Long Battery Life? See ya LaTEr

If you have made the switch to an LTE device, the first thing you probably noticed is the speed:  videos don’t pause every two seconds, sites load faster, apps download faster.  Then, you probably noticed was something else moving dramatically faster….
batterybg_3When I first picked up my iPhone 5, I was impressed with its speed, then a little shocked at how fast it drained my battery.  Depending on what I was using it for, I would get a low battery warning after just a few hours.  You could almost see the percentage of battery power ticking away.  It made me wonder why.  So I did a little research and here’s what I found out:

  • MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) Technology – MIMO technology uses multiple antennas – at the transmitting and receiving end.  This increases speed by spreading the existing transmission power over multiple antennas creating an array gain that allows more data to flow through at a time.  This occurs by taking advantage of multipath.  Information reaches the receiving antenna multiples times, from different angles and different times.  How does this drain the battery?  An antenna requires a power amplifier in order to send and receive information – by doubling the number of antennas in an LTE device – the drain on the battery doubles as well.

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  • Years of practice – 3G phones use either GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) Technology or CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) Technology.  Both of these mobile service technologies have been optimized over the past 20 years to be energy efficient.
  • Towers– LTE towers are fewer and farther between.  Your mobile device needs to boost its transmission power in order to connect with the LTE network.  The distance between the towers also mean that are gaps in coverage, so your phone is switching between LTE, 4G and even 3G.  Every time your mobile device needs make a scan to connect with a network, or boost its transmission power to connect to a tower –  your battery takes a hit.
  • LTE devices are co-dependent – Currently, most LTE devices cannot handle data and voice simultaneously.  Your device may be using LTE for data, but will switch back to CDMA in order to make calls and texts.  Again, to keep up with all that switching around, your battery has to work overtime.

No doubt, future generations of LTE will address the issue of excessive battery drain.  For now though, make sure you keep a charger handy.

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Thanks to Kevin Fitchard at GigaOm for the great info!

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Keeping My Head in the Clouds

by Elizabeth Vanneste

How often were you told to “get your head out of the clouds” when you were a kid?  “Pay attention!”  “Stay focused!”  “Get serious!”  Were you raised thinking out of the box was discouraged and not a path to a successful career?   I have been fortunate to have stumbled into a career in technology and telecommunications where I have been able to draw clouds at work almost every day since the mid-1980s.  Of course, we didn’t talk about the cloud much outside of work back then – it was simply a way to describe a network in which data or voice could travel over a variety of different paths to connect end-users.  And now, after years of using clouds on whiteboards and in PowerPoint, the rest of the world has caught on!  Now, it is actually COOL to have your head in the clouds.

Not only is the network part of the cloud, but applications are too.  The ability to access applications is no longer limited to a physical office or a specific device.  Workers are remote.  They are mobile. And, they use multiple devices – PCs, Smartphones, and tablets – to access the cloud and improve productivity.

What’s so great about having your head in the clouds?  Well, here’s a list of things you no longer have to worry about:

  1. The next named storm (or other disaster). Here, in hurricane country, we need to be prepared for the next big storm, but I know that our company can continue to operate even if our office building is out of commission.  Our cloud based system can route our calls wherever we happen to be because of system and network redundancy.  This means we can continue to support our customers and stay in business despite these types of complications.
  2. Technology obsolescence.  Are you an early adopter who always buys the latest and greatest only to have your bubble burst when a newer version is available 3 months later?  Or, are you still using the mobile phone you bought 3 years ago?  In either case – the cloud will set you free!  Pay for applications and services as you need them with the confidence of knowing, that as newer technologies and additional applications are deployed, they will be available in the cloud.  You no longer need to predict the winners and the losers, as cloud providers will offer a menu of choices that you can choose and pay for when you need it.
  3. Access to Talent. Knowledge workers are a company’s most valued asset.  When one of our key team members’ spouses relocated, we were able to keep her in the company because the cloud enables us to work remotely and be integrated into the rest of the business. We have had great employees relocate and are still part of our team because of the cloud.
  4. Capital Budgets and unpredictable growth patterns. Does your company set a capital budget but then scramble to provide infrastructure for an unexpected 30 new hires? Or does your company regularly over-estimate need and then have unused capacity? With a cloud based solution, you no longer need to scramble. You can add and remove users as needed. So, your expenses are aligned with your business’s needs and you can invest your capital into growing the business.

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to have your head in the clouds!

