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Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
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Eric Krapf | September 30, 2014 |

 
   

Software and Middleware as Communications' Future

Software and Middleware as Communications' Future We believe middleware platforms are going to represent opportunities for enterprises to modernize communications capabilities without going out and committing to a whole new horizontal platform.

We believe middleware platforms are going to represent opportunities for enterprises to modernize communications capabilities without going out and committing to a whole new horizontal platform.

One of the things we're finding out about communications endpoints is that none of them are necessarily going away--new ones are coming into the market, and there's a potential business case or use case for any given endpoint, old-fashioned or new, depending on the situation. What we're also learning is that, as you migrate from all-deskphones to a mix of deskphones, mobiles, soft clients, video endpoints, and who-knows-what-else-is-coming, your total spend certainly isn't going to decline. But the hope is that you'll have communications capabilities that your end users find, well, useful.

I think we're heading toward a similar dynamic at the platform level as we go forward. The PBX isn't going away, and while sales may be likely to flatten out, they're not going to zero out. Enterprises will still need this function for certain use cases or transitional periods--and it'll be a justifiable spend, just like deskphones have their justifications today and going forward.

But that's not where the fun will be. The future of communications platforms goes by various names: Twilio, Kandy, Acano just happen to be 3 that I've had some recent exposure to. These platforms point us in a new and, I think, very exciting direction for enterprise communications as we move forward.

Twilio of course pioneered the idea of cloud-based communications services with APIs that let you create communications-enabled business processes (CEBP) quickly and efficiently. Now Genband has released Kandy, a cloud-based platform that will compete with Twilio in this space, and is supported by the Genband infrastructure, much of which is based on Nortel's carrier-grade IP communications. And if that sounds like a slam on Genband, it's not; Nortel actually developed some powerful VOIP infrastructure for the carrier market, which products were acquired by Genband when Nortel went bankrupt.

Finally, I recently had the chance to demo the Acano platform, which is centered on the idea of "co-spaces," the company's name for a discrete space that's analogous to a multimedia version of the conference bridge that most knowledge workers have dedicated access to. But while the Acano interface is pretty slick and the software handles multimedia pretty well, the really significant thing about Acano is that it integrates with major UC platforms and actually can function as a gateway to Microsoft Lync, which is where Acano CEO OJ Winge told me they're getting a lot of their paying customers today.

In other words, Acano is middleware, as are Twilio and Kandy, though they play a different role in the system. Those of us who work on content for Enterprise Connect and No Jitter believe that middleware platforms are going to increasingly represent opportunities for enterprises to modernize their communications capabilities without going out and committing to a whole new horizontal platform, a "next-gen PBX", whatever that would be anyway.

That's why we're adding a track focused on this increasingly important software/middleware element of the enterprise communications architecture to the Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015 program. Of course we'll continue to have tracks and a strong emphasis on core systems around Unified Communications, Mobility, Contact Center, Video, and other technology areas. But communications is moving to a software world, and we're excited to be bringing you more of this at our event next March.

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