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NTT Com Rocks London’s RSA House at the NTT Global Forum

In July, members of the Wireside team packed their bags and made their way to London for the annual NTT Global Forum, a unique, invitation-only event for leaders that leverage ICT to transform global business.

The event was hosted by our client, NTT Communications, a leading ICT provider that owns and operates the infrastructure enabling business today, and held in London at the historical RSA House, a smorgasbord for the weekend historian or architecture buff.

The bottom line of the event is this: enterprise is going digital and this includes businesses embracing the cloud. A similar conclusion was also recently evidenced in a survey conducted by NTT Communications. According to the study, IT decision makers are planning to migrate nine in ten business apps to the cloud and 60% believe this migration will happen within the next two years.

Media invited to attend the event and opening press conference were in fine form, asking lots of smart questions about NTT Com competitors, new technologies and acquisition plans. Here are some key takeaways from the intimate summit:

  • NTT Com is not taking on Amazon. “How do you plan to compete with [insert AMS or Microsoft Azure]?” This is a favorite question of the media. At the event, NTT Com executives plainly responded that they don’t plan to. Amazon focuses on public cloud, but NTT Com’s enterprise-level customers require a more complex ICT solution that includes public and private cloud with data center and security services as well as infrastructure and management support, also known as hybrid cloud.
  • NTT Com is expanding its global footprint: The company is investing in more data centers and global networks, the critical assets that serve as the foundation for NTT Com’s Enterprise Cloud. NTT Com will open a new data center in the UK’s Hemel Hempstead in the fourth quarter, following its March $824m (€742m) purchase of an 87 percent stake in German data center provider e-shelter. Stateside, NTT Com opened a new data center in Sacramento, California in April, with plans to open another in Ashburn, Virginia, in the fourth quarter.  In addition, the company just announced the acquisition of PT. Cyber CSF, a data center service provider headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, which will be renamed NTT Indonesia Nexcenter. The company has plans to open and acquire still more data centers and steadily grow its reliable, low-latency, high-capacity global networks that serve to connect these data centers around the world in order to provide the seamless support enterprises need to expand their global operations.
  • Speaking of Enterprise Cloud: NTT Com plans to unveil an enhanced Enterprise Cloud platform that will use software-defined networking (SDN) to enable customers to manage their public, private hosted, and private on-site clouds as if they were all one and the same cloud. NTT Com’s lauded Enterprise Cloud offering, launched in February 2013, is the first private cloud to deploy SDN and has a global network of more than 140 secure data centers in 196 countries / regions.
  • Embracing M2M and the IoT movement: In addition to enterprise cloud services, global networks and a global datacenter footprint, NTT Com is building up its experience in the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) markets. The company is field testing wearable sensors, in partnership with Japanese construction firm Obayashi, that monitor workers’ vital signs in a bid to improve safety. It is also working on a connected car service with Toyota (details confidential).

We’re looking forward to the NTT Global Forum in NYC later this year, so stay tuned for more exciting developments!

 

The Truth About Cloud Computing. Are Enterprises REALLY Embracing it?

IT decision makers are planning to migrate nine in ten business apps to the cloud. In fact, 60% believe this migration will happen within the next two years, according to a recent study by NTT Com (Wireside client.) The ICT solutions leader recently surveyed nearly 1,600 IT decision makers from the US and EU to get their insights about the future of cloud computing. It sounds like global enterprises have embraced the cloud, right? Well, according to NTT Com’s Cloud Reality Check 2015 study, the answer is both yes and no. cloudpic

Cloud will account for over a quarter of corporate ICT budgets by 2018 and the vast majority of respondents expect the number of individual cloud platforms in use in their organizations to grow over the next three years, according to the study. However, though most agree cloud is good for business and many IT decision makers are planning to move more and more important apps to the cloud, respondents view the processes of migration and management once in the cloud as wrought with complexities and challenges. For example:

  • One-third say the cloud isn’t yet living up to its potential (38%)
  • 4 in ten find cloud vendors confusing and challenging
  • 4 in ten claim migrating complex apps to cloud is too much trouble
  • Nearly 50% feel they have less control over apps once in the cloud

Overall, it seems bi-modal IT is a challenge for data center AND cloud and ICT decision-makers are spending much more time managing performance than developing functionality.

