
Initially at least, BYOD was about non-corporately assigned devices being used by employees for work functions. So let’s address the question of device ownership first. Who owns the devices is of course relevant and the implications associated with policy, security, personal vs. corporate liability and compensation must all be addressed. Device ownership considerations must be part of an overall and well defined mobility strategy. However, in the context of managing and securing the mobile work environment, the question of who owns the device is a relatively minor aspect of a sound mobility strategy.
There are several ownership models each with their own pros, cons, and considerations. The most appropriate model depends on the specifics of the organization. Again, ownership is not the most significant issue. Rather, the management and security of mobile devices that are accessing corporate resources is what must be addressed. This is true even if all the devices are corporately owned and locked down for corporate use only.
There are many ownership options that can be applied with respect to device and service plans. Considerations include security, privacy, company policy, tax laws, company culture, demographics, and many more; the specifics of which will be discussed in a future article.
Many organizations initially embraced BYOD believing that it would lower costs. Many articles and papers on the topic still claim cost savings as a primary benefit. However, there are plenty of examples where the cost savings were not realized and many organizations have since retracted their BYOD program; that is, employee-owned devices for work.
Mobility Impact on the Enterprise
The bad news is that BYOD will add complexity and increase security risks in the mobile enterprise. The security risks are real and must be managed. On a couple of occasions clients have told me that “we don’t allow BYOD”. However, casual observations revealed that personal devices were being used in the enterprise whether they were allowed or not. BYOD is happening whether you like it or not. You can either embrace the trend or become a victim of it.
The good news is that BYOD can bring tangible benefits to your organization and its employees while adequately managing the associated risks. Over the course of the last few years multiple new Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors have emerged that provide a rich set of management and security capabilities. In addition, mobile device manufacturers have acknowledged the corporate requirements and continue to integrate robust security and management functionality into their operating systems.
Enterprise Mobility Strategy
In order to reap the benefits of the mobile enterprise while managing the associated complexity and risks, a sound BYOD strategy is required. The goal of the strategy should be to balance the business benefits with the associated risks. This balance can be tricky. For example, a strategy that secures the device at the expense of ruining the personal experience will not yield the desired results. However, striking the appropriate balance is achievable with a well thought out plan.
BYOD should not be addressed in isolation. Rather, it should be a subset of an overall mobility strategy and should be treated like any other strategic IT initiative which includes discovery, analysis and implementation, and starts with identifying the vision and the business objectives. IT organizations that assume leadership and are proactive with respect to BYOD are more likely to be able to influence and control the mobile environment.
As with any other project one of the first and most critical steps is to identify your sponsors and stakeholders. When it comes to enterprise mobility, sponsorship can often be found with senior leaders who may already be pressuring IT organizations to deploy and support devices and applications before IT is ready to support them.
Stakeholders will likely include parties not normally associated with other IT initiatives. Enterprise mobility has the potential of impacting the entire organization and beyond. At the very least, you should consult: Users, HR, Finance, Legal, Operations and Support and Security. Also, don’t forget your customers and your partners who likely have expectations on how they will interact with your organization from a mobility perspective.
Your strategy should be based on a solid understanding of your current environment. With enterprise mobility, assumptions on your current state can be dangerous. While your organization may not have a BYOD program and perhaps prohibits the use of personal devices to access corporate resources, it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening; in fact it probably is! Begin by reviewing the devices, operations systems and Apps that are being used. Look beyond the corporately approved devices and Apps. If non-approved devices and Apps are being used, there may very well be legitimate drivers for their use that will have to be considered.
Identify and categorize your mobile user population and identify the resources they require. Identify the user roles and the sensitivity of the data they will be accessing. This exercise will help to determine who is allowed to access what resources, from what device and operating system and from where. Yes, we are talking about mobile devices here so the location from which corporate data is being accessed may indeed be a factor. For example, it may not be acceptable to allow a mobile device access to schematics associated with a nuclear facility outside of specific confines within the campus.
Example User Matrix
A solid understanding of your user population and the access they require will play a role in determining which devices and operating systems you will support and for which purpose. For example, a clerk that needs only email access may be allowed a broader range of acceptable device choices than a salesperson that needs direct access to sales and financial databases.
Other considerations for supported devices will include:
- The capabilities and limitations associated with your management tools.
- In-house expertise and the level of support you will provide.
- The ability of the device to support the specific Apps that will be required to access the corporate resources.
Contrary to what many believe, according to Cisco IBSG Horizons Survey Report, more than 80% of BYOD cost is not related to devices . Your financial analysis should consider all of the capital and operational costs that will be required to support your mobility strategy. Considerations will include:
- Infrastructure which includes wired and wireless network capacity (bandwidth) and capabilities such as VLAN segmentation and Wi-Fi Access Point density;
- Management tools including MDM, and detection and enforcement tools to control devices at the network access layer;
- Operations and Support;
- Training; and,
- Devices and service plans.
