Stories by Johna Till Johnson

Technology and the power of pain

There's a geek version of the question, "What is the meaning of life?" It's this: "Why do some technologies take off while others fail?"

Planning for innovation can be a challenge

One of the toughest challenges facing IT executives is how to plan for technology that hasn't been invented yet. Companies generally stress the need for IT to think more like a business, which means crafting long-term strategic plans demonstrating how, say, IT will positively benefit the company in 2011. The gotcha is that engineers can't always know what products and services will be available in 2011-- much less how they'll affect the company.

Crystal eye(ball) on the carriers

After a lengthy and meditative look into my crystal ball, I've determined that what 2007 holds for us in telecommunications is . . . golden bubbles. Oh, wait - got my crystals confused. That was a champagne glass.

Telecom negotiations: the sales perspective

A few weeks back I provided some insight about negotiating with carrier sales teams during the RFP process. One topic I wish I'd stressed more was the concept of a "win-win" deal -- one in which both parties are happy with the outcome. Game theory shows that win-win deals tend to optimize the satisfaction on all sides and thus provide the maximum value for the effort expended.

More telecom contract tips

OK, you're in the home stretch. You've issued your telecom RFP, assessed the responses and concluded your contract negotiations. You've got rates you can live with and services that represent a net improvement over what you're getting now. You're done, right?

Structuring your telecom sales strategy

Techies usually hate dealing with sales folk, because we seem to come from different worlds. Engineering is about honesty: Either that bridge will hold or it won't. Sales is about deceit (or so we geeks assume): Lie to the customer and cash the commission.

Next-generation WANs: No more tiers

In case you missed the memo, MPLS now is the technology of choice for WAN underpinnings. More than half of the companies I work with on a regular basis say they're using MPLS or planning to in the near future - and that number increases dramatically among companies that are large (with more than US$1 billion in annual revenue) and/or have global operations. That's why I've been spending the last few columns detailing best practices for migrating to an MPLS-based WAN, for those who are still in transition.

Wiretapping has overtones of an 'old comedy'

The Greeks can take credit for plenty of firsts, starting with modern civilization, democracy, mathematics and philosophy. Here's another they might not be in such a hurry to claim: the first known example of illegal wiretapping of phone calls using legally installed software.

Managing convergence requires teamwork

Convergence changes things. Although combining voice and data across the same packet network wouldn't, in theory, imply dramatic changes in the organization and operations of an IT department, in practice companies that implement convergence find themselves revisiting almost every aspect of their operations.

IPv6: time's still not right

It's been more than 10 years since the development of IPv6, yet it's had virtually zero adoption among enterprise customers and service providers.

A few pointers on convergence

If you're like a lot of network executives, you've begun to look seriously at deploying a converged infrastructure. And you're probably aware that successfully deploying convergence means more than rolling out an IP PABX. It requires rethinking not just the phone system but everything from service provider service-level agreements (SLA) to network operations -- and even more importantly, assessing the ways that converged applications can help improve the business bottom line.