Interoperability Drives UC Forum

Charlene OHanlon

You know a technology is dramatically gaining ground when a group of vendors band together to make it work better. It happened in the cloud computing space with the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum, in the security space with the Identity Management Forum, and in the wireless space with the WiMAX Forum, to name a few. Now it's happened in the unified communications space with the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF).

The UCIF, announced this week, includes vendors Hewlett-Packard, Juniper Networks, Logitech/LifeSize, Microsoft and Polycom. It's mission is to bring about transparent interoperability standards for unified communications.

You'll notice that the five inaugural member companies already have been promoting open standards and interoperability for at least the past year. You'll also notice that Cisco is not a participant, so it may take a while for this group to gain traction. These five companies have been quite vocal about the benefits of interoperability in unified communications, a technology whose success demands integration between multiple vendors to bring about the best solution for the end user. They've also made great strides in working together-and proving it can be done successfully-to further create the best end user experience available.

The UCIF plans to be a working body aimed at identifying common customer scenarios and leveraging existing industry standards to resolve the interoperability issues that have stalled broad adoption and deployment of UC. A noble endeavor, and one that at first glance seems to be the best approach to clearing the path to full-scale adoption.

Provided the member companies keep up their support, the UCIF will be successful for one significant reason: every member company brings to the table an important component of a unified communications solution, but none has a total UC package. In other words, these vendors need each other to be successful in this space. Working together not only helps further unified communications as a technology, it also helps each company's bottom line.

The UCIF already has signed up a number of additional members including Acme Packet, Aspect, AudioCodes, Broadcom, BroadSoft, Brocade, ClearOne, Jabra, Plantronics, RADVISION, Siemens Enterprise Communications and Teliris. With the 15-plus members working together, they just may have enough of an impact to make real headway with full-scale user adoption.

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