So what DOES the future of cloud computing look like? The reality is that as much as businesses care about scalability and cost efficiency, two areas where more than 50% of IT decision makers credit cloud-based applications, the primary concerns of enterprise-class customers concern security, compliance and corporate data governance. For example, 10% of apps will NEVER migrate to cloud.

According to Len Padilla, VP product strategy at NTT Com, though ICT decision-makers see the cloud as a compelling enabling technology, companies need a new approach to ICT transformation through cloud computing, given the variety of platforms available and the complexity of the applications they support. He believes “there needs to be a far smoother migration path from the data center to the cloud,” and that “a different kind of planning approach is required for companies to achieve the large-scale digital transformations business executives are demanding.”

So what’s the solution? According to Padilla, “focusing on continuous improvement and incremental steps is a far more effective strategy than ambitious plans.” A hybrid cloud approach offers the best of both worlds, allowing companies to capitalize on the cost savings associated with a traditional cloud environment while experiencing the improved performance, reliability and security only available with dedicated computing resources.  To read more about the Cloud Reality Check study and view an infographic, click here.

A Tech Guide for Travelers & Expats

I miss the Internet.  Is that weird?  Of all the things I thought I’d miss when I moved to Spain nearly two years ago, the Internet was nowhere on that list.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I moved here only to discover that the Internet is practically nonexistent here.  It’s like the early 90s.  No one shops online, people prefer phone calls over emails, and magazines see no point in having online versions, so of course they don’t know what a blog is. ARGH!  I’m of course speaking specifically about Spain, though I understand a lot of Europe follows suit, except the U.K.  What would I do without amazon.co.uk?  I shudder to think.

Travel tech_image

My point is, tech is different across the pond and there are certain survival tools a girl from California has come to depend on for her sanity.  Here’s my tech survival kit for frequent travelers and expats:

MUST-HAVE GADGETS

  • Power adapter – These little gems work for any of your electronics. Don’t plug your portable blender in here though, they aren’t meant for anything with a motor.
    Stick to your phone, laptop, tablet, etc.  I have about a dozen of these floating around my house.
  • Tablets – Smaller, lighter and more portable than a laptop, it’s a great travel companion for travel guides, games for the kids, movies, maps, etc.  I carried an iPad on my last trip to Rome and it was a lifesaver.
  • Solar powered bags – If you’re outdoorsy, or plan to do a lot of walking on your next trip, this might come in handy.  It keeps your gadgets charged too!
  • GRID-IT – This is the best gift ever for the Type A frequent traveler.  Who doesn’t need all of their gadgets, tech accessories and cables organized into one tidy place?

WEB TOOLS

  • VPN – This clever service miraculously tricks the Interwebs into thinking you’re not in a foreign country at all.  In my case, it looks like I’m logging on from New York, so I can still feed my Netflix addiction, for example, or shop at JCREW.com and Anthropologie.com.  Enough said, right?
  • Milanuncios.com – This is Spain’s answer to Craigslist.  I know I just told you that Spain has an Internet deprivation problem.  This is an anomaly, trust me.
  • Squarespace.com – When traveling or overcoming culture shock as an expat, many like to share and record their experiences through a blog.  This is my favorite platform.  It’s elegant, easy to use, and you can build websites quickly and easily too.

