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December 2006, Volume 9/ Number 12

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End-of-Year Ruminations

By Richard �Zippy� Grigonis


It�s that time of year when we tie up some loose ends, collect and straighten out some other odds and ends, and lend an ear to everyone who has something important to say.

You�ll find in this December issue of Internet Telephony our always-comprehensive annual Buyers� Guide, a keepsake that for many months will reside on the desks of telecom managers around the globe.

Even so, a Buyers� Guide, even as impressive as ours, is a static document that can reveal only what goods and services are available � not �what it all means�. That�s why you�ll also discover in this issue a large article about what happened in IP Communications in 2006 and where it�s going in 2007. Yours Truly talked with experts at 17 companies operating in various areas of our industry to amass the varied opinions found in these pages. Interestingly, there does seem to be some consensus among our industry figures: For example, the fact that new phone systems deployments inevitably have some kind of IP Communication capability, that IMS will slowly take its final form and be deployed over the next year, and that voice is just one aspect of a growing m�lange of collaboration, conferencing, and instant messaging that will roam with users. A year or so ago I coined the term �the Personal Cloud� to describe this evolution in communications � in 2007 we�ll see if this �cloud� turns out to be seamless, or just a patchwork of �almost interoperable� technologies that needs more work.

One thing that everybody definitely agrees upon is that IP Communications is not just growing, but is becoming really interesting, even intriguing.

These days, it�s difficult to believe that, in the long-ago circuit-switched days, telecom was actually a boring industry, and those of us who wrote about it were even more boring. Things were so mind-numbing that one of my former editors, when playing golf with strangers, would avoid questions such as, �So, what kind of industry do you work in?� He would pretend to be something other than a telecom writer/editor, though he never said exactly what that was. (Ventriloquist? Middle manager at a bowling ball factory? Stand-up comic? Warm-up act for the Doodletown Pipers? We�ll never know.) Fortunately, IP Communications is a lot more interesting than attempting to make a call with a Western Electric 302 black rotary desk phone, as in the Days of Yore.

But even VoIP is no longer the tail that wags the IP Communications dog. Communications is exciting again. Like the South Pole in Frank Herbert�s Dune science fiction novels, it�s a land of mystery and possibility. It�s a place where some upcoming IMS-hatched �killer app� will make communications � and business itself � not just more productive, but more effortless and entertaining as well. Some people may find the details of such a paradigm too gimmicky, while others will take the opposite view, calling IP Communications a panacea for every business problem. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC�s IP Communications Group.

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