One of the most important aspects of successfully deploying BYOD is the mobility policy. To ensure success the mobility policy must precede the technology decisions. Defining the policy will require consultation with your users, HR and Legal among others. The key is to strike the right balance between user demands, cost and risk while ensuring that it protects the organization from liability and litigation.
Your mobility policy should define “Acceptable Use”. This aspect of the policy should spell out personal use restrictions which could include rules with respect to voice and data usage, travel plans, SMS and Apps.
The policy should spell out user responsibilities with respect to reporting a lost or stolen device. On the topic of lost devices, the policy must make users aware of the actions that will be taken when a device is lost. For example, will the organization perform a partial or full wipe of the device including any personal information or media? Even if the policy states that a device-wipe will delete personal data and the user has agreed, it doesn’t mean that such an event won’t cause a problem. Therefore serious considerations should be given to the ability to support dual persona and selective wipes.
Payment and reimbursement policies for devices, service plans and personal use must be part of the policy. In addition, define your replacement policy and related financial aspects if a device must be replaced because it was lost, stolen or accidentally damaged.
The mobility policy will help to guide many of the technology decisions that will follow. From a user population perspective, the policy will set the proper expectations and define rules which can then be monitored and enforced, and if necessary, used to justify corrective actions. All of the users should understand the policy and agree. Keep the acceptance document simple with a few checkboxes and ask your users to sign it.
Any strategy or policy that doesn’t account for human behaviour is flawed. Policy and user agreements are not enough and you must have the tools to monitor and enforce compliance. You will need tools to manage these aspects at the operating system, App, and network layers. While this may change in the future, today a variety of tools will be required to manage these different aspects.
Enterprise security features continue to be incorporated into devices by their manufacturers. However, for the foreseeable future, MDM solutions must be considered as part of an enterprise mobility strategy if you intend to allow personal and corporate use beyond simple email and web access. Even in simple and low sensitivity environments, MDM solutions may offer beneficial security, monitoring and compliance functionality.
According to IDG Enterprise’s 2013 Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise survey, only 28% of 1,621 IT leaders have invested in an MDM solution. In my view, this means that many enterprises are at risk of experiencing security breaches or data loss. MDM solutions are available in both premise and cloud based service delivery models. However, owning an MDM solution is only part of the story and these platforms must be properly configured and managed.
While ActiveSync is good start for many organizations it is not enough and lacks some of the features that are considered basic with MDM products. For example, with ActiveSync it is not possible to perform a selective wipe, so that if a device must be wiped for some reason, all of the data on that device will be deleted, including any personal data. There have been examples where the deletion of personal data has resulted in litigation.
For more information on the potential shortcomings of ActiveSync relative to MDM products, you can refer to this paper by MaaS360: Understanding the Role of Exchange ActiveSync in Mobile Device Management that can be found at http://content.maas360.com/www/content/wp/wp_maas360_mdm_roleOfEAS.pdf. While the paper is promoting a specific solution, it nevertheless provides an excellent summary of what ActiveSync can and cannot do.
There are currently many MDM vendors and there will likely be further consolidation in this space over the next couple of years.
The leading MDM vendors offer a host of rich features that allow organizations to effectively secure the mobile environment while preserving the user experience while allowing simultaneous corporate and personal use. When selecting an MDM platform, organizations should look for these basic capabilities:
- Dual persona (sandbox / containers);
- Ability to encrypt all traffic in transit and at rest;
- Prevent exporting documents to other Apps;
- Prevent copy and paste (for example from a corporate email to a personal App);
- Self-service features such as provisioning and device wipe;
- Automated enrollment;
- Full and selective device wipe;
- Control over device functions such as Bluetooth, cameras, cell or Wi-Fi radios;
- Ability to integrate with existing directory services;
- Support for multi-factor authentication;
- Over the Air (OTA) configuration; and,
- Enforcement of geographic and network restrictions.
Apps management will be a key component of any mobility strategy, and the world of mobility raises many new issues that must be considered.
Let’s start with the question of how to distribute the Apps. If your MDM platform has advanced dual persona capabilities you may allow users to install any App they choose for personal use. However, you will likely want to control the source and type of Apps that users can install for corporate use. One option is to host your own App store with corporate Apps that you have approved.
