The topic of interoperability within the UC space has been an area of interest of mine for several years. I’ve been concerned that without broad interoperability, UC applications become islands – and island-hopping is not always easy to schedule nor incredibly cost effective.
I have been lobbying across the industry’s events that users and vendors pay more attention to these issues. And, fortunately, the message is catching on – we need broader UC interoperability.
Why? Would telephone calls and e-mail be the universal communications tools they have become without universal connectivity (read that as interoperability)? Thus, islands of UC, within an enterprise or within a set of solutions from one vendor (or vendor ecosystem) need to become universal – both within the enterprise and inter-enterprise (usually termed as federated) for business partners.
How about for customers who may not be affiliated in any way? Marty Parker (News - Alert), my UCStrategies colleague, has shown that most enterprises only need interop at a small set of interoperability points in their business processes. And, he goes on to say that several of these have been addressed and can work rather well today. However, that is not good enough to spur universal UC deployment and adoption. Why? Because there is no a priori knowledge about whether any specific interop will work – that it will work with any mix of multi-vendor solutions. And that is the challenge.
Without broad interoperability, an enterprise must spend valuable time and effort to find the specific known interop requirements within their projected UC deployment and to validate, with their selected vendors (it can’t be done generically) that these specific interops work and can be deployed on their current (or upgraded) solutions.
I have postulated that there are two major categories of multi-vendor interoperability that need to be examined, explored and broadly acted upon by the vendors. Those two categories are interoperability by design – those interoperations designed to work through testing and certification, by a vendor and its ecosystem of partners – specific one-to-one interop; and interoperability by legacy – how an enterprise grows interoperability from existing legacy/embedded deployments to future architectures.
The current state of UC interoperability is improving, in that we are seeing some progress; however, user pressure must continue if we are to continue to make progress and ultimately have UC interoperability – multi-modal – from any device, user, vendor architecture to any other – as simply as sending an e-mail of making a phone call (for those of us, reprobates, who still view phones and phone calls as important).
David Yedwab, a technology marketing industry veteran with more than 25 years experience providing business strategy advice to major tech firms, writes the Thinking It Through column for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell