GENBAND’s Bhatia Offers Carrier Networks Virtualization Conference Preview

GENBAND's Bhatia Offers Carrier Networks Virtualization Conference Preview

November 24, 2015

GENBAND has been a pioneer in helping communications services providers to insert themselves into the over-the-top application value chain, in enabling CSPs to benefit from network functions virtualization, and in building ecosystems so its carrier and other customers are presented with an array of solutions from which to choose.



The company has seen great success with its KANDY platform-as-a-service solution, which allows service providers to expose network resources for use by developers building real-time communications into their applications. Bringing real-time communications to applications used to be a long, hard climb for developers, but KANDY’s APIs, SDKs, and Quick Starts make it easier. As reported earlier this month, KANDY now has 15 million users and more than 50 ecosystem partners.

GENBAND is also contributing to the real-time communications revolution – through which communications capabilities are increasingly being embedded into various user experiences – via its work on the WebRTC front. And the company’s WebRTC gateway and various other solutions are now available as virtual network functions.

A key reason why CSPs are moving to new architectures and solutions like NFV and software-defined networking is to free themselves from vendor lock-in. So, rather than trying to be all things to all people, GENBAND is focusing on what it does best and partnering with other suppliers for the rest.

GENBAND will be discussing all of the above at the upcoming Carrier Network Virtualization event in Palo Alto, Calif. Real-Time Communications recently interviewed Sanjay Bhatia, GENBAND’s vice president of strategy and solutions marketing, to get a preview.

What solutions will GENBAND be highlighting at the show?

Bhatia: We are looking forward to showcasing our industry-leading NFV portfolio during next week’s Carrier Network Virtualization conference in Palo Alto. Our NFV portfolio spans our comprehensive Real Time Communications solutions set comprised of multiple, high-performance virtual network functions or NFV applications, including session border controllersintelligent messagingWebRTC gateways, wireless access gateways, session control and applications server solutions, and an intelligent cloud manager that provides seamless interworking into broader NFV infrastructures.

Tell us about GENBAND’s NFV strategy.

Bhatia: As modern technologies become increasingly complex, it becomes more and more apparent that no single vendor has all the answers. At GENBAND, we truly believe in close cooperation with ecosystems to bring about the promised benefits of NFV. We are working closely within our many NFV ecosystem partners including Intel, HP, Cyan, Wind River, Kontron, and Alcatel-Lucent to bring differentiated NFV solutions to market. 

Working with ecosystem partners allows us to come together and play a vital role in helping service providers achieve goals that infrastructure platforms based on enterprise-class software cannot, and enabling the industry to come together to eliminate critical issues such as network downtime, which can result in higher operational costs, SLA penalties, and customer churn. The ecosystem approach encourages software development and integration, and presents service providers with an opportunity to reduce both their capital and operational investment and reduce the time it takes to bring services to market.

What are some of the things that you are most looking forward to at the show?

Bhatia: I am looking forward to visiting with many of our customers and prospects to share with them the progress that we are making on the NFV front. We will have some exciting news to share in the very near future that is further proof of our advancements in NFV. I am also looking forward to hearing some of the keynotes from leading service providers on where they are in their NFV strategies as well as participating in some of the discussions about the key challenges that the industry still faces and highlight what we see as potential solutions. 

You’ll be presenting as well. What will you be talking about?

Bhatia: My presentation will focus on assessing the advantages of ecosystem openness and collaboration. It touches a bit on what I mentioned in my previous response about the benefits of ecosystems. In addition, I will discuss how we can all learn from previous technologies and some of the steps that the industry can take to ensure that we continue on an accelerated pace to NFV.  I will also discuss why fostering a culture of openness is so crucial to the success of software- defined networking and NFV. And I will highlight where some of the challenges are with regards to openness. It should be a great discussion. I’m really looking forward to what should be a very informative, interactive conference.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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Rocket Fuel to Address Individual Consumers in DSP

November 24, 2015

Rocket Fuel, a developer of demand-side marketing platforms (DSPs), has announced that it will begin using its own Moment Scoring marketing algorithms to better track potential advertising impact within its self-service DSP.

