Kevin Kieller
Kevin Kieller is a partner with enableUC, a company that helps measure, monitor and improve UC and collaboration usage and...
Read Full Bio >>

Kevin Kieller | April 19, 2013 |


Moving Voice and the Network to Software

Moving Voice and the Network to Software By allowing Lync to leverage SDNs, Microsoft and HP could be changing the game.

By allowing Lync to leverage SDNs, Microsoft and HP could be changing the game.

Last week at the Open Networking Summit 2013, Microsoft, which has been working hard to move "voice" into software (operating on industry standard hardware) demonstrated its commitment to also assisting in moving networking functions into software (also operating on industry standard hardware). Microsoft and its partner HP demonstrated the ability of Lync (using specialized proof of concept extensions), along with the OpenFlow Software Defined Network (SDN) controller on HP hardware, to dynamically allocate QoS, bandwidth and other network characteristics in real-time.

My colleague Phil Edholm has a detailed No Jitter writeup of what was shown and how it works here. Another colleague, Dave Michels, provides another good summary in his UC Strategies article entitled "UC SDN PoC by HP and MS". (Perhaps also winning the award for most abbreviations and acronyms in an article title.) Phil and Dave did an excellent job of covering the demonstration details.

I spent 30 minutes talking with Jamie Stark, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft, about what this could potentially mean for UC and why businesses should care.

Jamie made it clear that the demonstration was using a new API that has so far been made available to only a small number of partners. These partners are working closely with Microsoft in "proof of concept" (POC) mode. Pascal Menezes, Senior Program Manager of the Lync Partner Engineering Group at Microsoft, is tasked with managing this "depth" program. As part of this program, lots of bi-directional feedback between Microsoft and the SDN partners is expected. This feedback and various POCs are expected to cause the existing API to evolve.

From a business perspective, allowing UC applications like Lync to talk directly to SDNs improves the prospects for effective and high-quality communications. Lync can ask the end-to-end network to provide the necessary "packet prioritization" (QoS or CoS) in order to deliver reliable video and audio. Beyond quality, Lync could ask SDN devices to ensure the proper firewall ports are open and available, effectively ensuring security on demand.

Anyone who has deployed a large UC-over-IP solution understands that ensuring end-to-end QoS today requires extensive configuration and testing. Lync, like all UC IP solutions, is totally reliant on the underlying network in order to deliver communication services. Lync and SDN offer a future where the complexity of initial and ongoing network and firewall configuration is greatly reduced. In this new world, the costs of moves, adds and changes (MACDs) is likely to be much less, and the risk associated with change is likely also greatly reduced.

Further, while this feature was not part of last week's demonstration, a SDN can provide information back to an application such as Lync. This would allow Lync to properly set user expectations ahead of an important communication session. For example, ahead of an important video call, Lync could potentially let the user know that the wireless network is unable to guarantee HD video quality and perhaps even go so far as to suggest the user "plug in" to a wired network jack. In my experience, UC adoption is greatly improved when proper user expectations are set and then met.

From a competitive perspective, Microsoft enabling Lync as an application that supports the SDN movement potentially represents an attempted "one-two punch" directed at Cisco. First Microsoft works to disrupt voice by making "voice" a feature of its UC Lync software platform, and then Microsoft works to accelerate Software Defined Networks, further commoditizing the network hardware that generates substantial revenue for Cisco. Of course, it is far too earlier to understand if this type of demonstration poses any threat to Cisco or other traditional network hardware providers; however, it is certainly interesting to see the areas into which Microsoft is willing to expand and extend its Lync platform.

Eric Krapf recently wrote about "Questioning the Basics" as the communication and collaboration industry changes and as new technologies enable new capabilities. In his Article, Eric refers to a very topical article by Sorrell Slaymaker that suggests "As UC evolves, how a network is designed must evolve too." I contend that applications such as Lync participating directly with SDN, as demonstrated by HP, are showing us where this evolution is headed.

These are early days for SDN, but last week we saw a glimmer of the great, shining opportunity a more standardized software-driven network switching and routing platform can offer.

Do you see Software Defined Networking as fundamentally changing UC? Please comment below or share your thoughts with me via twitter >@kkieller

Follow Kevin Kieller on Twitter and Google+!
Kevin Kieller on Google+


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.