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October 2008 | Volume 11 / Number 10
The VoIP Authority

Keynote Speakers Address Communications Developers

At the recently concluded Communications Developer Conference, a series of keynote speakers from several of the industry’s leading firms spoke about the opportunities that lay ahead for developers of communications applications.

Speakers from Avaya and Cisco spoke to the assembled crowds about unified communications (UC), while a speaker representing Texas Instruments (News - Alert) laid out his vision for development of IP phones and applications specifically targeting the small and medium sized business (SMB) market.

Lawrence Byrd, Director of Unified Communications (News - Alert) Architecture at Avaya kicked off the keynotes at the Communications Developer conference with a presentation entitled Unified Communications in a Web 2.0 World.

The gist of the speech was that developers will play a critical role in the future of communications, and in fact the developer community is the engine that runs the IP communications world.

He stressed that the developer community should recognize this as an opportunity; an “expanded playground to create ways of connecting these elements to deliver added value” for their end customers.

“We’ve spent the last 20 years trying to connect the phone to the Web,” said Byrd. “Connect the Web to the store. That is the definition of unified communications, connecting both the old and the new.”

“And as we move ahead we need to be sure that legacy applications and modern cutting edge applications work well together. That is how we add value. It has to work together. It has to be an integrated space,” Byrd said.

Byrd believes that there are three key tools at the disposal of developers and that these three technologies make up the fabric of what developers need to leverage to create the next generation of communications applications.

These three tools are SIP, presence and SOA (service oriented architecture).

SOA, presence and SIP must work together in an integrated combined way that will allow developers to build business applications with the goal of delivering value internally to employees but more importantly impacting the customer experience.

“The three fabric technologies are SIP, SOA and presence working together. Use platforms that bring these together to create applications that will solve the challenges you face,” said Byrd in conclusion.

Cisco (News - Alert)’s Louis Marascio, Director of Engineering for the company’s Unified Application Environment which is the developer run time platform for Cisco Unified Communications solutions delivered a presentation entitled, The Network is the Platform. Marascio laid out Cisco’s vision for developers, which is essentially the desire to enable developers to leverage the platform that Cisco is building around UC to develop applications around UC.

Marascio told the audience that business transformation doesn’t come about “…just because you deploy a product but because developers create innovative applications that address market needs.”

He pointed out that in the consumer space development happens rapidly, while enterprise application development seems to move at a slower pace. As an example speaking to the speed of innovation, he provided a statistic from Facebook (News - Alert), which shows that once they opened their platform to developers, over 5,000 custom apps were built by 90,000 developers in the first seven weeks.

Meanwhile in the enterprise environment, the more utilitarian parts of the platform (security reliability, scalability…) take longer to develop.

Cisco’s vision is to marry the best of both worlds: To maintain the pace of consumer innovation but leverage the network to maintain security, reliability, and the like.

Marascio spoke about Cisco’s unified application environment, which is an end to end developer platform that provides everything developers need to develop deploy and manage applications. He also referenced Cisco’s developer community which launched in July.

“Our vision is to enable developers to leverage the services of the Cisco UC platform by exposing those capabilities in a consistent, easy to consume manner,” Marascio said.

Texas Instruments’ Director for CPE VoIP Products, Fred Zimmerman, rounded out the Communications Developer Conference keynotes as he delivered his presentation A Call to IP Phone and VoIP Device Vendors… Achieving Success in the SMB VoIP Market.

He began by telling the developer crowd that collectively, we need to adjust the focus of the industry in order to penetrate this market. While the market is growing, there are still challenges that must be overcome in order to be successful in the SMB space.

Zimmerman shared market statistics that show a greater amount of IP phones are now shipping into the enterprise than legacy analog and digital phones. The residential market is also enjoying a large measure of success with simple phones and simple applications such as caller ID, call waiting, and other services that comprise a typical consumer feature set.

However, the SMB market is different from that traditional enterprise market. It’s a diverse environment, with less structure. Whereas a larger enterprise might look to leverage a relatively similar feature set and communications experience for its employees, SMBs are a diverse lot, with diverse needs. The benefits of VoIP must be translated into a unique value proposition for each SMB customer. The cookie cutter approach won’t cut it, Zimmerman said.

In order to successfully service this market, there exists a need for collaboration across the entire industry to facilitate growth. Technology providers, equipment makers, third parties, system integrators… all must work together.

Zimmerman told the audience of developers that in order to successfully tap into the market potential for VoIP, they need to create unique solutions for SMBs. He underscored the need for quality, enhanced functionality, saying that those elements are critical for VoIP adoption.

Greg Galitzine (News - Alert) is TMC’s editorial director.

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