Taking Control of The Cloud

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In an exclusive interview Comms Business Magazine talks to Paul Kievit, President and Head of NEC Enterprise Solutions EMEA, during his recent visit to the UK.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): What have been your key growth areas during the past year and what are your growth expectations for the coming 12 months?

Paul Kievit (PK): After some tough economic times for many businesses we’re seeing encouraging signs of growth from end users across all market segments.  Small businesses continue to demand cost effective PBX solutions, while medium and large businesses are more open to software and cloud-based solutions. Particularly demand for UC&C solutions is growing. From a reseller perspective the opportunities are there if they’re prepared to re-think their more traditional offerings. Interest in our UNIVERGE 3C solution has been very healthy I’m pleased to say, and the appetite for technology is high.

CBM: What are the main market trends and emerging markets that are influencing your go-to-market strategy this year?

PK: The key market drivers can be roughly grouped into four main ‘pillars’ of customer and business value:

1) Integrating the Mobile Workforce. Mobile connectivity, coupled with access to all relevant data and applications, supports the workforce to conduct business regardless of location. Their location becomes unimportant, while their presence becomes all the more crucial. With their smartphones and media tablets as their most common business tools, they need to be fully integrated with a company’s network and business applications. This seamlessly extends enterprise telephony functionality and applications to these mobile devices, providing single number reach-ability, least cost routing through the company network and more.

When integrated, personal devices can be used in conjunction with enterprise security credentials – securing enterprise information and supporting ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies.

2) Instant Collaboration will reduce Latency and drive Productivity. With advanced tools such as instant video conferencing, shared workspace, calendar coordination and rich presence, Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) drives productivity across an organisation and reduces latencies in all areas, creating an informed and connected workplace.

It offers business enhancements such as the ability to optimise processes, integrate multiple communications channels, utilise smartphones and tablets and integrate business applications, including those used for product development, process control and customer services.

We expect UC&C uptake to surge as applications and tools are introduced that make set up and use of conferencing and file sharing easy – from any desktop or mobile device, inside or outside the office. The speed, flexibility, cost & time effectiveness of such collaboration sessions will make them the defacto standard, reducing the need to meet in person and thus for business travel significantly.

3) Beyond Virtualisation towards Services Centric Operations. Companies are increasingly turning to virtualisation as the answer to their IT challenges.

A virtualised infrastructure improves business continuity through system-level fault tolerance to protect mission-critical applications. It minimises capital expenditures and operating cost by consolidating multiple physical servers on a single host, running Virtual Machines.

But virtualisation offers much more than simple server consolidation and cost savings. Virtual work environments support workers anywhere and deliver individual workers more freedom within their jobs. Through desktop virtualisation, employees can access their applications and data very safely over a network, minimising the risk of data loss.

Virtualisation becomes the catalyst in the shift from device centric toward services centric operations. In addition to enterprise cloud, the personal cloud will gradually replace the PC as the location where individuals keep their personal content and access their services.

4) Modularity – Pay just for what you Use. Behind all corporate applications and data, you will find a corporate datacenter. All this data is organic with storage equipment growing extremely quickly. Servers today draw roughly twice as much power as they did just a few years ago, and global server power consumption (and the heat generated by this power) is projected to increase by another 50% over the next two years. Meanwhile, the facilities themselves are rarely renewed; they strain to keep pace with the power demanded by the increased equipment, and with the cooling required by the server racks.

Enterprises need to align their datacenter capabilities with the expanding requirements of the systems that they house. This can be a complex endeavor: there is a need to agree on where and how to deploy new servers and datacenter facilities to accommodate current and future increases in demand.

A server or datacenter that deploys only the technology needed to run today’s needs has evident CAPEX and OPEX benefits. Modularity allows investing only in what is needed today, trimming up-front costs and leaving open the possibility of incorporating new technologies in the future. And if IT infrastructure is designed in the same way, as kind of plug-and-play vehicle, cost can significantly be deferred and, in essence, you just pay what and when you need it, either from a capital or operating perspective.

CBM: What strategic channel moves will you be making in the coming year in terms of attacking existing markets with new products/services and addressing new markets with new products/services

PK: The recent formation of NEC Enterprise Solutions demonstrates our desire to offer channel partners and customers alike more of the NEC portfolio. NEC is unique in that we have more components of the overall solution under one roof than perhaps any other vendor today.

NEC Enterprise Solutions combines our Enterprise and SMB business with our IT hardware and applications business, this powerful combination is already delivering great results, leading channel partners from around EMEA were given not just a glimpse of the future but also shown real live examples which in many cases were presented by the satisfied customers themselves. We see the same mix of IT and Comms expertise becoming a prerequisite for channel partners to be successful and we are developing tools and training to coach and support our partners in this field.

Much work is still ahead of us to but given the results thus far I’d say it’s exciting times for all connected with NEC.

CBM: What do you see as the biggest challenges/opportunities in the UK ICT channel and how will you maximise the opportunity and address the challenges as they relate to you?

PK: The biggest challenge for our UK channel partners is to take control of the cloud.

The cloud is not a one-size fits all proposition for customers… or for channel partners. We recognise that we have different types of channel partners that need unique strategies for addressing emerging cloud opportunities. That’s why we have developed a more flexible go-to-market strategy for our cloud offerings that let’s partners choose what works best for their business.

We are working on programs and offerings to meet these specific needs. Whether it’s building a full Unified Communications service offering from scratch, simply reselling an offering that is designed, implemented and managed by NEC or options in between, we can help partners to the cloud.

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