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Conquering the keys to convergence

Device and application convergence is becoming more important to all enterprises, but several challenges, especially related to mobile devices, could stand in the way.

SAN DIEGO -- This just in: There's much more to enterprise convergence than voice and data.

During the keynote address at this week's 2005 Burton Group Catalyst Conference, Burton Group research director David Passmore highlighted not only the growing significance of network and application convergence, but also challenges that both network service providers and corporate IT departments need to overcome.

Among them are the complications posed by wireless and mobile devices.

"The wireless device today is about to assume the role of the PC in the 1990s," Passmore said. Put another way, wireless phones, PDAs and laptops are becoming the most important network endpoints for an increasingly mobile workforce.

And as more mobile devices connect to corporate networks, Passmore added, managing them -- and the security threats they bring -- becomes all the more critical.

Another problem, interoperability, relates to the mobile service providers themselves.

"The service providers are not necessarily serving the best interests of the customer," Passmore said, because they often ignore technologies that enable easier integration among mobile devices and enterprise networks, in order to pad their own pockets.

As an example, Passmore offered the case of Verizon Wireless. He said despite the obvious benefits to their customers, the cellular service provider disabled Bluetooth features on its phones, according to Passmore, to "prevent revenue leakage." (A spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless told that limited Bluetooth functionality is available on some devices along with its Get It Now service.)

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VoIP, often the first technology that comes to mind when thinking of convergence, offers its own unique challenges.

New and improved tools and techniques to monitor quality are needed, Passmore said, as well as better security practices to combat the increasing nuisance of "junk phone calls" and other threats to corporate networks.

Ciaran Roche, a technical consultant for U.K.-based virtual network operator Vanco plc, echoed Passmore's sentiments about convergence.

Removing the roadblocks that stand in the way of seamless convergence is in everyone's best interest, because, as Roche simply put it, "Convergence is good for business."

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