The problem with unified communications from an enterprise perspective is that none of the disparate offerings in use today are particularly unified with each other. They all offer some form of unified communications within the context of their platform. But even though they all support the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), interoperability between different unified communications platforms is fairly limited.
To address that specific issue, Sonus Networks this week unveiled the Sonus SBC 5100, a session border controller designed to make it easier for enterprise IT organizations to integrate disparate unified communications platforms.
According to Todd Abbott, senior vice president of sales and marketing, the chance that an enterprise is going to be able to standardize on a set of unified communications technologies from one vendor is nil. And even if they could, the companies they need to communicate with are almost invariably going to be standardized on another platform. To foster interoperability across unified communications platforms, enterprise IT organizations need a session border controller that allows them to control what unified communications module can communicate with what other module both inside and outside the enterprise, says Abbott.
Right now most unified communications vendors seem to be more focused on trying to build out their own empires by effectively locking customers into a suite of offerings. While there's no doubt it's easier to manage unified communications products from a single vendor, the fact is that unified communications in the enterprise is almost always going to need to happen across products from multiple vendors.
In fact, arguably it's the lack of real interoperability between different platforms that is hampering the adoption of unified communications technologies, especially in the context of delivering those capabilities as a true service.
Fortunately, nature seems to abhor closed IT systems of any kind, so there is always pressure to open borders. Unified communications is no exception to that rule.