Moment Scoring software can track users behind devices, instead of the devices themselves. Normal marketing scores rate the use of devices and how past interaction from devices can inform customer interests. However, this type of scoring can break down when multiple individuals pass around the same devices. Rocket Fuel wants to address each user profile to provide each individual with the best advertising that meets their needs.

Randy Wootton, the CEO of Rocket Fuel, explains the situation with more depth:

“Individual consumers appear as four or five profiles on average across their owned devices, switching among them frequently throughout the day,” Wootton said. “With our new people-based marketing approach, our Moment Scoring technology leverages unified profiles to present a holistic and complete view of an individual to deliver the right ad at the right moment on the right device, avoiding the delivery of excess ads on more devices. With Moment Scoring, the value for marketers is clear: optimize spend and drive higher campaign performance.”

The final line of his comment underscores the potential that this person-centric focus can have for marketers. Although the primary goal, for marketers everywhere, has always been to reach as many people as possible with relevant messages, the addition of mobile computers and phones has not made the situation any easier. Marketers have had to work hard to try to distinguish between one user and another. Now, that mission becomes a possibility.

Image via Pixabay

Moment Scoring is set to become the default setting in its self-service DSP in 2016. Within several months of that default setting becoming a reality, Rocket Fuel intends to place Moment Scoring into its data management platform as well. Tests for the initial stages of Moment Scoring development have shown improved marketing performance of 30 percent for direct ad responses and more than 50 percent for overall campaign goals. With those numbers attached to the DSP and data management applications, marketers may be able to boost their performance from multiple angles.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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How Contact Centers Can Survive the Holiday Rush

With the high shopping season around the corner, company call centers are bracing themselves for the deluge of traffic in the lead up to the end of the year and the world’s busiest shopping period.

Even with the most sophisticated planning and technology, there’s always a situation that a contact center did not anticipate. What if those centers had the ability to accurately mimic the onslaught of traffic ahead of time? Being able to simulate the stress put on systems would allow for identification and rectification of most issues before it is crunch time.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

When you’re looking at your web browser or using your phone to contact banks and airlines, core data processing lies underneath the surface. Way below the user interface are processes relying on complex database interactions. Improper network configuration, service data settings, or data provisioning items (such as the number of allocated ports) are so subtle they can go unnoticed. Everything can appear to run well, even at up to 60 percent capacity.

It’s not until you go above 60 percent capacity that you see response times begin to slow down. All of a sudden, a task that used to take one second now takes five. At full load, the entire system may keel over. Any underlying miss-configuration have the potential to cause a major issue that affects your business.

Here are three easy steps your company could follow to better predict and fix problems before they become major issues:

1. Start Your Engines

If you’re going to race, you wouldn’t bring your car directly to the racetrack without any preparation. If your car had only ever reached a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour, you would have no idea what to expect if it was supposed to reach 120 miles per hour on race day. The same applies to data processing systems, and contact centers in particular. You’ll want to push the car to see if it’s going to be able to stand up to the pressure. If anything goes wrong, you’ll be able to fix it before you ever need to get up to full speed.

2. Monitor Your Gauges

The best way to find out if your car is ready for the race is by looking at its gauges. You need to pay careful attention to how your data processing systems are performing by looking for any sign of weakness. While you’re revving your engines, pay special attention to anything out of the ordinary. Any irregularities in your infrastructure can lead to a catastrophic failure and subsequent outage.

3. Conduct a Practice Session

Scribbling down a plan for the worst-case scenario and hoping for the best won’t prepare you for an emergency. Practice in advance what you’ll do when that inevitable outage occurs. It could be something that happens in your own internal data processing, your network service provider, or your cloud data processing service provider.

Exercise your business continuation plan ahead of time under real-world conditions. If you run through a few drills, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do in order to keep the system robust. You’ll also uncover problems you wouldn’t have been able to foresee. Those 'unknown-unknowns' tend to emerge under pressure during the most difficult situations.

Take your systems out for a test drive, figure out what’s going to happen when they’re under load, and get them properly instrumented so you can watch the situation in real-time. You can gain major insight by paying attention to what’s going on under the hood.

Once you make strategic corrections from this insight, you won’t have the same downtime issues should the problem occur in the future. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to run your staff through exactly what they’ll need to do when something does go wrong. Practice is key—it really helps to keep everything running smoothly in your production environment.

