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Industry Leaders Form Alliance to Address Challenges In Unified Communications Interoperability

May 24, 2010

Five global technology giants - HP, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Logitech / LifeSize, and Polycom - have come together and the result is the formation of a new alliance called the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF).

The alliance is designed to fully leverage customers' investments in communications systems. Through the alliance the member companies seek to unite their global organizations and work together to enable standards-based, inter-vendor unified communications (UC) interoperability.

The agenda of the alliance also includes unification of the vibrant but fragmented UC ecosystem through a shared mission. The UCIF has informed the media that the founding members will be joined by a growing roster of member companies including Acme Packet, Aspect, AudioCodes, Broadcom, BroadSoft, Brocade, ClearOne, Jabra, Plantronics, RADVISION, Siemens Enterprise Communications, and Teliris.

Currently the UCIF market is facing an array of challenges. The UCIF is going to be the first of its kind to address the issue. It is the first such entity to work across all unified communications modalities to deliver interoperability based on existing standards. Many enterprises are ready to deploy UC solutions but interoperability concerns have slowed implementation. UCIF-certified products will help reduce implementation risk and complexity. This is expected to boost up the market worldwide and enhance its potentials.

According to a February 2009 report, Forrester forecasts that the market for UC within enterprises in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific will reach $14.5 billion in 2015. (Market Overview: Sizing Unified Communications, Forrester Research, Inc., Feb. 5, 2009). Forrester, in this independent research report, called for the need of building the foundation for value statements and capabilities firmly in today's workplace and processes - with a vision of the future and a migration path forward for capabilities like interoperability or video.

The UCIF has come up with its plan regarding the UCIF market which includes identifying common customer scenarios and leveraging existing industry standards to resolve the interoperability issues that have stalled broad adoption and deployment of higher-productivity communications.

The member companies are going to be greatly benefited from UCIF.

Now, with a multi-lateral testing resource, UCIF members can dramatically reduce the costs and complexities associated with ad hoc interoperability testing. Ultimately, this means interoperable UC solutions will reach customers more quickly.

The UCIF will also develop verifiable interoperability testing and certification of UC products to ease customer integration and increase adoption. The founding members informed that UCIF will focus its initial interoperability efforts on managing the escalating diversity of video and telepresence solutions.

The next phases of initiatives will be guided by customer feedback. The forum will place specific emphasis on signaling planes, video codecs and protocols, endpoint configurations, and firewall traversal technologies, thereby facilitating broader video adoption and communication across multiple organizations and between platforms.

"It is important for all businesses to prepare and architect their communications environments in a more unified and services-oriented manner. And one of the most significant factors impeding UC adoption today is the lack of interoperability assurance for customers between their existing and pending communications and networking investments and purchases. Having these industry leaders come together to form the UCIF with the common goal of improving the interoperability of existing protocols will ideally simplify the purchase, migration and deployment process for customers, and I applaud them for their efforts," Jonathan Edwards, research analyst of Unified Communications at IDC observed.

Madhubanti Rudra is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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