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June 2009 | Volume 12 / Number 6
Viewpoint: Voice of the Customer

A Seismic Shift for Communications

A dramatic change is taking place in communications that goes far beyond VoIP and IP transport and infrastructure. The communications industry is being transformed from vertically-integrated silos into a horizontally layered, standards-based, increasingly-open environment where system components, operating systems, and applications programs may all come from different, specialized companies. We’ve seen the trend to standardized hardware. Now, we’re beginning to see communications applications emerging to support and extend this trend throughout enterprises of all sizes and types.

This new communications era will be characterized by an emerging ecosystem of application developers, partners, and systems integrators. SDKs, APIs, GUIs, and toolkits will all linking to evolving capabilities within suppliers’ solutions. Third-party developers, in-house experts, and the solutions providers themselves can create applications programs with embedded communications functionality — capabilities that will integrate communications functionality directly into business processes. We are seeing signs of this change from a number of market players — Microsoft (News - Alert) has embraced communications with OCS 2007 R2, IBM’s Lotus Connections offer a comprehensive toolkit that lets business managers and knowledge workers create ad hoc dashboards via mashups. IBM (News - Alert) also announced a July release date for Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT), their product for extending their UC capabilities to most installed voice communications environments. Avaya (News - Alert) announced Aura, a SIP-based, simplified, and highly-scalable unified architecture based on IMS concepts but designed for the enterprise. Siemens announced a proof-of-concept trial of UC capabilities running on Amazon’s virtual servers to provide UC as a service in the future. They join UC services from IBM’s LotusLive and Cisco (News - Alert)’s WebEx Connect.




I am especially drawn to the strides that new communications suppliers are making. They are fundamentally re-imagining existing capabilities, and doing creative, out-of-the-box thinking about how communications could work. The data processing industry went through a similar transformation several decades ago. The resulting explosion of creativity in applications programming fundamentally altered business activities in virtually every enterprise on the planet. The communications industry will be undergoing the same sort of seismic shift, so fasten your seat belts. IT

Don Van Doren is Founder And President of Vanguard Communications Corporation, and a principal with UniComm Consulting, LLC. Reach Don at dvandoren@vanguard.net or 973-229-7185.

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