Unified Communication at Enterprise 2.0

Monday, June 18th, 2007
Melanie Turek moderated this afternoon's panel on Unified communications. She gave a brief overview of Unified Communications. Unified communications is not unified messaging. Unlike most panels, where vendors are prohibited from mentioning their products, Melanie invited each presenter to talk about and show their products. My notes follow.

First up: Allan Mendelsohn, Sr. Manager, UC Product Marketing, for Avaya.

Theme: intelligent communications by optimizing business, customer relationships, people, and connections.
IP telephony is the foundational (core) layer of the Avaya vision. Need to consider this as other vendors are likely to see applications as core.
When thinking about IP softphones, don't think of them as a hard phone replacement, but as an extension of the hard phone for enhanced features.
Goal: One user experience, any network, any device; single click to communicate or collaborate.
Types of users: Road warrior, Desk worker, Campus Roamer, Remote user. Each has a unique communication requirement.
Everything is moving to a web-based platform, no need to deploy to desktops. Lower cost of deployment, greater business continuity.
Telephony integration as the back-end engine for Microsoft Office Communicator and IBM Lotus SameTime. E.g. Click-to-call integration with IBM Lotus SameTime launches Avaya Softphone.
Unified Access vs. Unified Message Store - different topologies, both supported in single platform.
Demo: routing of call to mobile device, call status to show in IM client with full status reporting. Full PBX features accessible from client. Truly a click to call. Neat
Seamless "extend call to mobile device" to take call experience from desktop to mobile device.  Desktop to cellular network and back. Sweet.
Next demo of integration to audio bridge and IM client for awareness. No more role-taking, know who's speaking, additional productivity tools.
Communication Enabled Business Processes server-based monitoring and advisory to accelerate the business work flow.
Goal: seamless experience across devices and network.

Next up: Akiba Saeedi, Program MDirector & David marshak, Senior Product Manager, IBM SameTime

IBM Sametime: The most deployed IM and awareness tool in business on the planet.
Akiba's laptop won;t talk to the projector. Not a problem, She set up a live Sametime web conference with David's PC connected to the projector. Problem solved.

Theme: UC squared. (Unified Communication plus Unified Collaboration)
SameTime integrates with multi-vendor environments. It is also fully custimizable along the lines of Notes via plug-ins. Client platform built in Eclipse model. This makes it easy to embed additional program enhancements and extensions. (Example: IBM Bluebook plugin for directory look-up. The killer plug-in. I want that.) Over 100 partners in 7.5 ecosystem. Sametime mobile included with license extends IM to Windows Mobile and Symbian OS based devices. They have a federation gateway to extend awareness across disparate IM systems. SameTIme is built on Lotus Domino.  SameTime also intregrates out of the box with Outlook as well.
Something to think about: Your UC platform is likely to be around for a long time so think carefully about your UC platform. (I plan to stick with IBM SameTime)

Dynamic location awareness, learns from the users based on IP and stated networks. "where is..." or "Is there anyone in Boston that can help my customer..." Cool demo of GoogleMaps Mashup. A good argument for a sound product platform. (Make me happy I chose ST 7.5 in-house).
Text messaging, cut & paste as well as share screen shots in IM client. Neat feature is integration with Notes Calendar and ability to auto-initiate busy status. Peer-to-peer voice and video integration. David showed real-time click-to-meet video integration by Radvision - a plugin. Up to 6 video participants.

Note: with all this technology and unified communications, why is it so "easy" to communicate around the world, yet so difficult to switch VGA between 4 presenters and a projector? Hmmm.

Next up: Paul Haverstock, Architect, Microsoft Unified Communications

Microsoft has two key products for UC: Office Communications Server 2007 (Voice, Video, Data Conferencing) and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 (E-mail, unified messaging).
Office communication server has software MCUs for audio and video. Adaptive compression for wideband or narrow-band audio across all networks.
Microsoft Roundtable (an array of microphones and cameras) allow for a panoramic view of everyone around the conference room. Determines active speaker and selects video. Microsoft is helping to develop new devices that will integrate with Office Communicator. Look to see new IP Phones (These run Office communicator and Windows CE.) All support audio codecs and wideband codecs. Devices designed by M'soft and built and sold by partners. Mobile client: be on-line on data network for IM and presence, then click-to-call to initiate call over voice network.
Microsoft speech server integrates with Exchange (appears to do the cool stuff I could do with my Remark Unified messaging server 10 years ago). Speech autop-attendant - Microsoft at the PBX? Tools to develop speech enabled apps for all apps and data stores. (I'd like to deploy; I wonder how many servers from Microsoft I would need to have to do this?)
Demo of real-time use of OCS2007. We could not hear audio (because he had plugged in a USB headset which took over default audio in Windows - he should have known that.) Hung up, reconfigured and tried again. Demoed a drag and drop transfer between a P2P video call and a server based call. Seamless.
OC2007 can/will coexist with existing infrastructures. Partnering with telephony aliances.
More info at http://www.microsoft.com/uc

Next up:  Nortel MCS 5100 Demonstration

Nortel MCS is a SIP based communication server. Nortel clients: stand-alone and integrated into Outlook and Lotus Notes. Live demo of IM, text chat and into a live call. Of course, the audio did not work (not Nortel's fault) but the AV did not work. After three hours these demos are all starting to look the same. His multi-point video demo did work.
Key points:
Integrated Multimedia
Multimedia Collaboration
Extended Mobility, call routing, etc.
Good job.

Next up: Siemens Openscape Communications

Brief video to show Openscape in action. (Smart move to use a video rather than live demo). Openscape enables the recipoient to select their comm device. Physical locations means nothing. Nice. You can group any collection of people inside and outside of the company into a group.

Overall, the seminar tutorial was informative and I did appreciate being able to see the vendors products. However, I think the moderator could have done more to discuss differences and things to think about so that it did not come across as one vendor presentation after another.

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