A second issue is the security implications of the allowed Apps. If you choose to permit consumer Apps, make sure that you understand the security implications. For example, many Apps will collect data of one form or another, so ensuring that Apps used for accessing corporate resources do not compromise security will require a fair amount of due diligence in order to understand what the App might be doing in the background. Apps may introduce unanticipated risks. For example, if you ask SIRI on Apple’s iPhone to read your email, the content of that email is uploaded to their data centres where it is processed and then played back on the device. What happens to the data? Is the information stored? If so where, for how long, for what purpose and who has access? While you may not care if the read email is an invitation to the Christmas party, these are legitimate issues that must be understood before you allow SIRI to read emails with high sensitivity. The same applies to Apps that access contacts, calendars or any of the functions on the device such as cameras and microphones.
Another issue is cost. With some recent exceptions, App licenses have not been transferable, and while most mobile Apps are relatively inexpensive, the costs can still add up quickly. Recently, Apple introduced “Managed Distribution” for App Store Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for Business and Education which, among other things, allows purchasers to revoke Apps from users when no longer needed, and reassign the licenses to different users.
Apps and App development may also influence the types of devices you will allow in your mobile enterprise. Some corporate services may only be compatible with Apps on specific operating systems. If you will be developing your own Apps, will you create Apps that can work across multiple platforms such as HTML5 or will you develop Apps for a single operating system?
Finally, there is the topic of App development. There likely will come a time when there will be a need to create an App for a specific purpose that can’t be sourced off the shelf. The mobility strategy must consider the organization’s capabilities in this area and whether it will develop in-house or outsource.
Operations and Support
The number of mobile devices, operating systems and Apps entering the enterprise environment will likely continue to rise. This proliferation of devices has the potential to substantially increase the effort required to support and administer mobility. Assess your support and day to day administration capabilities and consider these in the context of your mobile strategy. You may have to limit what you allow and the speed of deployment based on your support capabilities. Look for ways to limit the level of support you will need to provide by encouraging a self-service model. Some things to consider include providing training and associated documentation, a mobility webpage with a corporate wiki, FAQ and links to vendors’ sites and other external resources.
Day to day administration of the mobile fleet can also be a burden. Activities such as provisioning and decommissioning devices, importing and exporting numbers, replacing broken or lost devices, device repair and first level support may require a full time resource for organizations with a large number of mobile devices. Considering these aspects as you formulate your mobility strategy may result in a decision to outsource some or all of these aspects.
As stated earlier, most of the cost associated with BYOD is unrelated to devices. Unless you have the appropriate tools and resources or assistance from an expense management firm, your mobility costs may quickly spiral out of control. In addition, managing the associated reporting and accounting aspects may consume the time of skilled resources that should be focused on more strategic activities. The challenges associated with managing expenses include: contract compliance, detecting errors and retrieving the associated credits, and detecting inappropriate usage charges.
Depending on the size of your organization it might be a good idea to start with a proof of concept or a deployment that is limited in scale and the associated services. If you elect to limit the initial deployment make sure that you select a representative sample of the user population, the devices, operating systems, Apps and the information that will be accessed. Whether you fully deploy or not, ensure that you have identified the metrics by which you can measure success.
Finally, mobility is changing at a rapid pace. Thus it is important to periodically reassess your enterprise mobility environment.
Whether we are ready or not, BYOD is a growing phenomenon in today’s organizations. However, as I hope the above article shows, who owns the device is not the most important factor. It is simply one aspect to be considered in developing a comprehensive approach to the management and security of any mobile device that accesses your corporate resources.
I’m honoured to be presenting at Telecom 2013 being held in Toronto on Oct. 29th & 30th. My topic will be on how to manage and secure BYOD. Look forward to spending some time with my friends and colleagues.
The following is a re-post of an article that I wrote on UC in April of 2008.
What is Unified Communications? Ask that question to 50 different people and without a doubt you will get 50 different and diverging replies. Even among industry professionals, hardware and software vendors, and industry analysts there is no consensus on definition. When asked, many in the business will begin to discuss UC’s features and its benefits as opposed to defining what UC actually is.
In my continuing attempts to provide some clarity for my clients and to hopefully achieve some level of industry consensus, I offer the following:Let’s start with dispelling some misconceptions. Unified Communications is NOT:
- SIP or SIP Trunking
- Unified Messaging
- Fixed to Mobile Convergence
- IP Telephony
- IP Phones
- Analogue phones
- Instant Messaging
- An Icon That Display Availability Status
Some, or all of the items in the list, might be part of a unified communications architecture, but none of them define UC. To say for example, that Unified Messaging defines UC would be as silly as defining IT Architecture as storage, or computers, or a network. Information Technology is not so easily defined, and neither is Unified Communications. Which brings me to my definition for UC. I entered this definition in Wikipedia several months ago and so far it’s holding (the rest of the Wikipedia entry on the subject needs a makeover).
