This page provides links to a list of white papers on a range of unified communications topics, from analysis of industry inflection points to in-depth discussions of technology issues. If referenced, please provide appropriate attribution.
I have compiled a 'Reader's Top 10' list, based on statistics on 'entrances', 'page views' and 'time spent on the page' over the last 2 years.
For over 8 years in the US, the incumbent Telcos, with the passive participation of the FCC, have been blocking the access of IP communications providers to the pool of telephone numbers as well as other important communications infrasture. Last month the FCC tentatively reversed their policy by including companies such as Vonage in a limited trial to explore the ramifications of including VoIP providers into the mainstream of national telecommunications. This article explores some of the issues around that decision and speculates on the motives of some of the actors in this long running debate.
The recent announcement that Facebook will soon be offering a mobile phone platform built around its social network user experience was met with varying degrees of enthusiasm and skepticism. This article considers the privacy implications of smartphones and social networks and their ability to capture data that may be regarded as excessively intrusive.
Although SIP Trunking has proven to be a popular way to connect a UC system to the PSTN, the lack of an end-to-end SIP/RTP service has placed limits the development of UC inter-enterprise communications. A new alliance between BroadSoft and Intelepeer creates the opportunity for SIP Trunking to morph into Federation.
The Unified Communications Interoperability Forum has just announced the completion of a new specification for high definition video communications. This document enables the coordination of video devices to optimize the user experience in a manner that is interoperable between vendors' technology. This will aid the acceptance of video as the default communications modality.
November, 2012 Reader's Top 10
It was recently announced that most mobile operators in both Spain and Germany have deployed Rich Communications Services. RCS offers multi-media communications over LTE networks and aims to fend off competition from 'Over The Top' communications applications. Will this strategy see any uptake from subscribers or will this belated attempt to 'remain relevant' actually start the final phase of the disaggregation of communications networks? Opportunities and challenges are discussed and several possible outcomes are evaluated.
October, 2012 Reader's Top 10
On October 8th the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence published a report recommending a boycott of the products of Huawei and ZTE based on concerns about potential security threats posed by these companies. Without knowing what classified information prompted this response, it certainly seems that this action overlooks wider network security issues. These issues are examined and an alternative approach is considered.
The third of a series of three articles addresses how the UC Endgame is playing out at a global level and speculates that the trend towards globalization also applies to communications. A range of vendors are examined as candidate global communications providers and a case is made that the companies most likely to become global service providers are already well advanced in their plans to that end.
The second of a series of three articles addresses how the UC Endgame is playing out in the application layer and which companies will be controlling the UC 'user experience' in the 5-10 year timeframe. This includes UC in 'the cloud'; the provision of multi-media services to consumers and mobile users as well as enterprise premises-based UC systems. Key factors, such as innovation, investment, intellectual property, complementary businesses and social trends, are identified.
There is a general disagreement about whether unified communications (UC) is in broad adoption as well as a lack of understanding of how enterprises can communicate widely via UC technologies. However, I think we are now approaching the start of the endgame in the UC industry. There are several parts to the endgame: the first is in the network layer; the second is in the application layer and the third relates to globalization. This article examines how the impact of the Internet is disaggregating the global communications business and argues that the incumbent service providers will shortly be relegated to the role of internet service providers.
A recent article posted on Motley Fool caused me to think about whether video conferencing vendors remain viable as stand-alone businesses or has all the value of video conferencing been subsumed by UC systems? If the business case for video conferencing is saving on travel budgets, does it make sense to spend the cost of hundreds of business trips on a new video conference suite, or will standard PCs running UC do just as good a job? If this is the case, then what next for the video conference vendors?
Business Opportunities in the UC Channel
March - April, 2012
As the UC Strategies' UC Summit 2012 was approaching, I was asked to consider what business opportunities existed in the channel for communications resellers. I recall from numerous discussions with colleagues and clients that there is a significant gap in understanding among the resellers about what role, in any, they can play in the UC era. From my perspective, the advent of UC has created a vast raft of new opportunities for channel vendors that could arguably re-invent and reinvigorate those businesses. The following 8 part series is an overview of the significant amount of work that would go into a well-executed UC deployment.
This series of papers was first published on UC Strategies.
February, 2012 Reader's Top 10
To-date, there has been a lack of hard data on UC deployment. Is UC a 'passing fad' or is there a significant technology transition underway? This article examines a new mechanism for gathering UC market data based on the traces of deployment that are evident in the public internet. The results show a strong trend of deployment in the larger companies and a not-insignificant rate of deployment among smaller companies.
