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Telepresence & Microsoft’s Plex

If there is a subtle message to be found in this month's cover story it is this: Damn the recession for the time has come to start planning for a new generation of technological advances.


May 1, 2009  


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If there is a subtle message to be found in this month’s cover story it is this: Damn the recession for the time has come to start planning for a new generation of technological advances.

Ultimately, the victors will be those vendors who have second thoughts about decimating marketing budgets, scaling back drastically on R&D efforts and symbolically at least, hiding behind a large rock until conditions improve.

As it turns out, with end-user organizations making overtures they are ready to spend again, this is not such a good time to be quiet.

Writer Stefan Dubowski notes in App Attacks that video, high performance computing and cloud computing — any and all of them could be what forces the industry forward into new cable management offerings, 40 Gigabit Ethernet in the data centre and Category 6A in the LAN.

While he concedes that no one really knows which application will kick the sector ahead, video certainly appears to be a safe bet.

According to ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt (see story on p. 8) the growth of managed telepresence services raises the prospect that soon virtually anybody may be able to benefit from this audiovisual experience.

AT&T Inc., a company that in February announced plans to invest upwards of US$1 billion this year expanding its global network, is a big proponent of video, and Cisco Systems Inc.’s Telepresence technology in particular.

In a recent meeting with Bill Archer via the AT&T/Cisco Telepresence Solution — he was in Bedminister, N. J. and I was at Cisco Systems Canada Inc.’s head office in Toronto — the organization’s chief marketing officer maintained it is changing the “way we do our work” by collapsing time cycles, decision cycles and the actions that are required to function in a business.

AT&T defines Telepresence as high-definition, IP-based video telephony that uses Session Initiation Protocol or SIP signaling for call set up and tear down: “Telepresence videoconferencing solutions differ from conventional video systems in that they use life-size ultra high definition video images, CD-quality, spatial audio, interactive technologies and a specially-designed environment to give the user the feeling of actually being in the same room as the participants in remote locations.”

It is leading edge, but not alone when it comes to the wow factor.

Microsoft executive Stephen Elop provided a peak into the future in early May during a press briefing in Toronto that included an airing of the firm’s Productivity Future Vision video, which can be accessed through the Microsoft Web site.

It is a fascinating look into a far different world and it begins with children in India communicating with children in Australia through the power of software to explore a new world of learning, said Elop, who is president of the Microsoft Business Division

He predicts that, mobile devices will be more powerful than desktop computers of today and technology will connect you with the information you need, when “and where you need it, whether it be your local coffee shop, an airport, or a roof top in Hong Kong.”

The video also contains a “software exploration” called Plex that “enables you to browse, click, zoom, pan and jump all around in a virtual canvas to showcase concepts, charts and videos in a more visual and dynamic fashion that is more compelling and interactive.”

Plex and other applications, adds Elop, will allow people to express themselves differently and have information expressed back to them in different, new and exciting ways.

It may also help kick start the entire IT industry.