Report from Cisco Plus Canada: An Insider’s View

Collaboration, Voice and Cloud Solutions were top of mind for visitors to Allstream’s booth at the 2012 Cisco Plus Canada conference on May 16th in Toronto.

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The Toronto Congress Centre played host to the 2012 Cisco Plus Canada conference, where more than 2000 people – technology partners, service providers, IT professionals and business leaders ­– crowded the massive showroom to learn about the latest developments in Information Technology Solutions.

I spent most of the day in the Allstream booth with other members of my team talking to customers and other visitors about our IP communications portfolio and our partnership with Cisco, the show’s sponsor.

When the doors opened at 8:00 a.m., we were flooded by a swarm of “early birds” who arrived for a first peak at the World of Solutions exhibit area where our booth was located. From then on, the pace never let up.

What Customers Are Interested in: Collaboration, Voice and Cloud

Three topics dominated the conversations throughout the day: Cloud, Voice and Collaboration.


People were interested in learning more about two primary Collaboration Solutions: Video Conferencing and Unified Communications. To help understand where video conferencing is going, we ran a demo in the booth using Cisco EX60s systems. These new units really caught the eye of people passing the booth, many of whom came in to take a look at this revolutionary upgrade in desktop video technology and telepresence.

Many folks had already evaluated some form of UC technology and were more interested in asking about implementation strategies and questions about managing UC infrastructure from an IT perspective. Business decision makers, on the other hand, wanted to understand the productivity benefits available from applications like presence and such features as single number reach or SRST.


Approximately 20% of the visitors to the Allstream booth showed some level of interest in SIP trunking. They didn’t always initially understand the cost and IT management benefits that can be achieved by consolidating PRIs with a SIP trunking solution.

Other folks were surprised at how SIP makes it easy to increase and decrease PSTN connections without installing additional PBX hardware, leading to far more scalable and cost-efficient network infrastructures.

In my view, there is still a lot of learning to be done in the marketplace around the power of SIP trunking, as people seem hesitant about adoption and would rather maintain the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.


The cloud conversations got interesting as the day went on. As expected, everyone we spoke with had a different vision as to what “cloud” actually means to them and their business. Clearly, heads are still very much in the clouds on this topic! Those same folks also wanted help simplifying the complexity associated with understanding, acquiring and implementing both cloud and collaboration solutions, and which network technologies are best equipped to handle the demands of cloud computing.

Our approach was to show visitors how Allstream’s computing platform comprised of CPU, Capacity and Memory, all as a monthly service to customers, minimizing the time and capital investment required to spec, acquire, configure and install computing systems on your network. This service also allows for a scalable and flexible computing solution to support immediate needs of the business.

Educating Ourselves

By the end of the day, we were spent. It was an exhausting but exhilarating experience — a great opportunity to continue to grow our partnership with Cisco while meeting with customers and prospects and having relevant conversations. There’s nothing like front-line intelligence to reinforce the idea that as technology continues to evolve, there’s always an education and awareness process in bringing new solutions to market to help our customers.

For a full report on the 2012 Cisco Plus Canada conference and the keynote speech by Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada, check back with expertIP on Monday.

Were you at the Cisco Plus Canada conference in Toronto? Share your stories and comments below.

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