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 | December 30, 2014 |


No Jitter's Top 10 Posts for 2014

No Jitter's Top 10 Posts for 2014 Lync tops the list again--but Google, WebRTC, and a practical post on RFPs score high as well.

Lync tops the list again--but Google, WebRTC, and a practical post on RFPs score high as well.

It's so hard to choose sometimes: Cake or ice cream? Invisibility or the power of flight? One Direction or shove a pencil in your ear?

Cisco or Microsoft?

For many organizations, moving your enterprise communications forward will involve making a choice between these two strategic vendors--or maybe finding a way to avoid that choice.

Looking at the 10 most-read posts on No Jitter in 2014 (by number of visitors), it's clear that Microsoft Lync--now Skype for Business--remains the single biggest topic in enterprise communications--three of the top 10 posts had to do with Lync. Yet there was actually greater diversity of topics among our most popular posts this year, compared with 2013, when the majority of top posts related to Lync or Skype. And the popularity of the non-Lync-centric posts seems to point toward some significant emerging issues within enterprise communications. (The top posts are listed in order at the end of Page 2 of this post.)

To start at the top, our most popular post of the year, from February, was Jim Allen's Lync vs. Jabber: Do You Really Have to Choose? This post compared and contrasted the various strengths and weaknesses of the two UCC offerings, and is among the top 5 posts on an almost daily basis even at the end of the year. Jim's thorough analysis and detailed schematics helped readers understand how to steer a middle course, if only in the short- to medium term.

Ultimately, however, Jim concluded that you likely will have to make a choice: "There is substantial benefit to be gained by aligning to a single vendor solution, and this should be your long-term goal," he writes in the post's conclusion. "If you're like many enterprises, though, you have deployments and licensing with both vendors, and it may not be practical to align on one vendor in the short and near-term. Aligning vendor capabilities and/or integrating by channel is one way of preserving your current investment while providing the best and most practical user experience."

The other two Lync-related posts in our Top 10 include #4 on the list, Lync Online Enterprise Voice Out, PSTN Calling In by Brian Riggs. Brian's April post tackled one of the questions that many people were asking earlier this year, and are still asking at year's end: When will Microsoft's cloud-based version of Lync include the ability to call out to the PSTN? Brian not only addressed this question, he did a masterful job sorting out and explaining for readers the various terminology and business arrangements that surround the issue of cloud-based Lync and its relationship to public network service.

Our third and final Lync post in the Top 10, coming in at #6, was Goodbye Lync, Hello Skype for Business by Beth Schultz, who joined No Jitter as our Managing Editor in October. One of Beth's first posts here was her coverage of November's announcement that Microsoft would re-brand its enterprise communications system from Lync to Skype for Business. The announcement occasioned lots of comments and multiple posts on No Jitter, in which pundits, users, and others debated the wisdom of dropping a brand that had gained considerable traction as an enterprise communications leader, replacing it with a brand that's almost universally known--but as a consumer-grade product. 2015 will be the year that Microsoft begins putting the rebrand in place, and time will tell whether the move was, as the title of another No Jitter post put it, a Great Marketing Move or Colossal Brand Blunder?

Where We're Heading: Google, WebRTC, and More
The fact that 2014 was a transitional year for the industry can be seen in the other posts that made it into our Top Ten. The second-most popular post of the year was a report out of Enterprise Connect Orlando 2014 in March, that actually had echoes in a separate but similar announcement near the end of this year. In March, Zeus Kerravala offered up A Closer Look at the Cisco-Google Alliance, which was announced during the Enterprise Connect Orlando keynote address delivered by Rowan Trollope, who heads up Cisco's collaboration business unit.

The Cisco-Google alliance offers Cisco WebEx running natively within a Chrome browser on Chromebooks. That integration in and of itself is almost certainly not what drove such strong interest--rather, the partnership is what caught people's eyes: Cisco and Google teaming up for Unified Communications is, indeed, potentially big news, especially if the WebEx-Chromebook integration were just the beginning of a broader effort.

It turns out that this partnership did indeed foreshadow bigger things from Google--but not with Cisco (or not only with Cisco). Instead, the next big piece of integration news came in December, when Google teamed with Avaya to announce a partnership to offer Avaya contact center software on Chromebooks.

This is clearly something to watch in 2015. The industry has long wondered if, when, and how Google might jump into enterprise UC. Third-party providers are integrating UC capabilities with Google Apps; Google Hangouts have long seemed a potential Skype competitor; and Google has been in and out of a range of social and communications services for several years now. Whether Google intends to pursue a full-court press on any of these channels remains uncertain; however, these partnerships are making it clear that the company sees Chromebooks as a communications endpoint.

Our third-best-read post for the year relates to another emerging technology, one that continued to grow in interest and activity in 2014: WebRTC. You can see how far WebRTC came this year by noting the headline of our #3 post, Dave Michels' March piece entitled, WebRTC Is for Losers. The substance of Dave's post largely belies the very Dave Michels-esque title; the actual content is much more nuanced, but still built around the idea that WebRTC wasn't fulfilling its potential. Dave concludes: "WebRTC is an important technology.... Despite its severe limitations, it seems to be sparking innovation, which may ultimately prove to be its key value."

And even as analysts like Dave Michels were debating the big picture for WebRTC, mavens and early movers like Tsahi Levent-Levi were diving into the major technical issues that remained to be worked out with the standard. In July, Tsahi posted what would be our eighth-best-read post of the year, The Real Codec Battle is VP9 vs. H.265--And VP9 is Winning. Though this post dealt with an issue that goes beyond just WebRTC--namely, which next-generation video codec would prevail--the issue is in fact central to the future of WebRTC.

The WebRTC standard doesn't force users to choose between the current generation's royalty-free VP8 and not-necessarily-royalty-free H.264. (Cisco offered its H.264 implementation for free, but so far the successor H.265 is not royalty-free, while next-gen VP9 is.) So the issue of which codec to use is still an active one in the WebRTC world--and an important one to get resolved if WebRTC is to become truly universal and plugin-free.

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