Cloud — Biggest thing ever!

by Mark Swanson

Last month, at one of the Information Technology trade shows, one of the industry’s pundits made a startling prediction — that the shift to the cloud computing platform will be bigger than the shift to the Internet or the shift from the mainframe to the PC. I think it depends on how you look at it. Cloud computing is really not all that new. In fact, many people claim that we are back to where we started from in the 1960s when computers were time shared from a remote location. Sun Computer coined the phrase, ‘the network is the computer’ decades ago when they had a vision of computing as a utility. This transition is not about inventing a new platform like the mainframe or the PC, but really a transition of how we use computing. What is fueling this transition is bandwidth. We now have enough fast bandwidth to deliver the same kind of experience that we have on desktop computers so we are starting to use devices to access the platform rather than use the device itself. It is affecting everything — hardware, software, the way we use computing and even the way we view computing. This is the phase where it truly has become a utility. If you look at it this way, I think that it is at least as big as the shift to PCs or the Internet.

From the end-user perspective, what is driving this shift? The interesting thing about this question is that it is consumer end-users that have been driving this transition. Corporations’ budgets have been in lock-down mode for the past four years, while applications like Google Mail and Facebook have been growing exponentially. Consumers are years ahead of business in adapting the many tools and conveniences found in cloud computing. In my opinion, the reasons for this are as follows:

■ You can use the cloud from any device. iPhone, Android, iPad, notebook, netbook, it does not matter.

■ You can use the cloud independent of location. Remember the days of running around trying to find a phone data port to dial up the Internet? We send our e-mails while we are stuck in traffic — on the median, of course!

■ You can use the cloud to pool resources. Want to put together a team of great accountants? Geography is no longer a factor, as you can find talent on LinkedIn. In an argument about a fact with a co-worker? ‘Google it’ and leverage some expert who might be half way across the world. In the pursuit of leveraging the world’s resources, cloud computing is revolutionary.

Where do you think we are in the transition process in business? I still think we are in the early stages — less than 10 percent there. In our business, the vast majority of companies still keep their phone systems in the back closet and pay someone $125 an hour to come out and make a change to them. Most companies are still figuring out how to use the cloud and whether or not they’ll use the public cloud, private clouds, or hybrid clouds. There are still a lot of questions out there, but that’s a great thing!

No one knows the future

by Mark Swanson

The Gartner Group has become rather famous among IT professionals for its annual release of the “Hype Cycle” — a list of technologies that have gotten so much press that they have reached the zenith of expectations and the only path forward is downside. Gartner defines this as a “phase of overenthusiasm and unrealistic projections.” Gartner released its annual Hype Cycle 2010 report this past October, and as expected, cloud computing — along with 3D flat-panel TVs — was at a peak. “While according to Gartner, it means these technologies may be on their way to mainstream, the next phase is one of disillusionment, as the technologies fail to live up to expectations. However, this is where the real adoption takes place.”

Based on the hype surrounding cloud computing, are we in for a letdown? In the near-term, I would say yes. It is very hard to live up to the expectations that cloud computing marketers have set up for us. But in the long term, we are still in the early phases of what is coming. Think back to 1997 and the buzz surrounding the Internet. Consumers and companies were excited about the technology’s potential but worried about security, privacy, bandwidth, standards and more. Sound familiar? I am hearing these same concerns from IT leaders today. However, those problems ended up presenting tremendous opportunities for companies like Symantec, Google, Akamai and others to solve. They will be solved and are being solved today by many new innovative products and companies. I believe that cloud computing will deliver even greater benefits to companies and it will revolutionize enterprise IT in the process. Most of the IT leaders that I talk to readily see cloud computing’s ability to increase return on investment, decrease total cost of ownership, speed up development, improve reliability and renovate the perception of IT in their companies.

The cloud really is creating more agile, competitive businesses.  Are there issues that are preventing businesses from realizing these values? Certainly there are problems that need solving. Network bottlenecks mean applications might not perform as quickly, there are many perceived security issues involved with moving systems off premises, and a lack of standards is keeping applications from talking to each other and others. However, even in its infancy, cloud computing is already delivering significant value to companies. So what’s the future of cloud computing? How quickly do you see these problems being solved and adoption happening in a more mainstream manner? As Yoda — the character from one of my favorite movies, ‘Star Wars’ — says, ‘Impossible to see what future is.’ It is hard for me or anyone to make an accurate prediction. However, I think that cloud technologies have now garnered enough traction in the market to retain a permanent presence in the lexicon of the landscape of computing paradigms. I think we saw a tipping point in the last year — at the peak of the hype cycle. I have thought that there are certain applications where cloud technologies might not be applicable; however I see the issues going away. Emerging technologies, like 4G wireless and better encryption, are combining to solve problems like bandwidth and security faster than I expected. Even I no longer see the need to carry around a six-pound notebook computer. Cloud has enabled me to reach my desktop from anywhere with my iPad. At Telovations, we see accelerating adoption and interest in cloud communications solutions, and from what I hear from my industry peers, this is an industry in fast transformation. Now’s the time to get to work in solving these issues to leverage the significant benefits that cloud computing technologies have to offer.

