BYOD – The other implications

WARNING – MIDNIGHT POST.  I’ll come back and fix this in a couple of days, but it’s been banging around in my head and I needed to get it out.


So I’m going to get a little controversial here. I’m actually hoping to have my thought process attacked on this one. Hopefully, not personally attacked, but I guess that’s the danger of blogging.


Open Disclosure: I don’t work for Cisco.  I guess that’s why I can write this piece and think this through as I’ve got nothing to lose here. I’m sure someone will point and say “Hey! HP GUY!” but I truly don’t feel that whom I work for is going to change the power of this argument.  But because some people get wrapped around those things, I wanted to state that loud and clearly. I am an HP employee. This blog is purely my own thoughts and musings and i no way represents that of my employer in any way shape or form. 🙂


So I was at HP discover last week and had a chance to catch up with a TON of customers and partners, as well as have some great conversations with the independent bloggers. To be honest, those are my favorite, because they are the last people to drink the koolaid.If you are trying to convince them of anything, you better have a well constructed argument and proof to support it.


So the other topic on everyone’s minds was of course BYOD. Bring Your own Device. Other than Openflow and SDN, I think this is one of the most talked about waves that’s hitting our industry right now. Of course we had the usual discussions about access control, DHCP finger printing, user-agent finger printing, dot1x , web portal, etc… but we also got into some VERY interesting discussions about the greater implications of BYOD.

Now keep in mind, I’m an old voice guy too. My voice books are so old, they’re actually blue, and not that snazzy purple color that you kids use to color coordinate your bookshelves. I know what the SEP in the Callmanagler stands for, and I remember CCM when it shipped on CDs. ( yes, it actually did kids ).


So in some ways, I feel like I’m watching my past wash away when I type the following words.

Voice is dead.

Now it might be a few years before everyone realizes it, but there are a lot of forces going on in our industry right now and they seem to all be pointing to a place where handsets are obsolete.

The argument goes something like this


1) BYOD is here and it’s not going away.

2) If BYOD is here, then employees are probably teleworking and using their cel phones.

3) If customers are teleworking and using their cel phones, they don’t need desk phones.

4) If customers don’t need desk phones…. they don’t need desk phones.


The implications of this really started to hit me and I did a self check and realized, I don’t remember the last time I used a “normal” handset. I work out of a home office. I use a cel phone with unlimited calling.

Not to mention the fact that HP has hooked us up with Microsoft Lync, which means plugin the headset and escalate that IM call to voice or video whenever I need it. and NO handset involved. Oh.. and the Lync client for the iPhone was released too.

The last time I looked, this was an approx $1-2B business for Cisco, so I’m fairly sure they don’t want anyone to realize that investing in new handsets is probably not the wisest move right now. This is a Billion dollar market that they are going to have to replace with something else, or continue to milk it for as long as they can.

Now to be honest, there’s always the Call Center argument which I’ll try and stop right now. Call Centers are not going away. There’s always going to be a business need. Voicemail systems? They might just become part of the cloud, I don’t know. But traditional handset deployments? I think maybe people just haven’t realized they have been throwing money away.


On with the rambling midnight logic!


The extension to this logic is that if we’re done with handsets, then

why do we need all this POE everywhere?


To be honest, I think the only phone that every used anywhere close to the 15.4 watts of 802.3af was the Cisco 7970 series. Most other phones used 2-3 watts, maybe up to 7 with a speaker phone on. So the whole ” I need all 24 ports running full 802.3af class 3 devices at the same time ” is a something that never actually happened ( or at least I’ve never seen it ). 

Now we’re seeing RFP disqualifiers requiring 740 watts per switch ( full 15 watts on all 48 ports ), and I’m sure we will soon be seeing new models coming out with 1,440 watts of POE+ power!!! ( 30 watts per port on a 48 port switch ).

Now POE is an enabling tool, we still need it for access points at the least, but other than that? I can’t name one practical business tool that runs on POE right now that would not qualify as a corner case.

