The way forward for unified communications is clear. Indeed, many segments benefit from the development of the cloud, but perhaps none as much as UC.
The reason is simple: In the pre-cloud days, operations were limited, inefficient and cumbersome. Companies would need to have equipment from the same vendor at all locales. Challenges, such as organizations comprised of multiple acquisitions and/or with home workers, tend to make UC difficult to use. The cloud provides what in essence is a middleware layer, enabling systems from different vendors to interoperate and UC infrastructure to be handled more flexibly in a number of ways.
This week, Polycom took a step into the cloud with the introduction of its RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite. The NewsFactor story reports that the platform enables incorporation of Skype, Facebook, Google Talk and similar apps through a Web browser.
Polycom is not alone in making UC/cloud news. Sonus Networks last week announced the rollout of its Harmony Architecture system, which enables cloud delivery and management of UC. The eWeek story features input from Nancy Maulso, Sonus’ vice president and general manager of communications applications, on the challenges to UC. She said that they include multiple communications channels, a highly mobile work force, multiple vendors and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approaches. These all, she said, make UC more difficult. The story says that the industry is grappling with it:
It’s an issue that a number of UC vendors, including such established companies like Cisco Systems, are trying to address. As far back as 2010, a number of vendors—including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Polycom—created the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum. More recently, Thrupoint officials in March said they wanted to leverage their Thrupoint Application Server and Fusion framework to offer ways to manage UC applications across multiple platforms.
Another UC company that sees the value of cloud is ShoreTel, which recently bought M5, a company that lives in the cloud. In an interview in NetworkWorld, ShoreTel CEO Peter Blackmore discusses the importance of the cloud to the future of VoIP, IP video, the unified communications category and, of course, his company. IT Business Edge blogger Mike Vizard has a nice recap and commentary on Blackmore’s comments.
The bottom line is that the cloud is a great boon to unified communications, which has struggled. The SMS/text industry didn’t come together until interoperability was established. The cloud can provide the same service to the UC industry.