UCIF to champion UC interoperability

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One of the biggest issues facing the VoIP industry is interoperability. We have all these exciting new pieces of technology and software suites to make up our unified communications space but without common standards and certified interoperability we can't be guaranteed a new investment wont cut us off from communicating with the rest of the business world. Until now companies would pair up and test their products against each other one at a time, but now there might be a more efficient solution. Some of the major players in the unified communications (UC) space have allied to support making interoperability a little more pervasive and a little easier to attain as a group effort.

HP, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Logitech/LifeSize, and Polycom have joined together to found the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF), a group dedicated to enabling standards-based, inter-vendor UC interoperability. A growing number of companies are joining these players in the forum including: Acme Packet, Aspect, AudioCodes, Broadcom, BroadSoft, Brocade, ClearOne, Jabra, Plantronics, RADVISION, Siemens Enterprise Communications, and Teliris.

The forum--while not developing its own standard--will work to deliver interoperability based on current standards developing interoperability testing and certification of UC products to ease customer integration and increase adoption. They plan to tackle video and telepresence solutions first and are currently exploring the XMPP and SIMPLE standards for IM and H.323, SIP and XMPP/Jingle for voice and video.

One major change the UCIF hopes to bring to the industry is the move from bilateral interoperability testing to multilateral interoperability testing. "People who have large test budgets will see the tremendous savings they can get by moving from a bilateral approach to a multilateral approach," said Bernard Aboba from Microsoft's OCS team in an interview with FierceVoIP. "We just can't continue with the bilateral approach, it takes too long, takes too much resources.. it just makes sense to get everyone in a room and just do it."

UCIF has created a working group to be made up of members passionate about interoperability to develop testing procedures. Once testing commences, companies will be able to show that their products are UCIF-certified. As Jeffrey Rodman, co-founder and CTO of Polycom said in the interview: "I think this is going to be seen by the customers, the enterprises, as an advantage because it gives them a lot more assurance that what they are investing in today is going to continue to be of value tomorrow, that it is not a closed solution" when it is certified by the UCIF.

For more:
- read the UCIF release
- read this Polycom release

Related articles:
BT offers interoperability with top video conferencing providers
Polycom, Tandberg and LifeSize demo telepresence interoperability
SIP Forum: Championing Interoperability and moving beyond SIP