It is possible to prevent catastrophic downtime during the busiest time of the year. All it takes is a bit of preparation and practice ahead of time.

About Mike Burke

Mike has banked more than 40 years in telecommunications, contact centers and networking while working at Honeywell (News - Alert), GTE, Verizon & IQ Services.  Since joining IR, Mike’s participated in hundreds of engagements to monitor, measure, and manage customer service experience for clients worldwide representing all verticals. Prior to IR, Mike was involved in a 90s Internet start–up, wrote code for Centrex, designed and built networks for the DoD and helped introduce DSL services for the RBOCs.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

Hyperscale Data Centers Revolutionizing and Disrupting the IT Industry


Hyperscale Data Centers Revolutionizing and Disrupting the IT Industry

November 24, 2015

Data centers are a key component in supporting the explosion of cloud infrastructure services, and spending on both service and infrastructure is growing at a break-neck pace. New findings from Synergy Research Group suggest hyperscale data center operators are spending billions of dollars to build out their architectures throughout the world in an effort to support the need for cloud services.

Synergy told Datamation that spending on cloud infrastructure services alone is growing at a rate of 50 percent per year, signaling a massive need for global data center expansion. The company found that the top four cloud providers maintain 110 data centers spread across 20 countries and expect to add 22 new facilities over the next year.

"Building and managing data centers is a hugely expensive and complex process that an increasing numbers of enterprises are trying to minimize or exit altogether," said John Dinsdale, chief analyst and research director at Synergy Research Group. "The investment numbers involved in creating a global footprint of data centers are now mind-boggling and this is leading to big changes in the nature and structure of the IT industry."

Indeed, AWS, Microsoft, IBM and Google are not only the top cloud infrastructure players, but are also the companies building out their hyperscale data center footprints. The rise of network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) is also playing a role in how data centers are being architected and built out. Hyperscale cloud providers and data center operators are under increasing pressure to not only build out their footprints, but to do so as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. That is resulting in more spending on virtualization solutions, bare metal servers and network optimization and management technologies, a trend that is revolutionizing the entire data center industry.

Synergy found that spending on enterprise data center equipment has remained static, while original design manufacturers (ODMs) are gaining traction when it comes to supplying hyperscale data center operators with equipment. This has resulted in a noteworthy market shift away from legacy equipment providers and has caused telecom companies to rethink their data center strategies as well. Verizon and AT&T are among a slew of telecom operators announcing comprehensive SDN strategies just over the past year.

"This is a time of unprecedented change in the IT industry," said Dinsdale. "Companies like AWS and Microsoft are now major players in enterprise IT; IBM is totally reinventing itself; companies like Equinix and NTT are amassing huge data center footprints; while HP and Cisco are aggressively growing their cloud technology business units. We do not expect the rate of change to lessen over the coming years."

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Get Asymmetrical with Customer Service

Get Asymmetrical with Customer Service

November 24, 2015

Few products or services are immune to the effects of customer service. Even Apple, which long has been known for its fanatical fans and unique products, offers strong customer care because the alternative is a slow migration away from its offerings.

A recent Gallup poll shows how various industries stack up in terms of customer care.

Interestingly, banks come out on top in terms of customer care, at least in the Gallup poll; roughly 38 percent of those surveyed by Gallup said branch banking offers excellent customer care, with 89 percent overall rating it either good or excellent.

Pharmacies also do well as a group when it comes to customer service; 34 percent said they offered excellent customer service, with 87 percent saying the customer service at pharmacies is good or better.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) also scored similarly, as did grocery stores. Farther down the line were convenience stores, which only had 20 percent saying they provided good customer service and both retail stores and fast food restaurants scoring at the bottom with less than 20 percent saying they had excellent customer care as a group.

What’s interesting, in my mind at least, is that higher value sales items seem to command higher ratings for customer service. With the exception of the USPS, the top scoring categories when it comes to customer care all have more money to throw at customer service. Banks are at top, fast food near the bottom.

While the Gallup poll does seem to imply that the more money thrown at customer service does affect how customers perceive service, businesses with smaller budgets or tighter margins need not fret. There are ways to improve customer service without massive financial outlays.

