Commercial reality will drive convergence – Quin

Don't expect voice and data convergence until the existing infrastructure is obsolete, says Gen-i head

The biggest barrier to the adoption of convergence isn't technical, it's commercial.

That's the view of Gen-i group general manger Chris Quin, who says new, convergence-based products won't find a home in some IT shops until existing infrastructure becomes obsolete and has to be replaced.

Speaking at a New Zealand Computer Society event in Auckland last week, Quin said the question being asked about convergence isn't "Is the technology available?," but "How will the product bundle be priced?"

"People have investments in architectures today and to move to a converged environment would mean giving up that architecture," Quin says.

"The commercial migration is as much of an issue as the technical one and as current investments come to the end of their life, convergence will come to the fore."

Quin says one of the biggest trends in IT in New Zealand is likely to be the outsourcing of commodity IT functions such as email, storage and security, which happens to be one of Gen-i and the former Telecom Advanced Solutions' offerings.

"Central, strategic IT functions should be retained in-house, but not commodity ones," he says.

Telecom's purchase of Gen-i raised some questions in the industry regarding the fact IT services providers often bid for work in tandem with telecomms providers, or provide telecomms and networking equipment as part of the deal, but Quin says there's a "Chinese wall" between Telecom and Gen-i that prevents Gen-i getting inside knowledge of the telecomms aspects of competitors' bids.

"IT companies are generally neutral about who provides the telecoms services and while Gen-i will never sell other telcos' services, we have several customers who don't use Telecom, such as IAG."

Overall, Gen-i is a very different business to Telecom, with lower margins and a greater level of customer knowledge required, Quin says.

"You need to know more, such as what the impact on a client will be if a certain function stops working.

"It's quite different to the telco world."

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