Today, we'll wrap up our summer series on the evolutionary history behind unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) with a quick topical recap, some analysis of what brought each of the five elements into the UC&C portfolio, and a brief look at what we expect to be the most dynamic factors affecting UC&C in the coming year.
We started our series looking at how dial-up Internet access changed the PSTN engineering rules for access, leading to a softswitch architecture employing VoIP protocols to offload remote access server traffic from the voice network onto the data network, placing the first VoIP "Trojan horse" into the PSTN. The domination of data in the PSTN also shifted the engineering rules for core networks. Whereas the primary architectural consideration used to be "voice first, data second," the shifting traffic mix toward data in public networks changed the rule to "data first, voice second" when building core infrastructure. As we look forward, we see this same paradigm shift with the growing amount of video traffic across public IP networks, and the rule will soon be (if it isn't already) "video first, data second, voice third." And we expect that in a few years, video will replace voice calls as a preferred real-time communications medium.
Following the IP-PBX article, we discussed how unified messaging (UM), unified communications (UC) and the importance of SIP-based presence became the next logical step in the evolution of unified communications and collaboration. UM brought access to audio, text and (later) video messages from a phone or a PC, UC added the dimension of real time communications to UM, and SIP (session initiation protocol) became the key enabler as the standards-based protocol of choice to enable presence. We predict continued growth of UC features, especially as many of these "come standard" with premise-based VoIP systems and hosted VoIP services.
With the advent of comparatively cheaper broadband access and improvements in video compression, high-definition video and telepresence became part of the collaboration equation on the converged network. The ability to integrate video sessions with other applications like document sharing, presence management added to the value of video as an important part of many UC&C solutions. As telepresence solutions becomes less expensive, we expect to see increasing use of HD video communications across all market segments -- including B2B, C2C and B2C.
By Larry Hettick, Network World