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Simplifying Unified Communications in the Cloud

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Rob Pickering CEO ipcortex tells us about Unified Communications

Although cloud generates a huge amount of press, and some might say hype, in the world of computing, it’s a phrase that’s having much less impact on the telecoms world.

However, hosted telecoms deployments have been firmly in the frame for some time and the impact that cloud-like deployments will have on the world of communications will be very clear and quite profound.

In this blog post I want to look at the relationship between open standards, cloud computing and the “coming of age” of Unified Communications. It’s a topic that I feel passionately about, have written a white paper discussing it and believe it will have a huge impact on the ways in which we sell, support and consume UC technology. Here’s why…

The telecoms industry has a legacy that spans decades. Historically PBXs only carried voice. They were limited to a pre-defined location or locations, and companies generally operated in fairly static organisational structures. Requirements could be well specified and interoperability was of little importance. Now all of that is changing. Businesses are much more mobile, far more fluid in the ways in which they organise, and M&A activity continues to re-shape industries across the globe.

Under such pressures, IT staff must also become much more agile, better able to adapt and provision the capabilities their employers require at the drop of a hat. Arguably the initial explosion in Cloud Computing came as a result of IT managers’ inability to do just that, with departments seeking out business solutions delivered as a service across the net.

By considering these business requirements, it becomes a relatively simple task to define the key requirements of a Unified communications platform able to meet these challenges. We need to architect solutions that:

  • Enable quick response to changing business demands
  • Facilitate and integrate remote and mobile working on the fly
  • Enable fast integration of comms between merged and/or collaborative working arrangements
  • Allow the adoption of capabilities and features available in the broader market place, perhaps facilitating better customer or supplier communications, or perhaps to improve internal communications.
  • Provide a scalable, secure, “utility like” service where customers pay for what they consume.

I would argue that in the next evolution of our industry, it will be next to impossible to achieve this by building an architecture that has its roots in generations of legacy, and more importantly proprietary architectures. As I look at the response of larger legacy telecoms vendors, I see strategies which could leave customers with incredibly functional Unified Communications solutions, but only if their employees only ever talk to each other, and only if they are primarily office based. This is not a route which will give a business a competitive edge – and providing a series of connectors and API’s simply doesn’t solve the problem for the long term.

Of course, not everyone will move to Cloud Computing and Unified Communications tomorrow. That said, churn rates of technology in the telecoms industry can be quite long so it’s important that organisations start to consider some of the key strategic decision about their own longer term strategy now. In the white paper I identified six such decisions that need to be considered in developing the right strategy:

  • Do I have a Business Case for Unified Communications?
  • Is my current infrastructure “UC Cloud” capable?
  • Do I want to leverage open or closed end-points?
  • Which Implementation Architecture?
  • How much should I leverage external services?

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To be quick to respond, to innovate and to evolve our products and services at the rate that will be required by our customers, we must provide a level of interoperability that is only really achievable through rapid and broad scale adoption of open standards. If before open standards were perceived simply as a route away from vendor lock-in, in this next phase, they will be a business necessity.

ipcortex was founded in the UK in 2002 by current CEO, Rob Pickering with a focus on Unified Communications.