The Coming of Ubiquitous Unified Communications

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The State of Unified Communications Adoption

Survey finds Microsoft and Cisco, followed by Avaya, are driving the majority of the market.

High-definition unified communications has the power to transform the way business is conducted on a daily basis. But the challenge with the technology is that, from a practical perspective, only large organizations could muster the financial resources needed to deploy it.

Given that issue, it should be of great interest for organizations of all sizes to watch Cisco now deploy unified communications as a service. Cisco TelePresence Callway is a hosted unified communications service that the company has added to a growing portfolio of Cisco Cloud Collaboration services.

According to Snorre Kjesbu, VP and GM of Cisco's TelePresence Endpoint Business Group, Cisco's goal is to ultimately make unified communications ubiquitous via cloud computing services that anyone can invoke without having to make upfront investments in additional IT infrastructure. Kjesbu says most organizations initially justify the adoption of unified communications technologies through the money they save on travel. But in reality the biggest business value of unified communications, says Kjesbu, is the ability to make business decisions faster and scale knowledge transfer throughout the organization.

Cisco, adds Kjesbu, has also embraced a number of interoperability standards to make it possible to interconnect different unified communications systems from different vendors, which Kjesbu says will be required to make unified communications as widely available as standard phone service. In addition, Cisco is making available a free video client for PCs based on the Jabber software the company acquired in 2008. Cisco also rolled out the Cisco TelePresence MX 300, which is a room-based system that the company says a small-to-medium business (SMB) could set up in as little as 15 minutes.

It's been five years since Cisco first launched its TelePresence product line. While progress in terms of unified communications adoption has been steady, it's been far from universal. But as the technology itself becomes more accessible thanks in part to the availability of increased bandwidth, unified communications as a service should finally see mainstream adoption in 2012.

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