Historically, every company uses a variety of telecommunication means. Moreover, their number constantly tends to increase. In the activities of a modern organization, several independent networks are used: telephone, LAN (wired and wireless), mobile networks, etc. Each of them is necessary, and the refusal to use this or that modern technology means depriving of competitive advantages.
However, such diversity generates a lot of problems, because each network, each data exchange technology requires a separate approach to installation, maintenance, operation. From the point of view of the average user – a company employee who is not dedicated to the intricacies of corporate telecommunications – the abundance of technologies generates a lot of inconveniences, connected with the need to use multiple terminals and various kinds of software. As a result, the user is doomed to have several fixed telephones and mobile numbers, e-mail addresses, is “tied” to the terminal of video or audio conferencing, etc.
Very soon it became clear that if this continues, then the abundance of telecommunications means, instead of promoting the development of the company and increasing the efficiency of the work of employees, can turn into a kind of “swamp” where it will be difficult to find the necessary contacts or react in time to this or that message. In such a difficult situation, a conceptual idea was born, known under the acronym AtApAD (Anytime Anyplace Any Device): “Anytime, anywhere and on any device”, which implied the use of all possible telecommunications functions on any user device-terminal.
In addition, someone suggested that data networks, IP-based networks, in particular, are not being used effectively enough and it can be used more efficiently. It may transfer not only data but also voice, video, as well as many derivative services (at one time they tried something similar in ISDN technology using PSTN).
Further, more or less tangible development of the principle “everything on everything” was the emergence of the concept of “unified communications” (Unified Communications, UC), which is now being brought to the board by all major telecommunications manufacturers.
But, as usual, everything new not only generates interest but also overgrows with all possible implementation options and interpretations. Not an exception and UC: different manufacturers have a different interpretation of this term. All of them give very weighted arguments, and, nevertheless, there is a feeling that there should be “something else”.
To clarify this issue, we turned to the experts of the telecommunications market, for which Unified Communications is an everyday reality because they not only participate in the implementation of such projects but also apply these technologies in their work.
Three levels of Unified Communications
Disagreements and the uncertainty of the concept of “unified communications” are mainly due to the fact that often parts of the system are issued for the whole. There are only a few companies in the world that can offer Unified Communications solutions and unified communications components, which are almost 100% ready, and there are hundreds of developers who say that their products have “unified communications” function. The main misconception is that UC, in its primordial meaning, is not a separate product, but a complex software and hardware system consisting of three main levels – hardware, software, and logic.
The basis for any full-fledged UC solution is a modern data network using international open standards and easily adaptable to new services. Such a network must support H.323, SIP, MGCP, IMS, MPLS, Softswitch, etc. protocols. This will ensure the joint operation of equipment from different manufacturers.
It is easy to assume that as the market develops, many manufacturers will deepen their specialization on certain types of devices, at the same time, each customer wants to use only the best and most advanced products. Therefore, he must be sure that all components of the network will interact as planned.
For the sake of justice, we note that the main burden will lie on the integrator of the solution, because the customer wants to have “everything worked”, and how, as a rule, this question does not bother him much. To the integrator, on the contrary, it is important to use compatible products, and the greater their choice, the better.
Thus, by the way, you can get rid of the dictates of large manufacturers. But this is in the case of an ideal model, in practice, many, especially the dominant developers, are not always in a hurry to open their technologies, preferring to integrate the products of third-party companies into their integrated systems. In this case, you can only talk about Unified Communications in part.