Mar 02

iPad 2 released today by Apple

Today on march the 2nd Apple has announced the new version of the iPad.

I have a waited with buying the Ipad 1 because it missed the camera’s (front and back facing).  Waiting time is now over, the iPad 2 lived up to the promise and more (again).

Take a look at the Ipad 2 promotion video here

It’s about time Apple releases their proprietary Facetime implementation to the broader to the ITU in public license so Videoconferencing vendors can make their videoterminals and telepresence systems compatible with the Apple video technology. There is a real customer demand for this, since many executives buy an iPad and also want this do videoconference with this system when they are on the go.

 

Here are some highlights of the new Ipad 2:

  • 33% thinner
  • new A5 dual core processer
  • front- and back facing camera’s
  • new iOS 4.3 release with new features
  • new apps launched, that include movi editing on the iPad
  • connect your iPad to your TV to mirror your iPad image on your TV screen
  • specifically designed smart cover (watch the clip for this)

Pricing would seem to be equal to the iPad1, which price is immediately lowered. If I look at the stats, it is not a question if am buying this new iPad, but more how quickly can I get my hands on this one and which model?

You can take a look at the detailed techical specs and pricing plans here.

If you get your hands on one, please sharre your experience.

Here some good live video’s from Engadget people on the media event, playing around. Showing how fast it is and demonstrating facetime on the Ipad.  It’s looking very good.



Feb 22

Microsoft Lync 2010 – PBX replace or not?

I have a written a short piece on the introduction of Lync 2010 back in november 2010. Microsoft has set an ambitious and aggressive target for itself by marketing Lync as “PBX replace”.  Question is after 4 months: Is this strategy succeeding?

I believe it is too early to tell, but at least it is getting a lot of customer attention. Today most customers have not deployed softphones on the desktop yet, or at least not a global scale. Most of the customers are still on legacy PBX’s or are struggling to make the transition to IP Telephone. Usually this already involves changing a global network archtecture, implementing Quality of Services on the WAN, but definitely also on the LAN and into the datacenters where you would want to host your call servers. These activities seem complex, time consuming and CAPEX intensive. Also voice and telephone has to move from a decentralized governance model to a central governance model, this is a very difficult and time consuming process. At the same voice and networking teams have to get aligned since voice will be an application, and a very important one. Very sensitive to drops, latency and jitter, usually this involves more stringend requirements to the existing network than people are used to today. Organizations lack the proper monitoring tools to troubleshoot and do capacity management.

So today we live in the era of Unified Communications, people like to have one interface that does presence, voice, video, conferencing and application sharing. If people don’t have a softphone installed why not upgrade my existing Microsoft Office Communicator Client (MOC2007R2) and now i have the features that I was lacking to do enterprise voice (Call Admission Control, Survivable Branch Appliance, etc.). Why should I replace my old PBX, for fixed phones? Let’s just give employees a Lync client and a quality headset!

Is Lync practical for all user groups? I would say no. Groups of users that would rather have a solution from an existing telephony provider like Alcatel, Avaya or Cisco are:

  • Call Center employees
  • Secretaries (yes Lync has an attendant console, but is this practical for this user group?)
  • Conference Rooms, Hazard area’s and Elevators also might be a bit more difficult even thought you have a growing selection of phone.

So will Lync will be able to replace  a PBX for a certain amount of user groups, initially mainly within a pure office environment like the services area’s. I believe the majority of users will have a mix between an IPT environment and Lync for softphones, because it has such a nice presence integration with Outlook/Exchange and has a familiar interface. Something a CIO does not like to do is change the appearance of the desktop towards the end-user. This will give organisations some challenges. Do we want:

  1. Single number reach for Lync and the fixed phone?
  2. Just voice integration (via a SIP trunk) that a Lync client can call a fixed phone but with seperate dial plans
  3. voicemail integration
  4. ect.

A big advantage of using Lync is that you can use a global voice carrier that can SIP trunk with Lync and thus a large user group can be reached instantaneously and cost savings can be made fast, opposed to optimizing country per country often not reaching the scale to reach volume.

All I can recommend to users is to first make a proper design, do a proof of concept, followed by a pilot with a group of end-users. This will allow you to get experience on the technology, support processes to troubleshoot voice from a desktop environment (not trivial) and a centralized architecture and make a proper voice routing design. Organizations that deploy Lync to quickly will face the same or even more difficulties of traditional IPT roll-outs.

Wait for Office 365?

Some customers want to wait with deploying Lync 2010 on-premise. They are waiting for the next BPOS release, called Office 365. This will include Lync 2010, but in initial releases “Dial Tone” will not be included. When it will, expect only certain countries can utilize this voice capabilities, since there is a lot of regulation on carrier voice and a Telecom Provider should have the appropriate licenses so why should Microsoft have that as well? So if you like Lync 2010, it would be best to test it on-premise and not rely on a cloud roadmap.

