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September 09, 2011

Exploring Opportunities in the Cloud: ITEXPO West Interview

The telecommunications space has dramatically evolved over the past year, producing exciting innovations and technology solutions. These changes will be a key focus at the upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) West event in Austin. To gain additional insight from market leaders, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani recently spoke with George A. Grabowich, managing director of Product Management, Cloud Computing Solutions for Broadview Networks (News - Alert) Inc. Grabowich noted that his market has changed dramatically in the last year, fueled by big names in the cloud space.

As for the next disruptive force in technology, he believes the market will be in search of a more standardized approach to move large data volumes between providers. When asked about the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model, Grabowich noted that Broadview is a cloud services provider focused on the SMB space, delivering a number of benefits, such as cost advantages, a higher grade of technology and a leveling of the playing field. The most common request from Broadview customers is the availability and security of data.

The social media space is also growing and businesses that cater to consumer customers have a great opportunity to stay connected and provide ways to drive loyalty, increase sales and spot customer trends, according to Grabowich. As for the move to the virtual workforce, Broadview is acting to meet the market needs for mobility in a variety of ways. At ITEXPO West, Grabowich is looking forward to what he believes will be a cloud-centric show. During the show, Grabowich will provide clarity around what cloud services actually mean for companies.

Their entire conversation follows:

How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those  changes?  

The market has changed dramatically in the last year fueled by big names in the Cloud space such as Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Terremark, Savvis, to name a few. These segment leaders either introduced Cloud Computing-based products and infrastructure, or merged with other established entities to create cloud computing powerhouses. The result has been a wave of advertising and a high level of “raised awareness” for everything cloud.

Unfortunately, raising awareness by itself does not guarantee success. It does, however, create opportunities for the market in aggregate to improve its messaging, especially messages that customers can understand and relate to;  to create selling strategies that customers can really get their arms around;  better understand the benefits that Cloud can bring allowing customers  to remain competitive.

What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business? 

One of the biggest challenges businesses face is the portability of large data stores and making that portability economical, safe, and secure.  This is also important from the perspective of data back-up, and the ability to migrate easily from one provider to another.

Data transfers “over- the-wire” are limited by bandwidth capacity at both ends.  If a business is thinking about moving a few terabytes worth of data and happens to be connected using T-1 speeds at either location, it will have to be prepared for  very long waits.

I think that the market will be in search of a more standardized way to move large volumes of data between providers. This could be a very disruptive force – and may be likened to how fixed and wireless service providers execute number portability, instead with the concept of “data portability” between providers.

This will require improvements in data compression algorithms; the need for standards bodies to create processes and procedures to enable the movement of large data stores/payloads to make them more portable; and potentially the need for governing bodies to create legislation mandating the creation and adoption of data portability standards among/between data centers that perform data migration on behalf of customer “on demand.” In this way, customers will have a wider choice of providers and will be able to take advantage of lower prices and better data storage performance.  

In addition, standardization will not only permit easier service migration between providers, but could also potentially enable faster restoration and recovery of data when primary data loss occurs.

Standardized data portability could be a major disruptive force, knocking the cover off the ball if developed for the cloud and data center markets. This would be a major revenue windfall for new market entrants with efficient business models and customers stand to benefit.

How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?  

First, Broadview is a cloud services provider focused primarily on the SMB market. As a service provider, our SMB customers benefit from the adoption of cloud-based services in a number of ways:

Cloud-based infrastructure services relieve small- and medium-sized businesses of making large capital outlays for IT infrastructure purchases. This has the affect of freeing up SMBs, which are typically underpowered in IT resource area, to concentrate on running their business and generating new opportunities. Cloud providers also to relieve companies from the responsibility of managing and maintaining their IT resources onsite.   Cloud providers shoulder the task of patching the software, managing the security and maintaining the hardware 24X7.

Cloud-based offering now enable SMBs to afford a higher-grade of technology and business solutions that they would likely not have been able to deploy on their own, helping SMBs to become more professional and more competitive, and to appear more capable to their customers.

The adoption of cloud hardware and software helps to “level the playing field” for SMBs, allowing them to look, act and behave like their much larger and “better resourced” enterprise competitors. The end result for our SMB customers after moving to the cloud has been a dramatic improvement in economy and increased efficiency in all of their development and processes, and increased opportunities to focus on generating new business.   

