Unified communications is one of those technology promises that has never lived up to the hype. Adoption has been slow. There are complaints that it's not as unified as vendors let on. And sometimes it's rather clunky and difficult to deploy and manage. But the next evolution is coming with a new way of communicating, according to David Michels, president of Verge1 Consulting.
Although I don't remember the first time I heard the term "unified communications," I'm certain it was at least a decade ago. It followed the VoIP trend and was hinted by vendors as being the next big thing in enterprise communications.
Avaya is taking aim at mid-size enterprises with the release of what it's calling the Collaboration Pod 2400 series. The new all-in-one unified communications and contact center product includes pre-integrated networking, compute and storage. So basically, it's an all-in-one box for UC and collaboration.
Nectar Services and Cisco are partnering on a unified communications software-defined networking product. By combining Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module – or APIC-EM – and Nectar's Unified Communications Management Policy products, the combined UC-SDN solution aims to provide multi-vendor UC support across Cisco networks.
HP is rolling out new low-cost collaboration products based on Intel Unite software. The new products, which include collaboration-centric PCs and a videoconferencing monitor, aim to provide cost-effective ways to collaborate and hold real-time meetings.
Unified communications hasn't exactly lived up to the promise made oh so many years ago. The typical UC solution is a mishmash of hardware and software from different vendors that may or may not work together. The solution? Shift to a single-vendor UC solution. If only it was that simple.
Masergy's unified-communications-as-a-solution offering is now WebRTC-enabled. It's one of several companies that have recently adopted the open source standard for the enablement of real-time voice and video communications – a trend that long-time proponents of the protocol have long waited for.
There are many reasons for adopting unified communications, including increased communication, collaboration and cost savings. Enterprises may see the potential benefits, but what many fail to do is measure the return on investment following the deployment of the UC solution.
When it comes to unified communications as a service, it's a buyer's market. Seems like good news, right? And in some ways, it is. But there's also a significant danger that you're going to choose the wrong provider.
There are two clear trends around unified communications. First, the adoption of unified communications as a service, or UCaaS, offerings is increasing, and you can bet it will become the de facto standard over the next few years. And part of the reason for that has to do with trend number two--the growing trend of BYOD.