SMB Nation VoIPSpeak Newsletter
Over 18,000 Global Readers and Growing! January 24, 2012 - Issue 2-12 VoiceSpeak

Welcome! This is the telecom edition of our weekly newsletter focused on SMB Voice, Unified Communications and VoIP.

Much of my content this week is original, sourced from the just-completed Lotusphere conference in Orlando. Yes – I’m growing and expanding my horizons. Guess what? There is a whole ‘nother world out there. Read what Polycom is doing in telepresence (and see my predictions for the coming shakeout of small vendors in that market). I interviewed a UK-based company providing telephony functionality in IBM’s SmartCloud. Our latest blogger, Joseph Walker, tells us why Android is outpacing iOS in mobile solutions. And I have some industry snippets on VarVid taking $$$ from HTG and IBM’s mobility strategy.

Watch the vid below to learn why you should nominate yourself and others for the SMB 150 awards!

Nominate your SMB Hero here! One nominee will be chosen from names submitted today, Jan 24, 2012 to 8am PST Friday, Jan 27, 2012 to receive a Blackberry PlayBook.


P.S.: Be sure to attend our weekly webinar: Email Security and Archiving, Thursday, Jan 26, 2012. Harry Brelsford and David Skoll, CEO of Roaring Penguin speaking.

Harry Brelsford | Founder | SMB Nation, Inc. |

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Time at “Telepresence Speed”

This started as a simple executive interview at last week’s Lotusphere 2012 conference on a telepresence product. Later in the week, evidence mounted that the telepresence market is maturing very quickly and the landscape is also changing quickly. Call it “telepresence time” and hang on fast. First
I’ll share the facts and then the rumors.

Facts – Market Maturity
Gotta love free markets even though Republican candidates are attacking Mitt for exactly that! In technology, it’s always a case of early adopters ascending a curve through general acceptance and final market maturity. Clearly telepresence has ascended very quickly from early adopter to general acceptance and as such, the big boys are getting in the game. At Lotusphere, I talked with both a major player and a well-known second tier player, both making their mark.

I had an exclusive interview with Polycom’s Susan Hayden, an impressive executive vice president in the telepresence area. She shared some very interesting trends, insights and predictions: “Polycom wants conferencing and visual communications to be unambigious. Our vision is to make it pervasive and available everywhere.” Hayden shared. “Harry, in SMB, we are seeing extreme price sensitivity. Polycom understands that things like travel cost reduction means something when implementing telepresence. For example, for the costs to travel to San Francisco for a meeting, you could seriously evaluate a Polycom telepresence solution.”
Hayden went on to recite research about telepresence. She was preaching to the choir as she shared:

• Telepresence changes and increases productivity and the way people work. It’s inherently more productive than calls.
• If “we” talk for an hour, we are inherently more productive with the notion that if I see you and you see me, we have a better understanding.
• You should also watch my video interview (above) with Hayden for more points.

Specific to Polycom’s Real Presence Platform is that it works with IBM’s Smart Cloud and Microsoft’s Lync. It’s open standards-based allowing for wide interoperability. It has an app available for “Sudden additions” to an existing conference. That is, you can invite some using a tablet, phone or laptop to hop on the session.

The “real red meat” vis-à-vis Polycom at Lotusphere was its announcement of Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) solutions to its customers. At Lotuspshere, Polycom unveiled Polycom RealPresence Cloud, a wholesale, carrier-ready offering to enable service providers to quickly bring to market VaaS offerings. RealPresence Cloud solutions are designed specifically for service providers to equip them with the carrier-grade infrastructure, endpoints, and services they need to offer businesses of all sizes subscription-based solutions for video collaboration. The new offering for service providers is designed to accelerate the penetration and adoption of Polycom video collaboration solutions among SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) and enterprises who want either a hybrid solution of both premises-based video collaboration solutions and video on demand, or a pure VaaS solution.