APPS, APPS, APPS

  • Kindle – If you don’t have a Kindle, the app is the next best thing.  I have it on my iPad and use it to download my favorite books, magazines and travel guides when wanderlust strikes.
  • iTunes Radio – Pandora doesn’t work over here and though iTunes Radio isn’t as good yet, it’s how I reconnect with good ol’ ‘merikah whenever I get homesick.  I never used to like country music, but now listening to the Taylor Swift channel in the shower makes me feel like I’m back in the States eating corn on the cob at summertime.  Spotify is pretty good too.
  • WhatsApp – This messaging app is all the rage among our friends in Europe and is catching on in the States from what I hear.  It’s a great way to keep those exorbitant mobile costs down while traveling.
  • XE Currency Converter – I’ve been here almost two years and still need to use this for converting euros to dollars and vice versa.
  • Google Translate – An invaluable tool while traveling anywhere you don’t speak the language. As a hint, stick to simple terms and phrases.  Anything more complicated doesn’t translate accurately, as the algorithm is incapable of deciphering idioms.  This little app made it possible for me to fake some Italian on my last trip to Rome.  It also helps me communicate with my little one’s daycare teachers, who speak Catalan.
  • Google Maps – This is an obvious one, but beware. The GPS avatar has an American accent and doesn’t exactly have an ear for languages.  If you want to crack up, listen to her pronunciation on your next trip to Spain.  I swear she’ll get you lost just because you can’t understand what the heck she’s saying.
  • Skype – For keeping in touch with far-flung friends and family, or the occasional international business call for free.
  • Kayak Flight Tracker – This is an important one, especially if your trip involves multiple flights and cities.  And of course, for when you suddenly become more interesting because of your new and exotic address and the visitors begin to fly in.
  • TripIt – A startup I actually used to work with and now owned by Concur, this handy tool helps you organize all of your flight itineraries, car rental and activity info, not to mention restaurant reservations and more, all in one place.  No more multiple emails and pesky printouts.  We’re saved!
  • The Weather Channel – I can’t go out or even get dressed without checking this one out first.
  • Instagram – Add some extra life to those shots on the road.  This is especially useful for someone who’s not exactly professional photography material, like me.
  • Wi-Fi Finder – Whether you’re offline or online, this app helps you find nearby hotspots anywhere in the world.  You can find it in both the Android Marketplace and iTunes App Store.

And of course, a smartphone or phablet.  But that goes without saying.  What tech can’t you live without when away from home?

Happy travels!

The Enterprise of CES

Why should enterprises care about CES? It’s a huge trade show peddling the latest in consumer tech, right? How true, not to mention the fun of a trip to Vegas! As usual, CES came through with humongous TVs, super thin smartphones, cars that drive themselves, a few weird things one couldn’t possibly imagine having any purpose, really loud music and of course booth babes. But CES also gives us a good idea of what to expect in tech over the next few years and enterprises can glean something from that.

Here are five things that the enterprise world might find of interest, or at least amusing.

Samsung UHD curved

Cool TVs: The competition for the biggest, thinnest TV was on, but the 4K and curved TVs won the popularity contest. 4K TVs, also known as Ultra HD or UHD TVs, are the next generation of television picture quality, displaying four times the detail of HD, according to Trusted Reviews. CNET dismisses them as wasteful, claiming that the human eye can’t really detect such high definition.

The curved TV is exactly what it sounds like. Why would anyone want one? Apparently when you’re watching one, the experience is more immersive. Either or both of these options could be interesting in a conference room and some manufacturers are offering them in desktop monitor sizes, according to Network World.

Bendy phones: For companies that pay for their employees’ phones, or at least foot part of the bill, they will all breathe a sigh of relief when their teams start buying flexible phones, such as the LG G Flex 2, a bendable smartphone. Why? It’s obvious isn’t it? They’ll last longer, having the ability to resist scratches, being sat on, run over, etc.

Motivational desks: Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating things a bit, but they at least promote getting up from one’s desk every once in a while. The Kinetic Desk by a company called Stirworks moves up and down at the touch of a control surface and can be programmed to rise and lower based on a preset schedule. This is meant to force us to get up and move around, according to Network World. I’m not sure a moving desk would make me want to stand up, stretch and take a few laps around my home office, but there you go.

