What is Unified Communications?
Unified Communications (UC) enables users to reach and collaborate more timely with remote and mobile co-workers, decision makers, and customers, improving productivity and efficiency, resulting in better communication and faster decision-making. UC creates the opportunity to experience these benefits through the integration of real-time communications services including:
- Video & Audio Conferencing
- Unified Messaging
- VoIP providing
- P2P voice
- PSTN termination/origination
UC Market Has Strong Market Potential
The communications industry and its customers recognize the potential of UC to revolutionize the way that organizations communicate and collaborate. Most analysts agree that this technology represents a major business opportunity for all participants over the next 5 years and is estimated to reach between $4.2B and $17B by 2015.
The industry stakeholders who share a vested interest in making UC a reality include hardware and software solution providers, service providers ("CaaS") and network operators.
Vibrant Yet Fragmented Ecosystem
Today, seamless company-to-company communications (inter-domain federation), as well as that within a company (intra-domain federation), from one vendor's equipment to another remains an elusive goal. To fully realize the opportunity that exists for UC, inter-vendor interoperability must be addressed within the industry.
The challenges to interoperability are compounded by the UC industry emerging from the communications industry silos that have materialized over the last 50 years. UC vendors have their roots in different aspects of communications (e.g. telephony, video, devices, etc.) and are struggling to remain relevant in the UC era where few vendors provide an end-to-end solution. Even those vendors that offer a full suite of UC products find that their customers have existing investments in a range of vendor equipment within their technology portfolios.
“Nobody offers everything, everybody offers something, so everybody is a UC vendor.” - Insight Reports
Various vendors' UC implementations present similar functionality and user experiences yet the underlying technologies are diverse, supporting multiple protocols:
- XMPP, SIMPLE for IM/P
- H.323, SIP, XMPP/Jingle for Voice & Video
- Disparate protocols for Data Conferencing
- Multiple Codecs used for voice and video (e.g. G.711/729, H.263/264, etc.)
- Proprietary media stack implementations addressing IP packet loss, jitter and latency in different ways
Most UC vendors provide some but not all UC products or services and have expertise
in different areas of the communications . The result is a fragmented UC solution.
Enabling Interoperability among UC Products and Services
The challenge among vendors to enable interoperability is in agreeing about:
- Which standards to implement
- How to interpret each section of the agreed standards
- How to test the implementations for interoperability:
- What use cases and scenarios will be tested
- The test cases for each
- The expected results
- Definition of test programs that will verify the implementations
- Definition of test tools will automate the testing
Realizing The UC Opportunity - The Role of UCI Forum
UCI Forum was founded as an forum to address the challenges faced by the UC industry today. The UCI Forum and its members will work together to enable interoperability among UC products and services by:
- Working with existing standards organizations and initiatives to fill identified gaps between existing protocols and business need
- Creating test and interoperability profiles, implementation guidelines and best practices for interoperability between disparate UC products and existing communications and business applications
- Developing specifications to facilitate interoperability by incorporating existing protocols
- Implementing and managing third-party compliance and certification programs to set a bar and provide greater interoperability assurance across protocols and product/solution providers
Learn more about joining UCI Forum.