Experts discussing Internet telephony strategies at the Von conference in Berlin view VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) as a key step toward open communication infrastructures.
"We're talking about VOIP today but in the not-too-distant future we'll be talking about open IT-based infrastructures that unify fixed, mobile and cordless phone networks, business processes and a whole lot more," said Thomas Wiemers, vice president strategic marketing at Siemens Enterprise Communications.
VOIP is a crucial step toward open communications, which someday will allow businesses to reduce their dependence on vendors or operators that try to protect proprietary systems or services, Wiemers said.
Michael Reuschel, senior vice president global and EMEA communications and content practice at consultancy and systems integrator BearingPoint, called the push toward open IT by another name: SOA (service-oriented architecture).
"I think SOA is really the next big thing," he said. "It's going to replace middleware, which can be very expensive and complex. And we're going to see many of these technology silos disappear as a result. SOA could help make communications much more simpler and less complex and certainly more open than they are today."
Numerous telecommunication service providers have already begun to implement SOA strategies to reduce the complexity of their systems operations, according to Reuschel. Many of their customers are also going down the SOA path.
"It's still early days but SOA is going to have a very huge impact on how communication services are developed and deployed in the future," Reuschel said.
Last year, SAP America, the North American subsidiary of German business application vendor SAP, teamed with Avaya to provide mySAP business applications with embedded IP communication services.
Under the deal, the companies agreed to jointly develop and market applications that combine Avaya's Web-based communication services with SAP's SOA platform.
For instance, a company using SAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) with Avaya's communication Web services will be able to notify a supply chain manager of an order that could miss a deadline, contact the responsible people to resolve the issue and later alert all necessary parties that the problem has been fixed.