And I don’t see anyone plugging in 24 or 48 access points into the same switch.


I would love a sanity check here guys. Is it just me? I’m making an informed prediction throw a crystal ball. Feel free to let me know if my ball’s broken. 🙂




5 thoughts on “BYOD – The other implications

  1. So…Firstly I don’t think it’s quite right to say that Voice is Dead. I think it’s more that the traditional handset is dead. Personally I agree with @etherealmind on the subject of IP Telephony (, and I won’t be starting CCIE Voice when I finally finish R/S. I don’t have a desk phone now (nor a desk to put it on), nor do I expect to ever have one again for the rest of my career. The home phone we have is purely for ADSL (cheaper than naked DSL. Go figure). I don’t answer the home phone when it rings, since if I don’t know the number myself, I can’t have given it to anyone I know.

    For SMEs, a PABX is almost never appropriate. For most larger businesses, yes they will have call centers, but most staff will be totally mobile. So no need for deskphones, but people still need to be able to communicate. Cisco is very much aware of this, and that’s what’s behind some of their moves over the last couple of years. Mark Snow (CCIE Voice Instructor) posted this to a public mailing list recently:

    “…Cisco knows this all too well. You probably won’t find too many published whitepapers from them on the topic – but even they have been predicting the demise of the handset for many years now as well. Not the demise of the UCM, but the traditional handset is going the way of the elevator operator. Not today, or tomorrow, but in 10 years the landscape will be a very different one. The fact that it’s not called “CallManager” anymore wasn’t just incidental or a marketing push – rather a very strategic one. Cisco knows that the industry is very much demanding to communicate ‘with anyone, from anything, and from anywhere'[…] It is very much the impetus behind the BYOD initiative. So the focus isn’t nearly as much on handsets as it is on true unified communications and all that goes with that (presence, video, soft clients in all forms, SDK integration from every platform – twitter, FB, email, IM, RSS, etc). But! while I should be able to communicate with anyone from anywhere- if it is business related, they should be able to account for that centrally, and in many countries and industries – regulate for that centrally as well.”

    Note his point there about BYOD being involved in the decline of handsets.

    The funny thing is that there’s still a lot of engineers out there that haven’t grasped it. Why that is, I don’t know. I suspect that culture/geography plays a part in it – my take is that those in North America seem particularly resistant to the idea. Probably related to the odd history of telcos in those places.

    So, on to PoE. Are people just putting it into RFPs because it “sounds like a best practice”? Or are they doing it because they have a specific need? Or (slightly sneakier) are they listing that because they know only one vendor can deliver it, and they want that vendor for some reason?

    Perhaps it is more about future capabilities. When I first saw PoE, used for deskphones, I thought that was neat. But when I started seeing other devices, such as IP cameras, and switches powered by PoE (just perfect for conference rooms…wish they were around 5+ years ago), then I started to see more potential. We’re now seeing it with thin clients, run off PoE.

    Of course, those are all specific use cases, and are not going to be appropriate everywhere. I guess you could have situations where a switch with 15W x 48 ports would be required. For a typical Enterprise? Not for most of their switching infrastructure, but for some of it? Maybe.

    Sorry for the slightly rambling answer to a slightly rambling post. Good to meet you last week too!

    – Lindsay

    PS Voicemail can just die as far as I’m concerned. Don’t want that migrating anywhere. It just needs to die.

  2. One application I see a need for PoE (apart from WLAN Access Points) is something HP announced recently Chris; the thin client device that doesn’t just need power to the actual thin client, but also the monitor as well. The HP t410 All-in-One Smart Zero Client >> 15.4w required from the PoE Switch to provide 13w to power the device *AND* the monitor <<

    Why is this important? less cables. Now i can have a single cable to my desktop to access every application I need (for 99% of users anyway) still going to need workstations in some areas for the uber-users. it means as a company I can control spiralling power costs, by ensuring policy or EEE turns off power to those devices when the user moves away.

    i agree though, the handset is dead. The future is smartphones with Lync clients installed (or your other vendors app as required) . When in the office offload to WLAN, when on the road use the phones 3G/4G connectivity to provide your voice connectivity. You're going to see the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, O2 providing data only mobile contracts soon… no voice minutes or text messages included.

