Microsoft Announces Virtualization Support for OCS Monday, May 18 2009 

Well, not all of OCS, but for specific server roles. The roles include: front-end, back-end SQL Server 2008 64-bit; group chat channel; group chat compliance; archiving; monitoring (CDR only); and edge access. The roles that are not supported are: audio/video/web conferencing servers, audio/video/web edge conferencing servers, dial-in conferencing, Communicator Web Access, enterprise voice, or Remote Call Control “may not be deployed as part of the virtualized pool.”

In my recent research on cost savings best practices, interviewees consistently mentioned server consolidation. Virtualization goes hand-in-hand with server consolidation efforts. However, communications technologies – in general – are difficult to run virtualized because of high server transactional costs that lead to high CPU utilization, heavy disk IO, and large quantities of attached data. As a result, support for virtualization of communications technologies has lagged behind other server applications. IBM has done well in this area with support for both Notes and Sametime available.  

A whitepaper from Microsoft is available that details the architecture, methodology, and performance.

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Going Green with Web Conferencing Wednesday, Aug 20 2008 

While doing research for my upcoming web conferencing overview document, I was discussing with the folks at the Adobe the perceived value of web conferencing in relation to being “green.”  With new announcements almost daily from companies announcing their “green” efforts (For example, IBM’s latest announcement in it’s Big Green initiative), being green in IT is growing in popularity and trendy.     

The folks at Adobe showed me a nifty little application pod for Adobe Connect Pro from RefinedData that calculates, based on the IP address of attendees, the carbon footprint savings by attending a web conference meeting instead of traveling to the host location.  The add-in is called Footprints.  The screenshot below gives you a feel for it:

Footprints Preview

 

The idea is that the Footprints add-in will show attendees and the organization how much carbon they have saved the planet through the use of the Connect Pro conferencing tool.  If you are a Connect Pro customer, the add-in might be a way to tout your “greenness” –  if that is worth the $295 license fee from RefinedData to you.  You can download a free trial version here.

Another web conferencing vendor, iLinc, is expending a fairly significant effort to tout it’s iLinc Green Meter:

 

The gist of these tools is to provide some method to track and measure the benefit of web conferencing in relation to Green initiatives by organizations.  While the scientific accuracy of the real environmental benefit could probably be argued, the marketing value seems to be on the rise with the trendy and politially correct efforts to “show your greenness.”

 

Exabytes today, A Zettabyte in 5 years? And a Yottabyte? Wednesday, Jul 30 2008 

What is an Exabyte you ask?  At least, that is what I was wondering when I recently attended Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Forecast conference call.  

An Exabyte is 1,000 Petabytes.  A Petabyte is 1,000 Terabytes.  You can buy an external storage device for your PC with a Terabyte of storage at your local computer or office supply store for a couple of hundred dollars.  

Cisco put it in perspective for me when they described one Exabyte as 250 million DVDs or 150 Exabytes is the amount of data that has traversed the Internet since its creation.  What is beyond a Exabyte?  A Zettabyte.  A Zettabyte therefore is about 250 billion DVDs.  Beyond that?  A Yottabyte.  

While the mathematics of this is interesting, what is fascinating is Cisco’s forecast.  In this part of the world, gone are the days of talking in Gigabytes or Terrabytes.  Cisco predicts that in 2010, 175 Exabytes will cross the Internet and by 2012?… Cisco forecasts annual global IP traffic will reach a half a Zettabyte.  Staggering…  considering that to date per Cisco’s numbers there has only been a 150 Exabytes total that have traversed the Internet.

The drivers for this exponential increase per Cisco are internet video to TV, internet video to PC and the continued growth of peer to peer (P2P).  Cisco puts consumer video on demand growing at a 93% CAGR from 2007 to 2012, quadrupling consumer IP traffic by 2012.  

Again, to give it some perspective, Cisco predicts that the average household consumption in the U.S. in 2010 will be 1.1 TB per month – mainly driven by HDTV.

So what does Cisco see beyond 2012?  Obviously more growth, but driven by addition of interactive video.  My interpretation is that interactive video tools in a collaborative technologies will lead next wave of growth beyond 2012.  

The implications of the this forecast are many.  Answering the questions around building bigger pipes and/or optimizing solutions alone are difficult.  But specifically for collaboration technologies, it implies that collaborative tools will see the development of the live, visual element as a core feature to go along with the text based solutions that exist today.   This is not a new prediction by any means, but Cisco’s forecast implies that the reality of video – live video – via the Internet becoming a standard feature is not far off.  

It will be interesting to watch as vendors integrate interactive video into collaborative solutions as a standard feature.  Literally, we will be “seeing” each other on the Internet.