Definition of Unified Communications
An evolving communications technology architecture which automates and unifies all forms of human and device communications in context, and with a common experience. Its purpose is to optimize business processes and enhance human communications by reducing latency, managing flows, and eliminating device and media dependencies.
I appreciate that a five word definition would be easier to remember but it would not be accurate nor would it do UC justice with respect to its features and benefits. So while the definition is a little wordy, it conveys the complexity and tremendous benefits of UC which I hope to articulate as I dissect the definition in what follows:
UC didn’t begin with the emergence of the term a couple of years ago. UC has been evolving for many years. In fact, many of the concepts and functionality associated with UC such as simultaneous ring existed even before IP began to impact voice communications. Presence, a core and important component of a UC Architecture was part of some very early IP Telephony systems and has been around even longer in the form of Online / Offline Buddy status of Instant Messaging applications. UC will continue to increase its business value and enhance communications of all forms as it continues to evolve.
UC is made up of multiple components. The applications, enablers and functionality listed earlier such as IP Telephony, Unified Messaging and Instant Messaging may all be parts of UC system. It also has an underlying design, purpose and structure; all of which in part, validate the architecture label.
At the heart of UC is of course its unifying characteristics. A Unified Communications Architecture has the ability to unify communications of all forms including applications, machines and devices, voice, video, text, languages, as well as the old and the new. More details follow on the unification attributes and benefits.
UC brings context into the world of communications. Context can be in a form that is already familiar to us such as “who’s calling” with Caller ID. But UC can also provide context in other forms such as:
– What are you doing now? Communications is tailored according to your activities. For example, you may choose a small specific list of individuals that are allowed to contact you when your scheduling application detects that you are in a meeting.
– The device that you’re using or the device in use by the person you are contacting. For example, the system could convert your text message to a voice message if the person you are calling, is currently using a voice device not capable of accepting text messages.
– Intelligent context-driven menus that provide prompts that are relevant to the device and in context with the communications event. For example when placing a voice call, the system could present the user with the option of leaving a text message instead of a voice message if the call is not answered.
Optimize Business Processes
In business, technology’s purpose is to solve business problems. UC’s ability to integrate communications with business applications, processes and workflows has the potential of producing tremendous business value. A well designed UC architecture can:
– Enable communications, in whatever form is appropriate, between different applications, applications and people, and just about any type of device or sensor you can imagine.
– Reduce human latency issues by automatically initiating communications whenever a workflow is stalled as it awaits human intervention or action.
While still in its early stages UC, through the use of standard protocols such as SIP, SIMPLE, SOAP and XML, is slowly being integrated into business applications such as CRM, ERP and HR. A basic integration example would be a supply-chain application that upon detecting an impeding inventory shortage, would automatically schedule and then initiate a conference call with all of the parties required to solve the problem.
For business, these integration capabilities are UC’s most compelling benefits. For that reason, many CIO’s and IT Directors are now incorporating UC into their long term IT strategy.
Enhance Human Communications
Imagine a future where you don’t give a second thought about where the person you are attempting to contact might be, what communication device they are able (or prefer to use), and where phone numbers are irrelevant.
UC is about communications, not technology and devices. And for humans it promises to simplify the way in which we communicate. While still evolving UC will allow communications to become less device dependent and more people centric.
UC is moving towards a future where people will have a single identify (their name: not a phone number) across all communication devices and applications.
UC can empower users by giving them a great deal of granular control over why, when, and where they choose to communicate and with whom. For example a Doctor could elect to only allow certain individuals to contact her on weekends and perhaps refuse all calls while in the operating room.
UC can also bridge demographic gaps based on age, culture and language. One of many examples is where an interpreting application converts from one language to another in real time. That may sound like the stuff of Star Trek, but that kind of functionality is being built into systems today.
Reduce Latency & Manage Flows
Latency reduction was discussed earlier in the context of business processes. But UC can reduce latency in other ways. For example, First Contact Resolution refers to the ability of a UC system to establish a communications session with the first available person based on role or expertise.
UC can also seamlessly manage media and communication modes. An IM session that segues into a telephone conversation and then later into a multi party video conference would be one example.
Simultaneous and Sequential Ring is a common feature and significant benefit of UC where the system rings multiple devices and automatically detects which device answers the call and establishes the communications path.
Eliminate Media & Device Dependencies
One of the benefits of UC is that it has the potential of abstracting away the device and technology characteristics of how we communicate. Why should a user be concerned about which device the party being contacted is using? After all, the caller is attempting to call a person, not a device. Let the UC system take care of figuring out the mechanisms by which the called party will be notified of the call request.
You may have noticed that, when describing UC’s features and benefits, that I qualify many of my statements with “potential, may, can, promises, etc”. I temper the potential benefits because while many of the features and benefits are available today, many more are still evolving. More importantly, business requirements must be well understood and a Unified Communications Architecture must be intelligently designed and implemented in order to realize and maximize its potential benefits.