Feb 19

Challenges in your Cloud Roadmap and how to overcome!

Cloud Computing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), IaaS, PaaS are all former names of what just was called Application Service Providing. Lots of buzzwords that score high on the Gartner Hypecycle.

Customers all seems to want to join the hype, being part of the Cloud. Today there are so many terms where in everybodies mind the same term has a different meaning or different terms mean the same. You need to reference marketresearchers (Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, IDC, etc) to get a common understanding on what we exactly mean.

I like the three core fundamentals of cloud computing by Forrester as noted in link above:

  • A standardized IT capability or service
  • Pay per use or metered consumption
  • Self-service deployment

Connecting to your Cloud

hybrid cloud

copyright Jako Boonekamp

I like to make a differentiation between 3 types of Cloud Computing:

  • Private Cloud
  • Public Cloud
  • Hybrid Cloud

A private cloud is often referred to when using a private network (i.e. MPLS) to go to a cloud provider (single or multi-tenant). This is the closest to outtasking or outsourcing today and already done on a wide scale.

A public cloud is actually the same but then uses the internet as a transport medium (with appliation security of IPsec).

A hybrid cloud is the combination of both. Actually I would say it is the best of both worlds. You have the security, performance and QoS when you are in the office and you have maximum flexibility when you are working from home or a roaming user.

Sometimes it is a goal by itself to go into the Cloud. IT managers don’t even look at the advantages or disadvantages anymore. Going to the cloud would then be identical to going to a public cloud.

Perceived Advantages of going towards the cloud

  • Price
  • Scalability
  • Rapid Deployment
  • Pay Per Use
  • Often limited or no start up fees
  • Limited or no CAPEX

Disadvantages

  • Generic and Multi-Tenant service
  • Little or no customization possible
  • Limitied monitoring or reporting capabilities
  • SLA’s may not fit the business need
  • Sensitivity or Regulatory challenges of Data Storage
  • Audit-ability
  • Inability to integrate multiple vendors in one solution (no best-of-breed capability)

Implementing Cloud solutions

It is not uncommon that people see many obstacles in going to the cloud:

  • Security => ask for the right certifications of your cloud provider (ISO27001 and SAS70)
  • Quality of Service => use a private way of connecting to your cloud provider, so can you can control performance
  • internet capacity &  peering => it is not uncommon that destinations cannot be reached via the internet (cause internet ISP’s lack certain routes in their routingtables, try and fix this when you don’t have direct contact with this ISP’s.

How to overcome the obstacles?

Organizations need to change to adapt cloud computing. This cannot be done instantaneously, but has to occur in a step by step way.

Less critical appliations first

Start with some applications that are not that critical or time sensitive, i.e. email for certain group of users that are less dependent on this (i.e. factory workers)

Hybrid Cloud support migrating in a low risk pace

When migrating towards cloud services from a multi-tenant cloud provider, it is ideal if you could migrate at you own pace. Not having to redirect all you traffic towards the internet directly, but connect the way you prefer at the time you want.

Any Time, Any Place, Any Where, Any Connectivity

Dec 30

Skype Mobile Video on iPhone released

Yesterday I was writing about that Skype was about to release video support on their Skype iPhone client in 2011. Actually today it was already released.  Take a look here to find the details at the Skype for iPhone page.

I tried it out with two accounts, take a look here at some screenshots below:

You can see the contacts on your iPhone now have additional button (dutch: videogesprek). You can dial some one with using the video button or start a normal call and then escalate to video. Currently group video is not supported on the Skype Mobile client.

When calling someone,you will you yourself and on the top some options to choose your camera (front-facing or rear-facing camera) and the ability to turn of the microphone.

Some screenshots on upright and landscape mode of the Skype Client on the iPhone :

Some screenshots on upright and landscape mode of the Skype Client on the PC:

Some screenshots on using the rear-camera on the iPhone with pictures from the iPhone and the Skype Client on the PC (looking at it’s own image):

Skype gives the following bandwidth recommendations for using video or audio calls.

In short with other Skype users you can:

  • Make free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls over 3G and WiFi.*
  • Share video calls on Skype with people on iPhone**, PC or Mac.
  • Talk face-to-face or show what you’re seeing with front- and rear-facing cameras.

System requirements

  • Skype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.
  • Send and receive video using front or rear camera on iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4th Generation.
  • Send and receive video using rear camera on iPhone 3GS.
  • Receive video only on iPad and iPod touch 3rd Generation.**

Look here for a description on what you need to make the Skype video calls with your mobile

Look here for common questions using Skype for iPhone

So do you still want to use Apple Facetime?

Answer is definitely yes, the quality on Facetime of both audio and video is a lot better. However Skype supports so much more platform and has a lot of registered users. Use the new on a 3G today and the connection did not blink (wifi to 3G). Don’t have 3G at home, but will test that at a later stage.