What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

Availability and security of data: Our Customers are terrified of losing their data. Here is an important and frequently cited statistic: Approximately 93 percent of businesses that lose data are out of business within a year. Data loss results not only from improperly maintained and patched application software, but also from hard drive crashes, security threats and physical damage to poorly sited servers on improperly protected premise environments.

As a result, our customers look to Broadview Networks in large measure to provide virtual servers in secure and redundant/mirrored SAS (News - Alert) 70 Type 2 data centers, as well as data back-up and recovery solutions that can survive all of these threats in a manner superior to those provided on premises.

Broadview has these critical building blocks for a secure SMB cloud solution, in addition to ancillary services that go far in solving a number of related and challenging business needs for reducing costs, increasing worker productivity, protecting from data leakage and improving delivery of service to their own customers.  

How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?   

Businesses that cater to consumer customers have a great opportunity before them to stay connected to their customers and provide way to drive loyalty, increase sales and spot Customer trends far faster using social media than any other prior technology or method.  The catch in riding this new, immediate wave is you need to be tech savvy enough to take advantage of this new opportunity. Businesses need to be able to program interfaces between their CRM systems and Facebook, Google+ API’s in order to be able to leverage this new found power. This requires programming time to devote to building these new information conduits and then exploiting them.

The SMB base we cater to has experienced difficulty in running the basic business IT infrastructure on their own, let alone drive new development efforts to take advantage of new social media opportunities. By going to the Cloud, we’re hoping to free our SMB customers from the often heavy burden and costs associated with premises-based infrastructure, and really empower them with better all around resources – high bandwidth, limitless computing power and redundancy. In this way, they’ll be able to tap new engines of growth by redirecting IT and other resources to address social media and other networking and targeted outreach opportunities, without letting the basic business infrastructure or software suffer.

As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility?  What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?

Broadview is acting to meet the markets need for mobility and virtual workforces in a number of ways.  Our cloud-based IP phone solution, OfficeSuite enables a host of mobility features and capabilities:  We are providing mobile clients for both iPhone and Android (News - Alert) -based smartphones. Our OfficeSuite Voicemail apps will make it easier than ever for users to access their messages from anywhere, allowing users to simply click to listen, manage and respond to voicemail messages directly from their mobile devices.

In addition, we have OfficeSuite Softphone,  a downloadable PC-based phone client that is completely integrated with Broadview Networks’ cloud-based IP phone solution and that provides full office phone functionality, the same extension, and features such as caller ID, extension-to-extension dialing, voicemail, and three-way calling, through a PC and an Internet connection.

Finally, Broadview Networks’ Cloud Computing Services portfolio introduces desktop and application virtualization capabilities into SMBs’ IT shops. Using a cloud-based platform, we’re able to house and run desktops and business applications in a secure data center, and project the “presentation layer” only to the workers on any device they’re using (work PC, home PC, Internet café public computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet) in a safe and secure environment.  And, this is important, we do it in a manner that prevents any opportunity for data loss or security breaches. A company’s data stays secure in the data center without leakage or loss, and we block opportunities for hacker entry as well.  Virtualization is a masterful way to eliminate any company’s security concerns, while permitting virtual workforces to proliferate, be productive and prosper.

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

Everything is buzzing about the cloud these days due to the opportunities it creates for many business customers out there. I think this will be a cloud-centric show.

What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend?  

I am looking to provide clarity around what cloud services actually mean for companies, especially in the SMB space, and to allay any unfounded fears that surround cloud-based environments.  I particularly want to address what cloud can and cannot do for business at this time.  Let’s call it a basic “cloud” blocking and tackling session, combined with an unabashed attempt at breaking through the FUD factors – facing head on all the fear, uncertainty and doubt  that’s been stirred up with availability and deployment of cloud-based infrastructure, software and desktop into the current marketplace.


To find out more about Broadview Networks, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX,  ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Broadview Networks in booth #732. George Grabowich (News - Alert), managing director of Cloud Computing Services at Broadview Networks, will be speaking during “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Cloud: Top 10 Reasons SMB’s Need Not Fear the Cloud”. Joe Corvaia, vice president of Solution Engineering at Broadview Networks, will be speaking during “Quantifying the Cloud ROI.” Don’t wait. Register now. 

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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