February, 2012 Reader's Top 10
Up to 26% of the Fortune 500 enterprises have deployed UC Federation, which is the establishment of multi-modal communications between two companies. With the advent of 'UC as a Service' (UCaaS), companies of all sizes can gain the benefits of UC Federation (arguably at lower cost than their current telephony service) and simultaneously gain significant competitive advantages.
This paper was first published on NoJitter.com
After the ratification of the SIP Forum SIPconnect v1.1 technical recommendation for SIP Trunking last March, I wondered if this had any impact on SIP Trunking Interoperability. In this paper, I take a look at the results of a survey of SIPconnect implementers and find some interesting results.
This paper was first published on NoJitter.com
November, 2011 Reader's Top 10
Ever since SIP came on the scene more than a decade ago, there has been a growing belief that an 'open standard' for communications would eliminate the problem of being locked into a proprietary PBX technology and being forced to pay premium prices for, what was essentially, a commodity product. However, this notion belies the complexity of commercially viable UC systems and the economic realities for vendors of building usable and innovative products. In this paper, I attempt to explain why the utopian notion of 'best of breed' UC integration will never be realized. Since this is a fairly heavy topic, I add a little levity for the entertainment of readers, but the arguments should be considered with seriousness.
October, 2011 Reader's Top 10
"Metcalfe's Law" predicts that a smaller network that connects to a larger network will gain disproportionately from the transaction, relative to the larger network. This somewhat non-intuitive interpretation has some quite profound implications for interoperability that have little to do with technology and more to do with economics, game theory and social networking.
If recent history is to be a guide, the UC market leaders will eventually establish their dominance not only by winning market share through open competition, but also through the assertion of intellectual property rights gained via the patent system. Only those that have made massive capital investments in a comprehensive patent portfolio can expect to defend their business from competitors. Those that are so inclined will also be capable of attacking their rivals with IP infringement litigation.
Thirteen years after the IPv6 specification was ratified, it seems that IPv6 deployment is imminent. What are the implications of IPv6 for UC, and specifically for Session Border Controllers? Does IPv6 threaten to disrupt the SBC market, or provide new opportunities for those vendors?
July, 2011 Reader's Top 10
The utility of UC is necessarily limited if the only people with whom you can communicate are your colleagues down the hallway. In this paper I predict the emergence of a new type of product (or service) that I will call a federation gateway that would facilitate inter-company interactions that are as rich as those that you may have within your company. Although Cisco and Microsoft were the early leaders in this space, the key to this market is open interoperability. Certain vendors are well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.
Unified communications (UC) provides a single coherent system that reduces communications friction. Two-way radios and Push to Talk (PTT) cellular devices are the least well integrated of the communications 'silos'. This is actually a glaring oversight for the scenarios where these devices are used by mobile staff that are at the cutting edge of operations or customer contact.
There is mounting evidence that the Telco gravy train is losing steam. What are the options for Telcos to remain relevant in the era of UC and social networks? This paper examines recent evidence of SMS revenue declines among mobile operators as well as an interesting strategy for Telco survival proposed by a UC vendor CEO.
May, 2011 Reader's Top 10
The SIP Forum recently ratified its SIPconnect 1.1 Technical Recommendation, so it can no longer be said that there is no standard for SIP Trunking. Whether v1.1 is widely acknowledged or adopted by the industry remains to be seen.
The May 10th announcement that Microsoft was buying Skype Technologies SA for $8.5 billion was largely greeted with incredulity from industry pundits and financial analysts alike. I contend that these analyses were superficial at best and missed most, if not all, of the key points of this deal.
On April 18th it was announced that the Franco-American technology company, Alcatel Lucent, was putting its enterprise communications business up for sale. Here I present a, not entirely serious, take on this event and link it to the launch on the same day of Microsoft 365 beta program.
March, 2011 Reader's Top 10
UC federation technology has provided enterprises with the capability of bilaterally deploying rich, low-cost multi-media communications while completely bypassing the communications network operators. How will this affect the current communications network landscape and what are the wider implications for the communications industry?
January, 2011 Reader's Top 10
Can the traditional office desk phone survive in the UC era? This paper discusses that question and examines other devices that may replace the desk phone.
The notion of UC as a 'cloud'-based service raises the expectation that small and medium sized businesses can gain access to UC. However, there exist significant challenges to the ubiquitous delivery of cloud-based UC; few of which are related to 'scale' and other technical issues.
The promise of UC has been largely fulfilled for the desk-based worker, but the mobile workforce market has not yet been fully addressed. The reasons for this, both technical and strategic, are examined and a way forward is proposed.
In an attempt to provide an answer to the question of what is (and is not) UC, I examine the underlying infrastructure required to unify communications modalities. I make a case that a UC system need not be delivered by a single vendor, but that a UC system is defined by a set of common platform services upon which it is built.