Unified Communications Featured Article

VoIP, UC and the Cloud: What You Need to Know

December 04, 2012

Unified communications, VoIP and the cloud tend to mingle with each other quite a bit in technology, however, there are some misconceptions when it comes to these communication tools, particularly when it comes to VoIP and unified communications (UC).


UC is the umbrella that covers VoIP among other communications solutions, so to think that VoIP is on par with UC is ambiguous; people who use unified communications do not need VoIP, nor do they need the cloud.

VoIP enables a range of applications not previously made available, such as the multimedia contact center and integrated Web and audio conferencing. Converged applications such as UC can take advantage of IP and enable companies to not only increase revenue and decrease costs, but enhance productivity and improve customer service; however, let it be known that UC is not VoIP, and VoIP is not UC.

The confusion lies in the fact that UC is IP-based, and that’s it.

No one needs VoIP to implement UC, but VoIP does make it easier. VoIP services already include mechanisms for forwarding voice mail to e-mail and other features used in a UC system. With VoIP, there is more scalability and better integration than with UC-type products that rely on traditional phone services.

When you boil down function versus features, VoIP is really a cost-savings communication tool for businesses that boasts its own set of features. Despite this, it does not include the many features that UC comes with.

The growing adoption of VoIP makes it easier for companies to employ unified communications, and the increasing recognition of a need for UC within the organization is an influence that's helping to drive the acceptance of VoIP in the business world.

In support of this, Infonetics Research noted that many organizations are adopting VoIP as a way to influence unified communications, as the number of VoIP and UC users will double between 2012 and 2016. The research firm adds that $377 billion will be spent on business and residential/SOHO VoIP services over the next five years from 2012 to 2016, driven primarily by SIP trunking and hosted VoIP/UC services.

“The SIP trunking and hosted UC segments were marked by strong growth and dynamic supplier landscapes in the first half of 2012,” notes Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research in a statement on the report. “Beyond traditional operators and service providers, we’re seeing a growing number of PBX/UC vendors, enterprise agents, system integrators, and resellers expanding into hosted UC offerings.”

The two technologies are but mere compliments of each other; however, they can remain mutually exclusive, and even influence the other.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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