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Tag Archives: Telecom

IAUG 2015 Review

IAUG-KeynoteIt’s been a month since I traveled to Denver to attend the IAUG (International Avaya Users Group) “Converge” conference in Denver, Colorado. This conference was one I used to go to every other year at most, but recently I’ve been attending every year… I think I’m on a three year streak.  Plus, this year the conference was in Denver, hands down one of my favorite places to visit in the US.

This year I was asked to speak on two separate topics which changed the experience of the conference for me.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve spoken at an IAUG conference and this time I was speaking on two very diverse topics.  I’ll be posting more details on what I spoke on in subsequent blog posts, but I did a joint presentation on the EDP (Avaya Engagement Development Platform) and the OSSI Administration protocol.  Additionally I participated in the EDP meetup and presented some of MSU’s Telecom innovations during the Tuesday keynote.

This year the conference was in the Denver Convention Hall.  The conference center is /huge/ and our conference managed to only fill 1/4 of it with our thousands of attendees.  One of the things I like about the convention center is that there are lots of couches and places to get some quick work done between sessions or meet up with others without being in the way.  Generally the A/V was pretty good which for the last few conferences I attended was a sticking point.

I wish I could have attended more sessions, but given my schedule I was pretty booked up.  There was lots of buzz of a few topics (like the roadmaps) that sounded great.  The few sessions I did get to attend were great — I think I only ended up leaving one without getting something out of it.  The tradeshow floor was, as always, great.  When you are at your home office you often forget about how large the ecosystem is around the simple telephone on your desk.

In the years I’ve been working with Avaya, it seems like they are finally starting to be able to realize their ‘dreams’ of how all the building blocks come together.  This year there was much more cohesiveness between their products and seemingly less things being developed in silos.  There was also much less “us vs. them” between the “red” Avaya customers and “blue” Nortel customers than last year.  With Avaya a year into moving into a suite licensing where they can freely innovate products and worry less about separate licensing mechanisms for each one there is more and better innovation and alignment in them all.

It was neat watching the company promote the EDP (Avaya Engagement Platform, formerly Collaboration Environment) as heavily as they have.  This is a development platform, similar in effect to Twilio, that really cracks open the internals of the enterprise phone system and allows companies that want to innovate with their communications infrastructure to do so.   At Michigan State University we’ve been able to take advantage of the platform and push the boundaries of our capabilities to create some cool apps that are producing some real ROI.  With Avaya pushing the platform company wide, I only see the toolbox getting bigger and more useful as more adjuncts plug into the platform and allow us to do even cooler things.

I’ll be back again next year — and hopefully will be selected to speak on some more cool topics and projects we are doing.

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As a teacher

ChalkboardI, in general have been very quiet in the technical front as of late.  This last fall one of my very good friends and mentors Ron Choura passed away suddenly.  After loosing another close mentor of mine this just the year before it hit me really hard.  Both Ron and Dr. Muth were instrumental in my schooling and career advancement. 

With Ron Choura’s passing, his upcoming class was missing an instructor.  I was asked to fill in for the class that was set to start a few weeks later; I couldn’t think of a better tribute than to teach the class that I enjoyed most during my time at MSU.  My manager at my day job helped with the class as well.  The class was titled “Advanced Network Design” and had a focus on how the telecommunications world works from the phone jack of your house to the jack of the other person you called.  It also had a project where the students were to write an extensive RFP (Request for Proposal) for a telecommunications based company. 

The class itself went off without a hitch.  It made me realize how much work running a class like that really is.  Despite knowing the material cold (heck! it’s stuff I do during my day job), it still required about 12 – 14 hours of prep time for every week’s class.  Between prepping for the power-point, grading, setting up the next assignment and setting up the next exam (we had exams each week), it took a lot more man-power than I had ever expected out of a 4 hour class. 

I’ve been out of school for nearly 7 years at this point, so interacting with the students was very interesting.  When I found out I was going to be teaching the class, I immediately dove in and did the research as to what tools they would want to use to communicate, how to best reach out to them, etc.  I had a chance to reach out to my favorite EduTech professional Leigh who also gave me some useful pointers. 

 Some of the things that as a telecommunications professional I “knew” but my students made very apparent :

  • Not a single one of them had a land-line telephone at home.  Many of their parents didn’t have one at home either.
  • Only two of the students were on Twitter.  Most of them saw Twitter as what the older generation and celebrities used.
  • They all, at one time had MySpace accounts.  None of them have logged in to the service in ages.
  • Facebook is their primary communications method — but only to their friends. 
  • To many of them, the phone company IS their wireless provider. 
  • They see getting most of their telecommunications services (data/video) in the future either via wireless or fiber. 
  • They are not excited by offerings from their telecommunications providers — AT&T / Comcast / etc.  They feel there is always more marketing behind their offerings than substance.

All in all, the class was a lot of fun, and it gave me insight into how I can best offer MSU Telecom’s own services to the current generation of college students.

So, now all that is out-of-the-way — it’s time to return to my tech and telecom blogging 🙂