NextPlane Teams with Siemens Enterprise
The partnership gives Siemens and its customers enhanced federation services that aim to overcome roadblocks.
In an effort to enhance real-time, collaborative communications, Siemens Enterprise Communications announced that it has teamed with NextPlane, a leader in cloud-based federation services for unified communications. The partnership gives Siemens and its customers enhanced federation services that aim to overcome roadblocks.
A 2012 global study sponsored by Siemens titled "State of Enterprise Communications" found that 80% of user endpoints are now outside of corporate headquarters, underscoring the trend toward distributed and mobile workforces.
Enterprises still face significant hurdles due to interoperability and integration complexities associated with UC&C. There is a need for universal interoperability among the wide range of UC and IM platforms. In spite of open standards, some UC platform vendors, such as Google and Microsoft, have chosen to build up walled gardens to fend off competing forces, and this isn't necessarily without impact to customers. Add in mobility, and things can easily become murky in the cloud when UC&C needs to extend beyond internal federation to other platforms.
NextPlane claims to be the only UC vendor able to provide continuity of service across all UC platforms--such as Microsoft Lync, Cisco, IBM, Google, Skype and Yahoo, as well as enterprise social business tools such as Chatter, Yammer, and Twitter. With a searchable directory of more than 100 (and growing) federation-ready organizations, NextPlane enables companies to create ecosystems with business colleagues to easily collaborate using a secure management portal. Customers can look up business colleagues using UC Exchange through a searchable directory, somewhat like a phone book. Currently, users exchange billions of presence, chat, voice and video messages per month with partners and customers within their ecosystems. (See Federate Yourselves? NextPlane UC Exchange)
When I spoke with NextPlane's founder and CEO, Farzin Shahidi, we discussed the failings of the walled garden approach recently taken by Google. Farzin said, "Siemens is making an effort to be open and a Tier 1 provider." Now with the recent post by Zeus Kerravala, "Siemens Enterprise Unveils Ansible" Siemens is clearly positioning to move past what Zeus calls the current UC tools as "a broken collaborative process"--broken because the solutions are disjointed and not unified.
NextPlane steps in and federates the many to many. But the enterprise needs to understand that this first phase of federation is only the beginning of more federation obstacles that they will encounter with more and more adoption of video. Farzin told me that, "While 90% of all federation is IM and presence, it's the easiest to do." Farzin also said that the video challenges of time-of-day, bandwidth constraints, and requirements for socialization are only some of the obstacles. Audio and video are more involved with complexities, codecs, transitioning firewalls, media handling and different endpoints.
So is video growing? According to Farzin, "NextPlane is seeing growth in video traffic and there are other external factors, such as the price of HD video dropping, with more available; computing hardware is delivering 720p/1080p--and the fact that people are willing to trade quality for convenience" are all drivers for increased video traffic.
I think both NextPlane and Siemens are in winning situations. Google reminds me of Apple acting out--they will build their own sandbox while expecting everyone else to just play in it. NextPlane's UC Exchange connects and instantly collaborates with other UC platforms, including Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Google, Open-Fire, Isode, eZuce, and eJabberd.
Enterprises recognize value in the "many-to-many" communications opportunities of UC&C through federation. Removing barriers to communications will continue to challenge firms adopting a silo or walled garden. While I hold to the theory that improving communications will improve collaboration, and improved collaboration means better results, the reality is without federation or some significant change of heart from Google and Microsoft, federation is going to be a team sport, one which both NextPlane and Siemens are well positioned to play.