As unified communications continues to morph into a set of services you buy instead of applications you deploy, some interesting questions start to emerge about what type of service will ultimately win out in this category.
Right now, Microsoft and Cisco are the odds-on favorites in the category. But one of the flaws of Microsoft Exchange is that not only is it complex to run and set up, it wasn't really designed from the ground up to be a service. And worse yet, there is a lot of diversity when it comes to unified communications, so in an ideal world customers want an approach to unified communications that will work across IP and their existing PBX investments.
For these reasons, James Whitemore, chief marketing officer for Smoothstone IP Communications, thinks that Smoothstone stands a very good chance of pulling off an upset in the unified communications space. Whitemore says the Smoothstone service was designed from the ground up to work using MPLS technologies that allow it run across just about any type of network. That creates a much more accessible approach to unified communications for most customers because it doesn't require major new investments in IT infrastructure.
Longer term, Whitemore says that consolidation in the highly fragmented world of unified communication service providers is inevitable. But before that can happen, SIP trunking gateway standards still need to evolve to the point where there is first widespread interoperability between various services.
In the meantime, service providers such as Smoothstone will concentrate on the next major wave of unified communications that will extend these services out to mobile computing devices because when all is said and done, the company with the most subscribers will be the ones left standing.