There’s a lot of hype and confusion about Unified Communications. I am passionate about the industry, the innovation that will result, its potential to enhance the way we communicate and its business value. However, its important to separate hype from reality and to establish some level of consensus on what defines Unified Communications. I hope this article has helped in that regard.
One of the most popular posts in my previous blog was an article I wrote on SIP Trunking in November of 2007. In the post, I listed the differences and advantages of SIP Trunking over PRI. I also indicated that there would be “very few, if any, new PRI circuit deployments in Canadian urban locations, within five years”.
Well, it appears that at least in Canada, I may have to add another five years before my prediction becomes reality (even that may be too optimistic). In the US, there has been healthy market growth and there are many service providers. In Canada, the adoption of SIP Trunking has been minimal. Why? For the same reason that Canadians pay among the highest rates for mobile phone and broadband Internet services: a lack of competition.
The Incumbents have been reluctant to roll out SIP Trunking since these services would cannibalize their highly profitable traditional PRI revenues. More SIP Trunking service providers are beginning to emerge and by the end of 2012, all of the Incumbents will be offering some form of the services. However, I don’t expect to see aggressive pricing any time soon which will further limit Canadian market growth.
While the immediate recurring cost savings may not be dramatic when compared to traditional PSTN circuits, Canadian enterprises should still consider the benefits associated with SIP Trunking. Here is the comparison from my original article with some updates:
Circuits & Hardware
|Physical connections:Each circuit requires physical connection and costly termination hardware.||Connections are virtual:Number of available trunks is a function of available bandwidth, not physical termination hardware or circuits.Depending on your requirements and the type of service offering, Session Border Controllers (SBC) may be required for security. SBCs can be a significant cost consideration.|
Scale / Growth
|Scaling up requires the installation of new circuits and additional termination hardware at specific increments. In the case of PRI the increment is 23 voice channels.||Scales up or down easily and quickly (a software configuration change) and can offer automatic and on-demand burst capabilities.While the technology accommodates these advantages not all service offerings will provide them.|
Backup / Redundancy
|Providing sufficient backup circuits to remote sites in an IPT-distributed architecture can negatively impact the ROI.Only way to accommodate loss of hardware or facility where PRI’s terminate is to build-in excess capacity with associated cost impact.||Automatic IP re-routing capabilities allow practical geographic distribution of PSTN connectivity to sites with limited or no network redundancy.Can be designed to retain PSTN reachability and capacity in the event of the loss of terminating hardware (or even an entire office location) without the need to build in excess capacity.|
|Cost is usually per circuit per month.If you require one, or a few, more voice channels than the fixed increment, the cost model for PRI is inefficient.||A variety of pricing models (i.e. usage based) are likely to emerge, including on-demand capacity. Relative to PRI circuits and the associated supporting hardware, IP Trunking costs are likely to be significantly lower.Unfortunately, in Canada the pricing models have not been compelling to date. However, competition is increasing so hopefully that will begin to change soon.|
|Additional capacity must be planned well in advance since considerable lead time may be required for the ordering and installation of new circuits and termination hardware.||While capacity planning is still important, adding additional capacity can be as simple as a software change. Additionally, providers are likely to offer burst capabilities to accommodate brief periods of higher than anticipated utilization.|
Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity
|While possible, diverting calls to alternate locations can be complex and expensive.Diversity across service providers is usually cost prohibitive.||The technology allows for automatic call rerouting to pre-defined locations should the location go offline (a huge business continuity benefit).Can accommodate diversity across service providers much like is done today with Internet access via BGP.|
The CRTC is inviting comments and suggestions on a Draft Wireless Code for Canada’s wireless industry. The public can participate in a hearing that begins February 11, 2013 and they will be accepting input until February 15th. The CRTC initially asked the public for comments on the draft process last fall and the Canadian public has responded.
The CRTC intends to issue the new and mandatory code this spring. Assuming, the content doesn’t substantially change, it will undoubtedly be well received by Canadian wireless consumers. Some of the highlights of the draft code are:
- Rules to provide more disclosure and clarity on contract terms and fees
- Guidelines on protecting privacy of consumers
- New rules on the ability to cancel a contract if the provider changes the terms
- Caps on the cost of cancelling subsidized contracts
- Changes with respect to notification on contract renewals
- Disclosure on “Unlimited” plans that in practice or not unlimited
- Notification of additional fees at prescribed intervals
- Tools to allow consumers to monitor usage
- Service providers must upon request immediately cancel Mobile Premium Service (MPS)
- Disclosure on manufacturer’s and extended warranties
- New rules on unlocking phones
- New rules on when and under which conditions providers can cancel services
After several painful experiences with a certain Canadian wireless provider, I hope the changes are implemented and that they will be enforced. The changes to locked phone policies are resonating with me since my previous provider has billed my account to unlock my iPhone 4S which is still not unlocked! Like many other Canadians, I fail to see why I should have to pay to have my phone unlocked when I have already paid outrageous early termination fees, that combined, far exceed the cost of the subsidy!
I don’t always agree with the CRTC’s role or its policies but in this case I say, bring it on!
My initial thoughts were that sure, the launch of the new devices might be enough to prevent some existing BlackBerry business users from jumping ship, and perhaps convince others that already had, to climb back aboard but the new products would have no appeal to the general consumer market. As the result of my research, I have changed my opinion.
Unlike the release of the first iPhone, BlackBerry’s Z10 and Q10 are not revolutionary products. However, they are sufficiently compelling to convince many business users who were considering other vendors’ products to stick with BlackBerry. Additionally, the styling, performance and functionality will appeal to a segment of the consumer space that is looking for a fresh alternative.
Check out the videos below for some insight into the phones along with some positive reviews relative to the Windows Phone 8 and Android competitors.
BB10 vs. WP8
BB10 vs. WP8
Based on experience with my clients, a significant number of users are addicted to the BlackBerry because of a single feature: the physical keyboard! Unfortunately for them the Q10 won’t be available in Canada until April. After waiting this long I have no doubt that those keyboard lovers will be willing to wait for a few more months while some may decide to give the Z10 a try.
The BlackBerry Z10 has an impressive list of features and specifications
- 16GB Internal storage
- 4.2” Touch display
- 8MP Rear camera
- 1080p HD video recording
- 4G LTE Ready
- 1280 x 768 resolution, 356ppi
BlackBerry states that the battery offers up to 13 days standby time and up to 10 hours talk time. However, testers have reported 15 hours of battery life under moderate use and some have highlighted issues with battery longevity. The good news is that the battery is replaceable.
Testers have reported that the camera is not great in low light but the BlackBerry 10 does have this cool “Time Shift” feature that allows you to optimize the shot.
BlackBerry World has more than 70,000 apps. Since most of us consistently use perhaps only a dozen apps, that 70,000 number might seem to be more than adequate. However, your favourite app may not be available; for example Skype is not available. Additionally, compared to the iTunes App Store it’s harder to find free apps and many are not as functional. For example Flickr costs $1.99 and unlike the iPhone equivalent does not allow you to upload photos.
For some, the lack of a specific app could be a showstopper. If you have an app that you can’t live without you should find out if its available from BlackBerry World before switching to BlackBerry.
This feature is getting a lot of positive reviews. Essentially, it is a single mailbox that aggregates all of your messages and notifications including email,calendar events, Facebook, Twitter, etc. A left to right swipe allows you to peek to see if there are new messages and if so continue to swipe to open the hub.
Video and Screen Sharing
A cool feature of the new BlackBerrys is the ability to segue from a text chat to a video call. During the call you can elect to share your screen, which along with Office Suite, enables you to share a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel spreadsheet.
The BlackBerry Z10 has 1.5Ghz dul-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Combined with the new QNX operating system delivers snappy and fluid performance.
I am impressed with BB10, and the Z10 exceeded my expectations. The long delay in releasing the new products had a huge impact on their market share. However, releasing a product that wasn’t ready could well have been an unrecoverable error.
While only time will tell, I believe that BlackBerry 10 convincingly puts the Canadian company back in the game. However, the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 products are not revolutionary and that’s what it will take for BlackBerry to regain its leadership position in the smartphone marketplace.