    By 2020 when you turn up at your job, they are going to expect you to provide your own access device. They'll provide you with a virtual corporate desktop, which you access via your browser or app. Apple Mac or the trusty HP laptop, even iPads and Smartphones. As long as you have a virtual desktop to connect to, why does it matter anymore.

    just my $0.02


  3. For knowledge workers, especially mobile ones, BYOD and/or cell phones with or without a soft phone on board may suffice to replace the traditional office desktop. Might be a Cisco client application, or Lync, or who knows what. But there are many, many users that still either want and/or need a desk phone. I have never experienced the consistent quality, or reliability of an IP phone running the G.722 codec on a soft client/mobile device, and I have used most all of the available options, from many different vendors. Yes, they work well enough, but not as well as an IP phone with G.722. Will the handset market be dented by BYOD and/or cell phones? Yes, without a doubt. But destroyed entirely? I’m not worried about that happening during my career’s expected duration.

    I’m a Cisco voice engineer, and I think both Cisco and Microsoft are making good soft clients, but many in the IT field seem to assume that because we find them perfectly functional, or even superbly functional, that therefore all users will feel the same way. I’ve seen many different flavors of phone user, from small business to global enterprise. If you think the desk phone is just plastic with dial tone attached, try changing their phone on them. You will see very quickly just how much it remains the center of many users’ work experience.

    • Hey @UCgod Thanks for the comments! I’m still kicking this around in my head an was deliberately controversial to see if I could troll for some strong reactions. 😛

      To a large degree, I don’t know if anyone really cares about voice quality anymore. Absolutely the old Voice guy in me love the crystal quality of G.722, but to be honest, I think G.729 sounds great when compared to the average cel phone quality. I started on Selsius 2.4 in 1999, I still have a 30 VIP in the basement and a 7970 sitting on my desk. I just don’t know what to do with them anymore though. 🙂

      My cel phone is always with me, it’s got all my contacts, it gets the caller ID right, has access to my emails, is easier to do a conference call ( it’s a fruity phone ), etc…

      I’m not sure that the argument of “IT people will put up with it” is that strong anymore. My mom and mother-in-law both use Skype constantly to keep in touch with the grandkids. They are most certainly NOT knowledge workers. 🙂 Perhaps it’s just watching my kids look at the cordless phone in the house and ask me why it doesn’t work like all the other phones? I don’t know.

      Again, there are going to be exceptions and bastions of legacy technology that will continue to use handsets, but I’m not sure that they will be moving towards IP handsets anytime soon. I still see old Norstar’s and Avaya/Lucent Magix and Partner phone Systems all over the place, and I hear the grey market for parts are still thriving. I haven’t seen Asterix take off like everyone was hoping it would, and the dream we used to talk about in 2002 of cheap SIP phones in Walmart just doesn’t seem to have materialized.

      To some extent, I think the people who were going to make the jump, to a large degree, already have. There will be the luddites who stick with TDM, but think that perhaps the progressive people, and I include the non-knowledge workers who have iPhones, androids, and pads of all types in this category, are already moving on to the post-handset era.

      As a recovering voice engineer, it does make me a little sad to watch the handset churn away on life support, but as a socio-technologist, I think it’s a good thing that we are moving to a post-set era. It’s an amazing time to live and just watching how technology is changing the way we communicate and relate to each other, as well as our relationships with technology is really fascinating.

      Can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings. 🙂

  4. Good point about voice quality – as someone with a hearing problem, I would love it if mobile voice quality was improved. I wish some of the advances around increased mobile data bandwidth were instead pushed towards improved voice quality. But you know, people in most of the world just don’t seem to care.

    For certain cultures that are used to having desk phones, they’ll stick with them for a while. For most of the world that will only ever know mobile/soft clients, they’ll never know what they missed.

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