November 20, 2011
UC Interoperability - Separation of Church, State, And Also End Users
By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View
Unified Communications (UC)-enabled applications must be supported in various ways and “interoperability,” a loose label being used to describe a major challenge (See No Jitter post) in supporting UC’s operational growth. For many providers of UC applications and services, interoperability simply means getting old and new communications applications to work together at various levels, including network access, application user interfaces, and endpoint device form factors and operating systems. However, we also have to consider interoperability as a means of gracefully transitioning from the past to the future. This will not only be a challenge in transitioning technologies, but also challenge to the role of an organization in controlling access to both its information resources and its communications between people (internal staff, customers, and business partners).
When it comes to UC applications, we have to consider is who is providing and supporting those applications as well who is controlling their use at the endpoints. That is why we need to look at business communications from the organizations perspective ("church"), the service provider perspective ("state"), and lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the individual end user perspective.
Business communications (particularly voice telephony) are transitioning away from hardware-based, location-based technologies to "open" software and "virtual" applications that can more easily interoperate with each other. They are also shifting to application-driven real-time notifications and multimedia self-services rather than requiring person-to-person phone calls for real-time information access and delivery. Bottom line is that traditional requirements for enterprise communication control is expanding away from just the wired premise desktop to multi-modal, mobile BYOD devices that will be primarily controlled by the individual end users through UC and shared for the many different contacts with other organizations that the individual end user has “business” relations with.
These technology shifts would suggest that much of yesterday's real-time, voice-only desktop telephony requirements will be significantly reduced in favor of multimedia user interfaces, asynchronous forms of personalized contact, and real-time mobile notifications, with the option of "click-to-call/talk/video" connectivity based on accessibility and availability (presence). End users will be initiating voice conversations differently and managing responses to such contacts differently than traditional call management.
So, the basic question really is how will that transition take place from the perspective of enterprise technology? Will it shift (slowly or quickly) completely or partially (hybrid) to virtual cloud based IP network services that can satisfy application customization, management, and security needs? That's where standards and interoperability become key and both the industry (technology providers, service providers) and the markets still have "one foot on land and one foot in the canoe!"