Unified Communications roundtable: Achieving interoperability

Unified Communications roundtable: Achieving interoperability

Third-party unified communication solutions must interoperate if customer adoption is going to go mainstream

The UC market is full of a range of vendors promoting tools that allow organisations to communicate and collaborate more effectively. But according to roundtable attendees, third-party offerings have to integrate successfully if UC is really going to take-off with customers.

Regardless of whether the video conferencing platform is based on Tandberg technology, or the front-end interface is Microsoft’s OCS, every vendor had the responsibility to make sure their solutions were based on open standards, Unity Systems’ Steve Deibe said. At the same time, customers were becoming increasingly aware of the need to ensure any new system was future-proof with UC investments they planned to make tomorrow, or in two years’ time, VInet’s Michael Przytula said.

“Customers are even coming out with tender documents asking for functionality they have no plan to implement at the moment, but they want you to provide SIP trunking and so on, so they won’t get shot later on,” he said.

The problem was available standards in the market were constantly changed and being interpreted differently, CTI Solutions’ Peter McCrindle said.

Even though most vendors seemed to be standardising against the popular SIP standard, Przytula claimed SIP itself was still a protocol that had too many “ifs, buts and maybes in it”. He called for the standard to either be tightened up, or for the industry to agree to follow everything that ‘should’ be done.

“I might run SIP, and you might run SIP, but we still can’t talk to each other. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. There’s the standard, but there’s also the question of how the industry applies that standard to how they will interoperate,” he said. “We see this happening with Cisco and Microsoft – they have all had SIP for years but never been able to talk together, so let’s mutually agree on how we’ll interpret what the standards say.”

Avaya’s Rosemary Durand said the SIP forum had been slow on how to put that together. “Maybe the complexity around SIP is such that it’s not easy to pull it all together and show how as a vendor, you must implement things. It’s so open you can interpret it anyway you want,” she said.

But this failing was also one of the main positives, NET’s Maurizio Fragasso said.

“SIP is one of the most versatile standards you can get. Even though there may be that nuance, it’s a lot easier to make things work together,” he said.

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