BlackBerry Z10 Full specifications
- Height 130 mm / 5.12 in
- Width 65.6 mm / 2.58 in
- Depth 9 mm / 0.35 in
- 137.5g / 4.85 oz
- All-touch screen, with intuitive gesture based navigation
- On screen BlackBerry Keyboard (portrait/landscape), featuring contextual auto-correction, next-word prediction, and a personalized learning engine that gets to know the way you type
- Volume Up/Down, Mute, Lock (for Power On/Off)
- 1280 x 768 resolution, at 356 PPI
- 24-bit color depth
- 4.2″ diagonal
- 15:9 aspect ratio
OS & desktop software
- BlackBerry 10 OS
- BlackBerry® Link software for your computer to enable synchronization of data and media
- Dual Core 1.5 GHz
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Flash
- Removable microSD memory card – slot under battery door (Up to 64 GB)
- USB 2.0 high speed port – allows charging and data synchronization of the device with a USB cable
- Micro HDMI for connection to your HDTV or projector
- 1800mAH removable battery
- Up to 10 hours talk time (3G)
- Up to 13 days standby time
- *Note: Battery life claims are for Model STL100-3
Camera & video
- 8 megapixel auto-focus camera
- Back Side Illumination for better low-light performance
- 5-element F2.2 lens
- Dedicated ISP (image signal processor) with 64MB frame buffer
- Flash, continuous and touch to focus, image stabilization
- Enhanced Super Resolution Digital Zoom (5x)
- 1080p HD video recording
- 4 DOF (Degrees of freedom) video stabilization
- Time Shift mode for pinpointing and adjusting individual elements of your picture
- 2 megapixel fixed-focus camera
- Image and video stabilization
- 3x digital zoom
- 720p HD video recording
- BMP, WBMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, SGI, TGA
Audio & video formats
- 3GP, 3GP2, M4A, M4V, MOV, MP4, MKV, MPEG-4, AVI, ASF, WMV, WMA, MP3, MKA, AAC, AMR, F4V, WAV, MP2PS, MP2TS, AWB, OGG, FLAC
Audio & video encoding/decoding
- H.264, MPEG-4, H.263, AAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC, MP3, PCM, Xvid, AMR-NB, WMA 9/10, WMA10 professional, WMA-LL, VC-1, VP6, SPARK, PCM, MPEG-2, MJPEG (mov), AC-3, AMR-WB, QCELP, FLAC, VORBIS
- BlackBerry® Hub, Contacts, BlackBerry® Browser, BlackBerry®Calendar, BBM, Text Messages, BlackBerry® World, BlackBerry®Remember, Docs To Go™, Pictures, Music, Videos, Story Maker, Facebook®1, Twitter®1, LinkedIn®1, Foursquare®, BlackBerry® Maps, Games, YouTube®, BlackBerry® Newsstand, Voice Control, Weather, Clock, Calculator, Compass, File Manager, Box, BlackBerry®Connect for Dropbox, Print To Go, Smart Tags, Settings, Adobe®Reader, Phone, Camera/Video Camera/Time Shift, Setup, Help, SIM Toolkit, Search
- Password protection, screen lock, and sleep mode
- BlackBerry® Balance™ offering dedicated profiles to keep work and personal data separate and secure
Alerts & notifications
- On-screen or LED indicator
- Integrated hands-free speakerphone
- Hands-free headset capable
- Bluetooth headset capable
Network & connectivity
- Up to 4G LTE
- Quad band LTE 2, 5, 4, 17 (700/850/1700/1900 MHz)
- Tri band HSPA+ 1, 2, 5/6 (850/1900/2100 MHz)
- Quad band HSPA+ 1, 2, 4, 5/6, (850/1700/1900/2100 MHz)
- Quad band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
- 802.11 a/b/g/n
- 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz
- 4G Mobile Hotspot
- Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE)
- Assisted, Autonomous and Simultaneous GPS
- Preloaded with BlackBerry Maps application
- BlackBerry® Tag with NFC technology enables communication between BlackBerry smartphones and other NFC-enabled devices with a tap
- Proximity sensor
- Ambient light sensor
- BlackBerry® Magnify, for customers with partial vision –
- Adjustable screen brightness, scalable fonts
- Teletypewriter (TTY) Support
It was about five years ago, shortly after the release of the first iPhone that I first became familiar with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. Of course, the term hadn’t been coined yet but one of my clients was asking for guidance on how to control what was happening in his organization. As the CIO of a hospital he was quite concerned that doctors were dumping their corporate assigned mobile phones and were using their own iPhones instead. Worse still, some of the doctors were buying and using their own iPhone Apps to assist them in their duties. I realized then that this would be an unstoppable trend and that IT leaders would need to adapt. The CIO’s concerns with respect to security, privacy and liability were valid but unfortunately I couldn’t point to a solution to address his concerns at that time.
What’s been driving BYOD?
- As with my hospital example, workers discovered that mobile devices marketed to the consumer segment were better designed and offered way more functionality than their corporate assigned devices.
- Since they couldn’t get these devices from their employers, workers bought their own.
- Employees discovered that they could be more productive by leveraging the added functionality especially when augmented with low cost or free Apps.
- Once hooked to the new technology, workers were not about to give them up in favour of the corporate assigned dinosaurs.
- Workers now found themselves carrying two or more devices (personal and corporate assigned) and began to find ways of incorporating business functions into their personally owned devices.
- Carrying multiple devices was a pain (many people still do) and employers were pressured to drop the mandatory requirement for corporately assigned devices and implement BYOD programs.
Many organizations just capitulated and authorized the use of personal devices even though they did not have the accompanying strategy, policies or security mechanisms and infrastructure. One of the contributing benefits often associated with BYOD, in addition to employees being more productive, was that it would lower costs since companies could reduce or eliminate the capital expenditures associated with mobile devices and have employees cover some or all of the associated monthly fees, so for many BYOD seemed like an obvious choice.
