Interoperabiliy Drives Unified Communications

Charlene OHanlon

Two players in the unified communications space-Avaya and Polycom-have announced an expanded agreement that would enable their technologies to work even more closely to provide an end-to-end, seamless and truly robust UC environment. That's good news for the industry as a whole, and really good news for companies contemplating UC adoption.

Unified communications is a technology that traditionally has been viewed more as cool-to-have than must-have. The economy hasn't done much to change that, despite efforts from communications vendors to promote adoption. But the key to widespread adoption may be the efforts of those same communications vendors to collaborate on services that finally may turn UC into a must-have technology.

Interoperability between vendors' offerings also is helping push UC into the mainstream. As more vendors develop offerings that use open standards-such as Polycom's strategy with its Open Collaboration Network and Avaya's SIP-based Aura communications platform-they lower the cost of entry for unified communications by enabling such services to overlay existing networks. And the more open standards-based offerings that are available, the more services that potentially could go into a completely customizable UC solution-something customers crave, especially if they can get it at an attractive price point.

Polycom has been on a roll, announcing a slew of partnerships over the past few months with everyone from Siemens Enterprise Communications to Microsoft. Its renewed partnership with Avaya is based on its new Open Collaboration Network strategy. As more vendors embrace open standards, interoperability will become a given. That, in turn, will mean that customers will more willingly bring UC into the fold. And that's good for everyone.

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