Super smart cameras: Ultra wide stitching cameras, such as the 360 Cam by Giroptic, are stationary cameras with multiple optical sensors and wide-angled, fixed-focal-length lenses that stitch together the images to remove distortions, an issue of previous versions. These devices have potential to be handy boardroom fixtures by adding a more inclusive experience for international clients or tele-conferencing employees, etc., who can choose to view multiple points, such as a PowerPoint presentation, or a particular person’s face.

New payment systems: Square has been the darling of mobile payments for some time and ApplePay has received some hype, but this new product is really cool and could be a very useful tool for small businesses and large brick-and-mortar stores. Loop Pay is a wireless way of paying for products that goes beyond NFC. It uses the credit card machine strip readers to transfer card data via a small chip in a phone case. Plans are in the works to embed this low-cost chip into phones, according to Trusted Reviews.

Did you go to CES? What stood out most for you that could benefit enterprises?

WhatsApp, Doc?

If living in Spain has taught me one thing these last eighteen months, it’s that sometimes things take a while to catch on over here in good ol’ Europe (that and MAN I love churros con chocolate during the chilly holiday season.)  At least as far as tech that has already launched and thrived or died out in the States goes.  So, I suppose it should come as no surprise that messaging apps are now all the rage over here and one in particular, called WhatsApp.  It’s almost too cute, right?

You may remember the explosion of the messaging app back at SXSW 2011, I think it was. No? Come on! Ashton Kutcher was there! I myself was getting ready to launch a messaging app client at the time and was totally bummed out by the veritable barrage of similar apps that burst from the scene at the same time. Ugh, talk about your PR nightmare. We held our own for a good while, but in the end GroupMe was declared the winner when it was acquired by Skype and Beluga was acquired by Facebook (now Facebook Messenger). Anyway, my point is this happened in 2011/12, and then the remaining players slowly began to die out. And then something weird happened. One or two new apps emerged a few years later and caught on a bit. I guess not everyone liked using Skype or FB Messenger for free text messaging, videos and photos, etc. It was really annoying, because I thought, “HEY! My client did this and BETTER. What gives?” I chocked it up as one of those fickle consumer tech flukes, or maybe it was just a timing thing. Who knows?

WhatsApp logo

Fast forward eighteen months ago when I arrive in Mallorca, Spain and EVERYONE is using this cool new app, WhatsApp.  “You’ve gotta try it!” they all said. “You can text and share videos and pics for free!” they all said. You can see the attraction for the euro set, where mobile costs are through the friggin’ roof.  “Yeah, yeah,” I said. You see, having lived and worked in the Silicon Valley tech scene for ten years before moving out here, I had both been there and done that and stuck my nose up at the idea of downloading another cute little messaging app that was sure to fail just like the others had done.  But no. EVERYONE in Spain uses WhatsApp and it’s pretty popular throughout much of Europe, as I understand it.  Everyone we know in our little pueblo here is on it; everyone at my little girl’s daycare uses it; our entire family out here swears by it.  Right now I’m working with a graphic designer on developing a new ad for a client and how did he send me the proof?  On WhatsApp!  Well, what do ya know, maybe messaging apps can work, when people you actually know and want to communicate with are on them.  Huh.

I have to say, I finally downloaded the app after several months of browbeating from the hubbies’ fam and local friends and I’m sold.  I save on text messaging costs using this app instead, I’m in the loop on what’s happening at my little girl’s daycare and even getting to know some of the parents!  That’s right, people.  I’m being semi-social and making friends!  If you knew me, you’d say “Shocker!”

Why has this app succeeded where so many others have failed?  I don’t know.  Timing? Bigger marketing budgets?  To be honest, as far as my knowledge of the Spanish and their culture goes, I’d say the name has a lot to do with it.  It’s annoyingly cute and English, which they love to sporadically throw into their daily exchanges along with “that’s so ‘fashion!’” “cool” and so on.  It’s all adorable and kudos to WhatsApp. Whatever you guys are doing, it’s working.  At least in Spain and other parts of Europe.