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Cisco's WebEx, AT&T and Wawa, Quickoffice for IPhone

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Leo Kottke's magnificent album correctly titled One Guitar, No Vocals. It's hard to believe there isn't the occasional synthesizer or overdub, such as on the album's masterpiece, "Accordion Bells," but there certainly aren't any vocals:

Avaya, a vendor of business communications software, systems and services, has announced the completion an upgrade to the University of Sheffield's voice network as part of a wider IT expansion and upgrade program planned by the university.

The upgrade, to Avaya's Communications Manager 5.0, is seen by university officials as a move to give the university "a more resilient, scalable IP based phone system, while still protecting the investment made in PBX over the last decade." It gives the university the capacity to increase the number of voice and data connections by 20 per cent, and to move to a converged network, which university officials say is in their long term IT objectives.

The university's 10,000 voice connections have moved to the new system with the result that "jobs such as adding a new voice extension or moving phones, which previously would have taken a couple of hours, now take a matter of minutes," university officials say.

Chris Barrow, product marketing manager, Avaya EMEA, said Avaya has "a long standing relationship with the university, and we look forward to building on that in the future."

Mark Franklin, Voice and Data Support Manager, University of Sheffield, said while the old system "had served us well, we recognized the need for an upgrade. With the advent of unified communications and the university's own expansion plans we needed a solid foundation upon which we could build future functionality whilst still protecting our existing investment. What's more we needed something that would integrate with our existing setup."

Franklin says the upgraded phone system will provide better service to students during busy times, such as clearing and enrollment: "The call center functionality built into Communications Manger enables us to take an 'all hands on deck' approach during busy times. Calls can easily be answered, and correctly routed by a team of people, helping us to process student enquiries far more speedily than would have been possible in the past when, all too often, high call volumes resulted in bottle necks and long call waiting times."
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Cisco has unveiled a new software-as-a-service architecture and enhancements to its SaaS-based Cisco WebEx collaborative applications, a move seen by Cisco officials as "extending the cloud into the enterprise network infrastructure through the Cisco WebEx Collaboration Cloud and the Cisco ASR 1000 Series Aggregation Services Routers."

The global collaboration market opportunity is currently estimated at $34 billion, according to statistics cited by Cisco officials. To grab their slice of that pie, and to broaden its stature in the security market, Cisco has announced that it is leading the way toward an "everything as a service" vision, part of which is extending SaaS to the enterprise with the company's collaboration and security capabilities, both in the cloud and on the enterprise network.†

The company has also introduced the Cisco WebEx Collaboration Cloud for SaaS, described by company officials as a "purpose-built network designed to deliver collaborative experiences within and between companies." It uses intelligent routing based on location, bandwidth and availability to provide global load balancing and backup for data, audio and video for collaborative applications, including conferencing, instant messaging and team spaces.

The Cisco WebEx Node for ASR 1000 Series, based on the Cisco ASR 1000 Series aggregation services routing platforms, was also announced recently as one of Cisco's latest network offerings. This product lets the edge router act as a point of presence within an enterprise network for meeting attendees on that network. This reduces bandwidth requirements, enhances video and voice over IP performance, while using the global load balancing and availability features of the WebEx Collaboration Cloud.†

These announcements go along with Cisco's unveiling of five new additions to its security portfolio, designed to bolster the fundamental components of a network security infrastructure.
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IceWEB's online subsidiary, www.icewebonline.com, has announced it will offer mobile synchronization of its flagship IceMail Hosted Microsoft Exchange software service to Apple iPhone and iPod Touch device users free of charge.
IceMail subscribers who have iPhone or iPod Touch devices can sync their e-mail, contacts, and schedules to those devices for no charge.

The product is a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service service starting at $9.95 per month, giving subscribers access to the e-mail and collaboration product Microsoft Exchange. It makes "corporate grade" e-mail available to individuals and businesses without requiring them to make substantial investments in hardware and software infrastructure, the cost of which would normally put such advanced services far out of reach of the companies targeted by the product.
IceMail is billed by company officials as giving individuals and businesses the ability to compete, collaborate, and communicate "on a level most often enjoyed by only the largest and most cash flush organizations - all without needing to buy servers, software, or hire experienced technical staff."

The real-time push synchronization, which IceMail gets by using Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol services, can be configured on the iPhone. All new users, iPhone or not, can test drive IceMail for free for a 30 day period without any commitment. A credit card is required for security purposes but, company officials say, is never billed until users have decided to continue their subscription. IceMail subscribers also receive a free license for Microsoft Entourage for Mac.
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AT&T is helping Wawa, a 24/7 convenience store chain well-known to any Pennsylvanian in need of beer late at night, move its existing SAP applications to a managed AT&T offering.
AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand, and not by AT&T Inc.
The company, with stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, signed a five-year contract with AT&T to migrate and host its existing SAP applications, a landscape that consists of over 30 servers used by more than 15,000 employees.

For minimal impact on stores, the migration of Wawa's key applications onto the AT&T environment is scheduled to occur in less than 18 hours. Following the migration, AT&T will monitor and manage Wawa's SAP product to support the applications. Wawa will also use the AT&T Managed Application Services Tool available via AT&T BusinessDirect, which lets Wawa employees access the SAP system to view, monitor and analyze operations.
Julius Colina, IT manager of Hosting Strategy at Wawa, said the company is confident that AT&T Business Solutions "will effectively manage our applications and allow us to focus our internal resources on fulfilling the daily needs of our customers."
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Quickoffice, a vendor of mobile office productivity software, says Quickoffice for iPhone is now available for purchase in iTunes App Store. It's an iPhone application designed to allow editing of Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.
The product also includes file-sharing and content management capabilities. Additional functionality including e-mailing files and drag and drop capabilities, will be available as a free update to customers in the next few weeks.

Obviously this is targeted to road warriors, the mobile professionals and consumers needing access to files while on the go. It gives you the ability, from the airline terminal, to edit and create .doc files and .xls spreadsheets and play around with text format options, such as font size, style and color. You can cut, copy and paste text anywhere in Word, including to another document, and edit bulleted and numbered lists as well as edit Word documents in landscape mode with wider keyboard.
It lets you wrap text at any zoom level and eliminate repetitive left and right scrolling, gives you access to MobileMe iDisk accounts and lets you view iWorks, PDF and other common media files while supporting advanced features and functions for spreadsheets, including revise inputs and recalculate, and insert and resize rows and columns.
Hey, throw out your desktop, laptop and netbook. If somebody now invents a collapsible keyboard to plug into an iPhone, like that floor piano deal Tom Hanks danced on in the movie Big, something about the size and consistency of a rubber place mat you can take out of your carry-on and unroll on a bar table in the airport lounge and just use the actual iPhone itself as a portable CPU, we might have a boom on our hands.

David Halpin, vice president of engineering and product development at Quickoffice, claimed the product is "the first iPhone application that provides full editing of Office documents."

In addition, Quicksheet and Quickoffice Files are also currently on sale in the App Store. Quickoffice Files, formerly MobileFiles 2.0, allows users to access their iDisk accounts, email files directly from the app or transfer via Wi-Fi. Quicksheet, formerly MobileFiles Pro, includes the same functionality of Quickoffice Files and adds an Excel spreadsheet editor.

Quickoffice for iPhone has an introductory price of $19.99, Quicksheet is currently sold for $6.99 and Quickoffice Files currently has a price of $1.99. All three applications are available now for purchase in iTunes. Platforms supported by Quickoffice include Symbian, Palm, BlackBerry, iPhone and Android. Privately held, Quickoffice is based in Dallas with offices in London, Ottawa, and St. Petersburg.

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