In a way, the emergence of cloud computing is really what unified communications was about all along. Or, more precisely, doing all the heavy lifting in a place logically “above” the enterprise itself fits in perfectly with the concept of unified communications because it avoids the silos and boundaries at the lower levels.
The best may be yet to come. ARN, in a story about the UC environment in Australia, describes the impact of the cloud and Microsoft Lync on the overall UC environment. The story focuses on Frost & Sullivan research that says premise-based UC grew 2.4 percent last year and now is worth $698.5 million. It calls that growth moderate, and suggests that the pace was partly a result of organizations waiting to judge the stability of cloud-based approaches.
Irwin Lazar, the vice president and service director at Nemertes Research, sees a unified communications sector that is in transition. He does a good job of outlining precisely what the changes are. He said that on the vendor front, Lync is challenging incumbents Avaya and Cisco. The way UC is being used, and how it is reaching end users, is changing as well. Cloud approaches are a big part of this, with more than 90 percent of companies using cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based UC, he writes.
CMO, an Australian site, also describes the importance of cloud to UC and its cousin, unified communications and collaboration (UC&C):
Apart from a whole gamut of applications and services that are now ‘cloud-based,’ cloud computing has greatly expanded its role in communications with almost every UC&C function now available from the cloud. That doesn’t mean that a cloud-based option is automatically the appropriate choice, but in most cases the arguments in favour of cloud are compelling.
The marriage of UC and the cloud is not a new trend. But the amount of recent news suggests that it is hitting its stride.
This week, new UC&C software, and a new name, were unveiled by Siemens Enterprise Communications. The company is 51 percent owned by Siemens AG and 49 percent by Gores Group LLC. The name of the company now is Unify. Its first product will be a cloud-based version of innovations emerging from the initiative’s Project Ansible.
eWeek positions Avaya’s updating of its line of unified communications offerings as something of a reset. The introductions, which took effect Oct. 15, involve cloud, initiatives toward midmarket businesses, application development and text messaging, according to the story. The story offered what almost is a laundry list of factors that drove the change: bring your own device and applications, increased mobility, the ascendance of consumer applications in general and faster development cycles.
Another bit of news is that Thinking Phone Networks raised $10 million in what VentureBeat says is a follow-up to third round funding. The company raised more than $30 million in the round, which was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Advanced Technology Ventures. Thinking Phones is a cloud-based provider of voice, video, audio conferencing, analytic capabilities and more.
Finally, UC provider BroadSoft this week introduced a number of enhancements. BroadWorks Collaborate, according to the company’s press release, is an efficient means of delivering UC functionality to end users through software on their networks. Other enhancements include Xtended Dialer for Chrome and UC-One. Details are available at the release. The key is that the company is deepening the UC/cloud tie. Clearly, it is not alone.