Polycom RealPresence Cloud solutions compress the time-to-market and time-to-revenue for service providers to deliver VaaS solutions. Powered by the Polycom RealPresence Platform, the most complete and interoperable solution for universal video collaboration, RealPresence Cloud provides the carrier-grade scalability, reliability, availability, and security required for service providers to offer VaaS to SMBs and enterprises. RealPresence Cloud solutions encompass a fully managed multipoint video service that supports a multitude of connectivity options between standards-based room, mobile, PC, and Web-based endpoints, as well as Microsoft Lync 2010, IBMSametime, and endpoints supporting the non-standard TIP protocol. Service providers can leverage Polycom RealPresence Cloud solutions to offer their customers a true business-to-business VaaS solution without having to fully integrate and support the core infrastructure on-premises. This solution leverages the Polycom RealPresence Network (formerly the Halo/HVEN network acquired from HP in 2011) to allow service providers to fast-track their capability to deliver video from the cloud.

I had another telepresence conversation with Chris Wildfoerster from ClearOne on the Lostusphere expo floor. I wrote about ClearOne’s Collaboration Console almost a year ago here and I’ll follow-up with a test drive shortly.

Two well-respected industry sources have shared with me that an early small telepresence vendor may have hit a rough patch with significant layoffs, late payments to its vendors and fulfillment problems. I need to confirm this with the company itself before I’ll say more. However – if true – it signals that the telepresence market is entering a consolidation and shakeout period. It’s a natural act – winner and losers. Just like the political primary season.

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All together now – Telephony + SmartCloud

Coming out of Lotusphere, there were some announcements you might have missed. This includes UK-based Intelecom introducing telephony functionality to IBM’s new SmartCloud (formerly known as LotusLive). For me, a fan of voice+data integration, this makes SmartCloud a player now providing everything a business needs: front office, back office, social business and telephony functionality. And there’s good news for channel partners – you can play in this Reindeer game too!

Earlier today, I caught up with a busy Adrian Sparks, Intelecom’s managing director, in his London office. He expanded on the launch of Connect, its hosted telephony contact management portal for IBM’s SmartCloud. The integration will provide users of the IBM Cloud Collaboration Service access to carrier- grade voice telephony and the ability to make outgoing calls direct from contact profile, contact record and contact list views. The first phase of integration will also provide SmartCloud for Social Business users access to the Connect Lite application, providing additional functionality such as the distribution of incoming calls and visibility of key management information. “Adding Intelecom voice capabilities to SmartCloud for Social Business will significantly enhance the power of this leading collaboration tool. As demand for business collaboration applications becomes greater the importance of voice integration and the need for resilient carrier grade networks will also increase. This is a tremendous opportunity to help organizations save money and drive innovation.” Sparks shared.

Keep an eye on Intelecom as it rolls out its partner program to reward partners for selling its cloud-based service and additional product announcements. We’ll continue to monitor Intelecom’s efforts.

Don’t Leave Cash on the Table. Earn More Now From Existing Customers!

The tough economy continued for many in 2011. However, the SMB communications business saw consistent growth opportunities in PBX and IP PBX sales. In fact, with the right advantages, many resellers in this market were actually “rolling in the green.” How? The shift from hiring new employees to increasing employee productivity has created significant revenue opportunities in resellers’ existing customer bases.

Your top priority in maximizing your existing-customer revenue stream is to find the right solutions surrounded by strong value-adds. Making the right choice for these important factors is easier than you would expect.

Avaya is globally recognized for their award-winning solutions. You’ll dig deeper into a variety of markets with implementations that are tremendously on-target with your customers’ needs, and you’ll win strong customer loyalty while creating additional service opportunities. Add to that Avaya’s shorter sales cycles and strong margin potential, and it becomes even easier for you to create cash flow.

To ensure your success selling Avaya’s best-in-class solutions, partner with Avaya’s largest value-added distributor, Catalyst Telecom. From IP Office “Boot Camp” certifications that give you practical, hands-on experience installing and configuring IP Office, to a proprietary FastQuote tool that creates budgetary quotes with a few simple questions, a configurator tool and an IP Office Virtual Demo Center, Catalyst Telecom is uniquely qualified to show you how easy it is to expand your business with Avaya.

The combination of Avaya’s solutions and Catalyst Telecom’s support puts you in an ideal position to engage your current customer base and win more deals in less time, and there’s no better time to get started than today! From now until February 29th, partner with Catalyst Telecom and earn free demo equipment! Visit or call a Catalyst Telecom sales rep at 855.226.7033 to claim your demo equipment and watch your earnings pile up!

