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From where I sit near Burton-on-Trent nothing much has changed in ICT and Telecommunications solutions for 10 Years or so. Rubbish you might say – loads of things have changed. Part of my problem is that Voyager Networks – the company that I sold in 2000 – was way ahead of it’s time. We were a Voice over IP provider when it really was a new thing ( In fact I remember Cisco buying Celsius – whose equipment we were already using – to build some of the first VoIP systems ). We were a Managed Network Services Provider when it was a nightmare to be one ( by this I mean that there were all sorts of ” New Telco’s ” claiming to be ” better than BT ” when in fact they were much much worse. ( The problem was that we had to try them before we could find this out ). We had a ” Network Operations Centre ” ( NOC ) when this was a really cool thing to have – it even had a ” Bridge ” – and it also had some super cool software ( InfoVista ) to ” pro-actively manage our customer’s networks “.

We were only able to build and run these Managed Networks because we had some really great technical people who overcame all the technical issues that arose from being a leading edge Data Networking and Telecommunications Solutions Provider.

In fact the world has got a lot simpler in the last 10-15 years – nobody really disputes the fact that VoIP is the way to go. All the main ” telephone systems ” companies are now VoIP Solutions providers ( well actually they are Unified Communications providers having been Converged Solutions providers along the way ). Most of those Telcos are now dead and gone. ” Consolidation ” has happened big time in the Telecommunications Provider market. Network and device management software has got better and cheaper.

A look from Burton on Trent at my old companies website http://www.voyager.net.uk/partners/ serves to emphasize what I am saying – hardly anything has changed ! All of these products and services/solutions  http://www.voyager.net.uk/solutions/ were there years ago. The only hint of a change is in ” Mobility “.

A look at 365iT’s website is the same http://www.365itservices.co.uk/ ( 365iT bought 5i Limited a few years ago ). Can we find ANYTHING different ?? The only thing that stands out for me is ” Virtualization “. Server virtualization is a pretty hot area with VMware being a hot stock  http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomtaulli/2012/03/23/3-stock-picks-from-tech-ceos/ .

With nothing having changed I think one thing is certain – competition is fierce !! Which means price erosion.

If we look at Node4’s website http://www.node4.co.uk/ ( Node4 are Headquartered in Derby ) there is an indication of one of the main changes that have happened – Cloud computing. Words like ” Hosting ” and ” Co-location ” are prevalent on the Node4 website. Virtualization is also there.

In this article http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/vmware-cto-virtualization-is-swiss-army-knife-of-it/72151 Virtualization, Cloud Computing and BYOD ( Bring your own Device ) are the areas mentioned as being important by corporate, Revlon.

I think the real clue as where ICT and Telecommunications is going is in the phrase ” Any information, anywhere, on any device, at any time ” and the challenges that this brings both to the user ( who will have multiple communications streams coming through to whatever device they are using – more of which soon )   and also in the types of information and data that the user is accessing.

The drive to achieve this level of communication is what will drive and shape the infrastructure and Telecommunications solutions requirements.

Many companies are in denial over the use of social media ( and I am greatly amused by this as it seems to me that company management have not read or remembered their – recent – history. In our memory people have refused to accept that the personal computer would become ubiquitous, the mobile phone, emailing, texting etc etc and of course they have grown to be huge industries. Perhaps when Facebook IPO’s for $75-100 Million in the next month or so some management will start to take it and other Social Networks seriously ).

Personally I think that people will use social ( and social business ) applications alongside corporate applications and so for example the stream of communications to their smartphone, iPad and Laptop will include the ” Unified Communications bit ” ( voice calls, text and email ) and the ” Social Media bit ” and this will require the integration and control of all of those streams. Of course this is already happening for many people and it happened with the smartphone first – as looking at my Blackberry demonstrates – Messages, Text/SMS, Calendar, Phone, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ etc etc.

As Revlon chief information officer David Giambruno says this demand for information drives certain infrastructure elements -e.g.  virtualized server farms, security to protect those servers, storage farms for the all the data – including back-up data, smartphone and iPad compatible applications N.B. The rise of companies like http://www.apperian.com/ who specialize in ” Mobile Application Management “.

Telecommunications solutions will be driven by the need to fulfill our desire for ” Anything, Everywhere ” communications.

Chris Windley, Burton on Trent.

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