Counting beans in the cloud

by Mark Swanson

There’s no doubt that cloud computing has received a great deal of interest from companies both large and small over the last couple years. Gartner Inc. estimates that cloud services revenue grew 17 percent in 2010 to $68 billion. The promises of ROI, cost savings and lower total cost of ownership are some of the major contributors to this trend.

Despite this fact, there are many companies that still aren’t seeing the cost savings.
The easiest way to think about cloud computing is that your technology infrastructure — the servers and software you purchase, run and maintain — is on the Web. Unlike traditional software, which is deployed onpremise, cloud applications are designed for Web deployment — that is they are multi-tenant and users share processing applications managed by the vendor. From a financial perspective the cloud has three basic attributes: (1) Little or no upfront costs, (2)No hardware or maintenance costs., and (3) Quick implementation process.

After you pick an adequate time horizon, a Net Present Value (NPV) calculation can be quantified pretty easily. But it’s really the intangibles that make or break the calculation. What do you think is an adequate time horizon to evaluate? I suggest analyzing whether to make the switch as a three-year amortization of upfront costs for an on-premise application including servers, software licenses and installation, plus estimated maintenance and support costs, and comparing that to the cost of subscribing to the cloud version of the product for three years. Some might think that three years is too short but according to many studies three to four years makes sense for several reasons. What you have to consider are unplanned events: you get acquired, technology obsolescence, you grow too fast, and the big one, how long apps take to test. Gartner also reports that testing consumes 25 to 50 percent of the average application life cycle. That’s a year right there!

What are the intangibles that sway the calculation? This is where you get into what I call ‘BeanCounteritis.’ Many financial people get wrapped around the axle about the hard cost comparison with premise based systems. The real savings and return lie in the soft costs surrounding cloud based applications, including: (1) Office space, (2) Reduced support costs, (3) Reallocation of resources, (4) Easier and more regular upgrades, (5)Disaster recovery and backup capabilities, (6)and  Credits from SLAs.

Any other symptoms of ‘BeanCounteritis’?  Perhaps the biggest threat of ‘BeanCounteritis’ is not considering risk. Often companies become so gun shy about pulling the trigger on large capital expenses that they let others get a leg up on them. The cloud ultimately is a way you can count your beans and eat them too. The cloud makes it easy to change direction without incurring the capital costs and significantly reduces the cost of failure. That’s the great thing about cloud apps.

Does your IT team have CDD?

by Mark Swanson

No one can argue against the fact that the depth and breadth of business technologies in use today has gotten, well, much deeper and wider in the last decade. Ten years ago, IT teams primarily worried about desktops, servers and network connectivity. The corporate marketing department primarily managed websites as ‘brochureware,’ smart phones did not exist, only one out of 10 computers were portable laptops, and there was a ‘phone guy’ who managed the phone system.

Today, the situation is dramatically different. Not only do IT teams have to manage traditional IT services, but they also must corral all the new information technologies that have emerged in the past decade. The expanding list of new technologies is growing faster than the national debt — smart phones, tablet computers, remote desktops, VPNs, VoIP, the cloud, the list goes on and on.

“This has led to a condition among CIOs and IT managers that I refer to as competency deficit disorder (CDD).” I define CDD as the inability to manage the various technologies that you choose to deploy in your business. It happens when IT’s focus moves from delivering strategic value to the business to pursuing an agenda of buying technologies as a response to management’s obsession with cost control. When you choose to purchase based only on cost, you make dumb decisions like buying cheap while at the same time paring down your IT staff and bringing previously outsourced services in house. The result is your remaining staff runs around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to fix things that break more often and that they have little or no training on. It’s like a never-ending tsunami of problems. These keep you from focusing on the projects that move the business forward.

How does the emergence of cloud technologies impact CDD? The cloud is the solution to CDD. Well, not quite, but the availability of cloud-based IT solutions offers some cures for CDD. One primary benefit is the reduction in wasted software licenses. A 2001 study claimed that 30 percent of software that companies bought was never even deployed — costing businesses an astonishing $130 billion. The primary reason was that IT personnel did not have the time to develop a competency to get the software up and running. The great advantage of Software as a Service (SaaS) is that you can start with one seat, try it out, and if it works, scale from there. If not, turn it off.

Another big cure is the ability to have a support staff that knows the product when you need it. A lot of times when a system breaks, it might not have been touched for months. Your support staff might not even remember the log-in password. You can’t have competency in a system that is barely used and you can’t afford to pay someone to maintain that expertise. I have Cisco Certified Engineers on staff that cost more than $100,000 and use that skill every day. The point is to choose — narrowly — the systems your IT team should focus on and find good cloud-based providers who have that competency for the rest.