One of those ways is through the use of good self-service customer care offerings.

An Aberdeen report last year showed that companies with self-service programs enjoyed an almost 85 percent greater year-over-year increase in customer retention rates, one indication of good customer service.

Good self-service can be an equalizer, because self-serve is a relatively inexpensive customer care option that nonetheless reaches the heart of customer service: It solves customer problems quickly and easily.

So if a business doesn’t have the fat margins of a Chase Bank or an Apple, it still can score well on the important measure of customer service by leveraging solutions such as Aspect Software’s customer self-service platform.

The relationship between customer service spend and results might be real, but it isn’t iron-clad. Just get asymmetrical with your customer service offerings if your customer care budget is tight.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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TokBox Introduces Two-Way Broadcast TV Solution

TokBox Introduces Two-Way Broadcast TV Solution

November 24, 2015

The line between television and online services is blurring, in case you haven’t noticed. Not only do smart TVs now feature apps and connections to Internet-based content such as YouTube, but broadcasting is slowly moving away from a passive experience and toward one where users can interact with the TV they watch.



One example of this evolution is the recently announced TokBox Spotlight broadcasting application.

While most broadcasting solutions are one-way experiences, even online, Spotlight introduces a multi-party broadcasting experience that can include party panels, video-based audience participation and two-way broadcasting between the broadcasting content and those who are watching it.

Spotlight use can range from two-party video chat broadcast to hundreds of viewers to enabling audience members to join in and become part of the show.

Once early Spotlight user is Fox Sports, which has built its Fox Sport Huddle around the technology. Huddle, a weekly live college football chat show on foxsports.com, uses the technology to enable viewers to contribute to the show and weigh in.

Image via Pixabay

To make participation easy, Spotlight leverages WebRTC so participants can initiate video chat directly through their browser instead of needing to download a plugin or work from a specific platform or service. This makes participation exceedingly easy.

TokBox also has made development and customization easy, as well as producer workflow. Spotlight is easy to embed into web sites and smartphone applications, and customizing the user interface is easy.

Spotlight’s producer dashboard also makes it easy to control and mix together video. Producers can create high-quality, TV-ready content with built-in recording capabilities to distribute and share via various social media outlets.

TokBox’s Spotlight is an intriguing use of real-time communications as applied to broadcast television, one that makes sense and points the way for the future of TV. We know TV is evolving and getting more closely knit with the Internet, but so far we haven’t seen much in the way of true integration between the Internet and broadcast TV. Spotlight, however, could be an early foray in the direction of more completely integrated broadcast TV.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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Online Communities Stop Ad-Blocking Ad-Mageddon

November 23, 2015

Imagine if only your marketing messages, not your competitors’, were seen.

More than two hundred million global Internet users block ads and in the US alone this past year, the market has grown by 40%. Even more of an industry concern, Apple’s iOS9 now permits ad blocking on around a billion devices! 

via Pixabay

Quite often, users choose to block ads because they are sick of seeing unrelated and irrelevant messages. Even more of a nuisance is seeing advertisements for products already purchased.

The situation has become such a big challenge that Yahoo and The Washington Post are experimenting with ways to get around ad blocking software. .

The good news is, there is a simple way to get marketing messages through ad blockers using turnkey, content-driven online community sites (OCs) from TMC. Using proprietary, content-targeting, 80% of TMC Online Community sites rank on the first page of search results – even if an ad blocker is used.

The question worth asking is, won’t this upset ad blocked users? So far, it hasn’t been an issue. Most likely because of the nature of the solution. For example, an OC which focuses on coffee, containing articles about grinding or brewing techniques would likely be a welcome place for related ads. This same concept holds true for many markets such as technology, finance and healthcare.

Companies of all sizes, from 10 to 10,000 employees, use OCs to gain traffic and position themselves as leaders by literally “owning their selected term” in search engines. They even build numerous communities to position themselves as leaders in multiple spaces while gaining search and social traffic in the process.

OCs target buyers while in the frame of mind to learn and purchase. OCs are virally spread through social networks and can become the core of your social strategy. Marketing through education has worked for decades and a premium TMC OC with expert designers and editors supplied, is a surefire way to keep the concept working for your business - while building your traffic and awareness.