Why Android is Outpacing iOS as a Mobile Solution for On-the-Go Professionals

By Joseph Walker, writer for

I have a confession: I’m a trained Microsoft IT professional, but I love the Apple aesthetic. Their devices are beautiful, their displays dazzling, and their interfaces slick and intuitive. That said, I’ve never been a big Apple fan, mostly owing to their outsize prices and limited software selection. But personal feelings aside, Apple is absolutely a pioneer in the field of mobile and portable computing, and the industry owes them big time.

As the mobile patent wars unfold, we may find that Google did indeed “steal” Android (or at least parts of it) from Apple’s iPhone and iOS; and perhaps Samsung did copy valuable Apple IP. I’m a bit interested in both the legal and ethical ramifications of these court battles, but I’m more concerned with something more central to my daily life: Whose products work the best?
The answer to that question is far simpler to me than the legal catfights currently gripping the industry. The newest Android devices beat out the iPhone and iPad in almost every comparison that’s important to me (and most other on-the-go professionals I know). Don’t believe me? Take a look at what follows, and let me know where I'm wrong.

Mobile Productivity
Both Android and iOS support a broad selection of office productivity apps. Apple’s App Store and Google’s Marketplace offer great apps like Evernote, QuickOffice, Olive Office, and Documents to Go, but the full version of all of these apps cost money and don’t always integrate well with synchronization features.

What Android has that iOS can’t come close to matching is full (and free) Google Docs and Apps integration. Without any set-up other than a username and password, Google Docs/Apps users have full access to Google’s Microsoft Office challenger, along with viewing support for a variety of popular file formats, including PDF and PSD. Changes in Google Docs instantly sync across all devices, and users can share files with others with just a few swipes of the finger. Another plus: Google Docs comes with 1GB of free cloud storage, with additional storage priced quite cheaply at $5 per year per 20GB. (Sadly, neither Android nor iOS have any useful Office 365 apps.)

Everything Syncs
If you’re a Google user, all of your email, contacts, calendar events, etc., sync across all of your Android and PC devices. Steve Jobs may have coined the phrase, “It just works,” but Google’s syncing features are downright magic.

I have both a Gmail and Google Apps account on my new Android 4.0 phone, and with just the entry of my login information, both accounts sync quickly and accurately with my Outlook (on three different computers), web apps and two Android tablets. All of my email, contacts, Chrome bookmarks, and calendar events are everywhere, all the time, in almost real time. I also have an Exchange hosted email account. It works beautifully, too, and setting it up was a breeze.
What about folks who aren’t already Google users? There’s no reason not to be. Google Apps is free for up to 10 users. There are no iCloud or other special fees like those Apple hoists on its customers. As for Apple, you're still stuck with iTunes or a bevy of somewhat clunky third-party wireless syncing apps.

Google Service Integration
Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Maps, YouTube and more all work seamlessly on Android devices. The majority of them come pre-loaded on most phones and tablets. It’s almost eerie watching a video on my home PC and then seeing that video show up in both my tablet’s and phone’s YouTube history. Even better is Google Voice. When I receive a voice or text message, it shows up instantly on all of my devices. Messages are transcribed, searchable, and sortable, and I can respond to text messages from any device using my real phone number.

App and Interface Flexibility

Whether iOS or Android has more apps available for download is open for debate, but there’s no question that many more portals exist for downloading Android apps. Starting with the official Marketplace and Amazon Appstore, many companies and online communities offer a variety of snazzy apps. Apps also don’t have to be downloaded. Users can “side load” them with SD cards, a physically or network connected PC, or even a USB hard drive. If there's an app I can imagine but can't find, I either create myself or hire someone else to do it. No Apple approval required.

The default iOS interface might be slicker than the stock Android one, but it's your own fault if it stays that way on your Android device. Between hundreds of widgets and themes, Android offers a level of visual customizability unmatched by iOS. I love the fact that the first thing I see when I turn my phone on is the time and a calendar of events for the day. That setup might drive others nuts, but that's fine: They can change it to whatever their preferences are.

