Blair Pleasant
Blair Pleasant is President & Principal Analyst of COMMfusion LLC and a co-founder of UCStrategies. She provides consulting and market...
Read Full Bio >>

Blair Pleasant | May 19, 2010 |


Now Open: The New Unified Communications Interoperability Forum

Now Open: The New Unified Communications Interoperability Forum Assuming the UCIF meets its goals, customers will no longer have to worry about interoperability, and they will be able to implement the products and services they prefer.

Assuming the UCIF meets its goals, customers will no longer have to worry about interoperability, and they will be able to implement the products and services they prefer.

The biggest complaint I hear from customers considering making the move to Unified Communications is that many of the UC systems on the market are not interoperable, making it difficult, if not impossible, to leverage existing systems and products. Whether for IM and presence, video conferencing, or IP PBXs, the lack of interoperability between vendors has been a huge hindrance to the evolving UC market. Yes, everyone and their brother supports SIP, but with so many "flavors" of SIP, this isn't nearly enough.Help is finally on the way--a new, open forum has been created, dedicated to UC interoperability. Dubbed the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF), its mission is to:

1) Engage like‐minded fellow travelers--UCIF will work collaboratively to develop solutions‐specifications, reference implementations, best practices, implementation guidelines, test tools and compliance programs, in relation to industry needs.

2) Deliver a consistent and high value user experience with UC--UCIF will drive interoperability of UC Hardware and Software, including Federation, Video & Audio Conferencing, Telepresence, Presence & IM, Desktop Sharing, White Boarding, Data Conferencing, and Conferencing Scheduling.

3) Build on existing initiatives and standards--Standards, Protocols, Specifications, Best Practices, Testing Methodologies and Programs.

4) Drive developers, vendors and service providers to deliver and use conforming implementations--UCIF will encourage Mindshare, ROI‐based Adoption, and Business Process Leverage.

5) Fund technical, market, and compliance programs--UCIF will foster the growth of an open ecosystem with business model benefits for all players in the value chain.

6) Enable development of a worldwide UC community with billions of users--The interoperability of public UC clouds with enterprise UC products is a key UCIF objective.

I included the mission statement because I feel that it provides good insight into the thought process of the founding members. I especially love the first point in the mission statement--engaging like-minded fellow travelers. I often refer to UC as a philosophy or journey--it's not something that companies can just buy off the shelf, plug in, and make it work. Rather, UC is an evolving solution that takes time. I also particularly like the second point of the mission statement, which focuses on the end-user experience. UC is all about the end-user experience, and I was particularly glad to see the UCIF members acknowledge this.

Building on existing standards is another key point. According to the founding members, the UCIF "is not a standards body--it's about making things work together. We're not here to create new standards, but to streamline and make sense out of what already exists and to simplify." The members claim that they won't create new standards unless there are areas where standards don't currently exist. Instead, the forum's role is to interpret and more fully clarify existing standards and how things should be integrated based on existing standards.

In terms of the structure and organization, there are five founding partners, Microsoft, HP, Juniper, Lifesize/Logitech, and Polycom, with many other vendors participating, including Acme Packet, Aspect, Audiocodes, Broadcom, Brocade, ClearOne, Jabra, Plantronics, Radvision, Siemens Enterprise Communications, and Teliris. During a discussion with some of the founding members of the forum, they emphasized the fact that the forum is designed to be open, and its success will depend on gaining a critical mass from the UC vendor perspective. Anyone in the industry is encouraged to sign up and take part in the forum, and no one will be turned away if they want to participate. All of the telephony switch vendors have been approached and invited to participate. The assumption is that most of these companies are currently reviewing the strategic and legal implications and working through logistics, and will join shortly.

The worker bees of the UCIF are the working groups, established by the UCIF's Board of Directors, which defines the charter of each, including the Certification Working Group, Marketing Working Group, and Technical Working Group. For example, the Certification Working Group is responsible for facilitating the testing and certification and will have testing tools to validate interoperability. This group will enforce the standard profile that was created by the Technical Working group to verify that the interoperability works, thus taking the onus off of customers who would otherwise need to do onsite interoperability testing.

The UCStrategies team, particularly Jim Burton, is thrilled to be part of the UCIF launch, with Jim presiding as the UCIF spokesperson during the kickoff dinner. As Jim noted during his presentation, "Even though vendors work hard to follow standards, standards are open to interpretation and it creates interoperability problems. The UCIF will help solve those problems by providing a venue for testing and working with other companies to ensure that products are interoperable before they're delivered to a customer."

"By working together, the UCIF will help make the UC market grow sooner than it would otherwise, with each vendor now able to get their share of a larger pie."

Assuming the UCIF meets its goals, customers will no longer have to worry about interoperability, and they will be able to implement the products and services they prefer, knowing that they will easily work with each other. This will certainly help the UC market to grow, ensuring its future viability. Kudos to the UCIF founding members that have come together and taken action to provide a future path for organizations to reap the many benefits of unified communications. While this is just a first step, it's an extremely important step, and one that should be applauded.Assuming the UCIF meets its goals, customers will no longer have to worry about interoperability, and they will be able to implement the products and services they prefer.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.