It is very different from your website - it is a more neutral area which acts as an internet safe-zone between you and the potential-customer looking to learn more about the market you serve.

Ad-blocking is the greatest threat the online marketing business may have ever faced but if you arm yourself with the right tools, what experts are calling ad-mageddon will be nothing more than a speed bump on your path to success.

Thanks for reading this article about marketing on a sponsored Mad Marketer online community, The Mad Marketer.

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6 User Experience Must-Haves in WebRTC

November 23, 2015

The focus on real-time communications as of late has centered much on the capabilities of WebRTC. The open source foundation of a browser agnostic technology promises to enable connectivity for voice, video and data in ways we could only previously accomplish with expensive software or challenging plug-ins.

A recent Developer Boards post by AT&T highlights the obstacles that have been removed now that WebRTC is going mainstream. This means you now need less to establish a connection with someone else and the peer-to-peer model is preferred. As the web was originally intended to be open, decentralized and as accessible as possible, WebRTC follows the same trend, doing the same for real-time communications.

Still, even technology with this kind of promise has to fit into the user experience. Something that is complicated to use or difficult to navigate will quickly turn away all but the most savvy in the use of specialized applications. WebRTC aims to achieve the exact opposite for all users, which is why before implementing the technology or launching an app supported through WebRTC foundations, there are six key user experience elements that must be considered.

Image via Pixabay

Kudos to AT&T for setting the pace with WebRTC in an industry that tends to favor the proprietary approach. Let’s examine these six key user experience elements you need to remember:

User workflow – we don’t like change, especially when we think something is working. Understand how the user is most likely going to use your app and where they would launch a video or voice call. Make that flow natural and seamless.

Existing obstacles – is there anything in the design that eliminates the ability to begin a video or voice call at any time? Be sure any conditions around the user experience are very clear to the user so as to avoid surprises.

Shared experiences – it’s important to design the app around sharing. Determine how users will be notified of the session or invited to participate. Look for opportunities to use familiar patterns and the potential to overcome disabled notifications.

User destinations – be sure to clearly define where users will be sent at each step of the process and remember the user may want to still use information they pulled up on the screen. Allow them to navigate quickly and easily.

Mistakes happen – what’s your plan if something goes wrong? It’s important to plan for things you don’t expect so you know what the user will experience when it happens. Make this as easy and seamless as possible.

Consistency – the consistent experience is critical if you want to see user success and the ongoing use of your app. Even if the user is leveraging a different function within the app, don’t change the interface or the experience or they will quickly abandon.

Remember, new technologies offer a lot of promise, as long as you keep the user experience in mind. As soon as it is no longer a priority, you run the risk of becoming obsolete. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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Do We Need FSMA? Reason.com Says No

Do We Need FSMA? Reason.com Says No

November 23, 2015

It’s a responsibility carried by the FDA to protect citizens from food borne illness, and meeting that responsibility is what drove the adoption of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but one of the writers at Reason.com thinks the whole thing is a bit of a waste of time.

Baylen Linnekin, executive director of the Keep Food Legal Foundation and adjunct professor at George Mason University Law School, where he teaches Food Law & Policy, wrote in an article called “The FDA’s New Food Safety Rules Won't Accomplish Much” that the bigger problem in food contamination is food preparation and meat product-sourced contamination (mostly norovirus). Because norovirus is responsible for about 58 percent of domestically-acquired food borne illness, according to the CDC, he wrote that the whole FSMA exercise is a solution with no problem.

Of course, this represents a basic misunderstanding of the goals of the Act. It is aimed at reducing contaminations from overseas sources, and domestic sources, and that reduction can be amount to many millions of cases. Especially if you consider that the main contribution to illness and the second largest to deaths as a result of contaminations in food is produce, which is covered by FSMA.

Image via Pixabay

Linnekin also asserted that because 22 percent of contaminations come from meats (not under FSMA or FDA purview), why bother?

In his article, he provides us with an answer, however: “FDA regulations could prevent, at best, only one out of every five cases, or up to 9.6 million cases of food borne illness.” He seems to be saying that FSMA is regulation for regulation’s sake, and it will serve no purpose.

I say, if it prevents illness in even one of 10 cases, it’s a win. You know, because fewer people die. So there’s that.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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