Don’t forget Flash support. HTML5 may eventually supplant Flash, but don’t count on it anytime soon.

Hardware Versatility
If you're not fond of the iPhone or iPad form factor, you’re SOL. As for Android, I have a phone with a 4.3-inch screen, a 7-inch Android tablet, and another 10.1-inch Android tablet. They all serve their purpose, but none of them are perfect for every occasion. Apple continues to be absent in the oversized phone and undersized tablet markets even though there’s certainly a demand for low-ounce, high-inch devices.

My favorite Android hardware feature? Full USB support. While not every Android tablet offers a full-size USB port, many of them do. For folks who want to make the most of their tablet (at a reasonable price point) this feature is invaluable. I can hook any standard USB keyboard, mouse, or flash drive into my Android tablet. There’s no need for any expensive—and sometimes quirky—Blue Tooth devices. I’ve even had my tablet working with USB speakers and a Clear 4G mobile modem.

If someone wants to argue that Apple's devices are more beautiful or have interfaces that are just that extra bit smoother, I'm happy to cede the point. But that's not what I'm worried about. I want a phone (or a tablet) that makes my work—and life—as easy as possible, and that's what, in my opinion, Android has to offer.


1.) Heartland Technologies Makes Capital Investment in VarVid: Heartland Technologies CEO Arlin Sorensen announced last week that he, and his brother, Bard, are making a sizeable financial commitment to digital media services company Varvid. According to Heartland, this is part of a strategic alliance aimed at expanding business-changing educational content via an online video platform.

“Our interest in Varvid enables us to offer a wide array of digital media services to HTG Peer Group members either through real-time, interactive sessions or on-demand programming that’s not only available when they want to receive it, but how they want to receive it,” Sorensen said in a press relaease. “I’m a big believer that digital communication is going to be the separator between those that do well in the marketplace and those that don’t.”

The investment from the Sorensen brothers allows Varvid to hasten its growth in size and services by utilizing assets and personnel from both Heartland Technology Consulting (HTC) and Heartland Technology Solutions (HTS). Most notably, the company plans to broaden its support of event services including turnkey solutions related to staging, lighting, sound and multi-camera coverage for both live and on-demand viewership.

Varvid will also continue to build its existing video production services, while increasing its business offerings to provide all-inclusive social media strategies and digital media marketing solutions. These services will include online video production via remote editing, video hosting, live webcasting, online marketing campaigns, email newsletters, website integration, content generation for social media sites and professional on-site video production.

“Everyone thought the Internet was great in 1999, and it was, but they really didn’t have any idea where it could and would go at that time,” said Aaron Booker, Varvid CEO and co-founder “We’re at a stage now with digital media services that parallels those early days of the Internet and it’s thrilling to be at the forefront of that next technology wave.”

Varvid, which can often be seen tooling around industry events (including SMB Nation’s) with their uniform of black dress oxford shirts and bright orange ties, began as a production company helping businesses leverage their online presence through video testimonials, case studies and “live” event coverage.

Following the capital investment from the Sorensens, the brothers will join Varvid’s board of directors. In addition, Aaron Booker, formerly president and co-founder, will now lead the company as its CEO with responsibility for developing strategic relationships and driving corporate innovation. Mike Simmons, former Varvid creative director and co-founder, replaces Booker as president, and will oversee the company’s day-to-day business operations.

1From "Oops...My Bad! 5 Blogs We Missed Last Week," by Regina Ciardiello

2.) SmartCloud Mobility – Beginning of an ERA! Rob Ingram, Sr. Manager for Mobile Communications at IBM Lotus shared his view of the world the mobile strategy is three-fold: (1) Collaboration for end user products, (2) Mobile web apps and portal apps and (3) Security – mobile security. “The goal is to round out and create lots of mobile apps on the collaboration side. At Lotusphere, the latest is that new versions of these apps have been announced. This includes new version of Connections and Domino apps that transform into mobile apps.” Ingram reaffirmed IBM’s long-stand support for BlackBerry and support for iOS and Android. “It’s the beginning of the era for mobile.”

2From "Five Daze and Amaze Trends Coming Out of Lotusphere 2012 for MSPs," by Harry Brelsford

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