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Interoperability Angst Diminished

Five and 10 years ago, interoperability seemed to be the biggest whine, the loudest outcry in enterprise communications. I know, since I teamed up with several of my peers to present the interoperability sessions at the respective VoiceCon and Enterprise Connect conferences in those years; the disconnects between presenters and audiences were palpable.

This year, however, two breakthroughs should bring the interoperability complaints down in volume, if not even put smiles on customers' faces: gateways and cloud services. We are going to hear a lot about these two solutions in Orlando during the Enterprise Connect 2015 panel, "Will Middleware Solve the Interoperability Problem?", taking place on Monday, March 16, at 9 a.m.

First, why do we care about interoperability? Same reasons as always -- time and money!

On the money front, we care because enterprises want to use what they already own in combination with the new things showing up in the market. They have no tolerance for having to buy a completely new IP-PBX system or to replace all of the video room systems just to provide enhanced mobility, collaboration, or communications-enabled apps for specific groups of customers and users.

Learn more at Enterprise Connect 2015!

As for time, we care because replacing legacy systems before new features are delivered wastes a huge amount of it. We also care because a complex, on-premises integration can consume massive amounts of valuable staff time, often bringing other projects to a screeching halt. Ouch!

Second, how are we solving these problems? The answer is that talented product teams are building, testing and packaging integrations as middleware. You, know, this is software and connecting protocols that sit in the middle between that legacy PBX or video room system and the shiny new communications applications and devices that you'll hear about and see in all of the Enterprise Connect 15 keynotes and exhibits.

Here are a few teasers from each of the two breakthroughs:

    Oracle and Sonus Networks will show us how they are pre-testing standards-based protocols with major communications vendors – from the legacy leaders to the shiniest new startups – so that enterprises can come to either of them as a one-stop interoperability shop. They can create routes from, say, a PBX using analog lines or T-1 trunks to a new communications-enabled customer service Web site based on SIP or WebRTC modules -- and, they can do this without forcing a costly upgrade of that installed PBX. Or they can simplify and streamline your upgrade to a new IP-PBX or UC system by providing gateways to those must-have analog lines for fax machines and safety phones while you save money on new user licenses and can focus your time on the new UC features -- you know, the things that really matter to your users and your business!

    Acano and StarLeaf will show us that the "battles of the video vendors" are fast becoming the black-and-white movies of the past. If vendor A is offering H.323 while vendor B is offering H.264 or even H.265, it's no sweat for these guys. They will make this look like your best day with Legos. Just link up vendor A on one side and vendor B on the other, then, "Voila!," you have video connectivity across your locations, or with your customers and partners. Since both companies offer their services from the cloud, you don't have to install and operate a lot of gear -- just connect the media and signaling streams using digital bandwidth. You'll hear about even more of these mix-and-match options in the session.

    Avaya will highlight middleware that is provided as part of IP-PBX systems. This will place more emphasis on developing communications-enabled applications, where the interoperability is with the business application software and websites, with similarities to the standards-based gateways such as those mentioned above.

Oracle and Sonus Networks will show us how they are pre-testing standards-based protocols with major communications vendors – from the legacy leaders to the shiniest new startups – so that enterprises can come to either of them as a one-stop interoperability shop. They can create routes from, say, a PBX using analog lines or T-1 trunks to a new communications-enabled customer service Web site based on SIP or WebRTC modules -- and, they can do this without forcing a costly upgrade of that installed PBX. Or they can simplify and streamline your upgrade to a new IP-PBX or UC system by providing gateways to those must-have analog lines for fax machines and safety phones while you save money on new user licenses and can focus your time on the new UC features -- you know, the things that really matter to your users and your business!

Acano and StarLeaf will show us that the "battles of the video vendors" are fast becoming the black-and-white movies of the past. If vendor A is offering H.323 while vendor B is offering H.264 or even H.265, it's no sweat for these guys. They will make this look like your best day with Legos. Just link up vendor A on one side and vendor B on the other, then, "Voila!," you have video connectivity across your locations, or with your customers and partners. Since both companies offer their services from the cloud, you don't have to install and operate a lot of gear -- just connect the media and signaling streams using digital bandwidth. You'll hear about even more of these mix-and-match options in the session.

Avaya will highlight middleware that is provided as part of IP-PBX systems. This will place more emphasis on developing communications-enabled applications, where the interoperability is with the business application software and websites, with similarities to the standards-based gateways such as those mentioned above.

We think this advancement via middleware is just one of the many breakthroughs in enterprise communications architectures that you'll hear about at Enterprise Connect this year. If you're interested in saving time and money while you thrill your users and put some bucks on the bottom line, be sure to be in our session, "Will Middleware Solve the Interoperability Problem?", on Monday, March 16. See you there!

Register now to attend Enterprise Connect 15 and use the code NJSPEAKER to receive $300 off an event pass.