Prior to the BYOD trend organizations typically secured their mobile environment with BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server (BES). There was no practical way of applying the same type of security to the new emerging devices and therefore most companies assigned Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry phones to their employees.
Today, things have changed considerably. First the iOS and Android devices, the two OS’s most responsible for driving the consumerization of mobile, have improved their security capabilities considerably. While there will be some consolidation is this space (Citrix just acquired Zenprise) many Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions have emerged which provide the ability to enforce strict security policies on mobile devices such as iPhones. Some of the leading vendors include:
Follow this link for a comprehensive list of MDM vendors.
In addition to the enhanced control and management of the devices, network infrastructures and associated management tools have also evolved so that IT can identify both posture (compliant / safe configuration) and profile (device is legitimate) of wireless devices and automatically allow or deny devices from connecting to the corporate network and assign access to appropriate resources.
BYOD – Benefits
Properly planned and executed BYOD can provide many benefits but it’s important to note as described later that many of these benefits can be achieved even if the mobile devices are not employee owned. It’s also important to note that many of the listed benefits are “soft benefits” in that they are somewhat intangible and difficult to quantify. BYOD can provide the following benefits:
- Employees are more productive
- Work from home and after hours
- Enhanced functionality of devices and associated Apps
- Employee hiring and retention
- Many potential employees, given a choice, will not work for an organization that forces them to use a corporate device they don’t like or want
- Depending on how the BYOD plan is implemented, organizations may reduce capital and recurring costs
- Increased productivity and reduced expenses can lead to competitive advantages
BYOD – Bring Your Own Difficulties
Since there are many benefits to BYOD and we seem to have solved most of the technical limitations, BYOD is the obvious choice right? Well not so fast. Many of the early BYOD adopters have since discovered that BYOD can also mean “Bring Your Own Difficulties”; for both employers and employees.
Some of the disadvantages of BYOD may include:
- Loss of control (at some level): device types, uses, security, privacy, etc.
- Increased security risks
- Increased risk of data loss
- Liability issues associated with both personal and company data
- Compliance issues associated with security / privacy standards and regulations
- Forensics (Employers can demand the immediate return of a company owned device and can do whatever they want with it, not so with employee owned devices)
- Costs can actually be higher (inability to pool usage minutes, volume and long term contract discounts, etc)
- Lack of visibility into expenditures
- Device replacement issues when an employee owned device breaks or is lost / stolen.
Some organizations have since retracted while others have completely eliminated their BYOD programs. I recently viewed a presentation from a large US corporation with more than 3,000 mobile devices which initially embraced BYOD. Recently they have moved to a complete corporate liability model. For this company, the main factors for the discontinuation of the program were cost and the difficulty of adequately managing the multiple device types.
This article highlights some of the potential pitfalls of BYOD.
One alternative to BYOD is to follow the old model where organizations force employees to carry a corporate device from a single manufacturer and severely restrict personal usage. If the employees want to carry their personal devices that’s fine but they are not allowed access to corporate resources from personal devices. That might make securing the environment simpler and costs more predictable but won’t yield the many previously listed benefits of BYOD.
Choose Your Own Device (CYOD)
CYOD can allow organizations to reap many of the benefits of BYOD while retaining better control of the security, liability, cost, manageability issues that can be associated with BYOD.
Many employees don’t care if they own the device or not. It’s not necessarily a question of ownership, rather employees want:
- Modern consumer devices.
- Ability to carry a single device for both personal and corporately use.
- Few restrictions on personal use.
- Reasonable usage / cost limits.
- Assurance that their security and privacy will be protected.
- Assurance that their personal information will not be arbitrarily deleted or infringed and a documented policy which states the conditions under which personal data could be compromised.
- Ability to port their personal phone number onto the corporate device and back out again when they leave.
There are many advantages associated with BYOD. However, it’s important to note that many of the benefits associated with BYOD are not necessarily because the devices are employee owned and that some of the same benefits can be achieved with properly executed corporate liable plans.
Many of the BYOD disadvantages can be adequately addressed. For some organizations the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For others, there are security, privacy and liability issues that make BYOD a non-starter.
Whether you deploy a BYOD program or not, the decision should be based on a well-defined mobile strategy and the realization that many of the benefits associated with BYOD can be realized with a corporate owned and managed model.
Whatever strategy you choose, make sure that you have consulted with all of the stakeholders including:
- Executive leadership
- Line of business owners
- Individual users
- Legal and regulatory
Prior to executing on your strategy it is critical that you have defined and documented an associated policy and that all of the supporting management and infrastructural components are in place.