The concept of Unified Communications in its current notion is still quite fresh. Nevertheless, more than a dozen large manufacturers offer their own development for this sphere. Among the main players in the world market, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, NEC, Oracle, Siemens Enterprise Networks are most notable. It is also worth remembering Nortel solutions, which many experts considered one of the best in the industry, but due to the bankruptcy of the company, the future of its development is very vague. In general, according to the analytical company Frost and Sullivan, the volume of sales of software for building Unified Communications systems in 2008 was about $ 71 million. Relatively small, but still it is almost three times more than in 2007, and by 2013 It is expected that this segment will grow to $ 1.8 billion.
The concept of Unified Communications in its present form still quite fresh, nevertheless, more than a dozen large manufacturers offer their own development for this area. Among the main players in the world market the ones most worth attention are Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, NEC, Oracle, Siemens Enterprise Networks.
A comparison or in-depth examination of the products of each developer is not the purpose of this article, however, it is still worth mentioning the main proposals in this field.
The set of products offered by Alcatel-Lucent is one of the most complete in the industry
In addition to the OmniPCX Office (OXO) and OmniPCX Enterprise (OXE) hardware and software solutions, the company also produces only My Instant Communicator software products, as a universal user application for Unified Communications, as well as a teamwork tool called My Teamwork. Based on these developments, you can implement almost all the UC functions described in this article. The company’s solutions support the integration with key products for UC and collaboration of other manufacturers, in particular, MS Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Sametime, etc.
Avaya also has traditionally strong positions in the market of hardware solutions for telephony
At the same time, it offers a multifunctional software package for UC called Unified Communications All Inclusive (UCAI), which in addition to the software platform for IP telephony Avaya Communication Manager 5.0 includes a set of client applications Avaya one-X (Communicator, Portal, Mobile ), The presence indicator Intelligent Presence, as well as software Avaya Extension-to-Cellular, which allows you to implement the “single number” function. UCAI supports integration with Microsoft Office Communicator and IBM Lotus Sametime.
Among the industry leaders is Cisco
To the issue of UC came here in a comprehensive manner, introducing a joint line of solutions under the general name of the Cisco Unified Communications System. The IP-telephony area traditionally closes the flagship product Cisco Unified CallManager. For users, there are complex applications, such as Personal Communicator or Video Advantage. Implemented the function Presence, as well as the integration of voice and email systems (Cisco Unity software). Collaboration tools are represented by the MeetingPlace software modules and the WebEx Web resource. There is also a “single number” function, implemented on the basis of MobilityManager, and everything necessary for the organization of the contact center (Cisco Unified Contact Center). A wide range of integration possibilities is supported with products from other manufacturers.
One of the key players in the market of Unified Communications is IBM
And although it does not have its own hardware development for telephony or data networks, in the software field it has achieved significant success. Applications for unified communications and teamwork are part of the Lotus Notes and SameTime complexes. Recently IBM introduced the software for the organization of IP-telephony system based on hardware servers, which was called SameTime Unified Telephony.
Exclusively software development for UC is offered by Microsoft
Unified communications functions are implemented on the basis of four main products – the MS Exchange Server mail server and three products from the MS Office 2007 line: Communication Server, Communicator, and Live Meeting. According to the developers, the familiar interface of MS Office will be an advantage in the competitive struggle. Nevertheless, Microsoft solutions in this direction are poorly integrated with products from other manufacturers. In particular, only about a dozen models of IP-telephones are supported, and only one specialized system for video conferencing (MS RoundTable).
Note that Microsoft does not have its own full-fledged platforms for corporate telephony, and in this direction the company, at least at this stage, hopes for cooperation with partners, in particular, Nortel Networks and AudioCodes.
Nortel Networks also owns Nortel Networks (Communication Server1000, MCS 5100, Agile Communication Environment), NEC (Univerge360 software), Siemens Enterprise Networks (Open-Scape family), Oracle Corporation (Oracle Beehive software), However, the activity of these companies on the Ukrainian market in the sphere of UC is insignificant.
Disputes about what are (or are not) Unified Communications, still in full swing, at the present stage is the formation of the term itself, as well as those functions and opportunities that it will describe. The idea of uniting on a common platform of diverse telecommunications (for example VoIP unified communications) means is fully in line with the spirit of the modern era with its desire for unification, aggregation, globalization … Many experts reasonably believe that in the light of a sharp reduction in IT budgets, the future is for UC. We have only to wait for this future.