Find some video’s here as well

and a funny commercial

https://support.skype.com/category/SKYPE_FOR_IPHONE/

Dec 29

Djeek.com Daily is out

Find here the Djeek.com daily, it is created on a daily bases automatically from the @djeekcom tweets and the people it follows. You may be able to get your tweets in the paper.

Djeek.com Daily Paper

Dec 29

Skype videocalling with mobile coming in 2011?

Skype logo

Skype to offer mobile video?

Unified communications in the consumer world is taking the next step. After Apple making Facetime videocalling available form the iPhone4 and iPod Touch to a Mac computer. Others are responding. Cisco introduced Umi which had a connection capability with Google Video chat.

Now  it is spotted by Redmondpie that Skype will introduce Skype Video for Mobile devices, where specifically video support for the iPhone was mentioned.

Of coure the introduction of the iPhone4 greatly introduced an attractiveness for mobile video with it’s powerfull platform, front- and backfacing camera’s and ofcourse multi-tasking support so someone can always reach you on your Skype application.

Connection methods would be to support Wifi and 3G, but i’ve done video on my 3G network before and the connectivity method just can’t handle the experience or it can be just my buggy dutch T-Mobile network . Download speed is quite acceptable but especially the upload speeds just can’t handle it.

Skype Mobile Video would be supported also the iPhone 3, but it would be difficult videoconferencing with no frontfacing camera. So it would be more gimmick testing.

See the page here where Redmondpie has caught the helppage where the description was mentioned on what will be supported

Skype is supposedly planning to announce the feature on the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in the beginning of januari. They have planned a press conference on januari the 6th, will they announce this upcoming feature? Look here for the CES press release program

As a promoter of interconnecting video amongst a range of devices, vendors and applications, I welcome this capability and even though I hardly use skype today, I think I will be using Skype in the future.

My Apple Facetime only works with other iPhone4’s (so far i only know 2 people, who have one) or with an Apple Facetime on the Mac (only know one person). And also it’s just not practical for mobile video.

I am not a big fan of Skype due to the proprietary protocols and it’s closed nature of it’s p2p architecture, but it has a lot of users (even my father uses Skype). So I would reach a wider audience with the new capability. When will it be just like you average phone, where you can dial the whole world with a 10-digit number, no matter how they are connected?

Dec 28

My Blackberry Is Not Working!

As always the BBC is excellent in making good humor on latest technology.

I would like to thank my friend Thijn for sending the link to this Youtube clip. Even this humor fits this blog.

Wouldn’t it be strange if old people started talking about twitter, facebook and social media?

Dec 06

Videoconferencing between iPhone4, desktop and video endpoints

One of reasons I was attracted to the iPhone4 was it’s videoconferencing capabilities. In the beginning you were only able to use the Facetime feature with other iPhone4 users and only if you were connected to wifi, not a 3G connection. But the world has been improving.

I tested this a couple of times with a collegue, the experience was amazing, very good quality and really adds value. But there are two disadvantages:

  1. You can only use it with WiFi connectivity on both sides, which is difficult since you need to have Wifi yourself and you need to know if the other has Wifi as well
  2. You could only connect to other iPhone4 users

Some things have been improved since:

First of all, Apple has release the Facetime feature also to the latest generation on iPod Touch users, which can be called with URI or email address.  See a Youtube video here on some people demoing this functionality

Second of all Apple has enabled Facetime between iPhone4 and Mac desktop. I tested this together with a friend of mine. We downloaded the beta Facetime software for his Apple iMac. It took a some time to figure out how to call each other (iPhone4 uses a mobile phonenumber and iMac software uses a URI (Apple ID or emailaddress). But after we figured this out it worked great. Below are some pictures of our experience:


You can also find a video here of two people testing this functionality: http://www.tipb.com/2010/10/20/facetime-iphone-4-mac-video/

Even though Apple has mentioned to publish their own variation of protocols soup to the interoperability community, it still remains only talking Apple-2-Apple so far. See also a previous blog post: “Apple Facetime – Open Standard?”

I recently found an App on the Appstore that does support standards based Videoconferencing protocols like H.263. I was able to use my Tandberg Movi registration details to register on SIP and dial into all kind of standards based endpoints (Tandberg endpoints) and a virtual meeting room (Codian MCU). The client was a bit buggy and did not support very long URI’s but I was able to make videocalls with all kinds of standard endpoint over wifi (with excellent quality) and even 3G (poor quality, but was able to setup calls).

The application is called PocketBone and is made by a company called Dinsk. Have a look at their webpage here. It supports both H.323 and SIP registration.  If you want to find it in the Appstore look for PocketBone or Dinsk. Great app can wait until they make it bit more stable and support H.264, so we would have even better video quality but keep up the good work, really like your work.